Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Wild, wacky, and outré book titles; is fashion "spinach"?

"To be or not to be..."
Goblinproofing One's Chicken Coop: And Other Practical Advice In Our Campaign Against The Fairy Kingdom by Reginald Bakeley. How Tea Cosies Changed the World by Loani Prior. Raising Witches; Knitting Historical Figures; How to Make Love While Conscious; A Popular History of British Seaweeds. If none of these titles tickle your fancy, then perhaps one of the tomes illustrated below will. They're from the ongoing "Weird Book Room" feature at Abe Books. And if you really want to delve into the arcane, have a look at The Toast's '100 Actual Titles of Real Eighteenth-Century Novels.' Among the offerings: The Book!! Or, Procrastinated Memoirs. Atrocities Of A Convent. He’s Always In The Way. Horrible Revenge, Or, The Monster Of Italy!! How It Happened That I Was Born. It Was Me, A Tale By Me, One Who Cares For Nothing Or Nobody. The Male-Coquette; Or, The History Of The Hon. Edward Astell. Memoirs Of An Old Wig. A Modern Anecdote Of The Ancient Family Of The Kinkvervankotsdarsprakengotchderns. The Peaceful Villa, An Eventful Tale. Read, And Give It A Name.
Actually, Elizabeth Hawes' book title Fashion Is Spinach as featured in the Weird Book Room is not as silly as it sounds. Taken from a New Yorker cartoon, it epitomizes this great American designer's practical yet classy approach to creating clothes for women (Katharine Hepburn was a big fan). New York Times writer Alice Gregory recently wrote a blog on Hawes, and you can read more about her in Bettina Berch's Radical by Design: The Life and Style of Elizabeth Hawes, which I highly recommend. (Used copies are very pricey online; perhaps a new edition is called for?)
Browse our many discounted, illustrated books on fashion here!


  1. Terrific. Interested readers should follow the Diagram Prize, which lightens the spirits of visitors each year to the Frankfurt Book Fair. The Goblinproofing book won the award in 2013 – as well it should have.

    Previous winners of the prize include How to Avoid Large Ships, Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers, Highlights in the History of Concrete, Bombproof Your Horse and Reusing Old Graves.

    1. Love your link, RPS! How does one order "People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It"?
      Sounds like a problem that must be dealt with forthwith!

    2. Robert Jastrow wrote a book on astronomy called "Red Giants, White Dwarfs" that I've seen more than once in the Social History section of the library.
      You have to be careful when naming a book!

    3. ooh, i like the Reusing old graves one.

  2. Those in the Baltimore area, or those who are just curious should go to the website for The Book Thing where the owner collects some of the best (read: oddest) book titles that have come through there throughout the years. While it may not have as much diversity, and potentially some overlap with these other lists, it's a good one as well.