February 22, 2013
Oddest Book Title of the Year shortlist announced
by Dennis Johnson
Normally, we scoff at book awards. They’re silly in concept (who’s to say what constitutes the best novel?) and corrupt in delivery (big house judges picking big house books) but, well hell, it must be confessed that some awards are better than others, and some do go to the best in category.
And so we note that the shortlist for the 33rd annual Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year has been announced. As Katie Allen reports in a story for The Bookseller, the six finalists are:
- Was Hitler Ill? by Henrik Eberle and Hans-Joachim Neumann (Polity)
- Lofts of North America: Pigeon Lofts by Jerry Gagne (Foy’s Pet Supplies)
- How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical & Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening for Writers, Artists, Contractors, Flange Turners, Anglesmiths, & Civil Servants by David Rees (Melville House)
- God’s Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis by Tom Hickman (Square Peg)
- Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop by Reginald Bakeley (Conari)
- How Tea Cosies Changed the World by Loani Prior (Murdoch)
The award was first awarded in 1978 to a book called Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice, although my personal favorite was the 1992 winner, How to Avoid Huge Ships (see my earlier MobyLives report). Last year’s winner (see our coverage) wasn’t bad, either: Cooking with Poo.
As Philip Stone, the award’s “co-ordinator,” tells The Bookseller, “People might think this prize is just a bit of fun, but I think it draws welcome attention to an undervalued art.”
We couldn’t agree more, and we hope judges will think our book — did I mention that a Melville House title made the list? — is the oddest title,which, as I say, is the same as saying it’s the artiest, which it clearly is. I should also point out that our entry is the longest title on the list, and being arty for that long is much harder than being momentarily arty, after all.
In any event, perhaps we actually have a chance this time: The winner will be chosen, for once, not by a bunch of people who are unaware that there are publishers not named Knopf, but by a little group of worthies known as the public. Yep — just go to www.welovethisbook.com and cast your vote.
The winner will be announced on 22nd March. There is, apparently, no prize — save glory.
Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives