Accomplishments and Records

Odd Titles Make Riveting Reading and Draw Diagram Prizes

It is true that you can’t judge a book by its cover. It’s also true that the title of a book does not tell the whole story. Sometimes, however, the title tells just enough to pique the interest of a reader the a sufficient level that he or she will pick up a book that otherwise would be left untouched.

The Diagram Prize is awarded by the British trade magazine The Bookseller. It is given out annually to the book with the most unusual title. Some of the winners have been mentioned in previous Commonplace Fun Facts articles. Here, we offer a more-or-less comprehensive list of the winners from the inception to now. A couple of winners have been excluded because the title or topic didn’t quite match up with the family-friendly standards we try to maintain.

If anyone is aware of the movie rights being sold for any of these tomes, please let us know. We can envision a Hollywood blockbuster based on People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It, starring Johnny Depp and Barney the Dinosaur.

YearTitleAuthorSubject
1978Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude MiceVarious authorsMedical studies done using laboratory mice with inhibited immune systems
1979The Madam as Entrepreneur: Career Management in House ProstitutionBarbara Sherman HeylAbout working in prostitution
1980
The Joy of Chickens
Dennis NolanAbout breeds of chickens
1981Last Chance at Love – Terminal RomancesVarious authorsPresumably, it’s about romances involving terminally-ill people. We were unable to find a copy anywhere online.
1982Population and Other Problems: Family Planning, Housing 1,000 Million, Labour EmploymentVarious authorsAbout the demographics of the People’s Republic of China
1983Unsolved Problems of Modern Theory of Lengthwise RollingA. I. Tselikov, G. S. Nikitin and S. E. RokotyanAbout rolling as a metalworking technique
1984The Book of Marmalade: Its Antecedents, Its History, and Its Role in the World TodayAnne WilsonAbout the history of marmalade
1985Natural Bust Enlargement with Total Power: How to Increase the Other 90% of Your Mind to Increase the Size of Your BreastsDonald L. WilsonAbout bust enlargement through positive thinking
1986Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian PersonalityGlenn C. EllenbogenHumorous and parody articles about psychiatry.
1988Versailles: The View from SwedenElaine Dee and Guy WaltonCatalogue of an exhibition at the Cooper–Hewitt Museum on the influence of French Baroque and Classicism on design in contemporary Sweden.
1989How to [Poop] in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost ArtKathleen MeyerAbout responsible treatment of one’s waste in wilderness areas
1992How to Avoid Huge ShipsJohn W. TrimmerAdvice to pleasure boat sailors on the dangers of shipping lanes
1993American Bottom ArchaeologyCharles J. Bareis and James W. PorterFull title American Bottom Archaeology: A Summary of the FAI-270 Project Contribution to the Culture History of the Mississippi River Valley
1994Highlights in the History of ConcreteC. C. StanleyAbout the history of concrete
1995Reusing Old Graves: A Report on Popular British AttitudesDouglas Davies and Alastair ShawAbout reusing old graves
1996Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation NumbersDerek WillanCancellation numbers in the Hellenic Post
1998Developments in Dairy Cow Breeding: New Opportunities to Widen the Use of StrawGareth WilliamsThe title says it all
1999Weeds in a Changing World: British Crop Protection Council Symposium Proceedings No. 64Charles H. StirtonAbout techniques in weed control
2000Designing High Performance Stiffened StructuresIMechE (Institution of Mechanical Engineers)About stiffness in engineering
2001Butterworths Corporate Manslaughter ServiceGerard ForlinAbout corporate manslaughter, i.e. corporate liability for manslaughter
2002Living with Crazy ButtocksKaz CookeHumorous essays on contemporary culture, including female body image and other topics.
2004
Bombproof Your Horse
Rick Pelicano and Lauren TjadenFull title Bombproof Your Horse: Teach Your Horse to Be Confident, Obedient, and Safe, No Matter What You Encounter
2005People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About ItGary Leon HillAbout dead spirits who took up residence in bodies that did not belong to them
2006The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field IdentificationJulian MontagueAbout how to identify abandoned shopping carts
2008The 2009–2014 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage FraisPhilip M. ParkerComputer-generated combination of boilerplate text and public-domain data related to fromage frais, a type of cheese. This selection generated controversy because the book was not written by the listed author, but by a machine of the author’s invention. We would tell you more about this, but the only available copy we could find is going for $2,376.99 on Amazon.
2009Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic PlanesDaina TaiminaMathematical book featuring crocheted hyperbolic planes.
2010Managing a Dental Practice: The Genghis Khan WayMichael R. YoungHow-to guide on managing a dental practice.
2011Cooking with PooSaiyuud DiwongThai cookbook – “Poo” (“ปู”) is Saiyuud Diwong’s nickname
2012Goblinproofing One’s Chicken CoopReginald BakeleyGuide to banishing fairies from your home.
2013
How to Poo on a Date
Mats & Enzo“The Lovers’ Guide to Toilet Etiquette”.
2014Strangers Have the Best CandyMargaret Meps SchulteSelf-published travelogue.
2015Too Naked For the NazisAlan StaffordBiography of Wilson, Keppel and Betty published by Fantom Films.
2016The Commuter Pig Keeper: A Comprehensive Guide to Keeping Pigs when Time is your Most Precious CommodityMichaela GilesPractical guide to looking after a small herd of pigs.
2018The Joy of WaterboilingThomas Götz von AustFirst non-English language book to win (published in German with English title).
2019The Dirt Hole and its VariationsCharles L DobbinsFirst posthumous author to win.
2020A Dog [Peeing] at the Edge of a Path: Animal Metaphors in Eastern Indonesian SocietyGregory ForthFirst Canadian author to win.

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