Crocheting Adventures wins Diagram 2009

Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes by Dr Daina Taimina (A K Peters) has won the 2009 Diagram Prize, having received the majority of the public vote for the oddest titled book of the year at thebookseller.com.

Taking 42% of the votes cast, it beat off competition from What Kind of Bean is this Chihuahua? By Tara Jansen-Meyer (Mirror), which took 30% and Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich by James A Yannes (Trafford), with 11%.

Afterthoughts of a Worm Hunter by David Crompton (Glenstrae), Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots by Ronald C Arkin (CRC Press) and The Changing World of Inflammatory Bowel Disease by Ellen Scherl and Marla Dubinsky (SLACK Inc) took 17% between them.

Horace Bent, The Bookseller magazine’s legendary diarist and custodian of the prize, said: “Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes proved to be the initial front runner. It defended its poll-topping position despite strong support for the spoon-carrying Third Reich, once again attempting to muscle in on someone else’s territory.

"But the public proclivity towards non-Euclidian needlework proved too great for the Third Reich to overcome. If only someone had let the Poles know in ’39.”

Bent added: “I confess that when the credit crunch began to bite British publishing, I feared for the future of this most prestigious of literary awards. Surely oddly-titled books would suffer in a climate that was prompting publishers to focus on more bankable works—like frankly lamentable biographies of Z-list ‘celebrities’ and those depressing white books with doleful children on the cover.

“But I am delighted that I was being overly pessimistic and that oddly-titled books proved recession-resistant. I believe Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes is a worthy champion to stand alongside the likes of Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers and Living with Crazy Buttocks as winners of this distinguished award.”

Philip Stone, The Bookseller’s charts editor and prize administrator, said: “We received more than 4,500 votes—a reflection of one of the oddest and therefore strongest shortlists in the 32-year history of the prize. I myself couldn’t choose between them.

“I think what won it for Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes is that, very simply, the title is completely bonkers. On the one hand you have the typically feminine, gentle and wooly world of needlework and on the other, the exciting but incredibly un-wooly world of hyperbolic geometry and negative curvature. In Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes the two worlds collide—in a captivating and quite breathtaking way.

“One hopes that Dr Taimina’s win prompts other enlightened crocheters, knitters and embroiderers to produce similar works, so I look forward to seeing books such as Cross-stitching String Theory and Felting Feats with Phenomenology adorning bookshop shelves in the near future.”

Bent added: “One again, this prize has shown just how vibrant and diverse global publishing is today, and my thanks go to Booth Book Publishing Services’ Stuart Booth for spotting the winning title. As is customary, he wins a couple of bottles of fairly passable claret, while Dr Taimina wins the sales boost that will now inevitably occur.”

The Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year is an award originally conceived as a way to avoid boredom at the annual Frankfurt Book Fair, and was first awarded to Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice in 1978.

Two books celebrating previous winners and nominees, published by Aurum Press, are available to buy at all good bookshops: How to Avoid Huge Ships: And Other Implausibly Titled Books and Baboon Metaphysics: And Other Implausibly Titled Books.