News

Spoons, Chihuahuas, and Autonomous Robots make Odd Title shortlist

Nazi spoons, murderous cyborgs and the musings of an invertebrate hunter are among the subjects tackled in the books nominated for the latest installment of the Diagram Prize.

The prize, which celebrates the oddest book title of the year, received a record number of submissions in 2009, with 90 books suggested to 2008’s 32. After an intensive judging process, the "Very Longlist" was whittled down to a more palatable six by The Bookseller’s diarist and prize custodian Horace Bent.

Voting has opened on the six books at www.thebookseller.com. The winner will be announced on 26th March.

Bent said: “Selecting a shortlist proved a Herculean task, as many books carried titles that furrowed the brow—not least How YOU™ Are Like Shampoo, and Map-based Comparative Genomics in Legumes. However, the vast sum of submissions has, in my humble opinion, created one of the most competitive shortlists in the 32 years of the prize. And I look forward with incalculable anticipation to the result of the public vote.

“I would like to thank fans of The Bookseller’s award for scouring the bookshelves and sending in so many submissions. Without them, and without the huge public support at voting time, The Diagram Prize would not be the eminently prestigious literary award that it is”.

The 2008 Diagram Prize was won by Professor Philip M Parker’s unforgettable The 2009–2014 World Outlook for 60mg Containers of Fromage Frais, while other previous winners include: If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start with Your Legs, and Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers.

The shortlist:

* David Crompton's Afterthoughts of a Worm Hunter (Glenstrae Press)
* James A Yannes' Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich (Trafford)
* Daina Taimina's Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes (A K Peters)
* Ronald C Arkin's Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots (CRC Press)
* Ellen Scherl and Maria Dubinsky's The Changing World of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (SLACK Inc)
* Tara Jansen-Meyer's What Kind of Bean is This Chihuahua? (Mirror)

Horace Bent's blog on the shortlist

Comments: Scroll down for the latest comments and to have your say

By posting on this website you agree to the Bookseller comments policy. Comments go direct to live please be relevant, brief and definitely not abusive. Report any "unsuitable comments by clicking the links"

Surely 'Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots' is already covered by the Three Laws of Robotics?

My uncle has this very painful Inflammatory Bowel Disease. I'm glad someone's work on the subject has given you guys a good laugh.

phoebesmum - OCP had Directive Four to stop Robocop getting up to no good.

phoebesmum - OCP had Directive Four to stop Robocop getting up to no good.

I am an autonomous robot, married to a crochet loving chihuahua. I shall be contacting my lawyers (once I have checked my spoon collection).

As someone who works in STM publishing, and suffered with ulcerative colitis throughout his 20's I'm pleased to see a title on IBD in the shortlist. I hope the National Association for Chrones and Colitis see this as positive publicity!

I'd like to know a little more on what the books are about - or else I can't judge whether it's an odd title. For instance, if Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich is indeed about Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich, then the title is not odd, but in fact rather suitable.

HOWEVER, if it is about the History of Juggling Tribesmen in the Congo, then I would agree, it is in fact an odd title.

Bert, you have spectacularly missed the point of this 'contest'.

I am fully open to the possibility I have misunderstood the point - it happens all the time! However, the way I understand it is the contest "celebrates the oddest book title of the year". Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich MAY be an odd book - but does it qualify as an odd title, if that's actually what the book is about?

The Bat says: "Oddest Book Title of the Year" does this mean "odd" as in strange & unusual, or merely "funny"? I suppose it must mean the most unusual...but are "Bumble Bees of the Kashmir Himalaya" or "The Social & Economic Impact of the Potato" odd titles if they are about bees & potatoes, or are they just unintentionally funny?...and are unintentionally funny titles "odd" if only a few people find them funny and everyone else just sees bees or potatoes, or robots or spoons? Or is it just me......?

I read Tara Jansen-Meyer's book about her Bean (the Chihuahua). My grandson howled with laughter at it! A great book for kids. A must have! Please vote for this one.

All great and worthy entries I'm sure, but there's really no substitute for voting Crochet. The superb juxtaposition of relativistic equations and traditionally feminine handicraft skillfully blend against a backdrop of four dimensional hyperbolic space utilising the three dimensional creations of a wool based algorithm in a context of knot theory and non Euclidian geometry carries a sublimely fundamental and yet simultaneous intimate and accessible viewpoint on the structure of the Universe. *DEEP BREATH* The meta-historical setting of a rural craft invokes powerful images of Einstein's modest upbringing in combination with the sub-metaphorical emotional influence of handmade knitwear leading to a subconscious acceptance of the incongruity self evident in the utilisation of a folded two dimensional yarn construct attempting to represent a geometry including a mathematically imaginary component. Vote Crochet, you know it makes sense.

Wow Geoff, I am breathless just from reading that... All I can gasp out is, All Hail to this wonderful contest (and the wonderful comments it engenders)!

I once tried to fly a hyperbolic plane. Unfortunately, all my training was on parabolic planes. I crashed, scattering my whole collection of crocheted Nazi collectible spoons all over the autonomous robot farm and upsetting the worm-hunting chihuahuas which all had inflammatory bowel disease.

I would just like to point out that it would be odd for an odd book NOT to have an odd title.Thank you.

Surely 'Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots' is already covered by the Three Laws of Robotics?

My uncle has this very painful Inflammatory Bowel Disease. I'm glad someone's work on the subject has given you guys a good laugh.

phoebesmum - OCP had Directive Four to stop Robocop getting up to no good.

phoebesmum - OCP had Directive Four to stop Robocop getting up to no good.

I am an autonomous robot, married to a crochet loving chihuahua. I shall be contacting my lawyers (once I have checked my spoon collection).

As someone who works in STM publishing, and suffered with ulcerative colitis throughout his 20's I'm pleased to see a title on IBD in the shortlist. I hope the National Association for Chrones and Colitis see this as positive publicity!

I'd like to know a little more on what the books are about - or else I can't judge whether it's an odd title. For instance, if Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich is indeed about Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich, then the title is not odd, but in fact rather suitable.

HOWEVER, if it is about the History of Juggling Tribesmen in the Congo, then I would agree, it is in fact an odd title.

Bert, you have spectacularly missed the point of this 'contest'.

I am fully open to the possibility I have misunderstood the point - it happens all the time! However, the way I understand it is the contest "celebrates the oddest book title of the year". Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich MAY be an odd book - but does it qualify as an odd title, if that's actually what the book is about?

The Bat says: "Oddest Book Title of the Year" does this mean "odd" as in strange & unusual, or merely "funny"? I suppose it must mean the most unusual...but are "Bumble Bees of the Kashmir Himalaya" or "The Social & Economic Impact of the Potato" odd titles if they are about bees & potatoes, or are they just unintentionally funny?...and are unintentionally funny titles "odd" if only a few people find them funny and everyone else just sees bees or potatoes, or robots or spoons? Or is it just me......?

I read Tara Jansen-Meyer's book about her Bean (the Chihuahua). My grandson howled with laughter at it! A great book for kids. A must have! Please vote for this one.

All great and worthy entries I'm sure, but there's really no substitute for voting Crochet. The superb juxtaposition of relativistic equations and traditionally feminine handicraft skillfully blend against a backdrop of four dimensional hyperbolic space utilising the three dimensional creations of a wool based algorithm in a context of knot theory and non Euclidian geometry carries a sublimely fundamental and yet simultaneous intimate and accessible viewpoint on the structure of the Universe. *DEEP BREATH* The meta-historical setting of a rural craft invokes powerful images of Einstein's modest upbringing in combination with the sub-metaphorical emotional influence of handmade knitwear leading to a subconscious acceptance of the incongruity self evident in the utilisation of a folded two dimensional yarn construct attempting to represent a geometry including a mathematically imaginary component. Vote Crochet, you know it makes sense.

Wow Geoff, I am breathless just from reading that... All I can gasp out is, All Hail to this wonderful contest (and the wonderful comments it engenders)!

I once tried to fly a hyperbolic plane. Unfortunately, all my training was on parabolic planes. I crashed, scattering my whole collection of crocheted Nazi collectible spoons all over the autonomous robot farm and upsetting the worm-hunting chihuahuas which all had inflammatory bowel disease.

I would just like to point out that it would be odd for an odd book NOT to have an odd title.Thank you.