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Book Titles Matter

I don’t judge a book by its cover more than I do by the title. As long as the cover is not racy or movie tie-in, I’m an easy sell. But titles matter and they convey to me an immediate message about the book. If F. Scott Fitzgerald adhered to the earlier title of The Great Gatsy, Trimaochio, I probably would give the book a pass on first sight. Like strange-looking, eerie-smelling food, books with an ambiguous titles are usually deal breaker.

Lithub posts an interesting article about the origin of some iconic titles. I prefer simple, disarmingly beautiful book titles. Something lyrical and poetic, not cliched or too catchy. I’m sure authors are as fussy about the titles of their novels as parents are about the babies’ names. One can imagine the tediousness of the conception of book titles. For me a book title is a very slippery thing. It determines whether I’ll pick up a book or not, that is, before hearing the feedback of the content. I avoid anything that sounds obscure and ridiculous. Sometimes random isolated phrases make the best titles.

One Response

  1. I’m drawn to lyrical titles that play with language or give me strong visuals (Memoirs of My Melancholy Whores, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Go Tell It on the Mountain, A Room with a View, To the Lighthouse, etc.), as well as references to other works of literature – usually Shakespeare, i.e.: The Sound and the Fury, For Whom the Bell Tolls, etc.

    But then, titles get my attention in other ways, as well, that are less tangible. Some authors are shoo-ins, in that they sell me based on my previous experience with them and could title a novel ‘Book’ and I’d read it. Others, it may be the cover/title pairing. Still others, maybe mood or the environment. Who knows?

    But beautiful titles do stick with me.

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