Sunday, September 20, 2015

Cult Books: Obsession with the Obscure

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
Cult Books: Obsession with the Obscure: Defining a cult book is not easy. Let's start with the more obvious aspects of cult lit. To begin, a cult book should have a passionate following. Buckets of books fall into this category, including classics like J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye and On the Road by Jack Kerouac. But even mega sellers Harry Potter and 50 Shades of Grey can be considered cult lit by that definition. A cult book should have the ability to alter a reader's life or influence great change, and for the purpose of this list, it should also be a bit odd and a tad obscure.

7 comments:

Don Coffin said...

True story. When Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was published (1974), I was at West Virginia University with a one-year lecturer appointment and working on my dissertation. I really wanted to read it, and so went to the university bookstore...couldn't find it anywhere. Went to the help desk. The person working there was sure they had it, and, sure enough, they did...filed and shelved with automotive repair books.

Don Coffin said...

I'm not sure, btw, that The Fountainhead can be classified as a cult book, except to the extent that the Randites constitute a cult. Given its (incredibly) large total sales, it would seem to have transcended cult-hood.

Deb said...

Is anything "obscure" anymore?

Deb said...

Btw, we have the Vincent and Mary Price cookbook. It's a fabulous mid-century artifact with beautiful photographs and illustrations, plus reproductions of menus from the very top restaurants of the 1960s. We use the fondue recipe every New Year's Eve.

Unknown said...

But not THE FANNY HILL COOKBOOK?

Unknown said...

Basically I'd say that anything reviewed at Steve Lewis' MYSTERY*FILE could be termed a "cult" book.

Unknown said...

And the movies reviewed there would be cult movies, too, right?