"I Smote Him on the Boko with My Whangee"

Often, I'll be walking down the street minding my own business when a complete stranger will come up to me and declare, "Steve, I desperately want to be a book collector but I have little money and no idea what to collect."

"Are you attracted to the strange, the bizarre, and the off-beat?" I'll inquire. (This is the standard line I use when meeting anybody for any reason).

"Why yes, I am!"

"Well, then," I'll say, "I have good news for you, my off-beat, bookish friend."
The good news is that for most of their adult lives, Russell Ash and Brian Lake have been collecting strange books from another planet that looks astonishingly like Earth. They compiled what amounts to an annotated checklist of their area of interest, Bizarre Books,  originally published in 1985.

The books within are not expensive to collect and provide further evidence that when it comes to collecting categories, the only limit lies within the collector's imagination.

Here's a sample of bizarre books that Ash and Lake have amassed. Though it agonizes me, I'll refrain from providing rude or otherwise humorous captions. I'll leave that to you, gentle reader, for the Comments section below this post.

Scouts in Bondage by Goeffrey Prout. (Aldine Publishing, 1930).

The Oldest Trade in the World, and Other Addresses for the Younger Folk by George H. Morrison. (Oliphant, Anderson & Ferrier, 1898).

And I Stood There With My Piccolo in My Hand by Meredith Willson. (Doubleday, 1948).

A Treatise on Madness by William Battie. (London, 1758).

Anatomy of the Brain by William W. Looney. (F.A. Davis, 1932).

I Knew 3,000 Lunatics by Victor Robert Small. (Farrar & Reinhart, 1935).

I Smote Him on the Boko with My Whangee. (Wm. Hyde, n.d.).

Octogenarian Teetotalers. (National Temperance League Publications, 1897)

Moles and Their Meaning by Harry de Windt. (C. Arthur Pearson, 1907). Clarification: the skin, not spy, sort.

Also and Too: A Corpus-based Study of Their Frequency and Use in Modern English by B. Fjelkestam-Nilsson. (Almquist & Wiksell, 1983).

The Loathsomeness of Long Haire by Revd Thomas Hall. (n.p., 1654).

The Inheritance of Hairy Ear Rims by Reginald Ruggles Gates. and P.N. Bhaduri (Mankind Quartely, n.d.).

A Toddler's Guide to the Rubber Industry by D. Lowe. (De Montfort Press, 1947).

How To Fill Mental Cavities by Bill Maltz. (Marlbro, 1978).

Movie Stars in Bathtubs by Jack Scagnetti. (Jonathan David Publishers, 1975).

The History and Romance of Elastic Webbing Since the Dawn of Time by Clifford Richmond. (By the Author, n.d.).

The Romance of Holes in Bread by I.K. Russell. (1924).

The Romance of Leprosy by E. Mackerchar. (1949).

The Romance of Proctology by Charles Elton Blanchard. ((1938)

Careers in Dope by Dan Walford. (Prentice-Hall, 1973). Note: Prentice-Hall publishes textbooks.

Rock Stars in Their Underpants by Paula Yates. (Virgin Books, 1980)

Rubbing Along In Burmese. Anon. (1944).

Who's Who in Cocker Spaniels by Marion Francis Robinson. Mangrum (n.p., 1944).

The Muck Manual: A Practical Treatise on the Nature and Value of Manures by F. Falkner. (John Murray, 1843).

Animals As Criminals by J. Brand. (1896).

Carnivorous Butterflies by Austin Hobart Clark. (U.S. Gov't Printing Office, 1926).

The Art of Faking Exhibition Poultry by George Riley Scott. (T. Werner Laurie, 1934).

Teach Your Chicken To Fly Manual by Trevor Weekes. (Kangaroo Press, 1983).

A Pictorial Book of Tongue Coating. Anon. (Yukonsha, 1981).

Clarification: diagnosis of disease by tongue-exam, in full-color. Suffice it to say, "Deep red tongue with a slippery moist 'moldy sauce paste' fur" is trouble, though I've had Scallops with Bok Choy and Moldy Sauce Paste - quite good, actually.

Old Age: Its Cause and Prevention by Sanford Bennett. ((1912).

Shut Your Mouth and Save Your Life by George Catlin. (Trubner & Co., 1869).

Cluthe's Advice to the Ruptured by Charles Cluthe. (Chas. Cluthe & Sons, 1915 - 71st edition).

How To Be Plump by Thomas Cation Duncan. (Duncan Bros., 1878).

How To Get Fat by Edward Smith. (Johm Smith & Co., 1865).

Grow Your Own Hair by Ron MacLaren. (Heathway, 1947).

Why Bring That Up? A Guide To and From Seasickness. (1936).

Sex Instruction for Irish Farmers by Charles McSherry. (Mercier Press, 1980).

How To Boil Water in a Paper Bag. Anon. (n.p., 1891).

Teach Yourself Alcoholism by Meier Glatt. (1975).

Living Without Eating by Herbert Thurston. (1931).

How To Cook Husbands by Elisabeth Strong Worthington. (Dodge, 1899).

The Fangs of Suet Pudding by Adams Farr. (Gerald G. Swan, 1944).

Clarification: The Fangs of Suet Pudding is not a cookbook recipe revenge story but rather a WWII potboiler featuring a master Nazi spy and a young and comely British lass.

And, finally, four must-have volumes appropriate to our passion:

A Bibliography of Water Pollution and its Control by Hugh Fish. (Gothard House, 1972).

Selective Bibliography of the Literature of Lubrication by Nathan Van Patten and Grace S. Lewis. (N. Van Patten, 1926).

An Essay on Diseases Incidental to Literary and Sedentary Persons by Samuel Auguste Andre David Tissot. ((1768).

Sweet Sleep. A Course of Reading Intended to Promote That Delightful Enjoyment by Charles J. Dunphie. (Tinsley Brothers, 1879). I encourage readers to provide a list of their favorite slumber-inducing volumes.