How to Avoid Huge Ships

I want to share with you a marvellous book I was gifted earlier this year.

I’m the first to admit I am a little anally retentive. That’s one of the reasons being a proofreader is the perfect profession for me – I love finding mistakes and correcting them. (Friends and acquaintances reading this: you may now scrape yourselves off the floor after almost exploding from laughter over my use of the words “a little”.)

While completing a work-related correspondence course not long ago, I got rather worked up over mistakes I found in the course materials. There were A LOT of them, and I thought that was pretty bad form. I decided to write a letter to the head of the course. My letter was pleasant, but firm. It pointed out (pleasantly but firmly) that I had paid good money to do the course and that I should be able to expect error-free notes. I said a few other things as well. Pleasantly (sort of) and firmly.

To his credit, the boss sent me a letter (very pleasant, not at all firm) thanking me for bringing the mistakes to his attention (albeit denying that some of them even existed.) Included with the letter was a book to reward me for being an “eagle eye”. First and last time I’ll ever be rewarded for being annoyingly pedantic, I’m willing to bet.

And I tell you what, I’m GLAD that the course notes were riddled with errors, because if they hadn’t been, I never would have had the excrutiating pleasure of reading How to Avoid Huge Ships and other implausibly titled books.

If you’re going to wet your pants (with laughter, people, not age), you might as well do it for good reason. And I did. Here’s just a sample.

  1. The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification

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Look on Amazon and you’ll see that some people love this book. Really.

2. Versailles: The View from Sweden

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“Blurry” and “Indistinct” are just two of the words that spring to mind.

3. The Anger of Aubergines

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Can I just point out that there are a number of earnest reviews of this book on Goodreads.

4. Knitting in the Fast Lane

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Woah, there, granny! Slow those needles down.

5. Reusing Old Graves

No cover art, I’m afraid. Interestingly (or disturbingly), both Amazon and Goodreads display a mock cover with the words “Note: This is not the actual book cover.” The mind boggles. Infinitely more disturbing, however, is the subtitle: A Report on Popular British Attitudes.

6. Greek Rural Postmen and their Cancellation Numbers

Believe me, if the title didn’t send you to sleep, the cover art would.

7. Fabulous Small Jews

The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review declared this one “Utterly Compelling.” The people who work there are all single.

8. Teabag folding

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Great Christmas stocking idea!

9. Tattooed Mountain Women and Spoon Boxes of Daghestan

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Insomnia? I have an instant cure.

..and to finish off with a bang:

10. The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories

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I have a question, though. Were the second and third printings also shocking?

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