‘Knitting with Dog Hair’ and other unfortunate book titles


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For more than 30 years, the Diagram Prize has been awarded annually to the book with the most outrageous title. Originally a project at the Frankfurt Book Fair, it’s gotten a much broader audience, with a shortlist posted online that’s open to a public vote. In 2007, more than 5,500 people weighed in to award ‘The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification’ the prize.

Now a small book collects some of the best of the books that were in the running, with photographs of their covers. All have been published by real publishers, and all take their subjects seriously. Someone really was an expert at knitting with dog hair, and there were enough lesbian horse stories already published to compile a big book of them. And some of the best titles aren’t pictured above: ‘Reusing Old Graves’, ‘Toothpick Sculpture and Ice-Cream Stick Art’ and ‘Celtic Sex Magic for Couples, Groups and Solitary Practitioners.’


What’s the new book called? ‘Do-It-Yourself Brain Surgery and Other Implausibly Titled Books.’ It’s on sale now.

-- Carolyn Kellogg