Most Boring Book Title Contest

Doug Mangum is having a contest to see who can come up with book title (and it has to be the title of a real book) more boring than The Exchange of Goods and Services in Pre-Sargonic Lagash. The prize is a $50 gift certificate to Eisenbrauns provided by James Spinti (under the auspices of Eisenbrauns of course)!  Doug actually “tagged” me for this one but I would have given it a shot no matter what.

I think it’s important to remember what Doug’s asking for though.  He’s not looking for the longest book title like Joel provided, or books written by the most boring author like Scott suggested, or even the most boring book—he’s looking for the most boring book title and I think Mike has the best claim so far since linguistics books have boring titles by default.

But I have a lot of books with boring titles so I decided to skim my catalog and see what I could find.  To start, I automatically eliminated anything with “Papers presented at the [fill in the blank] conference” or “Proceedings from the [fill in the blank]” in the title because that just seemed unfair and a bit too easy.  Next I ruled out published bibliographies since that would be too easy too.  I then skipped anything with “quantum” in the title since that just sounds awesome!  I also skipped titles that were personal names like Origenas well as grammars, dictionaries, encyclopedias, introductions, histories, handbooks, guides (e.g., Blackwell Guides), and companions (e.g., Cambridge Companions) since they’re all too plain and simple to really be boring.  And finally, I didn’t consider anything prior to the 20th century just because I think that most books had boring titles back then and I wanted to challenge myself.

I chose only those titles that made me sleepy when reading them—the titles that made me say to myself, “do I really have to read that one day?” and “how on earth did I come to acquire this book?”  I ended up with around 50 titles but I’ve whittled them down to 16 so without further ado here’s what I came up with:

  1. Alexander, Loveday. The Preface to Luke’s Gospel: Literary Convention and Social Context in Luke 1.1-4 and Acts 1.1. Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 78. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
  2. Bakker, Stéphanie J. The Noun Phrase in Ancient Greek: A Functional Analysis of the Order and Articulation of NP Constituents in Herodotus. Amsterdam Studies in Classical Philology 15. Leiden: Brill, 2009.
  3. Bautch, Richard J. Developments in Genre between Post-Exilic Penitential Prayers and the Psalms of Communal Lament. Academia Biblica 7. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003.
  4. Bergmann, Claudia D. Childbirth as a Metaphor for Crisis: Evidence from the Ancient Near East, the Hebrew Bible, and 1QH XI, 1-18. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 382. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2008.
  5. Brenner, Athalya. Colour Terms in the Old Testament. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 21. Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1982.
  6. Cargal, Timothy B. Restoring the Diaspora: Discursive Structure and Purpose in the Epistle of James. Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series 144. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 1993.
  7. Cohen, Naomi G. Philo’s Scriptures: Citations from the Prophets and Writings, Evidence for a Haftarah Cycle in Second Temple Judaism. Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 123. Leiden: Brill, 2007.
  8. Finlan, Stephen. The Background and Contents of Paul’s Cultic Atonement Metaphors. Academia Biblica 19. Leiden: Brill, 2004.
  9. Gentry, Peter John. The Asterisked Materials in the Greek Job. SBL Septuagint and Cognate Studies Series 38. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995.
  10. Giannakidou, Anastasia and Monika Rathert, eds. Quantification, Definiteness, and Nominalization. Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics 24. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
  11. Hachlili, Rachel. Jewish Funerary Customs, Practices and Rites in the Second Temple Period. Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 94. Leiden: Brill, 2005.
  12. Li, Tarsee. The Verbal System of the Aramaic of Daniel: An Explanation in the Context of Grammaticalization. Studies in the Aramaic Interpretation of Scripture 8. Leiden: Brill, 2009.
  13. Oudshoorn, Jacobine G. Roman and Local Law in the Babatha and Salome Komaise Archives: General Analysis and Three Case Studies on Law of Succession, Guardianship and Marriage. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 69. Leiden: Brill, 2007.
  14. Rahmouni, Aicha. Divine Epithets in the Ugaritic Alphabetic Texts. Translated by J. N. Ford. Handbook of Oriental Studies, Section One: The Near and Middle East 93. Leiden: Brill, 2008.
  15. Schmalz, Geoffrey C. R. Augustan and Julio-Claudian Athens: A New Epigraphy and Prosopography. Mnemosyne Supplements 302. Leiden: Brill, 2008.
  16. Schuddeboom, Feyo L. Greek Religious Terminology: Telete & Orgia: A Revised and Expanded English Edition of the Studies by Zijderveld and Van der Burg. Religions in the Graeco-Roman World 169. Leiden: Brill, 2009.

And there you have it.  I’ve had to fight off the slumber at every point of writing this post.


11 thoughts on “Most Boring Book Title Contest

  1. Doug: Thanks. It was really tough since so many academic books have boring titles. I think #5 is the most simply boring. In my opinion, titles get really boring when they’re too descriptive. If I feel like I know everything about the book from it’s title then it really doesn’t make me want to read it.

  2. I’m ticked that a book specifically and intentionally not required from a publisher for review is on this list — and I read it twice!

    Also, Quantification, Definiteness, and Nominalization (Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics) was just added to my wishlist on amazon.

    I’ve got a tie on your color book: Studies in Greek colour terminology (Mnemosyne, bibliotheca classica Batava. Supplementum) — yeah, that’s right, MULTIPLE studies.

  3. Nick,

    I thought you were going to exclude linguistics books. Some of those sound downright interesting. I might have to request a copy…


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