Every year Bookseller Magazine awards it’s Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year. The prize has been awarded every year since 1978 when the winner was: Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice. I’m sure that was a real page turner.
Included in the most recent contest were: How to Sharpen Pencils by David Rees, How Tea Cosies Changed the World by Loani Prior, and Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop by Reginald Bakeley (the most recent winner in 2012).
Philip Stone, the Diagram Prize’s co-ordinator, said: “People might think this prize is just a bit of fun, but I think it draws welcome attention to an undervalued art. Publishers and booksellers know only too well that a title can make all the difference to the sales of a book. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian has sold almost a million copies to date, while books such as Salmon Fishing in the
Yemen, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared perhaps all owe some of their success to their unusual monikers.”
Although I don’t have a chicken coop, Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop still looks fascinating. Apparently it offers a bevy of tips to help you protect your home from a potential infestation of fairies.
As soon as I finish writing this I’ll be checking my library to see if they have copies of The Book of Marmalade: Its Antecedents, Its History, and Its Role in the World Today (the 1984 winner), How to Avoid Huge Ships (1992), Highlights in the History of Concrete (1994), and People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It (2005)
Of course if I still lived in New York or Maryland I’m sure I couldn’t wait to get a copy of The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification. I sure hope the author is working on a follow-up edition for the west coast.