I’ve been on the awards beat at Booklist for about 6 months now, so I’ve seen my fair share of distinguished writers take home prizes and laurels. I’ve also written my fair share of dry introductory paragraphs—hey, it’s not always easy coming up with something witty to say about the LA Times Book Prize. But this, the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title, is a real treat. Not only are there giggle-worthy books in play (surely I’m not the only one who snickered at Cooking With Poo), but these titles raise some interesting questions: How viable is the sand trade industry, and what has sustained it for an entire century (and what, exactly, makes up volume one)? Who knew “Chicken Sexer” was a career option and where was that pamphlet in my high school guidance counselor’s office? And finally, perhaps the greatest question of all, Jesus Christ was the personification of a mushroom?? Here’s the short list of finalists. I know I am eagerly awaiting the announcement of the winner on March 30th.
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.