Nominees for the little-known but totally inspired Diagram Prize (an award dreamed up by some publishing professionals to forestall boredom at a Frankfurt Book Fair) have just been announced. The Diagram honors the “oddest book titles of the year.”
“The first winner of the prize was Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice. Other winners throughout the years have included How to Avoid Huge Ships, Cooking with Poo, and last year’s Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop.”
You can find the 2014 nominees here. I’m partial to Pie-ography: Where Pie Meets Biography, which combines two of my favorite things.
I looked around on my own bookshelves in search of overlooked competitors, and aside from some academic books (which seem unfair to single out, since awfulness in titles is a skill that scholars are required cultivate) the oddest I came up with Neil McFarquhar’s book, The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday.
I’m sure you can do me one better.
Another article I spotted—this piece by Julie Bosman— prompted some debate on whether binge watching TV has changed the way we engage with books. I grant that publishers are keen to publish commercial fiction more quickly, but otherwise, I’m not yet convinced. On the contrary, it seems to me that TV has finally caught up with books in allowing its viewers to do what any self-respecting bibliophile has long done—stay up impossibly late, shirk all other responsibilities and go on a bleary-eyed bender till the final bittersweet page. And beyond. The truly intemperate can move on to an author’s entire oeuvre. Well before I was downing Downton Abbey in greedy gulps (I came to the show very late) I’d gone on an Evelyn Waugh tear. Just reading his books can damage your liver.
In any case, what do you think? Is binge reading books a byproduct of Netflix-ation and Amazon’s single click culture, or does it have a longer and more storied history?