Mysteries of the Unknown

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Cover of Mystic Places

Mysteries of the Unknown is a series of books about the paranormal, published by Time-Life Books from 1987 through 1991. Each book focused on a different topic, such as ghosts, UFOs, psychic powers and dreams. The series was very successful for Time-Life Books, and the idea was conceived following the popularity of the publisher's previous Enchanted World series of books.[1] However, unlike the definite supernatural orientation of The Enchanted World series, the Mysteries Of The Unknown series did all it could to keep its subject matter as grounded in scientific aspects as was possible for the subject.

Within 15 months of the series' release, it had broken every sales record for the company.[2]

Titles in the series[edit]

There were 33 volumes in the series:

Complete 33-Volume Set: Time Life; Mysteries of the Unknown Hardcover – 1991 ASIN B0028SP8RM


Time Life's Mysteries of the Unknown commercials would air during prime time through broadcast and cable television networks such as TNN, Nick At Nite, MTV, VH-1, and TNT.

The first commercial advertising Mysteries of the Unknown aired in September 1987; the voice-over narration started with "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." One- and two-minute versions of this commercial were aired.

A second commercial aired in September 1988; the voice-over narration began with: "How can you explain it? A woman in Wisconsin is doing the dishes, while suddenly she has a feeling that her daughter has been just been in an accident. She gets a desperate phone call and finds out her feeling has just become true. How can you explain that various people around the world – who had never met before – had encounters with beings from outer space and their descriptions of the creature match almost exactly (sketch art of grey aliens appear on screen during this narration)? That's why Time Life books presents a remarkable new series, Mysteries of the Unknown, which takes a clear and comprehensive look at our own untapped capabilities. Maybe no one can explain these things but they can no longer be ignored. How can you explain this? Four men enter a ring of trees and without warning one is grabbed by an unseen force, lifted five feet in the air, and suspended for thirty seconds." Images of Stonehenge and a picture of bloody hands on a window are shown.

In 1989, actress Julianne Moore appeared in a Mysteries of the Unknown commercial explaining out of body experience. The narration describes her waking up in the middle of the night with the feeling of something cold on her was the ceiling, as she was looking down at her own body from above.

On New Years Day of 1990, Time life aired another commercial for Mysteries of the Unknown in conjunction with TV Guide.


  1. ^ Grundhauser, E. (22 September 2015). "The 1980s Book Series That Literally Claimed It Had To Be Read To Be Believed". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  2. ^ Stoffel, Jennifer, (1988) "What's New in New-Age Marketing: Hitting the Air Waves and the Best Sellers List." New York Times, October 9, 1988.