It’s that completely and utterly bonkers time of the year again with the nominations for the Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year.
The Prize is the brainchild of Diagram Group founders Trevor Bounford and Bruce Robertson and came about as a way of avoiding boredom when they attended the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1978. As a many-times survivor of this event myself it’s easy to understand why they resorted to this madness. The very first winner was Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice. The competition is managed by the Bookseller, the industry’s key magazine, trading since 1858.
Among other winners are such classics as How to Avoid Huge Ships (1992), Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers (1996), Living with Crazy Buttocks (2002), Cooking with Poo (2012), How to Poo at Work (2014), and last year’s winner Too Naked for the Nazis.
This year’s front runner is Nipples on my Knee co-authored by Debra and Graham Roberston, a memoir of “25 years in the sheep business” and according to Tom Tivan, the prize coordinator, “has got to be an early bookies’ favourite, as it combines both animal husbandry and Carry On-esque ribaldry”.
As usual, academic and specialist texts dominate the shortlist, which is drawn from readers’ nominations. According to the magazine’s pseudonymous diarist Horace Bent, Peter Andrews’s An Ape’s View of Evolution is:
“classic Diagram: a sober and worthy academic tome, which is unintentionally humorous”.
“It brings me back to previous winners like Designing High Performance Stiffened Structures (2000) or American Bottom Archaeology (1993).”
Also in the running are Love Your Lady Landscape by Lisa Lister, whose subtitle encourages the reader to:
“Trust your gut, care for ‘down there’ and reclaim your fierce and feminine SHE.”
Two other titles in the mix are Renniks Australian Pre-Decimal and Decimal Coin Errors: The Premier Guide for Australian Pre-Decimal and Decimal Coin Errors, edited by Ian McConnelly, and The Commuter Pig-Keeper by Michaela Giles. The latter according to Tivnan is reminiscent of memorable past winners such as Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop (2013), and The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories (2000).
The winner is decided by a public vote. If you would like to view all five nominees and cast your vote click here. Voting closes on 21st July. So get cracking!
The successful author and publisher win nothing (save the adulation of millions), but the nominator will be sent a passable bottle of claret.