What is the oddest book title of the year (markets in everything)?

by on February 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm in Books | Permalink

As in most years, there is some serious competition, here is the short list of contenders:

A Century of Sand Dredging in the Bristol Channel: Volume Two by Peter Gosson (Amberley). A book that documents the sand trade from its inception in 1912 to the present day, focusing on the Welsh coast.

Cooking with Poo by Saiyuud Diwong (Urban Neighbours of Hope). Thai cookbook. “Poo” is Thai for “crab” and is Diwong’s nickname.

Estonian Sock Patterns All Around the World by Aino Praakli (Kirjastus Elmatar). Covers styles of socks and stockings found in Estonian knitting.

The Great Singapore Penis Panic: And the Future of American Mass Hysteria by Scott D Mendelson (Createspace). An analysis of the “Koro” psychiatric epidemic that hit the island of Singapore in 1967.

Mr Andoh’s Pennine Diary: Memoirs of a Japanese Chicken Sexer in 1935 Hebden Bridge by Stephen Curry and Takayoshi Andoh (Royd Press). The story of Koichi Andoh, who travelled from Japan to Yorkshire in the 1930s to train workers at a hatchery business the art of determining the sex of one-day-old chicks.

A Taxonomy of Office Chairs by Jonathan Olivares (Phaidon). Exhaustive overview of the evolution of the modern office chair.

The Mushroom in Christian Art by John A Rush (North Atlantic Books). In which the author reveals that Jesus is a personification of the Holy Mushroom, Amanita Muscaria.

The story of the prize is here, and for the pointer I thank www.artsjournal.com.  Sadly, only one of these books can be bought in digital format, can you guess which one?

dearieme February 26, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Poo?

Dean February 26, 2012 at 8:57 pm

In Thai, it is pronounced bpu, with a sound halfway between a p and a b. You would not mistake a Thai person saying ปู to be saying “poo,” as in poop, but they are close enough to make an attention grabbing cookbook.

dearieme February 26, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Or socks?

Scoop February 26, 2012 at 7:22 pm

I don’t know what this says about me, but I believe the office chair book could be fascinating, if well written. I’ve often wondered why some chairs are so expensive and ugly — the look needs to be distinctive so you can signal effectively that you spend a lot on employee perks? — and why nearly all office chairs suck so badly.

delirious February 26, 2012 at 8:03 pm

“and why nearly all office chairs suck so badly”
Amen

Rather like the mattress sector… if one doesn’t find the standard unit acceptable, there doesn’t seem to be a good route to go.

Bender Bending Rodriguez February 27, 2012 at 3:40 pm

That disconnect dates back to ancient Greece, with Procrustes being the first mattress salesmen. Frankly, I think we’re stuck with it until we open up cheap space travel to Squornshellous Zeta.

Yancey Ward February 26, 2012 at 8:17 pm

A Taxonomy of Office Chairs also contains a truly gripping chapter called “100 Ways to Kill a Man with a Caster”.

Wonks Anonymous February 26, 2012 at 8:51 pm

I wonder what Elaine Showalter would think of #4. Her book “Hystories” spent a lot of time on the association of “hysteria” with women, all the way back to the ancient Greek suspicion that the uterus was wandering around the body. Or maybe she did in fact discuss “Koro” and it’s been so long that I’ve forgotten.

Christine February 26, 2012 at 9:41 pm

I don’t find anything strange about “Estonian Sock Patterns All Around the World.” ??? People knit, you know.

DJB February 26, 2012 at 9:53 pm

What about “An economist gets lunch, new rules for everyday foodies”?

Kalim Kassam February 26, 2012 at 11:01 pm

Since Phaidon is the only publisher of these I’ve heard of, I guess *A Taxonomy of Office Chairs* is the only one with a digital edition.

Kalim Kassam February 26, 2012 at 11:06 pm

I was wrong: it’s *The Great Singapore Penis Panic: And the Future of American Mass Hysteria*. $3.99 on Kindle.

tkehler February 27, 2012 at 12:37 am

I would have guessed that too … but then I remembered that Phaidon are a superb artsy publisher, with lots of sizeable, attractive coffee table-ish books, with great pics. That’s not what you see in digital editions.

Andrey February 26, 2012 at 11:26 pm

Singapore Panic. Available for Kindle. Probably the only book where photos, pictures and graphs will be too much to handle.

Dave Tufte February 27, 2012 at 9:08 am

This was more or less anticipated in Monty Python’s “Bookshop” sketch:

Proprietor: Good morning, sir. Can I help you?

C: Er, yes. Do you have a copy of “Thirty Days in the Samarkand Desert with the Duchess of Kent” by A. E. J. Elliott, O.B.E.?

P: Ah, well, I don’t know the book, sir….

C: Er, never mind, never mind. How about “101 Ways to Start a Fight”?

P: …By?

C: An Irish gentleman whose name eludes me for the moment.

P: Ah, no, well we haven’t got it in stock, sir….

C: Oh, well, not to worry, not to worry. Can you help me with “David Coperfield?”

P: Ah, yes, Dickens.

C: No….

P: (pause) I beg your pardon?

C: No, Edmund Wells.

P: I… think you’ll find Charles Dickens wrote “David Copperfield”, sir…

C: No, no, Dickens wrote “David Copperfield” with two Ps. This is “David Coperfield” with one P by Edmund Wells.

P: “David Coperfield” with one P?

C: Yes, I should have said.

P: Yes, well in that case we don’t have it.

C: Funny, you’ve got a lot of books here….

P: (slightly perturbed) Yes, we do, but we don’t have “David Coperfield” with one P by Edmund Wells.

C: Are you quite sure?

P: Quite.

C: Not worth just looking?

P: Definitely not.

C: Oh… how ’bout “Grate Expectations?”

P: Yes, well we have that….

C: That’s “G-R-A-T-E Expectations,” also by Edmund Wells.

P: Yes, well in that case we don’t have it. We don’t have anything by Edmund Wells, actually… he’s not very popular.

C: Not “Knickerless Knickleby”? That’s K-N-I-C-K-E-R-L-E-S-S.

P: (taciturn) No.

C: “Khristmas Karol” with a K?

P: (really quite perturbed) No….

C: Er, how about “A Sale of Two *******”?

P: Definitely NOT.

C: Sorry to trouble you….

P: Not at all….

C: Good morning.

P: Good morning.

C: Oh!

P: (deep breath) … Yes?

C: I wonder if you might have a copy of “Rarnaby Budge”?

P: No, as I say, we’re right out of Edmund Wells!

C: No, not Edmund Wells – Charles Dikkens.

P: (pause – eagerly) Charles Dickens ??

C: Yes.

P: (excitedly) You mean “Barnaby Rudge”!

C: No, “Rarnaby Budge” by Charles Dikkens. That’s ‘Dikkens’ with two Ks, the well-known Dutch author.

P: (deep breath) No, well we don’t have “Rarnaby Budge” by Charles Dikkens with two Ks, the well-known Dutch author, and perhaps to save time I should add that we don’t have “Karnaby Fudge” by Darles Chickens, or “Farmer of Sludge” by Marles Pickens, or even “Stickwick Stapers” by Farles Wickens with four M’s and a silent Q!! Why don’t you try W. H. Smith’s?

C: I did; they sent me here.

P: DID they?

C: Oh, I wonder…

P: Oh, do go on, please!

C: I…I wonder if you might have “The Amazing Adventures of Captain Gladys Stoat-Pamphlet and her Intrepid Spaniel Stig Amongst the Giant Pygmies of Beckles”…Volume Eight.

P: (after a pause for recovery) No, we don’t have that… funny, we’ve got a lot of books here… well, I musn’t keep you standing here… thank you–

C: Oh, well d-do you have –

P: No, we haven’t. No, we haven’t.

C: B-b-b-but–

P: Sorry, no, it’s one o’clock now, we’re closing for lunch–

C: Ah, I–I saw it–

P: I’m sorry–

C: I saw it over there! I saw it…

P: What? What? WHAT?!?

C: I saw it over there: “Olsen’s Standard Book of British Birds.”

P: (pause, trying to stay calm) “Olsen’s Standard Book of British Birds?”

C: Yes…

P: O-L-S-E-N?

C: Yes….

P: B-I-R-D-S?

C: Yes…..

P: (beat) Yes, well, we do have that, as a matter of fact….

C: The expurgated version….

P: (pause, politely) …I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that.

C: The expurgated version.

P: (exploding) The EXPURGATED version of “Olsen’s Standard Book of British Birds???”

C: The one without the gannet.

David Gordon February 27, 2012 at 10:32 am

John Allegro defended the mushroom theory of Jesus in The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross (1970).

chat March 2, 2012 at 2:51 pm

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