A re-released classic hunting and trapping guide has snared the 41st edition of The Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year.
Charles L Dobbins's self-published The Dirt Hole and its Variations swept away the competition, claiming 40% of the public vote. Dr Catherine Donnelly's anti-pasteurisation polemic, Ending the War on Artisan Cheese (Chelsea Green), captured second place on 24%, while Xanna Eve Chown's naughty Bible stories collection, Noah Gets Naked (CreateSpace), was third on 18%.
Dobbins is sadly the first-ever posthumous winner of the Diagram, passing away in 1997. The Ohio native was known by the US National Trappers Association as "The Father of Modern Trapping" and wrote widely on the subject; some of his other works include Evaluation of Lures, Baits and Urines; Adjustment of Leg Hold Traps For Greater Profit and the seminal Open Water Beaver, the last of which was also made into a how-to video.
Horace Bent, The Bookseller's legendary diarist and administrator of the prize, said: "Once again it has been a standout year for this, the world's most prestigious literary gong. I salute the late, great Charles L Dobbins, The Dirt Hole... and all its many beautiful variations, although I doubt the variations are beautiful to the foxes, bobcats and coyotes they are designed for. I also tip my hat to Dobbins for contributing a number of Diagram-worthy odd titles to the world. I would caution, however, that one does not Google Dirt Hole... or Open Water Beaver on a work computer."
While there is no prize given to the author, the nominator of the winning Diagram title is awarded the traditional "passable bottle of claret". Dennis Drayna, a California-based geneticist, put forward The Dirt Hole... to this year's prize committee.
Tom Tivnan, The Bookseller managing editor and prize co-coordinator, said: "While there may be a race on to select the next Prime Minister, it is the Diagram vote that has truly fired the British electorate's imagination with a huge turnout. Perhaps that is because there are many similarities between the two elections; like the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, our deceased winner Charles L Dobbins also has no opinion on how he would vote in a second Brexit referendum."
The 2019 shortlist was rounded out by Fiona Beckett's How to Drink Without Drinking (Kyle, 11%), Anne Pederson's and Søren Sandbaek's Viking Encounters: Proceedings of the 18th Viking Congress (Aarhus University Press, 6%) and Eric Kurlander's Hitler's Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich (Yale University Press, 1%).
The Diagram was first conceived in 1978 by Trevor Bounford and Bruce Robertson, co-founders of publishing solutions firm The Diagram Group, as a way to avoid boredom at the annual Frankfurt Book Fair. The inaugural Diagram was awarded to Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice. The Bookseller and Bent have been administering the prize since 1982. Other past winners include Designing High Performance Stiffened Structures (2000), The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories (2003) and Goblinproofing One's Chicken Coop (2012).