Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mice, Marmalade and Lesbians - Odd Book Titles of 2008

Since 1978 Bookseller Magazine has awarded the Diagram Prize to the book with the oddest title. According to Bookseller's website, "The prestigious prize was first conceived by The Diagram Group's Bruce Robertson as a way to avoid boredom at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Well that seem innovative, but really, how odd can a title be? I've seen the list and let me tell you, it can be odd. Effing odd. OK, but how many titles can actually be odd, let alone effing odd? Again, I've seen the list and I'm here to tell you, a lot. So many that there was a long list that was whittled down to a short list and now the short list is being voted on and we'll know what book is the oddest of them all on March 27, 2009.

The first year the Diagram Prize was award was in 1978 and the winner was "Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice" (University of Tokyo Press). In other news, there was more than one international workshop on nude mice.

Last year's winner was what sounds to be like a self-help tome entitled "If You Want Closure In Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs" (Simon & Schuster US). Hey, now that's some sage and sound advice right there. Think about it.

I think one of my favorites was the 1984 winner "The Book of Marmalade: Its Antecedents, Its History and Its Role in the World Today" (Constable). Marmalade. The oft forgotten breakfast spread. It's about time that it got it's due.

Lesbians got their moment in the spotlight in two separate years. Once in 1990 for "Lesbian Sadomasochism Safety Manual" (Lace Publications), (Hey, be sadomasochistic all you want, but for God's sake, be safe about it for cryin' out loud!) and again in 2003 for "The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories" (Kensington Publishing). See, and I had no idea there were lesbian horses, did you? Huh. Learn something new every day!

Farm animals are also plentiful in the winner's column, like the especially amusing and extremely confuddling 1998 winner "Development in Dairy Cow Breeding and Management: and New Opportunities to Widen the Uses of Straw" (Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust) or the 1980 winner "The Joy of Chickens (Prentice Hall)."

Editor of The Bookseller, a one Philip Stone was disappointed that the short list could only contain six entries. And it does seem like a small number when you realize that you have to exclude titles such as "Excrement in the Late Middle Ages" and "All Dogs Have ADHD." Not to mention that titles that were excluded because they were published before 2008, such as "Monumental Beginnings: Archaeology of the N4 Sligo Inner Relief Road " and "Sketches of Hull Authors" (published in 1879 but still available (Call now! Operators are standing by!) through print on demand publishers of out-of-print books).

And now, your list of nominees for the Diagram Prize 2009:

  • Baboon Metaphysics by Dorothy L Cheney and Robert M Seyfarth (University of Chicago Press) (Since I'm not overly clearly on what baboons have to do with metaphysics, I'm guessing you're likely to find a lot of poo-flinging going on.)

  • Curbside Consultation of the Colon by Brooks D Cash (SLACK Incorporated) (Seriously. What the heck is that on the cover there?! Aside from that, no one should be consulting anyone about their colon on the side of the curb. It makes others uncomfortable and I'm pretty sure it's illegal in 47 states.)

  • The Large Sieve and its Applications by Emmanuel Kowalski (Cambridge University Press) (How many applications are there? I came up with "pasta strainer" and "spaceman helmet". "Spaceman helmet" is also known as "The woman repeller." But that's all I've got.)

  • Strip and Knit with Style by Mark Hordyszynski (C&T) (I was disappointed when I learned that the "strip" isn't referring to the removal of ones clothing, which would be about the only way you'd be getting me interested in knitting in the first place. It's referring to something else which I can't remember because it doesn't pertain to the removal of one's clothing.)
  • Techniques for Corrosion Monitoring by Lietai Yang (Woodhead) (Again, I ask how many could there possibly be. I came up with two. Look at it. Have someone else look at it and tell you about it. I'm done.)

  • The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage Frais by Professor Philip M Parker (Icon Group International)

Wow. That's a diverse group right there. Diverse and ridiculously specific. By the way, "fromage frais" is French for "fresh cheese" and it sounds simply wonderful. It seems to be fat free, but often cream is added to it which increases the fat content as high as 8%. It seems to be similar to yogurt, only sweet and cheese-y. That being said (for some reason), that's the one that gets my vote. Anyone who can write a book about how the 60mg containers of fresh cheese are going to be doing for the next 5 years deserves something. I don't know what the prize is, but maybe they could get the guy a hooker as I'm guessing that his social life isn't exactly hoppin'.

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grannyann said...

I had to chuckle, those titles were something else. I had to think that I would say only chihuahua's have ADD. Now "If You Want Closure In Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs" is well named!! I definitely never thought to really check out titles but I will from now on. Thanks for the laugh.

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