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Off The Shelf: The mad world of weird book titles

Renee Anhalt, Librarian

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We’ve all heard the saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” in reference to not being able to tell what something is about just by looking at it.

A good title will often give the reader some insight into the content of the book, pique a reader’s interest, and reflect on the character or attitude of the piece.

However, there are plenty of examples where the title of the book leaves the reader confused and scratching his or her head.

Check out a few examples of elusive book titles in the Madison College Libraries that leave us wondering what the book is really about:

“The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven” – This work chronicles modern life on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Victor, through whose eyes we view the community, is strongly aware of Native American traditions but wonders if his ancestors would view today’s Indians–mired in alcohol, violence, and an almost palpable sense of despair–with sympathy or disgust.

“Adulthood is a Myth: a ‘Sarah’s Scribbles’ Collection” – This graphic novel confronts head-on the horrors, anxiety, and awkwardness of modern adult life.

“Me Talk Pretty One Day” – A recent transplant to Paris, humorist David Sedaris, bestselling author of “Naked,” presents a collection of his strongest work yet, including the title story about his hilarious attempt to learn French.

“Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: a Modest Bestiary” – Also by David Sedaris, here he presents a collection of three animal-themed essays.

If you come across an obscure title that leaves you wondering, there are library tools and services that can help you to navigate the wide world of books. The Madison College Libraries provide reader’s advisory resources and services to assist readers with fiction and nonfiction book suggestions.

Our Fiction & Literature guide contain readers advisory tools to steer you toward book title suggestions. Our library subscribes to Novelist, a reader’s advisory database that provides recommendations, genre lists, book discussion guides, informative articles, and more. You can also check out our library Goodreads page at, a social book reading site.

In the future, if you find yourself deliberating about confusing book titles like “Bodybuilders in Tutus” or “The Radiation Recipe Book” … no worries. The library has your readers advisory needs covered … no pun intended.

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Off The Shelf: The mad world of weird book titles