4 Obscure Books I Highly Recommend

Do you enjoy reading obscure books? Here are a few that may just blow your mind.

I love books.

I mean, I like reading, but I truly love books as artifacts.

Making a book is a real labor of love. Many things have to come together for a book to be held and read by a person.

It makes me sad to think that there are books out there that I will never read in my lifetime. However, here are some obscure books that I serendipitously found and read.

I don’t believe in categorizing books at all, and these are particularly hard to put into metaphorical boxes. So, I’ll just leave them here.

Go forth and read.

A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader

Maria Popova is a hero. She is the creator of my favorite blog, brainpickings.org, and has been writing about art, philosophy, life, and living, single-handedly for the last 15 years.

Image source: www.amazon.com

Just like her blog, her book, A Velocity of Being, is hard to categorize. It is a collection of letters written by prominent authors, artists and philosophers, to young readers. It is usually not a book I thought I, a 30-something woman would buy. But I did buy it, and it is a thing of wonder. I read it whenever I need some inspiration.

The letters are short, and are accompanied by gorgeous artwork. The words remind me that reading is truly magical, and the art reminds of long, lazy summers I spent as a child buried in books. It is an ode to the pleasures and wonders of reading.

As a lover of books about books, this has been one of my favorite finds of the decade.

The Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments

Written by Ali Almosawwi, a San Francisco-based author of books on critical thinking and computer education, this book is the need of the hour in my opinion. Online discussions are rife with bad arguments, as are political debates. This book gives you the frameworks and the vocabulary to articulate why exactly an argument is bad. Ali provides simple illustrated examples for the most common reasoning errors.

Since reading this book, I have had better internal debates, and have identified/corrected my own logical fallacies. This, I think, has been my biggest takeaway from the book.

It is fitting that the author starts with the following quote:

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool. — Richard P. Feynman

You can read this short book online for free.

Image source: https://bookofbadarguments.com/

Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window

Image source: amazon.com

“Totto-chan” is a real life account of an elementary school that existed in Tokyo during World War 2. Founded by Sosaku Kobayashi, the school’s unusually free and flexible approach towards education is the central theme of this book. The school had rail cars for classrooms and students were encouraged to complete a day’s lessons in any order they pleased!

“Totto-chan” made me question/doubt the value of an education system that tries to put children into molds. As a product of the infamously rigid Indian education system, reading this book made me wish that I had been encouraged as a child to explore my natural interests, rather than to simply get good grades.

This book has sold more than 4.5 million copies worldwide, so maybe it is not too obscure. However, it hasn’t featured in the book recommendation lists I have read in the last 5 years.
Read it for a reminder on what education should and can be.

Everyone’s a Aliebn when Ur a Aliebn Too

image source: amazon.com

I discovered this gem at a bookstore with lovely, creaky stairs in San Francisco!

A lonely alien is sent to Earth to observe it. He develops a variety of perspectives on life, love and learning from Earth’s inhabitants — eggs, bees, dogs, trees, etc. This book made me cry the first time I read it because it is gentle, warm and wonderful.

Although at first glance, the book seems like a children’s book, Jomny the alien’s exploration of life’s truths, pains and wonders through his conversations with earthlings, get to the heart of our own journeys as human beings on this strange planet we call home. Even the wisest of us will empathize with Jomny’s introspection about his own life.

I keep this on my work desk for times when I want my faith in humanity to be restored. During these dark times, I highly recommend this book for a dose of sunshine and positivity.

What are some obscure books that you’ve read recently? Let me know in the comments below.

I'm a product manager living in San Francisco with a heart that refuses to leave Chennai! I enjoy writing about product management, technology, and food.