Genghis Khan-inspired dentists overcame welders, a Hollywood dog trainer and an Italian love child to win one of Britain’s quirkiest literary contests, the annual Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title.
“Managing a Dental Practice: The Genghis Khan Way” received 58 percent of 5,032 votes cast by the public, according to the Bookseller trade magazine, which runs the contest.
The runner-up, with 24 percent, was “8th International Friction Stir Welding Symposium Proceedings,” a collection of papers presented at a gathering in Germany. The other four finalists garnered just 8 percent to 3 percent of the vote each, Bookseller editors said in an e-mailed statement.
The winning title comes from a how-to guide on “survival and empire-building in the dentistry business,” as its publisher, Radcliffe, calls it. The author, former dentist and practice owner Michael R. Young, describes the Mongol conqueror as “one of history’s most charismatic and dynamic leaders,” arguing that dentists can learn from his tenacity, intelligence gathering, and willingness to adopt new technologies.
The award’s administrator, Philip Stone, called the book timely, given Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans to restructure the U.K.’s state-run National Health Service.
“Some practice owners may well have to adopt a more warlord-ish approach to oral health care in order to survive,” Stone said in the statement.
Other finalists included “What Color Is Your Dog?” by Hollywood dog trainer Joel Silverman, with 8 percent of the vote, and romance novel “The Italian’s One-Night Love-Child” with 4 percent. “Myth of the Social Volcano,” a book on inequality in China, and “The Generosity of the Dead,” a study on organ procurement, got 3 percent each.
The contending titles were nominated by publishers, booksellers, authors, agents and librarians. This year’s winner was spotted by former biochemist and science writer Michael Gross, who will receive a bottle of “fairly passable” claret.
First awarded in 1978, the contest was conceived as a way to avoid boredom at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Bookseller editors say. The inaugural prize in 1978 went to “Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice.”
Since 2000, the prize has been put to a public vote, allowing “the unwashed masses to decide,” as a past Bookseller release put it. Since then, winning titles have included “Living With Crazy Buttocks” and “If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs.”
Eccentricity overcame vulgarity over the past two years, as the prize went to “Crocheting Adventures With Hyperbolic Planes” and “The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-Milligram Containers of Fromage Frais.”
The prize has become an institution, generating two bound collections of winning jackets, including “How to Avoid Huge Ships: And Other Implausibly Titled Books.”