When I worked at the library I was queen of finding obscure books. Everyone else was reading Grisham and Karon and whatever was on the NY Times best seller list (deservedly so), but not me, for some reason I would locate old Victorian catalogues, or journals from the 1700's; books on medical tools of the 1800's--with etchings. The most obscure, frighteningly strange book I found was one on spontaneous combustion, pictures included.
But my favorite find was the thick manuel of Kiki de Paris. I joked around about my past life a few posts ago, but I'm not joking when I say I had an instant connection with Alice Prin when I first saw her picture in this book. Truly, if I could choose a past life, it would have been hers. She was a muse to the painters around the Montparnasse early 1900's France; Man Ray was her lover in the 1920's, and he created countess portraits during their time together. Mind you, it's not the lover part that interests me (she was an artist in her own right). What interests me is she was her own woman, in the right place at one of the most explosive moments of modern art. She was beautiful in an unconventional way; she was brash, stylish, bold and feminine. The line of her face, the way she cut her hair, the way she posed, the look in her eye, all tell of a timeless ingenuity.
So, I checked that book out, and returned it. And check it out again, over and over, year after year. It led me to another great find, Lartigues Les Femmes Aux Cigarettes. Ah, how I loved that book. It made me laugh, but it was also so fricking brilliant. I wish I still worked at the library so I could go on a treasure hunt with the interlibrary loan.