Confession. I own some books that are just a bit eccentric. Unlike the respectable volumes of classic fiction, reference guides, poetry and popular science which gaze serenely from my bookcase, these misfits flaunt their weirdness and take pride in not matching the rest of my collection. Here are a few of them…
The Pineapple. This non-fiction work by Fran Beauman is exactly what it says on the tin (…of pineapple). It’s about pineapples. I don’t even like pineapples that much, but I think fruit generally is ace. This book is about the nature, cultivation, culture and social history of pineapples. I probably bought it in the discount section of Waterstones.
Flushed with Pride. Modern sanitation is a wonderful thing. This thin yet interesting book is about the famous plumber Thomas Crapper and the business he founded. I think the history of toilets and sewerage is fascinating. First published in 1969, author Wallace Reyburn is similarly enthusiastic about the topic, although he does start talking about cricket at one point.
Walt Disney slownik angielsko-polski. This colourful dictionary doesn’t really help you to learn Polish, or indeed (American) English. However, I’ve always enjoyed the illustrations, some of which are quite funny. I was given it as a present many years ago. Like a lot of books in the 1980s it was printed in West Germany, before China became the main printer.
The Cucumber King. In an Oxfam shop about ten years ago, I found this children’s story from the 1970s by German author Christine Nöstlinger. I admit that I actually bought this book because of the awful cover, which shows a creepy model of the eponymous King. He’s not scary-looking at all in the interior illustrations. I like the story too.
I-Spy Minerals Rocks & Fossils. I was contemplating a career as a palaeontologist at one point, a long time ago, because I liked collecting fossils. I found it amazing that creatures and plants could turn into stone over the millennia. The concept of the I-Spy series was that you get points for spotting various things for real, but sometimes I would exaggerate and tick off something I hadn’t seen. I hoped the Michelin Man (the series mascot) didn’t know about that.
SMTV Live. If you watched children’s TV in the UK between 1998 – 2003, you’ll probably be familiar with this programme. When I watched it, Ant & Dec and Cat Deeley were the presenters. Parodies, jokes and games (Wonky Donkey, Splatoon, Challenge Ant) would be followed by a music show, CD:UK. Whenever I pull this book off the shelf, thinking it’s finally time to get rid of it, I start reading it and laughing. It’s full of hilarious interviews, fake adverts, viewers’ letters and slightly rude stories.
Are there any odd books on your shelf? Maybe they don’t ‘fit in’ with your collection but you like them because they’re different?