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Sometimes you really can judge a book by its cover.

For instance, if the cover has the name Stuart Woods, Judith Krantz or Dale Brown on it, I’ve learned from past experience that the content of the book will almost certainly be dreck.

Book titles often don’t give the best clues as to whether or not the content inside the cover will be a good read, particularly given the current one-word title trend. On The New York Times best-seller list this week are “Educated,” “Lost,” “Tightrope,” “Becoming” and “You,” which leaves me thinking, “Huh?”

But book titles bad enough to be archived on the website awfullibrary, created by Michigan librarians Holly Hibner and Mary Kelly, leave little doubt as to content quality. Here are some examples of books in need of a bonfire — or at least a recycling center — that actually turned up in public library shelves and were submitted to the site by those who work or spend significant time in public reading rooms:

“Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles,” by David A. Noebel, who did not receive a Noebel Prize for this 1965 work. It’s about the Fab Four making the British Invasion a front for a Marxist revolution through pop music, freaky lyrics and mind control. Well, one of the Beatles was a Lennon, after all, which could be mistaken for Lenin.

“Touched: The Jerry Sandusky Story,” a memoir by the former Nittany Lions assistant football coach 10 years before he was charged in the Penn State child sexual abuse scandal. Almost as bad as the unfortunate title were comments made in the book’s foreword by St. Louis Rams Head Coach Dick Vermeil, who urged readers to enjoy the book since Sandusky was “an original piece of work.”

“Knitting With Dog Hair,” subtitled “A Woof-to-Warp Guide to Making Hats, Sweaters, Mittens and Much More. Stop Vacuuming and Start Knitting!” I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to take a walk in the winter rain in my dog sweater and share the distinctive aroma of wet canine with friends and co-workers. I just hope this book isn’t a prequel to a how-to book about knitting with human back hair.

“Wax in our World,” a juvenile nonfiction book involving a substance nearly any kid would enjoy getting an earful about. Author Solveig Paulson Russell also penned a book on another gripping topic beloved by youth everywhere: “Twist and Twine — The Story of Cordage.”

And finally, I recommend another children’s book title that turned out to involve a story that’s not as bad as the title, “Pooh Gets Stuck,” suggests:

It’s about beloved Teddy bear Winnie the Pooh becoming lodged in a hillside burrow and requiring Christopher Robin’s help to get free.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at, 304-348-5169 or follow

@rsteelhammer on Twitter.