The Diagram Prize

It is that time of year again when we all get a good chuckle over the crazy titles some people have picked for their books. The short list for this year’s Diagram Prize is now available and open for public vote. So what wonderful works do we have this year?

  • A Century of Sand Dredging in the Bristol Channel: Volume 2: The Welsh Coast — great local excitement about this, but probably not a winner
  • A Taxonomy of Office Chairs — weird, but hardly outstanding
  • Estonian Sock Patterns All Around the World — One for you Martha? (personally I’d prefer Estonian beer)
  • The Mushroom in Christian Art — I shudder to think what the symbolism might be
  • The Great Singapore Penis Panic — ooh, err…
  • Mr Andoh’s Pennine Diary: Memoirs of a Japanese Chicken Sexer in 1935 Hebden Bridge — I wonder if Hebden Bridge was a famous lesbian enclave in those days?
  • And finally, especially for Ian Mond and Jonathan McCalmont — Cooking with Poo

If only all awards were this much fun.

6 thoughts on “The Diagram Prize

  1. Cheryl – I think my posts are going into your spam capture file

    Yes, I’d say the sock patterns would be a pretty specialised area. Although there has been a tremendous rise in interest in traditional crafts. Ethnographers and local artisans have been busy collecting and compiling both sock / mitten patterns which in Estonia can be extraordinarily beautiful. Our ‘Know Sheep’ projects has held classes in knitting these older patterns

    The socks are still worn as part of the traditional national costume. The mitten patterns were often especially elaborate as they were wedding gifts – from the bride to the guests. If you ask nicely I’ll bring you a pair for when I see you in Tampere in July.

    1. Sorry about that. I have no idea why the anti-spam software is suspicious of Estonian socks.

      I’d still prefer some Saba beer though. 🙂

  2. Don’t know about Saba, but we’ve got a new local micro-brewery that just started up. I’ll try to bring a few bottles of that when I come.

  3. I once worked for the publisher Prentice Hall and in 1980, the third year of the prize and a couple of years before I joined, one of their books won with The Joy of Chickens, a matter of some pride at the time. I like it as a winner as it is very short, made of simple words used probably non-ironically, and can be read a couple of ways: the fun of raising chickens, and the (I assume) unintended meaning of appearing to be about the blissful inner life of the chicken soul.

    Some of the other winners, such as 1989’s How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art, are a bit self-conscious. Full list at this relevant Wikipedia page. How To Avoid Huge Ships is another good one.

    There was one extra advantage for me with The Joy of Chickens: one day I was watching Victoria Coren’s Only Connect (a TV quiz show, for those who don’t know, on which a team of Paul Cornell, Geoff Ryman and Liz Williams once appeared), and the title was first up on one of the first-round questions. I was able to award myself a unique 4-point score by knowing this prize was the connection between four items, even though only one item had been revealed.

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