ODE TO ODD BOOK TITLES
Or, in praise of droll diversions that grace the covers of diatribes and dross
By Ovid Publius Hadweenzic, a blushing bookworm who doesn’t give a tinker’s damn about reading rhymes but nevertheless is tantalized by titillating titles that tickle the fancy of readers (with incredibly short attention spans, a dislike of mind-bending exercises, and a desire to expand their Little Loo Library holdings at minimal cost)
It has been said that one can never judge a book by its cover. However, it would appear that the jolly jackets adorning some recently published materials might well invite a second glance, even by a casual browser of bookshelves or a bleary-eyed bibliophile.
While authors wait with bated breath for the announcement of prominent literary awards such as the “Booker” or “Pulitzer” Prize, few if any buy a rabbit’s foot, kiss the Blarney stone, or cross their fingers in the hope of receiving “The Diagram Prize for the Oddest Title of the Year", (sponsored by the UK-based trade journal, “The Bookseller”).
Since 1998, many lost if not altogether forgotten authors have been surprised to learn the existence of such an award let alone the fact that they have earned a prestigious place in what some might term “the annals of the inane”.
First prize for the oddest book title of 2005 went to: People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What To Do About It.
Frankly, it was a close call as judges spent many weeks sipping weak tea and sometimes something stronger just to keep them awake. The winner apparently had some stiff competition from other egregiously quaint if not endearingly quirky titles including: The Art and Craft of Pounding Flowers: No Paint, No Ink, Just a Hammer!, Ancient Starch Research, Fancy Coffins To Make Yourself, and Tea Bag Folding.
For the benefit of some blessed bookworms who might have fallen asleep and missed out on the previous winners of witless wonk, here is a selection you may wish to acquire:
- Bombproof Your Horse
- Designing High-Performance Stiffened Structures
- Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice
- Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality
- How to Avoid Huge Ships, 227 Secrets Your Snake Wants You to Know
- Celtic Sex Magic: For Couples, Groups and Solitary Practitioners,
- Hot Topics in Urology
- The Joy of Chickens
- The Theory of Lengthwise Rolling
Now whatever you do, grab some paper, sharpen your pencils, and don't forget the eraser so you can get busy on coming up with next year's nifty nincompoop book title. And if you don't walk away with "The Diagram Prize" fear not. I'll be offering a brand new award called "The Doorknob Trophy" -- for the longest book title ever devised by devoted dingbats and diatribists!
For those interested in more witty wordpeckering, why not take a peak at Tony Augarde's "Wordplay" articles appearing in a wonderfully entertaining online compendium called "Oxfordshire Limited Edition".