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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not striking but not bad, 17 Jan 2011
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This review is from: 500 Essential Cult Books: The Ultimate Guide (Paperback)
I find books like this--the Rough Guides to various sorts of books, including cult, come to mind--fun to read, despite their being pretty lightweight and very much subjective. (Given the premises for them, subjectivity and absence of serious criticism would I suppose be difficult to avoid.)

McKinnon divides her books into 10 categories, like the seedy, young adults, sci-fi, one-of-a-kind and doesn't make a bad job of it in commenting on the books, although I would never have bothered looking at some of the ones I quite liked on the basis of her summaries. For each book she lists a few other supposedly similar ones, and here she strays a bit. Well, a lot, at times. Only the most relaxed sort of free association leads from Hero with a Thousand Faces to Babbitt, surely. . . But balancing this drawback is that non-fiction and comics are scattered freely through the various categories.

The photographs of the different covers many of the titles have been issued with are very interesting. There is, though, a serious problem with the book's layout. The margins are cluttered with whacking great labels for suggested reading ages, book titles, chapter titles, and more still. It's visually confusing and this matters. When the pages stick together (they often do) or when is looking for a specific page, one's eyes dance about looking for the page number somewhere amongst all the other numbers in the margins. And I was nearly 100 pages into the book before I noticed that amidst the marginal clutter were star ratings given to the books.

Undemanding and, disappointingly, it didn't leave me eager to hunt down any of the books discussed, but it's a book better for the time being on my shelf rather than Oxfam's.
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3 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frankly, spoiled by the books it leaves out, 11 Aug 2010
This review is from: 500 Essential Cult Books: The Ultimate Guide (Paperback)
I really liked the look of this book, especially the photographs of the covers of the books to which it refers, many of which I have read. I also enjoyed reading about these, as well as the ones I haven't read but will now look out for.

But . . . and there is a very big but to my enjoyment of this book that makes me resent the money I paid for it: I can't see how it can call itself The Ultimate Guide to cult books and leave out any mention of, for example, James Joyce's Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, which have undeniably huge cult followings, and Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. It's not as if other far older books aren't included.

Most of all, to my mind, to leave out J K Rowling's Harry Potter books puts the final nail in this book's coffin. I have not read one single book from this series myself, but it seems to me that the thousands who waited for each with bated breath, and queued for hours till midnight to get them, and then read them over and over, must surely constitute a cult following that can't be explained away by mere good marketing.
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500 Essential Cult Books: The Ultimate Guide
500 Essential Cult Books: The Ultimate Guide by Steve Holland (Paperback - 7 Jun 2010)
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