Every day seems to bring news of a literary prize. Some are restricted to particular genres, others to authors from specific parts of the world, others celebrate the work of illustrators. Never have I come across a prize which is awarded purely on the strength of the book’s title. Or rather on the oddity of the title.
Step forward the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title, a prize that seeks out the ” crème de la crème of unintentionally nonsensical, absurd and downright head-scratching titles.” What a wonderfully bizarre idea. But not as bizarre as some of the titles that have made the shortlist.
Advanced Pavement Research: Selected, Peer Reviewed Papers from the 3rd International Conference on Concrete Pavements Design, Construction, and Rehabilitation, December 2-3, 2013, Shanghai, China.
Now that one got your attention didn’t it? And if you feel bereft by reaching the end of that, take heart from the fact that there were two earlier conferences whose proceedings were undoubtedly committed to paper.
Some must have been the product of a desperate marketing assistant tasked to find a title, any title that could help shift sales. Anyone fancy The Madwoman in the Volvo: My Year of Raging Hormones ? It’s a lot less odd however than some previous winners: The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories in 2003 or Cooking with Poo in 2012.
Looking through my own bookshelves I don’t appear to have very much that could be considered particularly odd or even quirky in the fiction category. Having given away my copy of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (a delightfully silly book if you haven’t read it), the nearest I can get is New Finnish Grammar which threw my mum into a panic when she saw it lying on the coffee table and thought I was about to reveal I was moving to Finland to work. The brow wrinkled even further when I explained that actually this was a work of fiction.
Non fiction was a bit more rewarding. The Company Culture Cookbook could be classed as mildly unusual maybe for a business book, or Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson’s account of his humanitarian work in setting up schools for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan. But again, not really odd. Maybe I’m too sensible to buy odd sound books. Next time I go book shopping I shall make a point of seeking out something rather more out of the norm.
How about you – do you have any odd sounding books in your collection?