Created By: alciefrederic on July 14, 2011

Too Specific Book

A book that is about a very, very specific topic, so specific that it should not really require a whole book to talk about it.

Name Space:
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Trope
Do we have this yet?

The laconic description pretty much explains it.

Inspired by:

I'm pretty sure this has been Seen A Million Times.

If you have examples, please contribute. I'll write a full article about this if the examples are enough for it to launch.

If it's already a trope, then never mind.
Community Feedback Replies: 46
  • July 16, 2011
    BraveHoratio
    It's not a book, but the same concept is used with Guide Entries in the radio series of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. While Ford and Arthur are trapped under a giant rock that they can't move with no chance of escape and no hope of rescue, Ford suggests that they consult the guide, while Arthur is skeptical that they'll find anything aplicable. Cue the voice of Peter Jones saying: "What to do if you are trapped under a giant rock that you can't move with no chance of escape and no hope of rescue."

    I am tempted to say that C.S. Lewis's History of English Literature in the 16th Century Excluding Drama is a Real Life example of this idea.
  • July 18, 2011
    EmbracingShadows
    • One Spongebob Squarepants episode had Spongebob reading "How to Become a Fancy Waiter in Less Than 20 Minutes".
  • July 18, 2011
    Aielyn
  • July 18, 2011
    CrazedOtaku
    Axis Powers Hetalia has a few examples of these. The ones that spring to mind for this troper are "How To Get Along With Italians: Brothers" and one that I don't remember the title for, but it was during the Valentine's Day strip.
  • July 18, 2011
    TonyG
    Wile E. Coyote is often seen reading these.
  • July 18, 2011
    Generality
    Compare/contrast Great Big Book Of Everything.
  • July 28, 2011
    arromdee
    Used as a joke in the MST 3 K of The Crawling Hand: "You know, this book of lists says everything. Lookit here: what to do when a rogue hand kills your landlady."

  • July 29, 2011
    Bisected8
    Keeping Warm With an Ax is the title of a Real Life book entirely about axe based methods of woodcutting (For the curious; ISBN-10: 0876635524 ISBN-13: 978-0876635520).
  • July 31, 2011
    CodeMan38
    Truth In Television with academic books on esoteric subjects. Can't think of any examples off the top of my head, but I know I've seen some that made me do a double take in a university library.
  • July 31, 2011
    Loyal2NES
    "Swedish-made Penis Enlargers And Me: This Sort of Thing Is My Bag, Baby", written by Austin Powers.
  • July 31, 2011
    TheMayorofNorthfield
    • American Dad sometimes uses this as a joke. In one scene at the end of "Red October Sky", Stan is reading a book titled Anticipating the Doorbell when the doorbell rings, and in "Cops and Roger", he is in bed reading Nude from the Waist Down, then gets out of bed... and is nude from the waist down.

  • July 31, 2011
    BuckRivera
    Title suggestion: Monomaniacal Monograph.

    There should be a note in the description that this is Truth In Television, specifically in academics.
  • August 1, 2011
    GuesssWho
    Seconding Monomaniacal Monograph.

    Speaking of H 2 G 2, wasn't Slartibartfast "planning to write an eccentric and relentlessly inaccurate monograph on the subject of equatorial fjords in order to set the record wrong about one or two matters he saw as important"?
  • August 1, 2011
    Aielyn
    I'm actually starting to think that this trope needs to be self-referential. The Trope Where A Book Is Far Too Specific To Reasonably Be Made Into Its Own Book?

    EDIT: With options like Monomaniacal Monograph and/or Absurdly Specific Book Title as redirects, of course. It would be unreasonable to expect people to remember the "real" title.
  • August 1, 2011
    Loyal2NES
    The thing is, it is entirely reasonable to expect the real title to be snappy and easily enough remembered. If that monster of a title exists at all, it would be as a redirect for humor, not the primary name. Otherwise it'd be in TRS within the month.

    Also, I personally prefer Absurdly Specific Book to Monomaniacal Monograph.
  • August 1, 2011
    Sligh
    Real Life example: AD&D used to have an entire book dedicated to halberds. Seriously.
  • August 1, 2011
    arromdee
    I'd go with Absurdly Specific Book Title. Easier to remember, for one, despite being more words, since it doesn't deliberately use unusual words in order to get alliteration.
  • August 1, 2011
    Aielyn
    arromdee - I made a minor error, it was supposed to be Absurdly Specific Book Topic - the "topic" is important, because it's not about the book title being absurdly specific, but the content of the book. An absurdly-specific title is just common when lampshaded or otherwise parodied.
  • August 4, 2011
    bbofun
    There used to be a Mad Magazine feature called something like "Thinnest Books in the world", which would show a bookshelf of thin books with the titles on the spine. They would be things like "Jewish Sports legends" and "Great German Comedians" and "Wit and Wisdom of Spiro Agnew" (not sure of any of those examples, however).

    The "thinnest (or smallest, or shortest) books" joke has been used by a LOT of comedians and comedies- I have the feeling the "Jewish Sports Legends" is from Airplane, for example.
  • August 4, 2011
    Sailor11sedna
    Arc Building for Dummies, ala Evan Almighty.

    Also, in Ed, Edd, n' Eddy, Edd once read "How to Wait"
  • August 5, 2011
    BuckRivera
    If you don't want to use Monomaniacal Monograph (which I rather like), I'd prefer Absurdly Specific Book over Absurdly Specific Book Topic because the concept is more basic and comprehensive (an absurdly specific book can have both an absurdly specific topic and title).
  • August 5, 2011
    Arivne
    ^^^ @bbofun: your Airplane example is correct.

    Film
    Stewardess: Would you like something to read?
    Ted Stryker: Do you have anything light?
    Stewardess: How about this leaflet, "Famous Jewish Sports Legends"?
  • August 5, 2011
    foxley
    One specific example of the Wile E, Coyote books was How to Tar and Feather a Roadrunner (10th edition).
  • August 5, 2011
    Lavalyte
    One book, "Swedish-made Penis Enlargers And Me: This Sort of Thing Is My Bag Baby", by Austin Powers.
  • August 5, 2011
    Loyal2NES
    "Famous Jewish Sports Legends" sounds, in practice, more like it'd fit better with the Worlds Smallest Book YKTTW currently floating around somewhere.
  • August 5, 2011
    wordswords
  • August 5, 2011
    Nocturna
    @alciefrederic: It looks like you have a viable possibility of a trope and could write that description now.
  • August 5, 2011
    OmarKarindu
    • F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel Tender is the Night gives us the remarkable monograph title An Attempt at a Uniform and Pragmatic Classification of the Neuroses and Psychoses, Based on an Examination of Fifteen Hundred Pre-Krapaelin and Post-Krapaelin Cases as they would be Diagnosed in the Terminology of the Different Contemporary Schools Together with a Chronology of Such Subdivisions of Opinion as Have Arisen Independently.
    • One could argue that all of Kinbote's notes in Pale Fire qualify, since they narrate his own lunatic fantasies in exhaustive detail. The central poem these notes are meant to explicate is supposed to be a major work by another poet, making Kinbote's work especially useless to anyone but himself.
    • Some of the fictional books mentioned by Jorge Luis Borges count; a special example is in his story ''Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote," where the title character (a 20th-century Frenchman) rewrites Cervantes' novel word-for-word in the original Spanish. He receives critical acclaim from the narrator despite the readily apparent superfluity of the project.
    • In many of Flann O'Brien's works, references are made to the loopy philosophies of a character named De Selby. The Anti Hero protagonist of The Third Policeman is himself writing an even less-essential monograph about De Selby.
    • Irish authors like this one: the 18th-century writer Jonathan Swift gave us the Laputans of Gullivers Travels, a bunch of literal Cloud Cuckoo Lander types who produce nothing but this sort of research; and also A Tale of a Tub, a satire of a contemporary trend for controversial philosophical and religious debates, often turning on obscure concepts and rhetorical devices, that itself contains dozens of untitled examples of this trope in the form of various "digressions."
    • Thomas Pynchon and Douglas Adams both frequently drop such titles in their works.
    • In Tristram Shandy, the title character's uncle converts his entire estate into a reenactment of the 1695 Siege of Narum; Tristram later writes a book about his uncle's reenactments. It runs in the family: Tristram's father earlier writes a self-described "dissertation" about his son's first name. The author, Laurence Sterne, was...Irish!
    • It's not a book, but this seems to apply to the tedious article on foot-and-mouth disease that Mr. Deasy wants to send to the newspapers in James Joyce's Ulysses. Which is of course set in Dublin.
  • August 5, 2011
    robybang
    Real Life
  • June 16, 2015
    eroock
    Don't we have this as a live version already?

    Btw, the trope image is currently being used by Just Friends.
  • June 17, 2015
    henke37
    See The Magazine Rule for more regularly published stuff.
  • June 17, 2015
    Berrenta
    Seconding Absurdly Specific Book Topic.

    ^^ I think the image fits better here than Just Friends. Hard for someone unfamiliar with that work to determine why it goes with the latter, and it seems reliant on its caption there.
  • June 17, 2015
    eroock
  • June 17, 2015
    eroock
    Right now I fear there is trope decay going on here. I see at least three different tropes going on here:

    1. An overtly long and descriptive book title (like in Omar Karindu's Fitz Gerald example)
    2. A very narrow topic for a book, like Bisected8's Keeping Warm With an Ax
    3. A book with a topic which would make for a very thin book (often used for comedy), like Famous Jewish Sports Legends from Airplane.

    I think it's best to focus on just one of these, splitting off the others (if there is interest) to other YKTT Ws.
  • June 17, 2015
    Lythande
    ^ Given that list, to me it seems like the focus is supposed to be on the second one, however, the topic had better be reflected in the title, otherwise there will just be examples like "In __ there is a book about making clothes for guinea pigs".
  • June 17, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    Of knjoren's list, I'd say the focus should be on the third one (in-universe examples of books that are either too long for their extremely specific titles or just as hilariously short as they ought to be given their topics) because this is TV Tropes, not GoodReads, and if this page is about real-world books you're just going to have lots of people explaining why this or that title is misleading because, for example, Keeping Warm With An Ax is just a provocative name for a practical guide to cutting wood with hand tools, which is absolutely a topic that might take an entire book to cover.

    A title that's absurdly longwinded but still descriptive is just Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness in a book title; I don't think we need a page for that.

    Related trope might be Funny Background Event, as these kind of book gags are usually too short to be the real focus of a scene, and they show up in the background of comic book and webcomic panels on the regular.

    And I like Absurdly Specific Book Title, but I like Improbably Specific Book Title even better.
  • June 17, 2015
    eroock
    I knew I saw this topic somewhere else before. Compare:
  • June 17, 2015
    eroock
    As for knjoren's list, I would say item 2 and 3 can both be covered here without causing any issues.
  • June 17, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    Okay, so all three of those pages need to be combined into a revamped Absurdly Specific Book Title, yes? Were you planning to give that a shot, eroock, or shall I?

    And yes, I agree that the list by OmarKarindu is uninspiring and that real-world weird books can have a place on a page mainly about in-universe weird books. I just think that the focus should be in-universe books with real life as an afterthought, as on most trope pages.
  • June 17, 2015
    Quatic
    In the Sherlock Holmes story His Last Bow it is observed that Holmes, in retirement, has enjoyed writing a lengthy Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, with some Observations upon the Segregation of the Queen.
  • June 17, 2015
    eroock
    Please go ahead with the merge. Ridiculously Appropriate Book looks like the best candidate to continue on.

    However, we are still not entirely settled on the trope's purpose, are we? A book ridiculously appropriate for the situation looks like just another subtle variation we haven't considered yet.
  • June 17, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    Why is that the best candidate for continuation? Because it has the fewest ancient comments?

    Anyway, I think Ridiculously Appropriate Book is just one of the most common incarnations of Absurdly Specific Book Title because it's the easiest way to structure a Specific Title gag. It'll fit nicely into Absurdly Specific Book Title. Though Improbably Specific Book Title would imply a bit of situational absurdity rather than objective absurdity, which is another reason I like that option...
  • June 18, 2015
    randomsurfer
    The version with the long title is, well, Long Title. And/Or In Which A Trope Is Described.
  • June 18, 2015
    eroock
    ^^ Sorry, I meant Specific Situation Books as the best candidate to continue on. It has three hats and lots of examples to show for.
  • June 18, 2015
    Quatic
    Though I imagine a situation could exist, the Sherlock Holmes example is not brought up for one, but simply to show how neck-deep in beekeeping Holmes has gotten in his seniorage.
  • June 18, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=qjj31jtdbfnm64xn1nd9mpwc