Digressive Browsing for Books

April 2, 2007

This weekend I was on a quest to spend a $50 Amazon certificate that I earned as a reward on my credit card. (Great way to assuage the guilt of excessive buying- I now pay for all my groceries, gas, utilities- virtually everything that I can with a credit card to get the rewards. It consolidates a lot of payments as well.) Anyway, I went to the canongate site to see if any new books were out in the awesome myth series (there were two).

——— if you are easily offended, please don’t read on —-

Well, I got to the site and they are advertising The Book of Lists. The advertisement changes to a random list each time that one visits. When I arrived at the site of course the lead is “6 Positions for Sexual Intercourse – in Order of Popularity.” Not what I was looking for, but curiosity got the better of me and I clicked the link. Pretty boring list, but what what was interesting was the lead statement- “Gershon Legman, an American who wrote about sex, calculated that there are more than 4 million possible ways for men and women to have sexual intercourse with each other.” I started thinking and counting, thinking some more and counting some more. I worked on my list for hours, and quit in frustration at 2,423. I’m sorry Mr. Legman, but I think you are mistaken.

I regret the wasted time but moved on to the literature lists, a couple of which are enjoyable. “6 curious poetry anthologies” included this book of poetry, which I found after a bit of a search on a ping pong museum auction site. The book sold for a little over $200.

The next list was “11 incredible lipograms.” Not having a clue what a lipogram was, I had to check it out. Now I know:

A form of verbal gymnastics, lipograms are written works that deliberately omit a certain letter of the alphabet by avoiding all words that include that letter. `Lipo’ actually means `lacking’ – in this case lacking a letter. An example of a contemporary lipogram is the nursery rhyme, `Mary Had a Little Lamb’, rewritten without the letter s:

Mary had a little lamb
With fleece a pale white hue,
And everywhere that Mary went
The lamb kept her in view;
To academe he went with her,
Illegal, and quite rare;
It made the children laugh and play
To view a lamb in there.

– A. Ross Eckler

Turns out there are 11 books out there that were intentionally written with one or more letters of the alphabet missing. I have read one of them, Mark Dunn’s Ella Minnow Pea“. In this book, more and more letters are eliminated as the novel progresses. It was fun, although increasing difficult to read.

The last list I checked out was “8 unlikely how-to books.” Hard to believe, but How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art is a legitimate manual- Nice gift idea for those that take long hikes in the wilderness. And for the less skillful boaters out there, how about “How to Avoid Huge Ships“. Again, a serious book written by Captain John W Trimmer, a captain likely tired of dealing with silliness on the seas.

I did end up buying the latest books in the myth series, and managed it before my April 1 deadline. Now I start actually keeping track on my blog of my purchases and borrowing in relation to my actual reading. I’m hoping with the count continually in front of me, I can stop the tide of books waiting to be read.



5 Responses to “Digressive Browsing for Books”

  1. imani Says:

    Of course you know that you’ll have to post your list of sexual positions.

  2. Dorothy W. Says:

    Imani is too funny!

    I book of ping pong verse? How strange.

  3. Brad Says:

    Imani – I agree with Dorothy that you are hilarious. I was going to call your bluff, but unfortunately the dog ate my list.

    Dorothy – Let me know if you are interested in the book of verses, I’ll send the link. I’ll bet you can pick it up for under $300.

  4. Stefanie Says:

    How convenient that the dog ate your list 😉

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