I’m a big fan of the website Awful Library Books, which is devoted to the unusual, outdated and often hilariously odd books found on the shelves of libraries.
The titles featured on Awful Library Books are mostly being weeded out of their library’s collections, and I imagine most of them are books which never made it onto the shelves of our store (though I’m sure if our inventory records went back far enough I’d be surprised by how many we’ve had…). Generally the closest we come to awful library book territory is our one and three dollar used books, which, in fair weather (and we haven’t had much of that lately) sit on carts outside the store.
The books that wind up on these carts vary widely in scope, publication date and quality. For instance, I’ve found a one dollar Complete Works of William Shakespeare in very good condition, a beat-up copy of The Vegetarian Epicure Book 2, and I often spot both classic and contemporary novels like the lovely Bel Canto, Ian McEwan’s Atonement, or James’ The Turn of the Screw.
And then, of course, there are books like this one:
Published in the late 1970s, this book is so awful, hilarious and appalling that I couldn’t not share it with you. Choice bits include chapter headings like “Packaging Yourself,” “The Company Spouse,” full illustrations–here’s one for hairstyles
–an entire chapter dedicated to dressing to attract particular types of men (I’m not kidding. Molloy says this about dentists: “Young dentists seem to be under the influence of novacaine. Almost nothing turns them on.” It’s much safer to go after Career Military Men. Just dress conservatively! They don’t like sluts) and this advice about lingerie: “It is probably a good idea to have ten sets of lingerie in different colors and to wear something different every night.” Awesome. I’m heading to Victoria’s Secret, right now.
There are nuggets of wisdom (or at least nuggets of something) on every single page. And I haven’t even showed you my favorite bits yet. Like the chapter titled “Selling Yourself and Other Important Items”. Or this paragraph, under the bolded heading “Sexism? No!”, which concludes the introduction.
Note: This book is designed as a classic “how to” book. Its purpose is to give every American woman a simple set of rules so that she can make her clothing and her accessories work for her.
Sometimes this specifically involves dressing to make the right impression on men. This is not sexist. It is a stark reality that men dominate the power structure–in business, in government, in education. I am not suggesting that women dress to impress men simply because they are men. My advice to women is based on the same principle as my advice to men: Your clothes should move you up socially and in business, not hold you back.
If women control a substantial hunk of the power structure in ten or fifteen years, I will write a book advising men how to dress in a female-dominated environment.
It is not sexism; it is realism.
Gotta love a dose of that super tasty not-sexist realism. And while I’m quaffing that down, let me take a moment to thank you, Mr. John T. Molloy, for your service in the battle for the liberation and empowerment of American women, and your fierce dedication to the cause of gender equality. We of the “Sexism Question Mark No Exclamation Point” Guild salute you. And we look forward to your forthcoming book, release date 20??, The Men’s Dress for Success Book, in which you’ll answer, once and for all, the timeless question, “Boxers? Briefs? Or Boxer-Briefs?.”
More coming soon from the land of the dollar carts. But I can’t promise I’ll ever be able to top this one. Oh, and don’t worry. I didn’t buy it, so if you want, it’s yours. And it’s only a dollar (and six cents of tax). What a steal.