Over the last couple of years, I’ve enjoyed sharing books with you—but this will be my last column, because I’m retiring from the library this month. As a farewell, here are some books with “mystery” or “mysterious” in the title—a reminder that this world is full of mysteries, and there’s always something new to learn.
Ever wonder about the ordinary things you see in your neighborhood? Author Spike Carlsen did, and in “A Walk Around the Block: Stoplight Secrets, Mischievous Squirrels, Manhole Mysteries & Other Stuff You See Every Day (And Know Nothing About)” he delves into subjects like electricity, paving, and pigeons in a fun and fact-filled way. If you’re looking for the low-down on front porches or free parking, look no further!
Remember sea-monkeys? The ones you could order from the back of a comic book in the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s? “Mail-Order Mysteries: Real Stuff from Old Comic Book Ads” by Kirk Demarais blows the cover on what you really got when you ordered sea monkeys—or the seven-foot-long Polaris submarine—or the World’s Deadliest Fighting Secrets—or any of 147 other items offered to kids willing to part with their allowance. If you ever wondered what that inflatable dinosaur was like (a balloon with a face painted on), this is the book for you.
Do you enjoy mathematical puzzles? Join “Soames” and “Watsup” as they solve cases in “Professor Stewart's Casebook of Mathematical Mysteries” by Ian Stewart. This fun compendium will give your brain a good workout as you ponder such concepts as consecutive cubes, RATS, and Eelish mnemonics.
How far would you go to help your child? “Camel Crazy: A Quest for Miracles in the Mysterious World of Camels” by Christina Adams is the story of a mother’s search for camel milk to help her autistic son. Follow Adams as she researches and travels from the United Arab Emirates to India and even to Amish farms in the United States, getting to know how intelligent, unpredictable—and healing—camels are.
What’s more mysterious than creativity? Legendary Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier explores his craft in “How Sweet It Is: A Songwriter's Reflections on Music, Motown and the Mystery of the Muse.” He also shares an insider’s look at the Motown scene including his encounters with such superstars as Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder. (And did you know that his encounter with an irate girlfriend was the source of the song title “Stop! In the Name of Love”?)
We live in our bodies every day, but do we understand what’s going on inside? “The Mysterious World of the Human Genome” by Frank Ryan explains how our genes work and where they may take us in the future.
Why did the creator of Sherlock Holmes believe that it was possible to communicate with the dead? “Through a Glass, Darkly: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Quest to Solve the Greatest Mystery of All” by Stefan Bechtel and Laurence Roy Stains examines the history of spiritualism from the mid-Victorian era into the 1930s and the experiences that convinced Conan Doyle that spiritualism was true. Read it and decide for yourself!
Goodbye, and happy reading! And be sure to look for our new Book Beat columnist in June.
Library Tip of the Month: Explore the mysteries of history, art, culture, and science with an Experience Pass! This program provides library account-holders with free access to local museums and attractions.
A version of this column first appeared in The Messenger, May 2022.
Find more book columns in our Off the Shelf blog.