'Too Naked for the Nazis' Wins Odd Book Title Prize

"Wilson, Keppel and Betty: Too Naked for the Nazis" by Alan Stafford won the most recent Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year, British trade magazine The Bookseller announced Thursday. Fantom Publishing

Some books win Pulitzers, National Book Awards or Man Booker Prizes. Others have snagged the more dubious annual distinction of having the oddest title, with an emphasis on those of "unintentional oddness."

The British trade publication The Bookseller crowned the most recent winner of the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year on Thursday: Alan Stafford's Wilson, Keppel and Betty: Too Naked for the Nazis.

After an online vote, Too Naked for the Nazis took the prize by a narrow margin of roughly half a percent (24.8 versus 24.3), beating out Reading from Behind: A Cultural History of the Anus by Jonathan Allan. Others on the shortlist were Transvestite Vampire Biker Nuns from Outer Space: A Consideration of Cult Film (20.7 percent), Soviet Bus Stops (14.9 percent), Reading the Liver: Papyrological Texts on Ancient Greek Extispicy (9.9 percent), Behind the Binoculars: Interviews with Acclaimed Birdwatchers (2.9 percent) and Paper Folding with Children (2.6 percent).

"When future historians write about 2016, they will inevitably look at two seismic events: the closest Diagram Prize race of all time, and the election of President Trump which led to the downfall of Western civilisation," Horace Bent, administrator of the prize since 1982, is quoted as saying in a news release from The Bookseller. "Until that dire time, we can celebrate a worthy winner from one of the strongest Diagram shortlists in recent memory."

Describing the winning title, he added:

Too Naked for the Nazis is arguably the perfect Diagram winner, as if concocted by a team of crack Diagramologists—our voters penchant for nudity goes back to the very first winner, 1978's Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice , while the Third Reich has been represented by titles such as How Green were the Nazis (2007). Mr. Stafford has brought these two strands together in one irresistible package.

The prize originated as a salve for boredom at the 1978 Frankfurt Book Fair and at first was called the Diagram Group Prize for the Oddest Title at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The Diagram Group was a "publishing solutions firm" whose co-founder Bruce Robertson is responsible for the contest of odd titles. A panel of judges selected the winner up until the turn of the new millennium, when the decision was turned over to a public vote online.

"It soon became clear that opening up the prize to an online vote simply opened up the prize to influence from the unwashed masses as books with vulgar titles soon became the most popular," Bent wrote in "A Bluffer's Guide to the Diagram Prize" in 2009, citing titles like Designing High Performance Stiffened Structures (2000) and If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start with Your Legs (2007).

Past winners also include The Madam as Entrepreneur: Career Management in House Prostitution (1979), How to Avoid Huge Ships (1992), Reusing Old Graves: A Report on Popular British Attitudes (1995), Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers (1996), Butterworths Corporate Manslaughter Service (2001), The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories (2003), Managing a Dental Practice: The Genghis Khan Way (2010) and Strangers Have the Best Candy (2014).

Bent has stipulated one of the questions to ask when evaluating potential odd-title winners: "Is the title purposefully funny? If so, we can't have it. Unintentional oddness is what we're after."