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What are the best book titles?
Lucy Silag
Posted: Friday, August 2, 2013 2:34 PM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359


Today I am finding myself pondering over what makes for a really great book title. Some of my favorite book titles are from books I haven't liked; some from books I haven't even read! Something about them just makes them "sticky."

 

Here's a few examples of the ones that just stuck to me for some reason!

 

WHEN LOVE CALLS, YOU BETTER ANSWER (Contemporary Romance)

PALE FIRE (Literary Fiction)

GOD BLESS YOU, MR. ROSEWATER (Literary Fiction, Comedic Fiction)

LIFE IS ELSEWHERE (Literary Fiction)

NAKED (Memoir/Essays)

DON'T LETS GO TO THE DOGS TONIGHT (Memoir)

THE PALACE THIEF (Literary Fiction)

TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (Science Fiction)

IN A SUNBURNED COUNTRY (Travel)

I'M A STRANGER HERE MYSELF (Memoir/Essays)

A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY (Historical YA)

PERSUASION (Regency Romance)

 


What do other members think? Do you have a list you'll share?

 

So curious to hear what others think!

 

Lucy

 

Book Country Community and Engagement Manager

 

 


DJS
Posted: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 9:12 AM
The Bible is a goldmine of good titles; songs likewise. Sex Life of a Cop, the first pornographic book I read from Fabian publishers, remains a favorite title. Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer, as with all of his titles, stands out. Steinbeck's three greatest titles were found in the Bible, Shakespeare and the world's greatest hymn: East of Eden, The Winter of our Discontent and The Grapes of Wrath respectively. The Harry Potter series had great titles. Besides being a terrible speller, Scott Fitzgerald had trouble with titles, the most infamous of which was Melchior in West Egg. No one liked the title. About to go to print, a frustrated office secretary suggested calling it The Great Gatsby. It's hard to imagine Catch-22 being called something else, but it was originally titled Catch-18. While on the road to publication, however, Leon Uris scooped the title with a book called Mila-18. How Green was my Valley was a memorable title, unlike a similar, now forgotten book set in Mexico called How Brown was my Arroyo. JRR Tolkien had swell titles. I once had a great title of a book I had been writing since high school, called A Land  More Kind Than Home. a quote from Thomas Wolfe's You Can't Go Home Again. As a dawdling Darwin almost got evolutionarily scooped by Wallace, I sat on my title too long and recently learned to my utter devastation that another writer had stol- appropriated it rather.


Lucy Silag
Posted: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 9:25 AM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359


Hi David!

 

Loving these titles. Especially the one you were writing in high school: A Land More Kind Than Home. Gorgeous!!

 

I also love Mila-18--great book with a very earworm-y title.

 

Thanks for posting these. This has been a lonely discussion thread so far, but it's still a topic that I think about so much! Glad to have your input--lovely way to start the day.

 

Lucy


DJS
Posted: Thursday, February 13, 2014 8:48 AM

Lucy: Your topic of what are the best book titles deserves more discussion. A working title is unimportant; that final selection, however, can make or break a novel. Reliance on one-word titles, a common practice of late, is often a sloppy solution. Would Steinbeck, for example, have had  any success with a book titled GRAPES! Moreover, misguided titles beyond a single word never suffice. How many readers would J.K. Rowling have attracted with a book called JUST WILD ABOUT HARRY? I have a new novel titled THE TIN ANGELS, much better, I should think, than the original SHOWDOWN AT STINKING BOOT. As you well know, the art of writing can be rife with epiphanies. A swell title can pop up from, seemingly, out of nowhere. When slogging knee-deep in the bog of creativity, we should pay attention to the little secrets hidden in the deepest crevices of our tumbling prose.A great title often lurks in the labyrinth of well-crafted sentences. When with all our creative might we have given birth to sentences that soar with the eagles, we'll be rewarded with all that is required to write a satisfying book.

One notable exception to the one-word title problem was James Michener. TIMBUCTU! sounds much better than PADUCAH!.

Nevena Georgieva
Posted: Friday, February 14, 2014 4:35 PM
Joined: 2/9/2012
Posts: 438


Some of my favorite book titles: 

THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST (ya)

THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO (lit fic)

A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS (lit fic)

THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE (crime fiction)

PETROPOLIS (lit fic)img.chromoji { width:1em !important;; height:1em !important;; }.chromoji-font, #chromoji-font { font-size:1em !important;; }
EAST OF THE WEST (lit fic)

C.N. Herlyn
Posted: Monday, February 17, 2014 4:18 PM

It is amusing how a good title can grab you and then disappoint with the first page, isn't it?  I've actually read all on my list.  The disappointments must have been deleted from my memorywink

 

Ordeal by Fire (Nonfiction)

A Monstrous Regiment of Women (historical mystery)

The Burning Land (historical thriller)

Wicked Appetite

The Thirteenth Tale

The Seduction of Water

A River in the Sky


Lucy Silag
Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 3:17 PM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359


Hi CN! I love this one: A MONSTROUS REGIMENT OF WOMEN. How intriguing!

 

I had a copy of THE THIRTEENTH TALE for a while, but it got lost in one of my many apartment moves. How was it?

 

Lucy


Val
Posted: Wednesday, January 28, 2015 7:20 PM
Joined: 9/7/2013
Posts: 24


I've seen some long titles, but not many. I'm writing a novel called "Room to Spare," which doesn't tell you anything about the book. For a while, I toyed with the idea of calling it "8 Bedroom Victorian, Yard and Parking, Near Shops" - or something along those lines. Of course, that doesn't tell you anything about the book either. Thinking up titles is basically something I do when I'm procrastinating. The publisher will change it anyhow.
 

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