Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ambiguous book covers

I found some interesting books on a recent bookscouting trip--some Western Americana, biography, poetry. But two stand out among the others merely because of their titles: Scouts in Bondage and Other Violations of Literary Propriety and Best Foot Forward.

I bought Scouts in Bondage for fun. It's a humorous look at books with unfortunate titles that could have used a bit more thoughtful editing. Some were innocent enough in their origins many decades ago, but the times have caught up with them and twisted the words into sexual inuendo and humorous ambiguities. Others were just poorly named to begin with.

English bookseller Michael Bell collected more than forty-five of these covers and presents them in facsimile in a 2006 publication from Simon & Schuster. More on these farther down.

I took a chance on Best Foot Forward for resale, though it didn't turn out to have much resale value. What I did discover, or snap to, after getting home with it is the questionable title. I had previously failed to see any continuance from the theme set forth in Scouts in Bondage.

I got disconnected from the book's title while reading about the subject of the book. It's all about a young man who overcame adversity to serve in World War II as a decorated pilot and later became a successful businessman. All this after losing both his legs in a flying accident!

Metaphors aside, for a story about a man with no legs, is Best Foot Forward really the best title to give this book?

Returning to the Scouts in Bondage book, following are images of some of the titles that make you chuckle, raise your eyebrows, or go hmmm...

Click the image for a larger view.

The Book of Blank Maps must have been created for travelers who like a challenge, I guess...

This author's name evokes images of a snickering Beavis and Butt-head.

The book's title cover.

The Girl Guide Knot Book. Hmmm... A companion volume to the one above?

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