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Weird U.S.: Your Travel Guide to America's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets Paperback – May 5, 2009

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Product Details

  • Series: Weird
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Sterling (May 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402766882
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402766886
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 8 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #534,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Not since the Headless Horseman went charging through Sleepy Hollow has something come out of the Hudson highlands of upstate New York as thrilling and chilling as author and paranormal researcher James A. Willis. Fueled by a steady diet of boo berry cereal, Creepy Magazine and late-night Vincent Price movies, Willis soon developed a taste for the unexplained and quickly began seeking out all things strange and spooky.

When he wasn't trying to coax the boogeyman out from under his bed for a photo shoot, Willis pondered such eternal questions as what happens to us when we die is there life on other planets, and what possesses someone to decorate their house with 1,001 milk jugs?

In 1999, after spending more than 15 years chasing after ghosts and visiting crybaby bridges, Willis moved to Ohio and founded The Ghosts of Ohio (ghostsofohio.org), a nationally recognized paranormal research organization. Willis has grown the organization to well over 35 members in three divisions throughout the state: Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati.

In 2004, in what seemed to be destiny, Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman, the brainchild's of the Weird US series of books, approached Willis and asked him to contribute to their latest volume, Weird US. To date, Willis has been involved with 6 books in the Weird US series. He is the co-author of Weird Ohio (2005) and Weird Indiana (2008) and was also a contributing author to Weird US (2004), Weird Hauntings (2006), Weird US II: The ODDyssey Continues (2008), and Weird Encounters (2010). Willis' unique and offbeat writing style was officially recognized in 2006 with his induction into the Grand Order of Weird Writers.

In addition, Willis has been a contributing author to several books in the Armchair Reader series, beginning with Weird, Scary & Unusual (2008) and continuing with several books released in 2010: Armchair Reader Goes Hollywood, Armchair Reader's All about Ohio, and The Mammoth Armchair Reader. 2011 marked the release of Willis' latest collaboration with Armchair Reader, Haunted America. For 2012, Willis released Haunted Indiana, his first work with Stackpole Books. In the fall of 2012, Willis' The Big Book Of Ohio Ghost Stories was unleashed.

Look for Willis' next book, Ohio's Historic Haunts, to be released in late summer of 2015.

A sought-after public speaker, Willis has given presentations throughout the United States, during which he has educated and entertained tens of thousands of people of all ages in crowd sizes ranging from 10 to well over 600. He has also been featured in more than 50 media sources, including CNN, USA Today, Columbus Business First, Midwest Living, The Canadian Press, and even the Kuwait Times. He is also currently a contributing author to Mysteries Magazine.

Willis currently resides in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife and daughter, a Queen-loving parrot, and two narcoleptic cats

Customer Reviews

She has read most of the Weird books and cannot stop talking about this one!
One Excited Buyer
It has lots of information on each place and many different pictures to go with each story so it makes a great coffee table book and a wonderful conversation piece.
This is a good book for someone interested in weird trivia about the United States or ideas for strange places to visit.
Tracy Christenson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Mike Smith on October 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Apparently, I must be somewhat weird, because this last Christmas, I was given four copies of this book by four different people. (And then, coincidentally, three of my friends got this book for their birthdays....)

This book is loaded with weird facts, legends, lore, people, photographs, ghost stories, haunted places, supernatural figures, terrifying ruins and tunnels and forests and abandoned buildings, tall tales, odd museums, and answerless mysteries.

I've travelled a lot around America, and I've come across a lot of strangeness that's not in this book--I always ask people, "What's the strangest thing you've ever seen?"--but what it is here is entertaining and unique, if occasionally doubtful. The book deals more with the East than with the West, and as a result of that a lot of cool stuff is never even mentioned that could be. There's only one or two items from New Mexico, and nothing at all on skinwalkers--the creepiest lore there is.

Some parts of the book are actually frightening though--like phantom clowns!--and would be even scarier if read during an actual visit to these places.

I recommend this book highly--it's very readable, though I wish it had maps or directions to the places it describes--and I will probably buy any sequels.
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52 of 58 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on January 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a reasonably enjoyable and fun book for those with roadtripping impulses. There are some real weaknesses to this book however, and some of them have to do with the meaning of the word "weird." The editors claim that the focus of the book, most of which is "written" by semi-anonymous club correspondents, deals with spooky and mysterious places around the country that give adventurous folks the impulse to explore the unknown and confront the darker areas of the American soul. This is true for a good chunk of the book, especially in creepy chapters dealing with weird cemeteries and abandoned mental asylums. However, large parts of the book drift into the funny definition of "weird," merely displaying cheeky roadside tourist attractions.

This unfocused nature of the book is badly exacerbated by the contributing "authors" who have sent submissions to Sceurman and Moran describing these weird places. Many of these are message board submissions of wildly inconsistent quality. Some are well written but most aren't, especially those that damage the credibility of the whole enterprise with indirect stories about how they heard about legends and locations from friends of friends of friends. The production values of the book are amateurish with the selection of weak contributions from correspondents, poor editing and writing, and illustrations and photographs that sometimes don't even illustrate the locations whose text they accompany. There is a much better place for this type of information for the adventurous American roadtripper and explorer of mysterious places - the better developed and much more established website and book series created by the great Roadside America organization. [~doomsdayer520~]
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Bonar on November 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book will give you the creeps, but I LOVE it. It is American folklore at its best. I liked reading the local legends and learning about the strange characters from all over the country. It was also nice to see how the authors kept an open mind, just telling the stories as the locals tell them. It was like reading the stories we told as kids around a campfire. We wanted to scare the heck out of each other. This book will give me good stories for my next camping trip.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Lux on June 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If you buy this planning to go on a wierd US tour, you'll be disappointed, because the directions to each place aren't very well documented. If you want to visit any of these weird attractions, plan to make copious use of the Internet to search out better directions so that you don't get lost on the way.

The layout of this book is gorgeous, and while it may not be worth the original B&N price, the Amazon marketplace price makes it a steal. The pictures are just fabulous. I love the personal narrations by different authors, but some other reviewers have noted mistakes, so they need to be taken with a grain of salt.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Patrick on June 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I recently found this book at the local Barnes and Noble. I flipped through and found it very entertaining, and a fun read. But it's not worth the $20 so they priced it at. It's a good compilation, but like many other people said, it gives little or no direction as to where these locations are. For example, one roadide attraction in Florida was listed as 'on the highway just south of Jacksonville'. Not too helpful.

All in all, if you're interested in this book, either take it out of the library or find a comfortable seat at your local bookstore and give it a look-through. It just doesn't make sense to spend the money on this book when you can find much more detailed information (and TONS more listings) online...and for free.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Barry on December 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
How many times have you ever driven by a spooky looking house and thought it was haunted?. Or if there's some story to it?. Or driven by an old graveyard and wondered the same thing?. Or perhaps, saw some incredibly decorated yard and wondered how that came about?. Heard a strange noise outdoors and asked yourself if it could possibly be some weird beast?. Well, here is the book for you because it covers all things said above, and quite a deal more, because this book actually shows you, and tells you, places of the sort. All in one incredibly fascinating book that you will be unable to put down. The book is put together by Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman, two guys who have traveled all through their home state of New Jersey and have chronicled all kinds of weird, spooky, eerie, or just plain strange things into their own magazine, Weird N.J. Now they have expanded their area and have given us a book that tells the tales of incredible stuff from all over the country. Steeped in rich folklore, the book is not just above all the weird goings on, but of Americana. And yes, they are all weird. Not just weird, but weirdness that can fit into all categories. I believe that some of the more human stuff, such as the roadside oddities and personal homes and stuff are more "weird", because they are intentional. All of the stories here are put together in different sections. "Local Legends", which I think you can pretty much figure out on your own. "Ancient Mysteries" features stories that includes stuff like weird rock foundations, or odd writing and inscriptions. Think Stonehenge. Only in America. The section "Fabled People And Places" deals with people with strange appearances or the places they come from.Read more ›
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