Was Jesus Insane? (Lord Aberdeen Might Know.)

I found a copy recently of a (somewhat) bizarre book I’ve been trying to track down: Bizarre Books, by Russell Ash and Brian Lake (the revised edition, 1998). It probably would be more accurate to call the work Bizarre Titles; it’s a listing of actual books the two men own, have seen, or have come across as a catalogue entry. Some are legendary to those of us who follow publishing, like I Was Hitler’s Maid and How to Abandon Ship. I thought I even had read one of those mentioned, God Drives a Flying Saucer (R. L. Dione, 1973), but I checked, and it turns out I read The Bible and Flying Saucers (Barry H. Downing, 1968).

A few of the book titles included ask important questions:
Cancer: Is the Dog the Cause?
The English. Are They Human?
Was Jesus Insane?
(from 1891)

Some seem humorous only because of how the titles are phrased:
Collect Fungi on Stamps
Ice Cream for Small Plants
The Abuse of Elderly People: A Handbook for Professionals
Warfare in the Enemy’s Rear

Some of the best titles are instructional:
Fresh Air and How to Use It
Hand Grenade Throwing as a College Sport
(from 1918)
How to Be Happy Though Married
How to Pick Up Women in Discos
(from 1981)
Let’s Make Some Undies
Levitation for Terrestrials
Swine Judging for Beginners
Teach Yourself Alcoholism
The Great Pantyhose Crafts Book
The Toothbrush: its Use and Abuse
What To Say When You Talk to Yourself

Others come from the natural world:
An Annotated Bibliography of Evaporation
The Amateurs’ Guide to the Study of the Genitals of Lepidoptera
The Giant Cabbage of the Channel Islands
Who’s Who in Cocker Spaniels

Some – including one book titled Not Worth Reading – definitely seem, well, not worth reading:
1587: A Year of No Importance
A Pictorial Book of Tongue Coating
Jokes Cracked by Lord Aberdeen
Life and Laughter ’midst the Cannibals
Songs of a Chartered Accountant
The Romance of Holes in Bread

The cream of Ash and Lake’s crop, of course, truly do seem bizarre:
Correct Mispronunciations of Some South Carolina Names
Fish Who Answer the Telephone
New Guinea Tapeworms and Jewish Grandmothers
Nutmeg Cultivation and the Sex-problem
Public Performances of the Dead
So Your Wife Came Home Speaking in Tongues! So Did Mine!
Umbrellas and Parts of Umbrellas (Except Handles)

and who among us hasn’t been looking to learn more about
Wall-Paintings by Snake Charmers in Tanganyika.

About RPS

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