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Weird California: Your Travel Guide to California's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets

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Praise for Weird California:   “This book is filled with surprises…even if you never leave your house, this book is a trip.”   —Sacramento News and Review   “It’s a handsome thing: nearly 300 colorful pages…”   —San Francisco Bay Guardian


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Praise for Weird California:   “This book is filled with surprises…even if you never leave your house, this book is a trip.”   —Sacramento News and Review   “It’s a handsome thing: nearly 300 colorful pages…”   —San Francisco Bay Guardian

30 review for Weird California: Your Travel Guide to California's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ed Erwin

    I like the sections on unusual architecture or art projects, but am totally bored by all the sections on supposedly haunted places.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    This mean-spirited little collection of California oddities emphasizes cult activities, famous murderers, and hocus pocus heresay. Only the Ancient Mysteries and Personalized Properties sections are less sensationalized, and much in these sections will not be news to CA residents--though some of the properties are interesting and worth seeing. The section on "Midget Watching" is downright offensive, giving details for sneaking into a gated community to gape at people of short stature ("don't sta This mean-spirited little collection of California oddities emphasizes cult activities, famous murderers, and hocus pocus heresay. Only the Ancient Mysteries and Personalized Properties sections are less sensationalized, and much in these sections will not be news to CA residents--though some of the properties are interesting and worth seeing. The section on "Midget Watching" is downright offensive, giving details for sneaking into a gated community to gape at people of short stature ("don't stay long because 'they' will call security"--ugh!). Not surprising that the first two of three authors are from out of state. Perhaps they should have stopped with their "Weird New Jersey" edition that preceded "Weird California." Check this book out from the library if you must, but PLEASE do not buy it!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    Echoing other readers' comments, I wish it was divided geographically as well as thematically. Overall, I was disappointed that the bulk of the material in the book was from SoCal. Perhaps a second volume of purely NorCal items is in order. Echoing other readers' comments, I wish it was divided geographically as well as thematically. Overall, I was disappointed that the bulk of the material in the book was from SoCal. Perhaps a second volume of purely NorCal items is in order.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kathy (Kindle-aholic)

    I am a sucker for books on ghostly and weird legends, so this book was perfect for me. There is a healthy amount of snark, too (not too much, just enough to keep me grinning).

  5. 5 out of 5

    Trisha Fawver

    It seemed very focused on Southern California. Being a northern California resident, I hoped for more weird places to explore that we're not delivered :( It seemed very focused on Southern California. Being a northern California resident, I hoped for more weird places to explore that we're not delivered :(

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tom Bentley

    I'm cheating on adding this one as finished, because I didn't read it word-for-word, but just flipped through every odd and insane section, and read a good percentage of the section entries, and it took me months to do that. That aside, this is a quirky, amusing and often shocking account of strange and diverting venues, whether they are private property collections by obsessive weirdos or businesses or inexplicable earthly (geological/geophysical/metaphysical) phenomena. There are elaborate ghos I'm cheating on adding this one as finished, because I didn't read it word-for-word, but just flipped through every odd and insane section, and read a good percentage of the section entries, and it took me months to do that. That aside, this is a quirky, amusing and often shocking account of strange and diverting venues, whether they are private property collections by obsessive weirdos or businesses or inexplicable earthly (geological/geophysical/metaphysical) phenomena. There are elaborate ghost tales associated with places, strange buildings erected without seeming purpose, monuments to people that don't seem to deserve monuments, WAY off the beaten path roads, ghost towns, one of a kind freakish occurences noted by plaques or memorials--and much more, because California is a big place. Lots of amusing or disturbing pictures too. And directions (sometimes pretty vague) to all.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kurt Fox

    California is a big state. My biggest gripe with this book is that it should have been titled "Weird SOUTHERN California." 85% of more of the entries are from southern California. If you exclude Bigfoot and San Francisco, that leaves about 2% for the rest of the state. Ideally, you could have made 3 books: "Weird LA and vicinity," "Weird SOUTHERN California" and "Weird NORTHERN California." Not really recommended unless you live south of Monterrey Bay. California is a big state. My biggest gripe with this book is that it should have been titled "Weird SOUTHERN California." 85% of more of the entries are from southern California. If you exclude Bigfoot and San Francisco, that leaves about 2% for the rest of the state. Ideally, you could have made 3 books: "Weird LA and vicinity," "Weird SOUTHERN California" and "Weird NORTHERN California." Not really recommended unless you live south of Monterrey Bay.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    I'm a lover of travel - especially trips to unusual spots around the country. This book, about the oddities and historical/unusual spots in my state of California, has been a lifesaver to me as I compile info for travel articles I write, or when planning day trips just for the fun of it. It sits on my research shelf and has many well-worn pages. I'm a lover of travel - especially trips to unusual spots around the country. This book, about the oddities and historical/unusual spots in my state of California, has been a lifesaver to me as I compile info for travel articles I write, or when planning day trips just for the fun of it. It sits on my research shelf and has many well-worn pages.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    This was just ok for me. I liked the parts about kitschy roadside attractions and abandoned places, things I could actually go see, but could have done without the ghost and bigfoot or monkey-men stories.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Jackson

    A book trying to be weird and spooky but mostly feels like it's full of made up stories. A book trying to be weird and spooky but mostly feels like it's full of made up stories.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Subtitled ”Your Travel Guide to the California’s Local legends and Best Kept Secrets,” this California version of Weird U.S. is a quick and fun read. As someone who has lived most of his life in California, I can attest to the validity of the weirdness of this state. Under the chapter “Fabled People and Places”, there is a story about the Dark Watchers of the Santa Lucia Mountains. John Steinbeck described them in his short story “Flight” and I can say that I have seen them. I was in my teens trai Subtitled ”Your Travel Guide to the California’s Local legends and Best Kept Secrets,” this California version of Weird U.S. is a quick and fun read. As someone who has lived most of his life in California, I can attest to the validity of the weirdness of this state. Under the chapter “Fabled People and Places”, there is a story about the Dark Watchers of the Santa Lucia Mountains. John Steinbeck described them in his short story “Flight” and I can say that I have seen them. I was in my teens training for cross-country and we would regularly trespass onto pasture land to run on the trails made by cattle and trucks. One weekend, I was running high along the ridge of the Santa Lucia Mountains overlooking Monterey Bay and Carmel Valley below. I was exhausted, sweaty, and a bit off kilter when I felt I was being watched. There being no human anywhere near me, I glanced over my right shoulder and glimpsed a blurry figure in all black with a cape and tall hat beneath a tree about 200 meters behind me. I didn’t see him clearly through my sweat-drenched eyes but I was curious. I then spun around to my left facing backwards and saw nothing beneath the tree. I was too tired to be scared and only when I relayed the story to my coach did he confirm what other runners had seen and introduced me to the legend of the Dark Watchers. And in the chapter “Roads Less Traveled” the Curse of Pacheco Pass was something that I grew up with. As a way to entertain the kids on long softball tournament trips, my parents and their friends would spook the children with tales of the cursed highway that we were traveling on. Needless to say, the old folk and Santa Cruz hippie types did agree that there is some bad mojo in that location; it’s a dangerous pass, even in the daytime. I remember it because all my life it was the only place where you had to have your headlights on during the day not because there wasn’t enough sunlight, but because fatalities are very high. I was surprised to read how haunted San Diego is. The Whaley House in Old Town is the most haunted site in California. The Montezuma House is not far from where I live in Golden Hill. The Del’s hauntings are well known. And it seems oddly fitting. San Diego has long been known as a place where boom and bust is a regular occurrence; hence, extremes in emotions and actions are more common than they should be. Other tales are better known: the Winchester Mystery House, the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, and Bigfoot. When I lived in Riverside, I had heard of the beasties that came out of the river in 1942. And I recall, in college, hearing about the “Air Raid” over Los Angeles by UFO’s also in 1942. The rest of the book could be broadcast on “California’s Gold” without breaking stride. It’s a nice diversion, a coffee table book of quick interest and short tales.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jt

    Hotel de California is such a lovely place. you can check out but u can never leave. There is strange, peculiar weirdness in the golden state of California. The dead in LA seem to get more attention than other live Hollywood actors & celebrities. I have always been fascinated with all the fruits and nuts in California. I have been fortunate to visit San Francisco twice early in my adolescence. It's a human cesspool now. The waterfront was quite idyllic while the sea otters frolicked in the marin Hotel de California is such a lovely place. you can check out but u can never leave. There is strange, peculiar weirdness in the golden state of California. The dead in LA seem to get more attention than other live Hollywood actors & celebrities. I have always been fascinated with all the fruits and nuts in California. I have been fortunate to visit San Francisco twice early in my adolescence. It's a human cesspool now. The waterfront was quite idyllic while the sea otters frolicked in the marina. The underside of California is exemplified here. There are places which are oversized and abandoned like the boneyard in the Mojave desert with decommissioned aeroplanes. Donut shops and hot dog stands are larger than life. You have tributes to the Lord Jesus Christ by religious junkies who create a mountain in His honour. There are shrines to Buddha as well. Of course, the Ufos in Topanga Canyon & big-foot sightings in the forests within Bluff Creek make an appealing story too. Anton LeVey makes a persuasive introduction with his Church of Satan. He had some Hollywood connections. Jayne Mansfield was allegedly a part of his occult society. There is plenty to visit in California notwithstanding Alcatraz, Santa Cruz, Monterey, & San Diego. I wished I knew about the wave organ in San Francisco or the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz. Gravity hills are common in New Jersey where vehicles are supported by certain anomalies. You can travel to California where these energies exist. I know there are skeptics who dispute claims of otherworldly or metaphysical powers. Be honest with yourself. Science cannot explain everything no matter how much evidence is apparent. California deserves to be included in the Paranormal State Hall of Fame. So wander these streets in search of Munchkins or deformed deviants in the back roads, you won't be disappointed. Keep a journal of your so-called empirical observations. Be aware. You just might have an encounter with a new alien race. Weird California is a wonderful, beguiling literary experience. The journalism is first rate too with colourful details and surreal photography. Stay Weird

  13. 5 out of 5

    James

    my entire review apparently disappeared when i lost my internet connection as i was trying to post this, so my second attempt is going to be kept short and sweet. this is a biased review because of how much i love the weird series, but that shouldn't take away from these advantages that weird california has over some of the other books in the series: california is such a unique state (in population, landscape, and history) compared to a lot of others in the u.s. that it makes this edition in the my entire review apparently disappeared when i lost my internet connection as i was trying to post this, so my second attempt is going to be kept short and sweet. this is a biased review because of how much i love the weird series, but that shouldn't take away from these advantages that weird california has over some of the other books in the series: california is such a unique state (in population, landscape, and history) compared to a lot of others in the u.s. that it makes this edition in the weird series slightly more intriguing to read about, it features the neon-nighttime-nightmarish photography of troy paiva (whose work also appears in weird texas and weird u.s., and, who can really deny the weirdness of a state home to giant concrete desert dinosaurs (the ones from pee-wee's big adventure), church of satan founder anton lavey, and of course, hollywood?

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gaven

    The book Weird California by Mark Moran tells the story About what weird things are hanging around California. I could definitely relate to this book because there has been so many places I have either been there or past by. The best part of the book was the Roadside Distractions I loved looking at all the different places all over California. I would recommend this book to people going on a vacation so they can make a stop or to along the way to go to these places. If I could anything about the The book Weird California by Mark Moran tells the story About what weird things are hanging around California. I could definitely relate to this book because there has been so many places I have either been there or past by. The best part of the book was the Roadside Distractions I loved looking at all the different places all over California. I would recommend this book to people going on a vacation so they can make a stop or to along the way to go to these places. If I could anything about the book is put Angel Stadium in there because that stadium is just wacky. My least favorite part of the book was The Local Legends and heroes I got kind of bored listening about these people and I almost stopped reading. Overall, I thought the book was Good and if i was to be rated from A To F i would pick a A-.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie Burton

    I love this book! Great urban legends, ghost stories, kooky folks and more from the Golden State. I learned a lot about really creepy cults, urban legends, early settlers and people who make California one heck of a place to live. I find myself often rereading chapters and blogging about certain stories. It's important to celebrate eccentric people and the history they created for California whether it's Sarah Winchester building stairways that go nowhere in her home for wayward ghosts, or the E I love this book! Great urban legends, ghost stories, kooky folks and more from the Golden State. I learned a lot about really creepy cults, urban legends, early settlers and people who make California one heck of a place to live. I find myself often rereading chapters and blogging about certain stories. It's important to celebrate eccentric people and the history they created for California whether it's Sarah Winchester building stairways that go nowhere in her home for wayward ghosts, or the Emperor of San Francisco who reminded people that anyone can create their own royal history if they wear the right uniform and a smile.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Becerra

    The book Weird California by Greg Bishop, Joe Oesterle, and Mike Marinacci tells the story of Three guys going all around California to find the weirdest and creepiest things too but in their book. The book is filled with surprises and it is very interesting . I think the best part of the book was on page 94 the story was Mutant Offspring of a Mad Farmer. Another page I really liked was page 93 that story was River Bridge Monster this story is about A creepy skinny legged monster that comes out The book Weird California by Greg Bishop, Joe Oesterle, and Mike Marinacci tells the story of Three guys going all around California to find the weirdest and creepiest things too but in their book. The book is filled with surprises and it is very interesting . I think the best part of the book was on page 94 the story was Mutant Offspring of a Mad Farmer. Another page I really liked was page 93 that story was River Bridge Monster this story is about A creepy skinny legged monster that comes out at night on rainy ones. I would recommend this book to anybody that likes to get creeped out and scared.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    I debated for a while as to whether this book belonged on the horror or nonfiction shelf. Ultimately I decided that I take most of this book with a grain of salt, so horror it is. It is a lot of fun to read up local lore and urban legends from my own backyard. This book also provides a way to plan interesting day trips to nearby haunted houses or gravity hills should the mood someday strike me. If you are into creepy and sometimes kooky California landmarks as much as I am, you are going to have I debated for a while as to whether this book belonged on the horror or nonfiction shelf. Ultimately I decided that I take most of this book with a grain of salt, so horror it is. It is a lot of fun to read up local lore and urban legends from my own backyard. This book also provides a way to plan interesting day trips to nearby haunted houses or gravity hills should the mood someday strike me. If you are into creepy and sometimes kooky California landmarks as much as I am, you are going to have to get yourself this book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    THe concept is awesome- all the strange, quirky, and out-of-the-way places in California, collected in a coffee table book. The execution leaves a bit to be desired, especially if you plan to actually visit any of the locations. THere's no map to speak of, and instead of being grouped by region, the book is organized by theme, so good luck planning a road trip to hit any of the spots. That said, it's totally worth reading for anyone with an interest in the odd, macabre, or just plain weird, and THe concept is awesome- all the strange, quirky, and out-of-the-way places in California, collected in a coffee table book. The execution leaves a bit to be desired, especially if you plan to actually visit any of the locations. THere's no map to speak of, and instead of being grouped by region, the book is organized by theme, so good luck planning a road trip to hit any of the spots. That said, it's totally worth reading for anyone with an interest in the odd, macabre, or just plain weird, and it turned me on to several new places that i'll be visiting in the next few months.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jenny T

    From the Llorona of Mexican folklore to the creepy Sutro Baths, California has some interesting legends and myths that I enjoyed reading, curled up in bed. These stories would make good campfire fare. I want to go to Lovelock, Nevada to learn about giants mentioned in the Bible. I'm a bit surprised that most of the action mentioned in this book takes place in Southern as opposed to Northern California. I wish there was more coverage of the San Francisco Bay Area, where I'm from. There is a haunt From the Llorona of Mexican folklore to the creepy Sutro Baths, California has some interesting legends and myths that I enjoyed reading, curled up in bed. These stories would make good campfire fare. I want to go to Lovelock, Nevada to learn about giants mentioned in the Bible. I'm a bit surprised that most of the action mentioned in this book takes place in Southern as opposed to Northern California. I wish there was more coverage of the San Francisco Bay Area, where I'm from. There is a haunted Sunnyvale Toys R' Us mentioned, so there's that!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    This book was enjoyable enough. It comes with the expected hokey ghost stories - which are a bit disappointing. However, it is a great spring board for various points of interest. It got me out of my seat and to the computer to research in greater detail some of the myths and locations covered in the book. So on that note, I'm glad I have this book as a reference point the next time I am in the mood for an impromptu exploration - of which I am certainly a fan. This book was enjoyable enough. It comes with the expected hokey ghost stories - which are a bit disappointing. However, it is a great spring board for various points of interest. It got me out of my seat and to the computer to research in greater detail some of the myths and locations covered in the book. So on that note, I'm glad I have this book as a reference point the next time I am in the mood for an impromptu exploration - of which I am certainly a fan.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Clarissa

    This book is so much fun. Although not organized in such a way that it would be easy to find these places (this is not a travel guide), it has some amazing pictures, and some facinating stories. Of particular intrest were the places that are close to home that I can investigate later on. Full of ghost stories (I guess their defination of "strange")it also has lots of the colorful and unique places and people in it. This book is so much fun. Although not organized in such a way that it would be easy to find these places (this is not a travel guide), it has some amazing pictures, and some facinating stories. Of particular intrest were the places that are close to home that I can investigate later on. Full of ghost stories (I guess their defination of "strange")it also has lots of the colorful and unique places and people in it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Teri

    After living in California for 20 years, I knew it was weird but had no idea it was THIS weird. Thanks, Katie, for opening my eyes to even more weird adventures in the golden state. I've experienced some first hand (Winchester House, SF Ghost Tour and Queen Mary)but I see there are many more I should check out. This is a great book if you are into ghosts, legends, monsters and just plain odd facts about California! After living in California for 20 years, I knew it was weird but had no idea it was THIS weird. Thanks, Katie, for opening my eyes to even more weird adventures in the golden state. I've experienced some first hand (Winchester House, SF Ghost Tour and Queen Mary)but I see there are many more I should check out. This is a great book if you are into ghosts, legends, monsters and just plain odd facts about California!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ants

    Do you really read this book? Yes, but not like a novel. There is no plot from one end to another. So, more accurately, the books tests your limit for unusual things. When do you have enough - usually, sooner than you think. But, it deserves to be on the bookshelf. Going someplace, pick it up and do a quick check of what was noted in the area (or along the way). It is hard to go wrong with that. Final note, find a discounted copy. It will make all of the above more relevant.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Robertson

    I loved this book! I found some cool places to visit. I live in CA, but am unfortunately far away from a lot of the sights, but I've made it to one or two and plan to check through this book again before I travel to another part of CA to see some more things. With fabulous pictures it makes an excellent coffee table book, but it was also so entertaining that I read it cover to cover like a novel. I loved this book! I found some cool places to visit. I live in CA, but am unfortunately far away from a lot of the sights, but I've made it to one or two and plan to check through this book again before I travel to another part of CA to see some more things. With fabulous pictures it makes an excellent coffee table book, but it was also so entertaining that I read it cover to cover like a novel.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Compared to the other "Weird" book, California is kind-of lame. Perhaps I am simply not from California, and therefore it seems less weird. But the Californian folklore seems to be less shrouded in mystery as East coast folklore. Regardless, there were some really interesting places that I am excited to go and see, and is great to check out if you are thinking about visiting the state. Compared to the other "Weird" book, California is kind-of lame. Perhaps I am simply not from California, and therefore it seems less weird. But the Californian folklore seems to be less shrouded in mystery as East coast folklore. Regardless, there were some really interesting places that I am excited to go and see, and is great to check out if you are thinking about visiting the state.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    I would love to have a copy of this book for my coffee table. I can put it on my "fantasy list" I guess. No more book purchases for me because I am going to sell them soon. Although this one would qualify as local so I could take it with me.... A book not so much as to be read per se but perused. I would love to have a copy of this book for my coffee table. I can put it on my "fantasy list" I guess. No more book purchases for me because I am going to sell them soon. Although this one would qualify as local so I could take it with me.... A book not so much as to be read per se but perused.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Leela

    I love that it was weird and about our state. But... I wasn't too thrilled on how short some of the entries were. Like they left too much facts out. But at the same time, left it to your imagination. It was a great read. Some entries were random, others were funny and others were just scary as hell. It's a perfect read to satisfy your curiosity! I love that it was weird and about our state. But... I wasn't too thrilled on how short some of the entries were. Like they left too much facts out. But at the same time, left it to your imagination. It was a great read. Some entries were random, others were funny and others were just scary as hell. It's a perfect read to satisfy your curiosity!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Saya

    picked this one up at the mystery spot in the santa cruz redwood forest. I really like to visit interesting places on my days off. field trips kick ass. this one's got a few so far within traveling distances. fun stuff picked this one up at the mystery spot in the santa cruz redwood forest. I really like to visit interesting places on my days off. field trips kick ass. this one's got a few so far within traveling distances. fun stuff

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joanna

    My boyfriend Paul and I used this book a lot on our California road trip. It was more interesting as a folk lore trivia book than a travel guide. Even then not that interesting (like, Fry's electronic stores? Seriously?). Maybe if it was still the 90s, and I was still into the x-files. My boyfriend Paul and I used this book a lot on our California road trip. It was more interesting as a folk lore trivia book than a travel guide. Even then not that interesting (like, Fry's electronic stores? Seriously?). Maybe if it was still the 90s, and I was still into the x-files.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    I picked up this book at a Borders a couple of years ago and pull it off the shelf when I have a little time to burn once in a while. Its full of photos, history, and funny, and, yes, very weird stories and lots of photos of odd places here in California....my kind of book.

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