Books Famous for Reasons not Based on Literary Merit [Circumstance] (39)

1 Name: Bookworm : 2008-01-22 19:15 ID:4+zTLZ3t

In this thread, we share novels,
textbooks, compendiums, journals, etc. that have become famous or infamous (in whole or in part) due to:

  • Their presence in the right place at the right time.
  • Close association with real people or events
  • Famously Awful
  • Extreme rarity or mystery

Doesn't count:

  • Works with literary/historical value or success based on their own merits/influence/marketing/adaptations
  • Books you personally hate
  • Books Oprah personally loves
  • Fan-fiction

To start:
The School Children's textbook that contains a story often referred to as "My Pet Goat".
The Voynich manuscript is a document writing in an entirely unknown language or cypher. No one has managed to translate it given the difficulty of doing so with nowhere to start.

2 Name: Bookworm : 2008-01-23 03:35 ID:J9JbWm2+

The Necronomicon by Abdul Alhazred

3 Name: Bookworm : 2008-01-23 17:48 ID:z5JgYib2

Codex Seraphinalius by an Italian.

4 Name: Bookworm : 2008-01-23 21:35 ID:56mDI93Y

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie.
The guy is now under Fatwa because of this book.

5 Name: Bookworm : 2008-01-24 00:07 ID:4+zTLZ3t

Never heard of that... sweet

Good one.
I understand some people connected with it's translation or distribution have been slain.

6 Name: dmpk2k!hinhT6kz2E : 2008-01-25 03:50 ID:Heaven

That Da Vinci Code novel (and by extension, anything by Dan Brown).

7 Name: Bookworm : 2008-01-25 12:05 ID:Heaven

I would say Lolita but it's also quite good to read. Although I suppose the #1 famous thing about it isn't how well it's written, so it probably qualifies.

8 Name: Bookworm : 2008-01-25 16:23 ID:fNskOquQ

Brave New World. Badly written, but a powerful message.

9 Name: Bookworm : 2008-02-10 10:12 ID:uumwkB7Z

The Japanese translator, if memory serves. Maybe some others.

Rushdie isn't that under a fatwa anymore, though. He's come out of hiding, for one, even if it's still officially on.

10 Name: Bookworm : 2008-02-11 05:02 ID:Heaven

No John, you are the demons.

And then John was a zombie.

11 Name: Bookworm : 2008-02-14 16:36 ID:VPibCAnG

What?? The most notable and famous thing about it is that it is written well. Then comes the pedo part. If some random person had written pedo books, and I am pretty sure plenty of people have before that time, it would not have been very famous at all.

12 Name: Bookworm : 2008-02-14 17:54 ID:Heaven

Re read his post. You missed a logical link I think.

13 Name: Bookworm : 2008-02-14 17:54 ID:Heaven

And I meant you.

14 Name: Bookworm : 2008-02-15 01:02 ID:VPibCAnG

Alright, I will acknowledge that the book is famous for the subject. But it did not become famous because of the subject but for the writing. So the book doesn't qualify in this thread.

15 Name: Bookworm : 2008-02-16 10:29 ID:Heaven

Ask 10,000 random people what they think of the book, and then come back here and report your findings.

16 Name: Bookworm : 2008-02-27 17:15 ID:m+l1HTzU

You could probably add lots of mainstream New York best seller type books to this list...since they become popular through marketing campaigns and just being widely read, not really being any good.

Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and so on...

17 Name: 1 : 2008-02-27 20:13 ID:4+zTLZ3t


> Doesn't count:
> Works with literary/historical value or success based on their own merits/influence/marketing/adaptations
> Books Oprah personally loves

I wouldn't count Lolita either.

18 Name: Bookworm : 2008-02-27 20:56 ID:cpMCCUIh

while we're on the subject - I'm goddamn tired of seeing "New York Times Best Seller" on books. When I was younger, that used to MEAN SOMETHING. Now I see it on some shitastic books. every friggin day.

19 Name: Bookworm : 2008-02-28 19:11 ID:VyUD5ULD

Turner Diaries, Mein Kampf, a couple of other books by scary extremists.
Ayn Rand's bibliography.
James Randi's book where he destroys Uri Geller's credibility.
The Starr Report
Principia Matematica
Malleus Malleficarum
The Secret
Most recently purchased biographies.

20 Name: Bookworm : 2008-02-28 19:15 ID:h1c8cvUc

dianetics. nuff said.

21 Name: Bookworm : 2008-04-15 09:50 ID:tEgCVyzH

Howl and Other Poems and Naked Lunch. I like them and they are often hailed as masterpieces, but there is certainly debate about that.
I don't know if they count because they are known for their literary merit, but I think many people know about them more becuse of their relating obcenity cases. The controversey surronding them has certainly added to their noteriety in the general public.

22 Name: Bookworm : 2008-04-16 20:07 ID:Heaven

came here to post this

23 Name: Bookworm : 2008-05-03 07:07 ID:h6Ln1GaN

Naked lunch and The Da Vinci Code

24 Name: Bookworm : 2008-05-03 10:54 ID:ZLf0pNvU

Anything by William Topaz McGonagall, who is "widely hailed as the writer of the worst poetry in the English language" (from

25 Name: Bookworm : 2008-05-03 11:07 ID:AKLDbLnC

House of Leaves.

For a variety of reasons.

26 Name: Bookworm : 2008-05-19 21:46 ID:oFRnlyqr

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. It's an interesting read, but it's mostly famous because of the controversy.

27 Name: Bookworm : 2008-05-27 06:10 ID:QbcqoGIZ


Really a good one. Naked Lunch is as well, and while I'm a great admirer of Burroughs I think he's read for all the wrong reasons (drug culture, the famous obscenity trial). On that note, I'd add Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas, one of the saddest and most literary books I've read, and largely unappreciated as anything except an in the trenches report from drug addiction and burnout.


I'm curious why? You don't think HoL stands on its own without the layout/writing style, or?

28 Name: Bookworm : 2008-05-27 22:51 ID:AGu4HTSr

Krystian Bala's Amok did pretty well in its own right, but it experienced a resurging interest after it was discovered that a murder depicted in the novel was modeled after one the author committed several years earlier.

29 Name: Bookworm : 2008-06-02 13:13 ID:xzcwRJ3Y

Victoria Beckham's autobiog. People only read it cause she's famous.

30 Name: Bookworm : 2008-07-23 05:50 ID:T7EoHNMX

House of Leaves - Mark Z. Danielewski

31 Name: Bookworm : 2008-07-23 17:21 ID:cnBAlvsB

You could say that it was gimmicky, although this would mean it's significant due to its own merits. So it wouldn't belong here.

32 Name: Bookworm : 2008-07-23 22:49 ID:VsnbOKwL

The Twilight series.

33 Name: Bookworm : 2008-07-24 17:31 ID:cnBAlvsB


34 Name: Bookworm : 2008-08-07 23:34 ID:S7qdqWHY

Works with literary/historical value or success based on their own merits/influence
The Satanic Verses was a Booker prize finalist. The fatwa would have never come about if it wasn't getting so much press for being a great (albeit controversial) book in the first place.

It may be remembered by many now because of the association with the fatwa put on Rushdie's head, but people would definitely still remember it for being an amazing piece of literature if the fatwa hadn't happened. Salman Rushdie had already established himself as a famous and critically acclaimed novelist years before The Satanic Verses was published. He won the Booker prize sometime in the early 80s for Midnight's Children.

35 Name: Bookworm : 2008-08-11 18:15 ID:Heaven

That really goes to most, if not all celebrity autobiographies.

36 Name: Bookworm : 2008-09-18 20:09 ID:JCC3dVjj

The Shoppaholic.
So damn shitty. Why is it the #1 best seller? It's offensive to the audience it was intended for.

37 Name: Bookworm : 2008-10-03 01:40 ID:5ZtV/y5Z

The Bible

Think about it.

38 Name: Bookworm : 2008-10-03 04:02 ID:8hQmI0hO

Marketing. Any religious book is marketing by default.

39 Name: Bookworm : 2008-10-07 17:49 ID:zBBRHrc1


Haha, I lol'd. But true.

I would say any self-help book fits here. They are totally useless for people who have common sense.

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