80s flashback: The Time Life “Mysteries of the Unknown” book series was the bomb


Covers of Time Life Mysteries of the Unknown booksDoes anyone remember that Time-Life book series from the late 80s and early 90s called “Mysteries of the Unknown”?

They covered supernatural, creepy and unexplained phenomenon.

I coveted those books like nobody’s business. I wanted them so bad I could taste it.

I knew if I owned them things would be different.

You may not have been lucky enough to have held the glorious Time-Life books in your hands. But if you were a teen or young adult in the 80s you surely must remember the omnipresent commercials.

And the line that started it all, “Chicago: a man is about to board a routine flight and suddenly he pauses and walks away. An hour later the plane goes down in flames. It’s dismissed as chance.”


Animated gif of first Time Life Mysteries of the Unknown book ads

These Time Life books were “IMPORTANT”

When the announcer described them as “an important new library” I believed him right down to my very soul. These books WERE important and I NEEDED them.

And when the guy in the one commercial told his friend to “read the book” I wanted to read it.

When a young Julianne Moore insisted she had floated up to the ceiling and looked down at her own body, I somehow just knew my life wouldn’t be complete without reading those books.


Animated gif Julianne Moore in Time Life ad

And here’s where my tale turns tragic. I never did own those darn Time-Life books.

I know, so much pathos.

But wait, all was not lost. I did get a consolation prize.

An adult friend of the family owned them… or at least some of them. There were 33 books in the whole “Mysteries of the Unknown” series, and I’m guessing few people owned ALL of them. But he let me raid his library to read them.

Some of the stories I read in those Time-Life books stick with me to this day. Tales of premonitions, spontaneous combustion, out of body experiences, aliens, etc.

Turning tragedy into triumph

And all is not lost. At this very moment, there is a complete set on Amazon for just $189.99. Maybe some kind benefactor will want to right this wrong and buy them for me.

Too young, or just struggling to remember them? Allow me to inject or refresh your memory (whatever did we do without Youtube??).

The one that started it all…

Because it’s just totally normal to tell your buddy that aliens interbred with humans over dinner…

And I secretly wanted to be just like Julianne Moore in this commercial, the girl who didn’t believe in “it” until “it” happened to me…