“It’s a marathon not a sprint, but still I gotta win the race, yeah.” That line is from Drake’s 2017 hit “Sacrifices” (feat 2 Chainz and Young Thug). At one level, it could be read as the Toronto rapper recounting his climb to fame (you know, from the mean streets of being a child actor on the teen soap “Degrassi: The Next Generation”), but it could also perhaps be seen as an eerily prescient commentary on this year’s public vote for the Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year.
At the first flurry of voting when the shortlist was announced, two titles leapt to an early lead. Somewhat predictably, they were the ones most likely to appeal to your inner sniggering adolescent: Nipples on My Knee (Maple Creek Media) by Graham and Debra Robertson and Love Your Lady Landscape: Trust Your Gut, Care for “Down There” and Reclaim Your Fierce and Feminine SHE Power (Hay House) by Lisa Lister. In fact, given the amount of support after the first few days of voting, it seemed like Nipples . . . would, ahem, udderly run away with the award.
But, yes, Drake, it’s a marathon not a sprint. As the month progressed, the voters’ milk of human kindness for Nipples . . . ran dry and two front-runners emerged, battling it out until the last day when a final surge sent one to hog heaven. So, without further ado, I present the winner of this year’s Diagram Prize (you’ll have to imagine the drum roll in your head): “La La Land”. Sorry, wrong card (that joke will never get old). The winner is The Commuter Pig-Keeper: A Comprehensive Guide to Keeping Pigs when Time is your Most Precious Commodity (Old Pond Publishing). Author Michaela Giles’ tome romped home, winning 40% of the vote.
Giles, of course, is the British Pig Association’s south-east representative and many of you will no doubt be familiar with her many articles in Practical Pig magazine. She said that she was “beyond excited” at winning the Diagram, “particularly as it comes after winning Supreme Champion Pig at the Weald and Downland Rare Breed Show in Singleton, West Sussex, last weekend!”
Giles added: “My publisher had asked before submission if I would consider changing the title to something ‘sensible’—luckily the managing editor is pretty cool and decided to run with it.” Farming and animal welfare specialist Old Pond is part of the Sheffield-based 5M Group which launched in 1997 with what its website describes as its“seminal title”, Managing Pig Health and the Treatment of Disease. Many will remember that Managing Pig Health... was shortlisted for that year’s Betty Trask Award, until red-faced organisers realised it wasn’t a début novel.
Giles’ book was spotted by Jeff Wilson of the Royal Irish Academy, who must have immediately known that Pig-Keeper . . . had the chops to win the Diagram. As the nominator of the winning entry, Mr Wilson will be sent the traditional passable bottle of claret. Congratulations, Jeff!
A strong second place showing was put in by Renniks Australian Pre-Decimal & Decimal Coin Errors: The Premier Guide for Australian Pre-Decimal & Decimal Coin Errors, which coined 32.7% of your votes. If the IP addresses are accurate and voters weren’t using some complicated VPN software, almost 90% of Renniks . . . fans came from Down Under.
It has been oft said but bears repeating: after binge-drinking and giving everyone a nickname (my good pal Peter Carey calls me “Bento” or “Horry”), Aussies’ next pastime of choice is, of course, pre-decimal and decimal coin errors.
Nipples . . . in the end was a distant third place (13.9%); An Ape’s View of Human Evolution followed (10.6%), while Lady Landscape . . ., after its early strong start, brought up the rear with just 2.9%.
Until next year, Diagram aficionados!