Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly series created by Rukky at Eternity Books and hosted by Aria at Book Nook Bits. The full list of October topics can be found here.
This week’s topic is Do Book Titles Matter?
Thank you to Aria for using my suggested topic this week! It was not something I really thought about until it came up in conversation with a friend recently, and I realized I had many thoughts on the subject…
How much do book titles matter?
I think book titles are very important. They are often the first thing a reader learns about a book other than seeing the cover. This topic first came to me when a friend shared that she recently read a cozy mystery titled something like Pumpkin Spice Fright (that’s a fake title!) and there was no mention of pumpkin spice anywhere in the book. However, another foodie phrase was repeated throughout the book, making her think that should have been the title instead.
Honestly, I don’t think a writer ever wants their readers to be confused by a book title and the content but I think it’s a common occurrence. I’ve heard some authors say they don’t get to choose their book titles, and this could lead to some of the more confusing book titles I’ve seen in the past. Either way, it creates a frustrating experience for the reader when the title doesn’t seem to match the story.
Have you ever read or not read a book based on the title alone?
I don’t think I have, especially if someone recommended the book to me then I really probably would not pay much attention to the title. I try to not judge a book by its title or cover but from the synopsis and the first fifty pages at least.
Do you like long or short book titles better?
I tend to prefer shorter titles, such as those in Laura Griffin’s Tracers series. They are often one word (Twisted, Scorched, Snapped) which I find very intriguing. I do appreciate longer book titles or funny titles, but since I mostly read mysteries I think I am more drawn to ones that are short and sweet.
Do you think the title has to connect to the story in some way?
I think it should, if only because readers will expect it to. There is nothing like that feeling of reading a book and coming across a passage or bit of dialogue that connects the story to the title. I’ve always thought that it is clever of writers to sneak that in whenever possible, and here I’m thinking of the explanation of Lethal White (Cormoran Strike #4) by Robert Galbraith, in which the meaning of the title reveals itself in the latter half of the book.
On the other end there is Jane Evanovich, a prolific writer, who has said that the titles in her Stephanie Plum series correspond in no way to each book. I think this is okay because she’s acknowledging it, plus her books are meant to be fun and fast paced. If you know in advance that the title doesn’t relate to the story, it isn’t as big a deal.
What are some of your favorite book titles?
Here are a few books I loved, and what their titles made me think the stories might be about…
- Beyond Limits (Tracers #8) by Laura Griffin (adventurous)
- My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith (humorous)
- Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree (whimsical)
- A Wind in the Door (A Wrinkle in Time #2) by Madeline L’Engle (mysterious, fantastical)
- Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman (matter-of-fact, contemplative, somber)
- Red Velvet Revenge (Cupcake Bakery Mystery #4) by Jenn McKinlay (humorous, witty)
I think the reader will ultimately be drawn into the story based on the synopsis (though some people say they never even read the synopsis before starting a book…) or by the first chapter alone. But I do think the title can be very influential for some readers.
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