Reader's Exchange

Name that tome

Tidying my personal bookshelves last weekend, I encountered a favorite: The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes.  It's a bulky green volume labeled for its publisher rather than physical traits.  Alongside it stands The Big Book of Irony, trim and lightweight as the name might lead you to suppose.

Another is-that-really-the-title moment occurred on a visit to the UK years ago.  Standing in a queue to purchase something, I had sneaked my London on $49 a Day paperback out of my bag to discreetly study our next destination.  My aim was to avoid looking desperately touristy.  Nice try.  The business-attired English gentleman waiting behind me indicated the handbook and inquired: "Found that in the fiction section, did you?"

Sure, nonfiction titles can represent more hope than fact, but they do frequently advertise content that is precisely targeted and even reassuringly practical.  Cruising the nonfiction aisles on second floor recently, I spied these examples:

  • The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It: The Complete Back-to-Basics Guide
  • How to Build a Small Budget Recording Studio from Scratch
  • First-time Landlord: Your Guide to Renting Out a Single-family Home
  • How to Bury a Goldfish and 113 Other Family Rituals for Everyday Life

Why was I so tempted to check them out, though neither a recording studio or tenants have any place in my future?  The notion of possessing the key to unanticipated sorts of expertise must justify the attraction.  Those guides are either timely, or pleasantly arcane, or both, and the library shelves can furnish hundreds more.

That said, I admit to scratching my head over this oxymoronic title:  How to Develop Spontaneity and Style. 

Comments

Bill said:

On my shelf I have a copy of "The Gospel of Mark" by Hugh Anderson.  I suppose there are copyright and royalty implications.

Bill

# October 15, 2009 12:11 PM
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