A guide to Estonian socks, an examination of the role of the fungus in Christian art, and a celebration of the humble office chair are among the books in contention for the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year—the prestigious literary award run by The Bookseller since 1978.
A total of 64 books were submitted for the latest instalment of the prize, which celebrates the very best in books with odd titles published around the world last year (2011). Judges from both The Bookseller and its sister consumer magazine, We Love This Book, whittled down the original submissions to a shortlist of seven. This is one more than the traditional six, in recognition of the high standard of oddity witnessed in publishing last year.
This year's winner will be announced on 30th March. Votes can be cast here.
The full shortlist:
A Century of Sand Dredging in the Bristol Channel: Volume Two by Peter Gosson (Amberley). A book that documents the sand trade from its inception in 1912 to the present day, focusing on the Welsh coast.
Cooking with Poo by Saiyuud Diwong (Urban Neighbours of Hope). Thai cookbook. “Poo” is Thai for “crab” and is Diwong’s nickname.
Estonian Sock Patterns All Around the World by Aino Praakli (Kirjastus Elmatar). Covers styles of socks and stockings found in Estonian knitting.
The Great Singapore Penis Panic: And the Future of American Mass Hysteria by Scott D Mendelson (Createspace). An analysis of the “Koro” psychiatric epidemic that hit the island of Singapore in 1967.
Mr Andoh's Pennine Diary: Memoirs of a Japanese Chicken Sexer in 1935 Hebden Bridge by Stephen Curry and Takayoshi Andoh (Royd Press). The story of Koichi Andoh, who travelled from Japan to Yorkshire in the 1930s to train workers at a hatchery business the art of determining the sex of one-day-old chicks.
A Taxonomy of Office Chairs by Jonathan Olivares (Phaidon). Exhaustive overview of the evolution of the modern office chair.
The Mushroom in Christian Art by John A Rush (North Atlantic Books). In which the author reveals that Jesus is a personification of the Holy Mushroom, Amanita Muscaria.
Horace Bent, the custodian of prize, said: "Never has the debate raged so fiercely as to which books should be put forward for the shortlist. Which is why this year we have selected seven shortlistees, rather than the traditional six. And what a shortlist we have."
Philip Stone, the prize administrator, said: "Despite the global economic turmoil, publishers continue to invest in imaginative, diverse and niche publications, and this award wonderfully reflects that.
"Sadly, though, and despite publishers regularly boasting that they are moving with the times, just one of this year’s seven shortlisted titles is currently available to buy in a digital format: Scott Mendelson’s intriguing work, The Great Singapore Penis Panic."
The Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year was first awarded in 1978 to Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice.