Every once in a while, I remember one of the books from my childhood that I recall with great fondness. Thanks to the Internet, I can usually find a blurb on what I had long discarded or gave away.

I have been trying for a while to locate a kids activity book about monsters that my grandmother bought me in the late 70s at a downtown department store when downtown stores with book departments were a real thing (and were really awesome). I’m not one for nostalgia at all but I recalled this book was my favorite and the information I learned from it was my first exposure to many monster ideas. It had sections on vampires and other movie monsters, but also the Yeti and Bigfoot. I even remembered the cover of the book was orange with purple. I swore it was named Monsters and was possibly one of the large Golden Books featuring puzzles and games.

I was trying every keyword I could think of, knowing if I saw the cover I would recognize it instantly. My searches turned up empty, until today. My results delivered a link to The Haunted Closet Blogspot site featuring vintage kids books, a site that began in 2008 but since 2011 only has a handful of posts per year. It didn’t show what I was looking for and there wasn’t all that much on there but it was fun to scroll through the entries.

I think I searched for “monsters” and, incredibly, there it was on the page. Monsters: Fiendish Facts, Quivery Quizzes and Other Grisly Goings-on was a Golden Book, part of the Family Funtime series. It was sold in 1977 for $0.79.

My favorite monster book (1977)

I was gleeful that there were several pictures of the pages included in the blog post, which reminded me that this was the book that introduced me to voodoo, showed me how to recognize people who were really werewolves, and the story of UFOs over the White House. There was also this neat drawing of a green devil head with instructions to stare at it for a long time and then look at a white wall whereby the afterimage that appeared would be red. It worked!

I’d love to hear from other people who remember this book as a kid in the 70s. (I was probably 8 years old when I got this gem.) They just don’t write quality kids content like this anymore. Two other books that I distinctly remember have also been fondly remembered by friends and paranormally-inclined acquaintances – Monsters of North America by Elwood Baumann that was my introduction to Bigfoot and his southern cousins, and Haunted Houses by Larry Kettlekamp that had classic photos such as the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall and stories that are still discussed today.

I have a copy of Baumann’s book. I noted Lyle Blackburn also referenced it in his latest book on Momo, the Missouri monster. Baumann was my first source of information on this classic small town monster. I also will pick up Kettlekamp’s book soon and am actively looking for a copy of the Monsters book at the top. Well, that was a spooky but joyous walk down memory lane. These books are treasures.

10 thoughts on “My three favorite vintage books on monsters and the paranormal

  1. Interesting topic. Got me thinking, in the 1960s and early 70s when I was a kid I don’t recall large book stores like today. There were libraries and smaller mom-and-pop independent stores in New England where I grew up. I do remember browsing in a local store on my own after school sometimes and shelf space on the unexplained was given more to UFO books, mostly paperbacks. Maybe because the magazine rack always had the fictional “Famous Monsters of Filmland.” I believe my first exposure to the nonfiction claims side was the 1974 TV documentary narrated by the great Rod Serling titled “Monsters! Mysteries or Myths?” It featured the Loch Ness Monster, Yeti, and Bigfoot.

    1. I just recently watched that show, James. Found some interesting things in it. Maybe will post on it soon.

  2. My friend and next-door neighbor had the Haunted Houses book. He was a budding magician and we both loved magic, but also skepticism, although we didn’t know what that was called back then. We thought Houdini was a total badass and wanted to be like him.

    This also reminded me of not just a book, but my favorite monster show from the 70s. Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Loved it!

    I had a Bigfoot book by Ann Slate called simply “Bigfoot”. Enjoyed it at the time, but have no idea if I’d still like it.

    Anyway, fun subject and fun to think about the monsters we enjoyed as kids.

  3. I absolutely remember that Monster book, and, like you, I spent a lot of time typing in keywords trying to find it. “Orange” “Oversize” “Golden Books”, etc. before finally stumbling across it the same place you did.

    I loved that book and I credit it with my life-long distrust of people with uni-brows.

    But seriously, if we both see a copy at the same time, it’ll be fightin’ time.

  4. I still own the Ann Slate book. It was the first bigfoot book that I remember bringing in the “woo” factor of bigfoot belief – orbs, invisibility, psychic messages and shape-shifting. It was quite a departure from the flesh and blood primate postulated in other books of this vintage and it is fascinating to see how these outlier ideas have become rather main stream today.

  5. OMG I had this book too! I want to say 1978, maybe 1979? The one thing I remember was a monster face and a normal face next to each other on the page and when you brought the page close to your face, the faces would merge together! I wish I could find a copy of this book!

  6. Yes! I loved that Monsters book! It really helped shape my love of horror movies. Yeah, 1978 or so…Wish I still had it.

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