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I imagine this book award slipped by you: the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year. Sponsored by The Bookseller magazine, anyone can nominate a book title for this prize and votes by the public are tallied online. It has nothing to do with content and everything to do with, well, title oddity.
The Bookseller recently announced the 2008 winner – The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-miligram Containers of Fromage Frais – which beat out Baboon Metaphysics, Strip and Knit with Style, and Curbside Consultation of the Colon, among others.
So, in the spirit of the Diagram Prize, here are a few titles published in 2009 that I thought might be worthy of this illustrious award. Which one would you vote for? Or suggest another title in a comment below!
Forbidden Bread: A Memoir by Erica Johnson-Debeljak
Have you ever wished that you could talk to a ghost? (A friendly one, of course.) Reading about history is like talking to ghosts—finding out what people thought and how they lived. You can re-live their adventures or discover how they overcame difficult circumstances such as sexism, racism, and war.
The Kansas City Public Library isn’t haunted (as far as we know), but you can meet the past. Starting in April, Library Director Crosby Kemper III will interview re-enactors portraying famous people from the past, such as poet Langston Hughes, pilot Amelia Earhart, and President Harry S. Truman.
In this current school year, more than 6,200 Teach for America corps members are teaching in America's neediest communities, reaching approximately 400,000 students. These books discuss the Teach for America experience and model or examine urban education in general.
One Day, All Children: The Unlikely Triumph of Teach For America and What I Learned Along the Way
By Wendy Kopp
Not just a personal memoir, this is a blueprint for a new civil rights movement that demands educational access and opportunity for all American children.
Prime minister of Britain, a soldier, writer, and politician, Winston Churchill has had hundreds of books written about him. This selection includes ten books about Churchill published in the last few years.
Troublesome Young Men: The Rebels Who Brought Churchill to Power and Helped Save England
By Lynne Olson
Olson presents a riveting history of the daring politicians who challenged the disastrous policies of the British government on the eve of World War II, describing in dramatic detail the public unrest that erupted as people realized how ill prepared the nation was to confront Hitler.
Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat: The Dire Warning
By John Lukacs
A bestselling historian considers Churchill's first speech before Parliament after he became Prime Minister – a speech that transformed both Churchill and the nation he had come to lead.
From astronauts to engineers and other space pioneers, these ten biographies help tell the story of the Space Race.
The Right Stuff
By Tom Wolfe
The first Americans in space--Yeager, Conrad, Grissom, and Glenn--battle the Russians for control of the heavens and put their lives on the line to demonstrate a quality beyond courage, in this classic by Wolfe.
Promised the Moon: The Untold Story of the First Women in the Space Race
By Stephanie Nolen
A female world-record-setting pilot, Jerrie Cobb was recruited in 1959 to take the astronaut tests. She excelled, so the doctor who supervised the selection of NASA's Mercury astronauts recruited additional female pilots. Twelve performed exceptionally. Stephanie Nolen tracked down eleven of the surviving "Fellow Lady Astronaut Trainees" and learned the story of those early days of the space race and the disappointment when, in 1961, the women were grounded.
Recently, Harper Collins announced that it will publish two of Michael Crichton’s unfinished novels. Prior to that, the upcoming publication of an unfinished David Foster Wallace novel made the news. Even thirty years after the death of Vladimir Nabokov, author of Lolita, his son has announced that Nabokov’s unfinished The Original of Laura will be published in 2009 – disregarding Nabokov’s wishes to have it burned after his death.
Stephen Moss at The Guardian writes, “Leave unfinished works alone - let their authors rest in peace.” What do you think?
Have you ever read an unfinished novel? These books were all incomplete when the authors died.
Are you working 24/7 because you can’t unplug from your mobile phone or the Internet? Technology has blurred the lines between work and home, affecting everything from how we use our time to how we relate to one another. These books examine technology’s impact on our society, culture, and economy.
Elsewhere, U.S.A.: How We Got from the Company Man, Family Dinners, and the Affluent Society to the Home Office, BlackBerry Moms, and Economic Anxiety
By Dalton Conley
The division between work and home has been all but demolished, replaced by a weightless, wireless economy that encourages work at the expense of leisure. Conley, a preeminent social scientist, provides an X-ray view of the nation's new social reality.
The 33rd president of the United States and a native of Missouri, Harry S. Truman also served as an officer during World War I, a U.S. Senator, and Vice President. These books include general biographies of Truman and works that examine his presidency, as well as his memoirs, letters, and speeches.
By David McCullough
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this monumental biography depicts an extraordinary president, Harry Truman – the man who brought the country solidly into the 20th century. Drawing from archival materials and extensive interviews, McCullough chronicles Truman's life, but it is Truman's emergence as a decisive and confident president that forms the heart of this book.
These books examine the executive branch and its power throughout U.S. history.
The Cult of the Presidency: America’s Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power
By Gene Healy
The Bush years have given rise to fears of a resurgent Imperial Presidency, but Healy argues the problem cannot be solved simply by bringing a new administration to power. Combining historical scholarship, legal analysis, and cultural commentary, The Cult of the Presidency argues that the office of chief executive needs to be reined in, with its powers checked by Congress and the courts. Only then will we begin to return the presidency to its proper constitutional role.
Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy
By Charlie Savage
Savage investigates how the Bush-Cheney administration has seized vast, unprecedented powers for the presidency. He argues that such imperialism stands to permanently alter the constitutional balance of American democracy.
The 2009 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced on April 20. Check out this year’s award winners or browse through the winners of previous years to find some good reads.