Oddest Book Title of the Year 2016: Cultural history of the anus up against Soviet Bus Stops

Transvestite Vampire Nuns From Outer Space and Too Naked for the Nazis are among the seven shortlisted contenders

From an academic study of the anus to a photography book about Soviet bus stops, this year’s Oddest Book Title of the Year award is shaping up to be a hotly fought contest.

The Bookseller awards its annual Diagram Prize to the most surreal titles published in the past twelve months. The winner is chosen by public vote from seven nominees, with the 2016 shortlist dubbed “one of the strongest in living memory”.

Jonathan Allan’s Reading From Behind: A Cultural History of the Anus is surely the favourite, alongside Alan Stafford’s musical hall troupe biography, Too Naked for the Nazis. Christopher Herwig’s Soviet Bus Stops is beautiful but bizarre while Reading the Liver: Papyrological Texts on Ancient Greek Extispicy by William Furley and Victor Gysembergh is a rigorous exploration of sacrificial sheep. 

Other contenders include Transvestite Vampire Biker Nuns from Outer Space: A Consideration of Cult Film, Behind the Binoculars: Interviews with Acclaimed Birdwatchers and ambiguously named craft book, Paper Folding with Children.

Horace Bent, The Bookseller diarist, has been awarding the Diagram Prize since 1982. “I’m particularly pleased with the academic bent this year,” he said. “Reading from Behind: A Cultural History of the Anus is really trying to get to the bottom of its subject matter. Meanwhile, Reading the Liver: Papyrological Texts on Ancient Greek Extispicy has become my go-to book on divining the will of the gods from the entrails of animals; I can also imagine it becoming the core text at a pop-up street food vendor in Shoreditch. 

“And Transvestite Vampire Biker Nuns from Outer Space is not only a trenchant examination of cult film but would be an excellent theme for your next fancy dress party.”

Winners do not receive a cash prize, but a “passable bottle of claret” is up for grabs for the person who nominates the triumphant entry.

Past winning titles include How to Poo at Work, Strangers Have the Best Candy, Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers, The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories and How to Avoid Huge Ships.

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