23 Weird Books That Really Exist

The annual Diagram Prize for the oddest book title was recently awarded to How to Poo on a Date: The Lovers' Guide to Toilet Etiquette. The book defeated Are Trout South African? and The Origin of Feces. After you've picked those up, here are 23 other odd or oddly named books that would look great on your shelf.

1. Fashion Cats

This 160-page coffee table book compiles the masterpieces of Takako Iwasa, Japan’s #1 cat tailor, into a glossy collection of the finest feline fashion. Supermodel cats Prin and Koutaro don’t wear costumes (although a frog hat and bunny ears make appearances) so much as cat couture, from regal satin capes to striped newsboy caps and proper plaid ties. They even manage to wear Hello Kitty ears with dignity.

2. Anybody Can Be Cool – But Awesome Takes Practice

Neither the title nor the cover make it immediately evident that Anybody Can Be Cool is a Christian devotional book for teens, which could be disappointing for unsuspecting readers hoping for a 12-step plan to awesome. The guy in the red-and-white knit sweater probably doesn’t need any tips, though.

3. Bombproof Your Horse

Although it’s true that horses spook easily, “bombproofing” sounds a bit drastic, doesn’t it? As if this book’s techniques aren’t enough for a worried horse owner, there’s a sequel entitled Better Than Bombproof: New Ways to Make Your Horse a Solid Citizen and Keep You Safe on the Ground, in the Arena, and on the Trail. If there’s ever a third book, it’ll have to contain no less than the secret to eternal equine life.

4. Who Cares About Elderly People?

Yep.

5. Does God Ever Speak Through Cats?

This is one of those pressing questions the Bible, the Torah, and the Qu’ran all neglected to answer.

6. How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found

This supposed handbook for those who really have something to hide features sections dedicated to procuring new identification papers, finding a job, “pseudocide,” and more, but it’s hard to take advice from an author who misspells “disappear” not once, but seven times. It’s also unfortunately almost 20 years out of date—avoiding paper trails are the least of a would-be disappearer’s worries these days.

7. Sun-Beams May Be Extracted from Cucumbers, But the Process Is Tedious

David Daggett’s 1799 Fourth of July oration is a Federalist response to Thomas Jefferson that presumably had little to do with cucumbers or sun-beams, which makes its extremely incongruous title all the more delightful.

8. How Green Were the Nazis?: Nature, Environment, and Nation in the Third Reich

Would Goebbels have driven a Prius? Did the Butcher of Lyon recycle his empty aluminum cans? Of all the adjectives one might associate with Hitler’s regime, “eco-friendly” is not one that immediately springs to mind.

9. How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack: Defend Yourself When the Lawn Warriors Strike (And They Will)

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in garden gnomes. This is the book every survival-minded citizen needs to prepare for an apocalyptic vision more terrifying than zombies or aliens—because anything could be lurking behind those innocent expressions.

10. Knitting With Dog Hair: Better A Sweater From A Dog You Know and Love Than From A Sheep You'll Never Meet

Come to think of it, scarves made of wool from some strange, anonymous sheep have always felt a bit impersonal.

11. How to Teach Physics to Your Dog

Therapy dogs can soothe survivors of traumatic events by their mere presence—an ability Chad Orzel seems to hope translates to teaching quantum mechanics to the non-physicists among us. Emmy, a German shepherd-mix who’s quick to catch on to abstract concepts, is an effective teaching tool for Orzel’s actual audience—humans—and she’s pretty cute to boot.

12. Manifold Destiny: The One! The Only! Guide to Cooking on Your Car Engine!

I’m no expert, but if your vintage car engine runs hot enough to cook a full-course meal, you might want to call a mechanic. If you’re lucky, maybe they’ll agree to be paid in side dishes.

13. Royal Knits

Forget trying to cop Duchess Kate Middleton’s style with store-bought items. Instead, knit your own outfits worthy of Buckingham Palace. The book includes patterns for a yarn replica of the St. Edward’s Crown as well as an original design for a pair of slippers that look like Corgis, in a nod to the reigning monarch’s preference for the Welsh herd dogs. A guardsman’s iconic bearskin hat, however, might be beyond the book’s scope.

14. Dating for Under a Dollar: 301 Ideas

Don’t be so quick to label buyers of this book a cheap date. Keep in mind that Dating for Under a Dollar was published over a decade ago in 1999; adjusting for inflation, a dollar then was equivalent to a whopping $1.34 today. That’s more than enough to buy a candy bar or a small order of fast food fries, which sounds like a nifty date to me! A single dollar isn’t quite equal to the selling price of Blair Tolman’s book, but the extra few dollars would probably be worth it for 299 better frugal dating ideas than mine.

15. The Best Fences

As the old proverb (sort of) goes, the best fences make the best neighbors. Never settle for less.

16. How to Land a Top-Paying Pierogi Makers Job

Unemployment rates are high for everyone right now, dumpling chefs included. With no recipes, this “complete guide to opportunities” is only good for seasoned pierogi professionals.

17. Teach Your Wife to Be a Widow

It’s best to be prepared.

18. Treat Your Own Neck

In the days before hypochondriacs could be satisfied (or spurred on) by a quick WebMD search for symptoms like “stiff elbow” or “sore ankles,” Spinal Publications New Zealand Ltd. and physical therapist Robin McKenzie released a handy paperback guide to self-care for all neck-related problems. Reviews of the book range from “highly recommend!” to a warning that some of the exercises might be “quite harmful” to those with pre-existing arthritis. Exercise caution when reading. 

19. Bodybuilders in Tutus

This is, unfortunately, not an illustrated coffee table book, but a cleverly titled collection of marketing advice essays. Well done, Philipp Lomboy: you sold us.

20. Whose Bottom Is This?

This concept was apparently so good that two different publishers have used it. The illustrated Whose Bottom Is This? is a hardcover lift-the-flap guessing game for children ages 1 to 3. Those same children can then graduate a few years later to Wayne Lynch’s photographic series of books, which include the posed posteriors of “hippos, rhinos, bighorn sheep, pin-tailed ducks, and more.” It might be good preparation for a child’s first field trip to the zoo, so long as someone teaches them what animals look like from the front as well.

21. The Lull Before Dorking

There’s no readily available information on this reprinted 1871 collection of British pamphlets, but the titular “dorking” might either refer to a market town just south of London, or to a breed of five-toed English domestic fowl. Feel free to leave your speculation as to what The Lull Before Dorking could possibly mean in the comments below.

22. The New Radiation Recipe Book

To clarify: “Radiation” was a brand of automated gas cooker.

23. Liberace: Your Personal Fashion Consultant

Finally, there exists a practical guide for the style-challenged masses. Who wouldn’t want to mix sequins and fringe, stars and argyle, or knee socks and short-shorts like the world’s highest-paid entertainer?

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March 24, 2014 - 10:50pm
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