I am ever-so-slightly obsessed with literary prizes (I’m sure this goes back to my childhood somehow), so I know all about the Bookers and the Whitbread and the Orange and the NBCCs. But somehow I’ve overlooked this one for years: the Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year. It was first bestowed in 1978 (on Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice). Like the Bookers, it’s known its share of controversy: the 2009 winner, The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-Milligram Containers of Fromage Frais, was apparently not authored so much as it was computer generated. (Sadly, the nude mice book is out of print, but if you are concerned about the future of cheese, the fromage frais tome can be yours for a mere $795.)
Today, the Diagram Prize released its 2012 shortlist, and what a list it is:
- A Century of Sand Dredging in the Bristol Channel: Volume Two by Peter Gosson.
- Cooking with Poo by Saiyuud Diwong. (Tragically not available on Amazon. Also, I feel that I should clarify: “Poo” is both the Thai word for “crab” and the author’s nickname.)
- Estonian Sock Patterns All Around the World by Aino Praakli.
- The Great Singapore Penis Panic: And the Future of American Mass Hysteria by Scott D Mendelson.
- Mr Andoh’s Pennine Diary: Memoirs of a Japanese Chicken Sexer in 1935 Hebden Bridge by Stephen Curry and Takayoshi Andoh.
- A Taxonomy of Office Chairs by Jonathan Olivares.
- The Mushroom in Christian Art by John A Rush.
The Great Singapore Penis Panic is my personal favorite of the bunch, but I think you can make a case for most of them. And I think I’d read almost all of them, with the possible exception of the sand-dredging book. To be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely sure I don’t already own the Estonian sock book.
Want to make your voice heard on this important issue? Cast your vote.