There is a great little discussion in the biblioblogosphere at the moment about the "most boring book title ever". It began on Biblical Hebraica et Graeca and has continued on a range of other blogs. Lots of the suggestions so far bring a smile, even if no one has yet mentioned Goulder and the Gospels: An Examination of a New Paradigm, which sounds like tedious stuff to me. But speaking of doctoral dissertations that have been turned into publications, I think my favourite transformation ever is from The Rhetoric of Deracination in Q, a Reassessment which became, in its published version Jesus and the Village Scribes, which sounds much more interesting, not least because I didn't need a dictionary to find out what one of the words meant.
The difficulty with a lot of books that emerge from doctoral research is that there is something in the system that encourages us to write stuff that is boring. When I mentioned to one of my teachers that I was trying to keep my style as lively as possible, he said, "But, Mark, DPhil theses are boring, bloody boring!"
Nevertheless, I rather admire those who manage to write something that is spectacularly precisely focused. Many of the suggestions in the thread on boring book titles have isolated pieces that are actually somewhat admirable in their ability to spotlight something really specific. Bear in mind that Darwin made his academic reputation on the study of earth worms. All that stuff about evolution was a kind of subsidiary crater, of more peripheral interest.
I must admit that the things that I find boring are the books that are taking a well-trodden subject and exploring it for the umpteen-hundredth time. I remember one of my fellow DPhil students in Oxford picking up a published dissertation in the Theology Faculty Library on St Giles, a book about Paul and the Law, and not one that anyone now remembers twenty years later. "I ask you, what is the point?" he said. That's what's really boring, hoping that you might have something fresh, persuasive and original to say about something like that.