Someone sent me a link to a book thereby introducing me to the most wonderful book shop, Arty Bees, and their bizarre book collection.
As they explain it: Several years ago they came upon a book that changed their lives. Entitled "Frog Raising for Pleasure and Profit and other Bizarre Books" by Russell Ash and Brian Lake, it detailed the delights and eccentricities of the book publishing trade. It encompassed all fields of bibliophilic silliness from strange titles, double-entendres, toilet humour, "how-to"s for peculiar hobbies and pastimes, and specialized subjects that make you wonder who the intended audience was meant to be.
This book made them laugh.
It also made them realize, they were not alone.
For some time they had been ferreting away books that were simply too fabulous to sell. And so began The Arty Bees Cabinet of Curious Bibliophilia. Some are merely products of their time, others represent views and beliefs that some of the staff find inherently funny, these have been included in the spirit of "everyone is entitled to their opinion" and these are ours.
Here's a selection for your amusement:
How to Succed With Women Without Really Trying
By Shepard Mead, illustrated by Claude, Panther, 1957, paperback
This is a title which I'm sure will appeal to many readers, and you'll also be pleased to hear that it "really works!"
With edifiying chapter headings such as "How to Be Irresistible in Short Trousers," "How to Train the First Wife", and "How to Select Your Second Wife", how could it possibly fail?
Let's just provide a few examples of the indispensable advice contained within this natty little volume:
On making suitable choices:
- "The fun-loving qualities of the perfect fiancée have no place in the first wife, who will be allowed little time for unproductive merriment."
- "The first wife... must be practical and serviceable... She will be your wife during the early, hard years before you can afford a staff of servants. She will serve as mother, cook, housemaid, chauffeur, nurse, and charwoman. This will allow her, if she is nimble, six or seven hours of sleep a night, ample for a sturdy girl."
The Pinch Test: "Using the thumb and forefinger, exert gentle pressure along certain key muscles. A girl with good muscular tone will wear well and last for years, even if neglected occasionally."
On choosing a second wife: "Finally, she must be good-natured, understanding, and tolerant, for as you advance in years you will become grumpier and less manageable."
On personal appearance:
"Retain the same trouser size, sucking in the powerful abdominal muscles until the belt is fastened. This is effective, but can lead to broken seams, jammed zippers, and a strangled expression."
On keeping the magic alive:
"It is annoying to spend long months training a wife only to have her leave you for another…You have only to watch a bargain sale to realise that no woman wants anything unless other women want it, too. Make this principle work for you rather than against you."
On when to upgrade:
- "Never cast off a wife - wear her out."
- "With reasonable care a wife should last for years and years."
- "A word of caution: it is best to wear a wife out evenly… The woman worn out piecemeal takes on a spotty and irregular appearance, one of which you may not be proud."
On sharing your hobbies with her :
- "It is a happy marriage indeed when the husband and wife do things together... Take her with you on a round of golf. Though she may not want to help carry your clubs, a well-trained wife can be useful in finding lost balls and replacing divots."
- "But wait! Not only men are intended to benefit from perusing this immensely instructive almanac of allure! All persons of the female persuasion should feel exceedingly grateful that the author is "permitting its sale to women." He states,
- "As a woman you may not at first think that men need help in helping themselves. You will find to your surprise that most men are only too grateful for every helping you give them."
Though the Newcastle Journal declared, "If ever a book should be banned [this] is that book," don't let that deter you — they're just jealous. No, this is a volume which deserves to be proudly nestled on your shelf in between other classics such as Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus and The Rules.
The Little Book of Pants
By Vestan Pance
Michael O'Mara Books Ltd 1999, paperbackISBN 1 85479 477 9
At what point did an executive at Michael O'Mara Books Ltd say, "let's take lots of famous quotes and insert the word PANTS into them, 'cos that will be really funny.
Pee-your-PANTS funny. And who could resist that. It'll be a runaway bestseller"?
"Should auld PANTS be forgot,And never brought tae mind…"Robbie Burns
"All this and PANTS too"Matthew Arnold
"PANTS!, PANTS! My Kingdom for my PANTS"Shakespants