Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2010 Issue

Lethal Robots, Inflammatory Bowels, Intellectual Cannibalism Head Titles for Odd Book Award

Winner of the oddest book title award.


By Michael Stillman

The Bookseller, the British book magazine, has announced the winner of its annual Oddest Book Title of the Year award. The books selected for this award may be serious, but their titles are strange, even if unintentionally so. Generally, they come from some niche field where the title may sound normal, but to outsiders, they sound odd. In some cases, they sound like strange combinations of ideas; in others, there may be unintended double entendres.

This year there was an unusually large number of nominees, which was whittled down to six finalists from which readers could vote. Some of the losers may well be odder than the winner, but this is a democratically chosen award. Now, here are some of those titles not deemed odd enough to make the cut, though I have no idea why: Advances in Potato Chemistry and Technology, An Intellectual History of Cannibalism, Bacon: A Love Story, Father Christmas Needs a Wee, Food Digestion and Thermal Preference of Toad, How YOU Are Like Shampoo, I'm Not Hanging Noodles on Your Ears, Is the Rectum a Grave?, Peek-a-poo: What's in Your Diaper, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Great Dog Bottom Swap, The Origin of Faeces, The Quotable Douchebag, Venus Does Adonis While Apollo Shags a Tree, and Mickey Mouse, Hitler and Nazi Germany. However, swapping dog bottoms, hanging noodles on your ears, or a zombie version of Jane Austen's title were not deemed weird enough by the judges to rate as finalists. Here is what did.

Afterthoughts of a Worm Hunter by David Crompton.

Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots, by Ronald C. Arkin.

The Changing World of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, by Ellen Scherl and Marla Dubinsky.

That takes us to the third place finisher: Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich, by James A. Yannes, receiving 11% of the vote.

Second place, with 30% of the vote, went to What Kind of Bean is this Chihuahua? by Tara Jansen-Meyer.

And first place, receiving 42% of the votes, went to a title that bizarrely combines advanced mathematics with Grandma's favorite pastime: Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes, by Dr. Daina Taimina. I will admit to never quite being able to understand the nature of hyperbolas back when I was taking math in college, but it wasn't necessary. I never learned how to crochet either.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.
  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    G. B. Piranesi, Vedute di Roma, 1748-69. Est: € 60,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions