Odd Book Titles

The British book-trade magazine, the Bookseller, has for more than 20 years run a competition to find the oddest book title of the year. This year's awards have just been announced.

The winner was the comparatively staid "Weeds in a Changing World."

The runners-up were "Guide To Eskimo Rolling" and "Procrastination and Task Avoidance: Theory, Research and Treatment."

Other shortlisted titles were "Good Practice with Violence," "Lakeside Car Parks," "Toothpick Culture and Icecream Stick Art," "Women and Wasteland Development," and "Betel Chewing Equipment of East New Guinea."

The superb "Male Genitalia of Butterflies of the Balkan Peninsula" had been the favourite but the judges seem to have suspected the title had been made peculiar on purpose, a trick outlawed by the rules.

In the past the competition has thrown up much engaging stuff. Previous winners include: "Greek Rural Postmen and their Cancellation Numbers," "Developments in Dairy Cow Breeding and Management: New Opportunities to Widen the Uses of Straw," "How to Avoid Huge Ships," "Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality," "Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice," and "The Joy of Sex: Pocket Edition."

Titles shortlisted in past years included these, which I must stress - in case you should be in doubt - are all real books:

-God's Chewable Vitamin C for the Spirit

-The Prostate: A Guide for Men and the Women Who Love Them

-A Method for Calculating the Size of Stone Needed for

-Closing End-Tipped Rubble Banks in Rivers

-Attractive and Affectionate Grave Design

-Wood Carving with a Chainsaw

-Hair Loss for the Next Millennium

-Stick Making: A Complete Course

-A Theory of Shopping

-Pedagogical Lexicography: A Case Study of Arab Nurses as Dictionary Users

-Parish Ministers' Hats

-Collect Fungi on Stamps

-Tractors and the Men who Love Them

-Infection Highlights

-Psychotherapy and the Bored Patient

-Interpersonal Violence: The Practical Series

-Beyond Leaf Raking

-From Coherent Tunnelling to Relaxation

-Male Genital Organs and their Improvement