Book squeaks in to take title

FORGET the Booker and all those other literary prizes, the nation's bibliophiles have just voted the University of Tokyo Press the winner of the Oddest of the Odd award for the most bizarrely titled book in the last 15 years.

Since 1978 the London-based Bookseller magazine has run an annual award for the oddest book title of the year. In the wake of the Booker prize of Booker prizes, the magazine's editor, Louis Baum, decided to stage an additional competition this year for the oddest of the odd from previous winners and runners-up.

Readers were invited to submit their top three contenders on a postcard and this Friday's issue of the Bookseller is announcing the winner. Sadly Liturgy of the Opening of the Mouth for Breathing by Mark Smith (Griffith Institute, pounds 65) was submitted too late, and Big and Very Big Hole Drilling (Technical Publishing House, Bucharest) also fell at a late hurdle.

'We had hundreds of nominations,' Mr Baum said yesterday. 'People in the book business obviously care as passionately as they ever did about keeping standards of oddity high.'

Casualties in a strong field included the 1979 winner The Madam as Entrepreneur: Career Management in House Prostitution (Transaction Press), The Joy of Chickens (Prentice-Hall), How to Avoid Huge Ships (Cornell Maritime Press) and Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality (Brunner/Mazel).

Shed a tear too for The Book of Marmalade: Its Antecedents, Its History and Its Role in the World Today (Constable) and How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art (Ten Speed Press).

While Versailles: The View From Sweden (University of Chicago Press) was a strong contender, it was pipped to the post by the University of Tokyo Press with its 1978 winner - Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice.