Monday, December 14, 2009

A Book-Lover's Stocking Stuffer

There are all sorts of momentous topics I could be writing about, like the battle instigated by Random House this week over e-book rights to backlist titles. But let's lighten up for a moment. With Christmas approaching, let me recommend a new offering from my colleagues at Bloomsbury that has made me laugh every time I opened it. If you're looking around for Christmas presents for your bibliophile friends--especially anyone in or around the publishing game--get your hands on a few copies of Do-It Yourself Brain Surgery, and Other Implausibly Titled Books. I can do no better than quote the catalogue description of this work:

The Diagram Prize is awarded by the Bookseller magazine each year to the book with the oddest title. Since its creation at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1978, the Diagram has had some worthy winners, including Bombproof Your Horse, How to Avoid Huge Ships, and People Who Don't Know They're Dead.

And though these titles may seem like surefire winners, each year of this ingenious contest has seen stiff competition across all genres: fiction (Fabulous Small Jews, 2003); instructional (Knitting with Dog Hair, 1994); and even erotica (The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories, 2002). Last year's competition featured I Was Tortured by the Pygmy Love Queen—which came in second. Here, collected for the first time, are the fifty best entries the Diagram has ever seen. Presented complete with their (equally outlandish) jackets, these books are memorable, perplexing, and riotously funny. A perfect gift for a book lover or anyone in need of a laugh. 

For some more of the goodies contained in this volume, see this post at the Los Angeles Times's Jacket Copy blog.