Oddest book title prize: Dirt Hole Variations beats War on Artisan Cheese

The Dirt Hole and Its Variations might be a serious guide to hunting and trapping foxes, coyotes, bobcats and raccoons, but the double entendre has helped it land the Diagram prize for the oddest book title of the year.

The late Charles L Dobbins’s self-published guide blew away its competition, landing 40% of the public vote to put it ahead of the second-placed Ending the War on Artisan Cheese. The award for the year’s oddest book title is given out by the Bookseller magazine, whose fictional diarist Horace Bent said it had been a standout year. Also shortlisted were How to Drink Without Drinking, Viking Encounters: Proceedings of the 18th Viking Congress, Noah Gets Naked and Hitler’s Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich.

“I salute the late, great Charles L Dobbins, The Dirt Hole … and all its many beautiful variations, although I doubt the variations are beautiful to the foxes, bobcats and coyotes they are designed for,” Bent said.

According to the website Wildlife Control Supplies, Dobbins’s book runs to 72 pages, and “shows different types of dirt holes … Don’t show them the same thing everyone else does!” urges the website. “Learn these sets and keep the canines interested.”

Bent urged readers not to Google “dirt hole” at work, however. While Dobbins’s book is all about animal trapping, the Urban Dictionary has a very different definition.

Dobbins, known by the US National Trappers Association as “the father of modern trapping”, was also the author of books including Evaluation of Lures, Baits and Urines, Adjustment of Leg Hold Traps for Greater Profit and Open Water Beaver.

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Tom Tivnan, the Bookseller’s managing editor and prize co-coordinator, praised the turnout for this year’s prize. “While there may be a race on to select the next prime minister, it is the Diagram vote that has truly fired the British electorate’s imagination,” he said. “Perhaps that is because there are many similarities between the two elections; like the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, our deceased winner Charles L Dobbins also has no opinion on how he would vote in a second Brexit referendum.”

The first Diagram prize was won by Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice, a title discovered in 1978 at the Frankfurt book fair when Trevor Bounford and Bruce Robertson were trying to amuse themselves. Other past winners include Designing High Performance Stiffened Structures and The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories.


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