In Celebration Of World Book Day

Bryant and May

Seeing as I keep getting friends wishing me happy World Book Day (something I barely knew existed because authors never hear about anything in the publishing world unless it’s really bad news), here’s a list of the books Arthur Bryant is happy promoting on this auspicious occasion. They stand on the shelves behind his desk at the Peculiar Crimes Unit.

As you know, Mr Bryant uses his collection of rare, abstruse and deeply peculiar books to help him solve cases. (NB: Not all of these titles are imaginary; I’ll leave you to work out which ones are real.)

Bats of the British Isles

The Everyman Book of Wartime First Aid(with haddock bone bookmark)

Common Folk Remedies of the Onka-Wooka Tribe

How To Perform Occult Rites Using Everyday Kitchen Items

Incurable & Unnatural Vices of the Third Sex

Fifty Thrifty Cheese Recipes

Nachtkultur and Metatropism

How to Spot German and Italian Aircraft

Whither Wicca?The Future of Pagan Cults

The Apocryphal Books of the Dead

Tibetan skulls And Their Supernatural Uses

Mystical diagrams of Solomon’s Temple (Colouring-In Edition)

Criminal records from Newgate Gaol (32 volumes)

Kabalistic Pentagrams of the Absolute

Seymour’s British Witchcraft and Demonology(Rare, limited edition)

RAF Slang Made Easy(Uncensored paperback edition)

The East Anglican Book of Civil Magicke

Gardening Secrets of Curates’ Wives(Privately circulated volume)

The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (first edition)

Mayhew’s London Characters and Crooks

J.R. Hanslet’s All of Them Witches

Deitleff’s Psychic Experience in the Weimar Republic

Another Fifty Thrifty Cheese Recipes

Brackleson’sStoat-Breeding for Intermediates

The Luddite’s Guide to the Internet

Me & Chaos Theory, written by Arthur himself

The History Of Gog And Magog

Dental Evidence in Body Identification (Volume One: Bridgework)

The Vanished Rivers of London

The Mammoth Book of Druid Lore

Great Boiler Explosions Of The Ukraine

The British Catalogue of Victorian Naval Signals

The Fall of Jonathan Wild, Thief-Taker

Tribal Scarification (Volume 3: M-R)

London’s Most Notorious Highwaymen

Ordinance survey map Of London 1911 edition

Malleus Maleficarum(The Witches’ Hammer), 1486 edition

The East Anglia Witches: An Investigation into the Nature of Evil

The 1645 Omens of the Apocalypse

Grow Your Own Hemp

The Beano Christmas Annual, 1968

‘Laugh, I Thought I’d Die’: Reincarnation and Comedy

Victorian Water Closets: A Social History

Sumerian Religious Beliefs and Legends

Colonic Exercises for Asthmatics

Shazam! The Adventures of Captain Marvel

Mend Your Own Pipes!

Pornography and Paganism

Courtship Rituals of Papua New Guinea

Code-Breaking in Braille

A History of Welsh Vivisection

The Secret Life of London’s Public Houses

Yoruba Proverbs

The Anatomy of Melancholia

Further Thrifty Cheese Recipes (Edam and Red Leicester only)

Embalming Under Lenin

Cormorant-Sexing for Beginners

The Apocalypsis Revelata, Volume II

A Complete History of the Trouser-Press

Financial Accounts for the Swedish Mining Board, Years 1745–53

The Pictorial Guide to Chairman Mao Alarm Clocks

A copy of Letts Schoolboy Diary for 1952

Secret Codes & Urban Semiotics in Viennese Street Names

An Informal History of the Black Death

Intestinal Parasites Volume Two

British Boundary Lines; 1066-1700

A Guide To The Cumberland Pencil Museum

Greek Rural Postmen And Their Cancellation Numbers

The Pictorial Dictionary Of Barbed Wire

Collectable Spoons of the Third Reich

Patient files for the Royal Bethlehem Hospital, Moorgate, 1723-33

The Time Out Guide to Alternative London, 1971

‘Mind The Ghosts’ – The London Underground & The Spirit World

Conjuring & Tricks With Cards Vols 1-6

Mortar and Mortality; Who Died In Your House? (1923 edition)

Intestinal Funguses Volume 3

A User’s Guide to Norwegian Sewing Machines

The Complete Compendium of Lice

Cross-Stitching in the Time of Edward The Confessor

Hungarian-British Trade Fairs of the 1950s

The International Handbook of Underwater Acoustics

Across Europe With A Kangaroo

The complete works of Edward Bulwer-Lytton in Braille

Churchill’s Favourite Engineering Problems

Recreating Renaissance Masterpieces with Cheese

Bombproofing For Beginners

An Informal History of Cow-Staining

Stipendiary Justice in 19thCentury Wales

Unusual Punishments for Sodomy Vol.13: Northern Portugal

How To Cook Bats

‘Take My Wife, Please’: Negotiation Techniques In Abduction Cases


15 comments on “In Celebration Of World Book Day”

  1. Ian Luck says:

    Oddly, I have copies of ‘The Lost Rivers Of London’, by Nicholas Barton, and the 1968 ‘Beano’ annual. Both damn good reads, too. I had ‘Beano’ and ‘Dandy’ annuals every year, along with the very odd ‘Doctor Who’ annual, until I was about 12.

  2. Aimee says:

    All good reading for a dark and stormy night. There’s always a laugh when Arthur’s books are listed. Hard to believe some of them are actual titles.

  3. Misha Herwin says:

    Can anyone tell me where I can get Recreating Renaissance Masterpieces with Cheese?

  4. Richard Burton says:

    Collectable Spoons of the Third Reich made me laugh. I grew up in a house with teaspoons marked with eagles and swastikas in everyday use, which I didn’t even think about until a visitor reacted with what I’m going to describe as ‘surprise.’ Unfortunately we weren’t Nazi spies, one of my grandfathers spent some time collecting souvenirs in Germany in the mid-forties. Much less interesting.
    Best title on my bookshelf at the moment is, ‘The Day Jesus Rode Into Croydon’

  5. Vivienne says:

    Several would lend themselves for witches’ costumes from the pound shop for primary school children. Maybe even the bat books would past muster.

  6. Arthur Pearson says:

    This one is for real. I own the 1942 first edition:

    Headhunting in the Solomon Islands, by Caroline Mytinger.

  7. Arthur Pearson says:

    I have ECCENTRIC LIVES AND PECULIAR NOTIONS, subtitled Flat Earthers, Head Drillers, Urologists, Frantic Lovers, Welsh Druids, Finders of Lost Tribes, and Other Obsessed Individuals, by John Michell, published by Black Dog and Leventhal. Other titles from him include A Little History of Astro-Archaeology and Megalithomania.

  8. admin says:

    I seem to have a book on trepanation and another on knitting Somerset farmers’ smocks.

  9. chazza says:

    I’m very fond of my firsts of two books by the great Dr. Dingwall:-

    1. Artificial cranial deformation

    2. Male infibulation

    By Dr. Cockayne (no less) – Anglo Saxon Leechdoms and Wortcunning

    And The Acute Abdomen in Rhyme

    All essential reading for the curious collector…

  10. Vivienne says:

    I nearly bought A Partial History of Funereal Violin Music but, being incomplete, I thought I might feel disappointed.

  11. Helen Martin says:

    I really wish I could spend a few hours with a good light, a comfy chair, and Arthur’s library. I’ll bet The Acute Abdomen in Rhyme that Chazza has is a mnemonic book for medical students.
    That Somerset knitting book boggles my mind because smocks aren’t knitted almost by definition, but I think we’ve been round this one before.

  12. John Bayes says:

    I am surprised Arthur doesn’t have a book on Nose Hair Maintenance for the Elderly Gent.

  13. Ian Luck says:

    In connection with Mr. Pearson’s Head-hunting book, I read somewhere that, during the last war, Islanders in the Pacific, and tribes in places like Papua, New Guinea, who had been head-hunters, in the past, and who had been persuaded to drop that quaint custom, were told, by, I believe, the US and Australian authorities, that they could take it up again, and no action would be taken against them, so long as those heads were Japanese.

  14. Helen Martin says:

    Ian, my husband agrees with you and says that the headhunting title sounds very familiar. His understanding was that the practice was neither advocated nor condemned but would be ignored as long as the heads involved were Japanese.

  15. ANDREA says:

    I have a copy of ‘Knitting with Dog Hair’; always meant to try it, but never did. Had actual samples included. Then a cyberfriend in the Yukon Territory sent me a pair of mittens actually knitted from dog hair; I can only imagine what they’d smell like when wet. Well, like wet dog, I suppose.

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