Editor's note: Aaron Sagers is a New York-based entertainment writer and nationally syndicated pop-culture columnist. He has specialty knowledge in "paranormal pop culture," has lectured at conventions nationwide on the topic and is a media pundit on supernatural entertainment. He covers pop culture daily at ParanormalPopCulture.com and can be found on Twitter @aaronsagers.
Print isn’t dead, but it can be deadly.
Within popular culture, there exist guides with the express purpose of wreaking havoc and unleashing hell on humanity. While the Kindle, iPad and Nook might have a killer effect on the book industry, these are books that are very industrious at killing.
For instance, in the supernatural comedy series “Todd and the Book of Pure Evil” - now in its second season on cable horror network Fearnet - a group of teens at the Satanist-controlled Crowley High battle the forces of a mysterious tome that grants wishes with sinister twists.
After witnessing the dark powers of the book and the control it holds over the weak and needy, metal head Todd (Alex House), Jimmy the Janitor (Jason Mewes of “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back”) and a gang of high schoolers become determined to end the "Pure Evil" plague. The result is a series that has the charm and wit of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," but with more of a raunchy, at-times awkward humor that appeals to die-hard horror nerds.
But "Book of Pure Evil" is far from the only that sits in the devil’s stacks. Therefore, what follows is a list of the most harmful books of verisimilitude within pop culture that contain information not to be checked out. After all, while reading is fundamental, it can also be fundamentally dangerous.
A creation of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, the "Necronomicon" is a book of spells that first appeared in the 1924 short story, “The Hound.” Purportedly written by the "Mad Arab" Abdul Alhazred, it appears in various forms in Lovecraft’s work, but is typically leather-bound with clasps. (Descriptions of it as being bound in human skin are likely confused with a separate portfolio described in the same short story.) An unabridged version exists at the fictional Miskatonic University.
Lovecraft’s "Necronomicon" is perhaps the most famously evil book that inspires entertainment. Many “real” versions of it have been published, including the controversial “Simon” version in 1977 that was accused of inspiring a cult murder.
"The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy"
Although this electronic repository for all knowledge and wisdom suggests any reader to “Don’t Panic” in “large, friendly letters,” there is indeed a good deal of reasons to panic if you consult it.
Introduced in author Douglas Adams’ sci-fi comedy series of the same name in 1978, “The Guide” is riddled with devastating typos, errors and gross understatements. To rely on it is to ensure destruction since most of the editing staff remain on permanent lunch break – even though its advice on towels has proved helpful. Published by Megadodo Publications, "The Guide" itself has a sarcastic tone and looks like a small, thin, flexible laptop computer within a sturdy plastic cover.
"Naturan Demanto/ Book of the Dead"
A cabin in the Tennessee woods is not normally where you may expect to find an ancient Sumerian text with resurrection spells, but so it goes in the 1981 horror “The Evil Dead,” starring Bruce Campbell and directed by Sam Raimi. When Campbell’s crew of twenty-something friends vacation at the cabin, discover the book and accidentally play an audiotape incantation, demons spring forth to cause trouble and kill them off.
While the sequel “Evil Dead II” and “Army of Darkness” were comedy-tinged sequels that referred to the book as the fictional "Necronomicon Ex-Mortis," the "Book of the Dead" was a real Egyptian collection of funereal rites to facilitate a person’s journey into the afterlife and popped up as a magical text in other films, such as 1999’s “The Mummy”. There is also a Tibetan "Book of the Dead."
“To Serve Man” Kanamit cookbook
The danger of “To Serve Man”– from the 1962 “The Twilight Zone” episode of the same name - lies in shoddy, incomplete translation. When the alien race of the Kanamits land on Earth, they do the human race a solid by transforming deserts into oases, ending world hunger, providing cheap energy and eliminating nuclear weapons.
But when one of the Kanamit race leaves behind his plain black, space-leather bound book behind at the United Nations, a group of U.S. cryptographers working to decipher the alien language (and apparently the only ones in the world doing so) give up after decoding the title of the alien book: To Serve Man.
It is only after much of the human race is zipping off to the Kanamit homeworld “paradise” that one lone decoder figures out the book is actually a cookbook that reduces humans into “an ingredient in someone's soup.”
Appearing in the 1998-2006 supernatural soap “Charmed” on The WB, "The Grimoire" is a compendium of evil magic and information. "The Grimoire," which is actually a name applied to textbooks of magic, provides a counterbalance to "The Book of Shadows" used by good witch heroines, the Halliwell sisters. A brown book emblazoned with a skull and upside down pentagram, the Grimoire is a destructive force that can reject the powers of white magic. Even though The CW, the network that replaced The WB, featured grimoires on its current soaps “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Secret Circle,” neither have quite developed the same punch as "The Grimoire" or "The Book of Shadows."
"Book of Vishanti / Eternity Book"
Within the comic book world, the "Book of Vishanti" and "Eternity Book" essentially both operate as the same source of magic. Within the Marvel Comics universe, the "Book of Vishanti" is a golden collection of white magical source currently owned by Doctor Strange that appeared in 1964 in “Strange Tales”. It was dictated to human magicians by the magical collective of the Vishanti and has been possessed by Atlanteans and Babylonian gods. The good spells can backfire with dangerous, even evil, results.
Meanwhile, the "Eternity Book" exists within the DC Comic universe and contains the secrets of existence.
Seen first in “The Demon” in 1972, it is depicted as red with gold clasps and a red seal, and is the personal spell book that once belonged to Merlin. To use it is to know the history of the universe and to gain immense magical powers.
"Grays Sports Almanac"
Seemingly innocuous while on sale at the Blast from the Past antique store in 2015, the "Grays Sports Almanac: Complete Sports Statistics 1950-2000" was used to upset the balance of the entire space-time continuum. Introduced in the 1989 film “Back to the Future Part II,” the softcover, red almanac contained 50 years’ worth of results from football, baseball, boxing, horse racing and more. Used by a time traveler motivated by greed, the almanac can be the key to fame and immense fortune, but also creates a dark alternate timeline. Grays had been publishing sports almanacs since 1923, the 1950-2000 volume was the first to alter reality.
Good article,must learn something new everyday.
Technically, Noteran Demanto and Necronomicon ex Mortis are the same book. It was Noteran in Evil Dead 1, then changed to Necronomicon Ex Mortis by Evil Dead 2, then just the Necronomicon by Army of Darkness. Just saying.
What about the Never Ending Story.... The Nothing was pure evil... er nevermind it was just nothing
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""The Guide" itself has a sarcastic tone and looks like a small, thin, flexible laptop computer within a sturdy plastic cover."
So Douglas Adams invented the Kindle back in 1978.
THE KING IN YELLOW by Robert W. Chambers (1895) was the book that began this meme. You may find and read it to this very day, but beware, as it will shred your soul. Actually Chambers was alluding to a book by Goethe called SORROWS OF YOUNG WERTHER that was so sad a lot of young Germans killed themselves after reading it, so there was a real source to this idea of killer books.
That's a GREAT book to recommend. Wow, hadn't though of it in forever. But I will add that the point of the article is to talk about fictional books that appear in pop culture, not books of fiction
Chambers' book is about people who have read, or narrowly escaped reading, the actual forbidden book THE KING IN YELLOW. They throw it into the fire, then drag it back out and read the burning pages. Then they go insane; Lovecraft mentions it several times in letters. Even better, it contains the names Hastur and Carcosa from Ambrose Bierce's short stories.
Along the shore the cloud waves break,
The twin suns sink behind the lake,
The shadows lengthen
Strange is the night where black stars rise,
And strange moons circle through the skies,
But stranger still is
Songs that the Hyades shall sing,
Where flap the tatters of the King,
Must die unheard in
Song of my soul, my voice is dead,
Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
Shall dry and die in
Any IRS tax publication.
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Yo yo. They call me rappin Dave and this is why.....
Hey! My name is Dave and I like dem cooons! I dropped da chicks and gave up chasin the pooon! Now I'm lookin for da jig-abooos...I find them and take em in da loos! There we whip it out and schlobb da knob...I keep it clean cuz I'm no slob! Dem bros got big ol disco sticks...I pale in comparison to my tiny prik! Now I gotta go cuz its time to pump, my buddy is ready to take it in da rump!
Tobin's Spirit Guide from Ghostbusters
I wouldn't mind a look at the book John Winchester passed to Dean and Sam in "Supernatural."
Can't believe someone forgot the Orange Catholic Bible from "Dune."
How is the Orange Catholic Bible evil or dangerous? The teaching are anti-tech but doesn't really fit with this story.
They forgot the Tora, the Bible, and the Koran.
Don't forget the Book of Mormon.
Don't want to leave out On The Origin of Species
Book of Vile Darkness, AD&D
No "The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows," from the film "The 9th gate," makes this list largely bogus.
It should have been no less than the 2nd book named.
Maybe they didn't include The Ninth Gate because the movie sucked so bad and a notable film
"In My Time" by Dick Cheney
"To Serve Man" was actually originally a short story by Damon Knight that was later adapted into a Twilight Zone episode.
Ha, we were probably both writing that at the same time. :p
"To Serve Man" was originally a short story written by Damon Knight in 1950. I came across it in a compilation of short Sci-Fi stories a while back. I liked the Twillight Zone episode, but the story was chilling even knowing the ending ahead of time...
I liked seeing Liesel's ppcieertsve because everything I read about this subject before was from a Jewish person or American soldier's ppcieertsve. It is interesting to see how kids grow up to form opinions and how people can only keep them to themselves so much. Sometimes it is too painful not to be kind! If you like this book, you should read The Red Scarf Girl too. It deals with similar issues for a girl coming of age in communist China who is torn between the values of her family and the values she is learning in school and society. This book also reminded me of Skellig in a way because I kept thinking that Max was like the weird, magical man who the kids found in the shed. If they do make it a movie, I hope that Jean-Pierre Jeunet directs it and it looks something like City of the Lost Children !
iPad + Wikipedia = Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Whoever the slimy little loser is that's posting all of the disgusting comments really needs to go play in traffic. I've seen some sad people in my days, but I have to say that if I were you, I'd drink some bleach. rarely have I ever seen that level of immaturity. You obviously have mommy or daddy issues and need to call attention to yourself to somehow make you feel like your pathetic little existence actually means something.
Hey Dave. Go back to pumpin your buddy in da keister! We don't want to hear any more of your whining. Just cuz you are a flamin ho-mo, doesn't mean you need to share it with the rest of us. Guessing you been trollin for young gayboyz on these blogs for years....
Troll callin out a troll
I was hoping for real books that geeks know are "evil". Instead, we got books from TV shows. Too bad. There are some really, really cool old books that actually exist that might be described as evil.
Any particular books in mind?
The guide? Evil? This author is certainly no cool frood. Maybe he needs more anti-depressants in his towel?
The Greater Key comes to mind
Spreads evil, misery and boredom where ever it goes!
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The only beautiful image of Iran is one with lots of mushroom clouds and charred corpses.
CNN, where are the controls for hiding troll comments like this!
And you wonder why kids who have been shunned by the popular crowd because they dont fit into their perfect pseudo world flip out and go on shooting rampages at schools. To some kids this kind of entertainment is a escape because usually they have had some deep traumas or problems at home. A depressed person especially a teen seeks out more misery then what they are going through. Many eventually out grow it and have normal lives. The people that inflict hurtful rhetoric generally never outgrow their social flaws and make childish comments on blogs such as this.
I gonna go bezerkur on your poop chute!! Its time to pump the plump rump of sum chump.
none of you are funny... // interesting article.
Rollin rollin rollin! Trollin trollim trollin!! Let's get it on you ubernerds!! Bring it.
I would like a big ol jiga-boo jumanji in my cooochie!! Dem cooons got da biggest sausages around!! Hey bros, drop me your digits and I will drop my panties!!
"Margaret" - You are obviously a gay man, but which one? If you had to be one of the Village People, are you the cowboy, indian, sailor, cop, or the biker?
You called me out! U iz correct. I am a flamin fruit with a tiny package. Because of that, I would probably be the biker! They make up for tiny dongs with big bikes!
I agree that Jumanji is – in its' universe – an evil book. I'm trying to remember the name of another book that sucks people in. I think it had enchanted ink in it or something?
Sorry, but Jumanji doesn't belong anywhere near this list. Jumanji was a board game with fantastical powers, not a book.
where's the handbook for the recently deceased???????!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Where's the handbook for the flamin fairies like me? You know..da rump rangers....da pillow biters....da knob slobbers!!
The Internal Revenue Service Grimoire of Tax Codes. Most evil and horrifying book in the history of the world.
Forgot the Darkhold from Marvel Comics.
unfortunately so has Marvel. =( loved that short-lived series.
Words are so important, so perfwoul. I liked the fact that the Leisl's parents were communists, another perspective of the sufferings done at the hands of Nazi Germany. Her foster parents seem to be average people, yet are sympathizers with Jews, Communists, et. al. Gives us hope for humanity. I left #316 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Let's see who this book will impact next. Bravo Zusack!
Those all pale in comparison to this scary book of magic, demons, & spells I found once. Believe it was called The Bible or something like that. Glad it was just a story.
My other favorite book is one that shows you how to pack fudge! I be lookin for sum gayboyz to party with....any nutbars wanna pound my pooop chute?
KLATA... VERATA... *COUGH... NECKTIE!
This here is my BOOM STICK!!!!!
I am gonna give u my MEAT STICK right up your poooper! Meet my friend Ben....Ben Dover
Let's get real, here, the Necronomicon is the only book you need to worry about.
The Necronomicon was also featured in the film, "Army Of Darkness," one of my favorite scifi/fantasy films.
Also, Death Note.
The books of spells the kids on Secret Circle have.
I used to go by bj, but my buds were makin fun of me cuz I was known for schlobin da knob....you know, kneel and bob....slurpin dat big ol corn cob!!
I used to go by bj, but my buds were makin fun of me cuz I was known for schlobin da knob....you know, kneel and bob....slurpin dat big ol corn cob!!