Posts Tagged ‘weird books’
As we refold our fly leaves, we might send sympathetic birthday wishes to John Clare; he was born on this date in 1793. Clare’s first volume of poetry, Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery (1820) brought him overnight fame. But his later collections were never as popular, and financial problems ruined his health. He spent the final 23 years of his life in an asylum, writing poetry that has led modern critics to regard him as one of the most important 19th-century English poets.
From Bacon: A Love Story to An Intellectual History of Cannibalism; from Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich to The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin, Bookseller magazine has announced the longest ever longlist for its annual Diagram prize for the oddest book title of the year.
A strong leaning towards the scatological characterises many of the 49 longlisted books, with Peek-a-poo: What’s in Your Diaper?, Father Christmas Needs a Wee, Is the Rectum a Grave? and The Origin of Faeces all vying for a place on the shortlist.
The prize was created in 1978 “during a particularly dull day at the Frankfurt Book Fair.” Past Winners have included: American Bottom Archaeology, Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality, How to Avoid Large Ships, and Living with Crazy Buttocks. Last year’s winner– The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-Milligram Containers of Fromage Frais— was controversial in that it was written by a computer.
The shortlist will be announced, , and voting will commence, on February 19– one can check in on contest founder Horace Bent’s Blog (on the Bookseller site)… or if that’s just not up-to-the-minute enough, one can follow the amusing Mr. Bent on Twitter.
As we head for the library, we might recall that it was on this date in 1938 that BBC Television produced and aired the world’s first ever science fiction television program, an adaptation of a section of Czech playwright Karel Capek’s R.U.R., in which Capek had coined the term “robot” (as in “Rossum’s Universal Robots”).
The folks at AbeBooks— a large UK used book dealer– handle lots of volumes. Lest the staff become jaded, they’ve created a virtual “Weird Book Room,” a repository of the odd and the curiously purposive.
One can find there, for example,
As we re-order those stacks on our bedside tables, we might recall that it was on this date in 1521 that there began what was surely the most delightfully-named event an elementary school history student was ever made to memorize: The Diet of Worms.
A general assembly of the Imperial Estates of the Holy Roman Empire, it is most famous for the occasion it presented Martin Luther to affirm his views in the face of Imperial resistance, and for the resulting Edict of Worms– via which Emperor Charles V, declared: “For this reason we forbid anyone from this time forward to dare, either by words or by deeds, to receive, defend, sustain, or favor the said Martin Luther. On the contrary, we want him to be apprehended and punished as a notorious heretic, as he deserves, to be brought personally before us, or to be securely guarded until those who have captured him inform us, whereupon we will order the appropriate manner of proceeding against the said Luther. Those who will help in his capture will be rewarded generously for their good work.”