Hyperbolic Geometry Defeats Nazi Spoons in Odd Title Contest
By James Pressley
March 26 (Bloomberg) — Worm hunters,
Nazi spoons and homicidal robots were crushed in one of Britain’s quirkiest literary contests, as a book that uses crochet to introduce non-Euclidean geometry won the annual Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title.
Britain’s Bookseller trade magazine, which organizes the contest, said that “Crocheting Adventures With Hyperbolic Planes” received 42 percent of 4,553 votes cast by the public. The runner-up, capturing 30 percent, was “What Kind of Bean Is This Chihuahua?”
In third place was “Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich,” with 11 percent, followed by 9 percent for “Afterthoughts of a Worm Hunter” and 5 percent for “Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots.”
First awarded in 1978, the prize has been put to a public vote since 2000, allowing “the unwashed masses to decide,” as a past Bookseller release put it.
Since then, winning titles have included “Living With Crazy Buttocks,” “High Performance Stiffened Structures” (an engineering book), and “If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs.”
Quirkiness overcame vulgarity last year, as the prize went to “The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-Milligram Containers of Fromage Frais.”
“Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes” probably won this year because the title is “completely bonkers,” awards administrator Philip Stone said in a statement. It combines the “gentle and woolly world of needlework” with “the exciting but incredibly un-woolly world of hyperbolic geometry and negative curvature,” he said.
“In ‘Crocheting Adventures With Hyperbolic Planes,’ the two worlds collide in a captivating and quite breathtaking way,” Stone said.
The contending titles were nominated by publishers, booksellers, authors, agents and librarians. This year’s winner was spotted by Stuart Booth of Booth Book Publishing Services, who will receive “a couple of bottles of fairly passable claret,” the Bookseller said in the statement.
The contest was originally conceived as a way to avoid boredom at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the Bookseller says. The inaugural prize in 1978 went to “Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice.”
To contact the writer on the story: James Pressley in Brussels at firstname.lastname@example.org.