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World Book Day: 15 strange books in the British Library

For World Book Day Jess, a copywriter at FutureLearn, shares some of the stranger titles housed in the British Library, where the FutureLearn team have their offices

a photo of the British Library in London

The British Library is one of the largest libraries in the world. It has over 170 million items in its catalogue. But the FutureLearn team don’t stroll through teetering shelves every day because most of the catalogue is stored in archives deep below our offices. The hoard of information below us lies unnoticed and undisturbed, searchable only online.

So in honour of World Book Day I’ve done just that, gone digitally digging through the enormous catalogue, to bring to light some of the more bizarre books found in our home.

1. The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification – Julian Montague, 2006.

A must have for your next trip.

Photo of the book The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification

2. Asparagus, Asparagus, Ah Sweet Asparagus – Faye Kicknosway, 1981.

Has Wholefoods started a publishing company?

Photo of the book Asparagus, Asparagus, Ah Sweet Asparagus

3. Old Tractors and the Men Who Love Them : How to Keep Your Tractors Happy and Your Family Running – Roger Welsch, 1995.

We eagerly await the calendar.

Photo of the book Old Tractors and the Men Who Love Them

4. Pigeons and Princesses – James Reeves, 1956.

Someone call Pixar, I’ve got the next film idea sorted.

Photo of the book Pigeons and Princesses

5. How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack : Defend Yourself When the Lawn Warriors Strike (and They Will) – Chuck Sambuchino, 2014.

Forget about nuclear war or antibiotic resistance, it’s the gnomes that’ll get us.

Photo of the book How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack : Defend Yourself When the Lawn Warriors Strike (and They Will)

6. Sun-beams May Be Extracted From Cucumbers, but the Process Is Tedious. An Oration, Pronounced on the Fourth of July, 1799, Etc. – David Daggett, 1799.

An improvised cover as I’m not sure it ever got one back in 1799.

Photo of the book Sun-beams May Be Extracted From Cucumbers, but the Process Is Tedious

7. Burnt Carrots Don’t Have Legs – William Taylor, 1976.

Poor things.

Photo of the book Burnt Carrots Don’t Have Legs

8. Mathematical Modelling of Zombies – Robert Smith, 2014.

See, maths can be fun.

Photo of the book Mathematical Modelling of Zombies

9. Goats in the Nineties – Veterinary Publishing, 1994.

Another improvised cover, can you tell?

Illustration of the book Goats in the Nineties

10. Ancient Art of Farting – C.Huff, 1990.

The librarians WILL judge you if you request this.

Photo of the book Ancient Art of Farting

11. Knitting With Dog Hair : A Woof-to-warp Guide to Making Hats, Sweaters, Mittens and Much More – Kendall Crolius, 1996.

A kinder alternative to Cruella de Vil.

Photo of the book Knitting With Dog Hair

12. Fancy Goldfish Culture – Frank W. Orme, 1979.

Why even bother having a goldfish culture if it’s not fancy?

Photo of the book Fancy Goldfish Culture

13. The Untold History of the Potato – John Reader, 2009.

The not so humble spud.

Photo of the book The Untold History of the Potato

14. Cheese Rolling in Gloucestershire – Jean Jeffries, 2007.

This could help answer the question posed by the next book.

Photo of the book Cheese Rolling in Gloucestershire

15. The English: Are They Human? – Gustaaf Johannes Renier, 1956

See above.

Photo of the book The English: Are They Human?

Think you can beat these oddities, or want to look them up yourself? Try searching the catalogue.

Joking aside, World Book Day is a fantastic cause to get kids reading (hopefully they get to enjoy titles as entertaining as these) to find out more about getting involved click here.

And finally, if you want to add to this list with a book a your own – join our Start Writing Fiction course.

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