Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Gold envelope time at the Bookies™

Never ones to concede the limelight to Hollywood’s Academy Awards, the readers of The Bookseller magazine have been indulging themselves with their annual vote for “oddest book title of the year”.

This year’s #1 is “People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It” – surely a deserving winner, even if it is also a strong contender for “Premise most transparently ripped off from a movie”. It is after all quite possible that the unworldly souls who spend their lives breathing the dry dust of the nation’s bookshelves have never even heard of M Night Shyamalan.

In victory this tome joins such timeless classics as “How to Bombproof Your Horse” and “How to Avoid Huge Ships” - a pair that neatly summates all we need to know about the common sense and intelligence of their target audiences.

Michael Karber, president of its American publisher, Red Wheel, said yesterday: "With the notoriety that comes with this award we're now considering making this book part of a series.

"Future titles under consideration include “People Who Don't Know They're Stupid”, “People Who Don't Know They're Fat” and “People Who Don't Know They Don't Know How to Read”.

Unfortunately, “People who Don’t Know that they’re Shameless Embarrassments to the Publishing Profession” does not appear to be under consideration.

What’s your choice for oddest book title?


“How to Avoid Huge Ships”, yesterday. “Lacks criteria for discerning between huge ships and merely really big ships… Some well-designed lists, charts or colorful pop-up sections would have been nice for readers who were unsure what size of ship they were avoiding” says Terry of Wisconsin. You can’t please some people…

23 comments:

Rob said...

Jesus H fucking Chirist. It's REAL!

Desargues said...

"The Gourmet's Guide to Cooking Roadkill" should have become an instant classic, at least in the less advantaged countries. For the scholarly inclined, in 1987 the University of Tokyo Press put out the "Proceedings of the International Workshop on Nude Mice", or perhaps "Who's Who in Barbed Wire" (1970). If you are of a touristy mindset, I heartily recommend "Gay Bulgaria" (1964), unless you prefer to go for real adventure, in which case you should have a look at Kate Marsden and Eric Newby's "On Sledge and Horseback to Outcast Siberian Lepers" (2001). Are you considering following in the steps of Jacques-Yves Cousteau? Then surely you need to buy "Outwitting Fish" (Adams Media Corporation, 2001).

For the more sedate readership of this blog, working dads into DIY, these two books are not to be missed: "Build Your Own Hindenburg" (1983) and J.M. Davies (ed.), Lightweight Sandwich Construction" (Blackwell Science, 2001).

Here's a title that may turn out to be most useful to you, Ivan: "Correct Mispronunciations of Some South Carolina Names" (2001). As some of us have a marked fondness for the study of the past, I heartily recommend John Ellis' "A Social History of the Machine Gun" (Gardner Books, 2005), or perhaps Christopher Stanley's "Highlights in the History of Concrete" (1986).

And for those of us who are still dragging our sorry asses through college/grad school, there's always that old 1918 classic "Hand Grenade Throwing as a College Sport" (regrettably, the British Library's only copy was "destroyed by bombing"), or, for the more riotous American fratboy, Greg Heitz's "How to Throw Profitable College House Parties".

Didn't make it to college? No big deal--you can always become an autodidact. Just try "Teach Yourself Alcoholism" (1975)
or John Modrow's "How To Become a Schizophrenic" (1992). But that may turn out to be pernicious for your future development. Religion is the cure of all ills, and there's no better gateway to Christianity than J.G. Bogusz's "My Invisible Friend Explains the Bible" (1971).

How's that for odd titles, Ivan? Of course, I left out such immortal classics as "Follow Your Broken Nose" and "Explosive Spiders and How to Make Them" (1881).

Foot Eater said...

I'd accuse Desargues of lying about all those if I hadn't actually heard of that Nude Mice one - a friend of mine's father contributed to that conference.

Ivan the Terrible said...

Rob- would I lie to you?

And Des - oh my God, you have *got* to get out more! Excellent nominations, tho'. It's a toss-up for me between "Outwitting Fish" and "Gay Bulgaria". Oh what the hell - I'll buy both.

Footie - much is explained by your simple admission...

Desargues said...

I must admit, Ivan, I'm between girlfriends right now, so that might explain my first comment to this post. [hangs head in shame] Note to self: must get on Facebook.

But anyway, if I made any of you guys laugh a bit, my day's not been wasted. Now I have to go really waste it on disputes about atoms and the void in the 17th century. Sounds like a blast, eh?

Ivan the Terrible said...

Good luck with the hotties of Facebook, Des. Just don't try to wow them with atoms and the void in the 17th century. Go with half a dozen tequila slammers and a spiel about how you defected via East Germany in a home-made hot air balloon when you were twelve years old. American chicks lap that shit up...

Desargues said...

I have no illusions about the prospects of getting laid by means of natural philosophy. But how do you know about how I left East Europe? ;-)

Gorilla Bananas said...

Before the next girlfriend comes along, Des, you could try How to read and wank at the same time.

Ivan the Terrible said...

Who do you think was shooting at you as you flew overhead? :)

Ivan the Terrible said...

Sounds like a good one, GB. Profusely illustrated, I trust?

Desargues said...

A sensible suggestion, GB. Some of my friends in the humanities tell me it used to be current practice in the 18th century. However, I suspect I may find more enlightenment and gratification in titles like "Teach Yourself Sex" (1951), "The Lesbian Sadomasochism Safety Manual", or, more satisfyingly, "The Gentle Art of Cooking Wives" (1900).

Anonymous said...

A-hem.

R. Sherman said...

My personal favorite was the Irish instruction manual on foreplay entitled, "Brace Yourself, Bridgett."

Cheers.

Desargues said...

I didn't make any claims to originality, Anon. These titles are all over the internet. You don't really think I'd have enough imagination to come up with all of them, do you? Art is but a pale imitation of the excesses of life, after all.

Ivan the Terrible said...

Who cares where the titles come from? The important thing is that they have all earnt their authors a little slice of immortality...

Desargues said...

Mighty kind of you, Ivan. On a different note: I know you collect old books. Do you have any of Federico Commandino's Latin translations of Greek geometers? I have taken quite a liking to that fellow (Newton learned most of his geometry from his books), and I just remembered your passion for things antiquarian. Just curious. How about Francisco Patrizi's "Della nuova geometria" (1587)? I have a hunch that he may be the original source for Sir Isaac's idea that space and time are incorporeal entities subsisting in the absence of all bodies, and I'm about to start looking into that possible connection. It's really nerdy, I know, but someone has to do these things. We can't go on forever brainwashing kids in college with Media Studies and Po-Mo bullshit.

PI said...

In the fifties we sailed in a small boat from I of Wight to Cherbourg in darkness because of wind and tide. It was the main shipping area, I was four months pregnant and we tried to avoid any ships by my husband balancing precariously in the prow and shining the hurricane lamp(swing it)on the sails which were a dingy brown. Scary! Your book would have been useful. Forgive the blether but I'm missing my blog. Down but not out!

PI said...

Randall deserves a prize for 'Brace yourself Briget!' brought a big grin on.

staghounds said...

I actually OWN a book called "Dildo Cay".

Ivan the Terrible said...

Hi Des - sorry - I only have French books, and even then I stick to geographies and histories. But you'd be surprised what you can find on ebay.fr.

Pi - I'm amazed at your fortitude and forgiving nature. In your shoes I'd've pushed him overboard, or turned his head into a jack-o-lantern and hung it from the mast. Brown sails indeed.

And Staggers, I hope it's at least half as interesting as it sounds. Does "Dildo" appear there as a verb or a noun? If the former, how did Cay react?

Aunty Marianne said...

Hey, Desargues, I think you're funny. I'll go out with you.

Ivan the Terrible said...

Woah! Get on in there, Des, my son. You just landed on Planet Nork! WooHoo!

Desargues said...

Wow, I got lucky! Next time I land in Bruxelles, may I give you a call, Aunty? Maybe we can do some humanitarian work together--I'm a force for good in the world. ;-)

Ivan, did you just call me 'son'? I don't think you're a decade older than me, bro. You're just doing way better than me in the kids department. :-)