Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Diagram of Diagrams

Back in March I blogged about the the winner of the 2007 Diagram Prize. This is awarded annually to the book with the strangest title. Books must be real, and genuinely published (not self- or vanity-published). There have been some weird and wonderful entries over the years.

It seems that The Bookseller in England decided to have a "Diagram Of Diagrams" competition, to celebrate 30 years of the annual event. All previous winners were listed, and the public was invited to vote for their favorite title.

The winners of past Diagram competitions, which could be nominated for the "Diagram Of Diagrams" award, were:

  • 1978: Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice (University of Tokyo Press)
  • 1979: The Madam as Entrepreneur: Career Management in House Prostitution (Transaction Press)
  • 1980: The Joy of Chickens (Prentice Hall)
  • 1981: Last Chance at Love: Terminal Romances
  • 1982: Population and Other Problems (China National Publications)
  • 1983: The Theory of Lengthwise Rolling (MIR)
  • 1984: The Book of Marmalade: Its Antecedents, Its History and Its Role in the World Today (Constable)
  • 1985: Natural Bust Enlargement with Total Power: How to Increase the Other 90% of Your Mind to Increase the Size of Your Breasts (Westwood Publishing Co)
  • 1986: Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality (Brunner/Mazel)
  • 1987: No Award
  • 1988: Versailles: The View From Sweden (University of Chicago Press)
  • 1989: How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art (Ten Speed Press)
  • 1990: Lesbian Sadomasochism Safety Manual (Lace Publications)
  • 1991: No Award
  • 1992: How to Avoid Huge Ships (Cornwell Maritime Press)
  • 1993: American Bottom Archaeology (University of Illinois Press)
  • 1994: Highlights in the History of Concrete (British Cement Association)
  • 1995: Reusing Old Graves (Shaw & Son)
  • 1996: Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers (Hellenic Philatelic Society)
  • 1997: The Joy of Sex: Pocket Edition (Mitchell Beazley)
  • 1998: Development in Dairy Cow Breeding and Management: and New Opportunities to Widen the Uses of Straw (Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust)
  • 1999: Weeds in a Changing World (British Crop Protection Council)
  • 2000: High Performance Stiffened Structures (Professional Engineering Publishing)
  • 2001: Butterworths Corporate Manslaughter Service (Butterworths)
  • 2002: Living With Crazy Buttocks (Kaz Cooke – Penguin US/Australia)
  • 2003: The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories (Kensington Publishing)
  • 2004: Bombproof Your Horse (J A Allen)
  • 2005: People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It (Gary Leon Hill – Red Wheel/Weiser Books)
  • 2006: The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification (Harry N Abrams)
  • 2007: If You Want Closure In Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs (Simon & Schuster, US)

I'm still surprised that some other entries, such as "How Green Were The Nazis?", never won in the year they were entered. Anyway, those twenty-eight titles competed for the "Diagram Of Diagrams" prize.

The winner, to considerable surprise, was "Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers", which won the 1996 competition. As The Bookseller commented on its Web site:

Horace Bent, The Bookseller's legendary diarist and custodian of the prize, said: "The posties pulled off a real shock here. The pre-tournament favourite was the prize’s first ever recipient - Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice. The 1978 winner picked up the 15-year anniversary gong in 1993. But right from the off, it was Gary Leon Hill’s People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead that set the pace. It topped the polls for over three weeks until, at the very last moment, the Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers pipped the People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead at the line."

Asked why he thought Greek Rural Postmen... appealed to the public more than the other 27 titles on the list, Philip Stone, charts editor at The Bookseller, said: "Although every book on the list is a deserving winner, I am positive that the book benefitted from topicalty. The papers are littered with news stories regarding the closure of local, rural post offices across Great Britain, and I sincerely believe that this title provides further proof to the current Government that the British public are passionate about the maintenance and continuation of local mail delivery services. And not just nationally, but internationally".

I can't say I find the winner particularly inspiring. The 1979, 1986, 2002 and 2005 winners sound much more interesting!



Anonymous said...

Sad but I have two of those books. Bombproofing Your Horse, and the Sh*ting in the Woods one.

The first is a good book on horse training.

The second book is just a goof. I got it from my sister before I deployed.

I'm glad your hanging in there after an "interesting " two weeks.

Rio Arriba said...

Most of those were winners, but I have to go with "Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality".

Anonymous said...

It's a hard choice, but I'd have to go for 1984's The Book of Marmalade, 2003's Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories, or 2006's Stray Shopping Carts of North America......

Unknown said...

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