Saturday, March 7, 2015

Book Blogger Hop March 6th - March 12th: This Message Is Continued in the Latest Issue of Private Eye on Page 94

Book Blogger Hop

Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Do you think a book's title is important?

I love a good title for a book. Sometimes a great title is a simple one, like Frank Herbert's Dune, which captures the essence of the story in one word. Sometimes a title just sounds good like Poul Anderson's No Truce with Kings or Samuel R. Delany's Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand. The problem is that sometimes a great title can be attached to a book that is just ordinary - like Isaac Asimov's The Stars, Like Dust.

A great book title is like an invitation that makes you want to pick the volume up and read it. And when a title and a book align properly, it is a magical combination. In some cases, it is hard for me to now separate a book from its title and evaluate the title on its own merits. Is Gateway a good title, or do I think of Gateway as being a good title because Pohl wrote such a good book that bore the name? That's a conundrum that I don't think will ever be solved. But when an evocative title is put on a book that is not very good, or is even merely mediocre, it is like being promised a great meal that turns out to taste like ash.

Oddly, it is hard to come up with good examples of the opposite phenomenon - good books with lousy titles. I suspect that this is, in part, because once I have read a good book, even a dull and uninspiring title becomes associated with the book in my mind, and I unconsciously retroactively recast the title as a decent one. On the other hand, once I've read a book that turns out to be awful, then that title, no matter how innocuous, becomes associated with the terrible book and, once again, retroactively becomes a lousy title. I point to titles like PureHeart and Dark Dawning as examples of terrible titles, but there is a good chance that that is because the books they are attached to are so very awful.

So yes, I think titles are important, but I also think that assessment of titles becomes inextricably intertwined with the quality of the book itself, making it almost impossible to evaluate a title on its own unless one hasn't read the book it is attached to.

Subsequent Book Blogger Hop: e.e. cummings Published "95 Poems" in 1958

Book Blogger Hop     Home


  1. What a great answer. Excellent.

    I like your comment in the last paragraph a lotl. A title can't be used completely alone for evaluation to see whether or not you will enjoy the book.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I like covers first and then the title and summary make the reading decision for me. :)

    I hope you are having a great weekend.

    Happy Hopping!!

    Silver's Reviews
    My Blog Hop Answer

    1. @Elizabeth: Memory is a tricky thing. How we remember things is colored by our later experiences. After one has seen a movie, it is difficult to think about the title of the movie separate from the memory of the experience of seeing the movie. Do we remember The X-Files as a cool and slightly creepy name for a television show because it is a cool and creepy name for a television show, or do we remember it that way because the show was cool and creepy?