[Book] An Influential Read: Mysteries of the Unexplained (1985)

This past summer, an overflowing collection of books and a lack of space for other things (aka VIDEO GAMES!) forced me to take inventory and weed out books that I know in my heart of hearts I would never find time to read. It was during that time that I realized, there are just some books that I will never give up.

Case in point: my copy of Mysteries of the Unexplained. It sits in my living room bookcase, waiting for that day when I will pick it up and peruse its storied pages again. It was one of those books I treasured as a young, influential kid, and is still an interesting read today.

Mysteries of the Unexplained is best described by its editors as “how ordinary men and women have experienced the strange, the uncanny and the incredible.” The book centers on everything to do with unexplained phenomena: UFO sightings, interesting coincidences, disappearances and Bigfoot. Right up my impressionable alley! Some of the subject matter made my hair stand up on end; spontaneous human combustion, ghost sightings, and exorcisms. The pics included in the tome would give me the willies, but I couldn’t stop looking at them or reading about them. This 310-page hardcover book is presented very much like a textbook, complete with index at the back… a textbook of AWESOME, that is! Aw, man, if only they taught this stuff in school, I would have gotten straight As, instead of that lousy math I was forced to take!

My sister got this book for Christmas in 1985 from my Step-dad*. Of course, as I review the pages now, this book was probably not appropriate for any 11 year-old with an active imagination, but having an older sister, I had access to media more geared to a teen than an 11-year-old, including more adult books. I know this book was my sister’s, but as it usually went with all books at our house within arms-reach, my sis was a voracious speed reader who blasted through this book and barely picked it up again. I then picked it up and was fascinated – riveted! – by this book, and could not put it down. I am not sure how it happened, if I took it (and if so, sorry Sis!) or if it was a throwback from when my sis and I lived together in London, Ontario and she left it behind when she moved out…whatever the case, I now have it in my possession.

I still find myself pulling it off the shelf from time to time, looking through the pages and remembering how I felt reading it. It being a Reader’s Digest publication, it’s an accessible read, providing snippets of info combined with longform stories. There is something in this book for any fan of this type of read.

Amazingly, my copy of Mysteries of the Unexplained is still in excellent shape! It used to have a dust jacket that long-ago ripped, but the pages are not dog-eared at all. There are some pages that are stained, likely from multiple moves or eating Doritos whilst reading. At any rate, this is one book I am happy to keep on the shelf indefinitely.

Mysteries of the Unexplained
Reader’s Digest Association, Ltd
© 1982, fifth printing, 1985
[Definitely Out of Print, but I’ve seen copies at Value Village]

*Back in 1985 my Step-Dad was my Mom’s long-term boyfriend – it was complicated…


  1. This really resonates with me! I don’t have this — I have many similar ones though. I collect them all.

    My favorite is Arthur C Clarke’s A-Z of Mysteries. Utterly amazing and a must.

    This is one that, now I know it exists, I’ll look for at my favorite stores.


    1. That was a little poke at you, Geoff, don’t you know! 😉

      In all seriousness, I struggled immensely with math, so my sentiments are quite honest. I hated math.


      1. I can appreciate that – especially in the upper grades, it starts to get pretty abstract.

        I tell my students that units like algebra are “Nickelback” units – they tend to be polarizing, some love it, others say ew!


        1. I never hated math, but it was never easy for me. Apparently my abilities with logic only extended so far. I used to try to make words out of the letters in Algebra, for example. But most things made sense eventually, even if I had to figure out my own way of understanding it when the teacher’s explanation wasn’t sinking in.

          Years after high school, I got a job ina bank. I always said if my high school math teacher could see me in there, he’d probably have a heart attack!

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Have you been to Loch Ness? My sis-in-law was at Oxford for a summer on some nuclear energy conference something or other blah blah…who cares? I was more impressed she toured Loch Ness, and got some cool effin swag!! LOL If I ever get to the UK, I’m def heading there!


  2. Do you still have this book? I remember as a kid I read either this book or a book like it and all I can remember is: a mysterious hand showing up on a man’s hip who’s sitting on a bench, a nun with bleeding eyes – or something like that, and the Flying Dutchman. Are those things in this book by any chance? As a kid, this book scared the heck outta me haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I still have it. They could all very well be in this book! It recounts religious icons that shed tears and a crucifix that bleeds. It has a section about abandoned and ghost ships. The thing with the weird hand is something I recognize but can’t locate absolutely. There are so many creepy things in it.


  3. I just came across this while searching for this very book! My grandmother had a copy, and when I was a little girl, I was fascinated by it. I tried many times to borrow it as an adult, but Grandma would never let me take it. Sadly, the book was destroyed when Grandma’s house burned down in 2008. I just ordered a used copy a few seconds ago, and I can’t wait for it to arrive!

    Liked by 1 person

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