Titles That Move You (to read)

Do you ever pick up a book to read purely based on the title? Not the book blurb, not the cover art, but the title alone?

I do, sometimes. Or, at minimum I’ll add a book with a title that strikes me to my “to read” list; perhaps that’s why my list is ridiculously long.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Sausages by Tom HoltFor example…I requested a review of copy Tom Holt’s upcoming Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Sausages because the title made me laugh. As it turns out, this has been a good thing. I’m reading the novel now and loving it. Holt’s a funny, clever writer. The impulse worked out for me.

My first introduction to the fantastic Rita Mae Brown was an impulse buy of her novel Southern Discomfort. The title tickled me, and has been a favorite for years.

I also want to read Lish McBride’s Hold Me Closer, Necromancer because every time I see the title I suddenly have Elton John on repeat in my head singing “Tiny Dancer.” Oh, the power of association. I have no idea what it’s about, but the name has me very curious.

I’ve seen Eric James Stone’s novellette, “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” mentioned as various bloggers and people-in-the-know are discussing award-worthy works now that it’s closing in on nomination season for the Locus, Hugo, and Nebula awards…and I want to read it based on title alone. It has a certain gravitas; I hope I can track it down to read. (edited to add that the author provided a link to the story. Thank you, Mr. Stone!)

Regarding Ducks and Universes, a novel releasing next month and written by Neve Maslakovic is one that made my “to read” list because of the title. How could it not?

My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales by Kate Bernheimer is another title I gravitated to when I saw it. At least the title tells me it is about fairy tales–though I’d probably have it on my list based on the pre-colon part of the title anyway.

Other works that have caught my interest because of title? A short list:

Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait by K. A. Bedford
There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, translated by Keith Gessen
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe: A Novel by Charles Yu
From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain by Minister Faust
The Nymphos of Rocky Flats by Mario Acevedo
Adventures in Unhistory: Conjectures on the Factual Foundations of Several Ancient Legends by Avram Davidson

So what about you? Are you easily swayed into reading by a title that strikes you?

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About Jessica

Dork extraordinaire, that's me! An unhealthy knowledge of Star Trek, a love of books, a fondness for purring cats.
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16 Responses to Titles That Move You (to read)

  1. ~ap~ says:

    Now I’ll have ‘Tiny Dancer’ in my head all day… with “Necromancer” inserted. But yeah, I’ve seen that title, as well as ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages’ and am interested in both, purely because of their titles. *nod*

  2. Redhead says:

    I’m often grabbed (or ungrabbed) by book titles. for some unexplained reason, I tend to gravitate towards shorter book titles of one or two words. the title of course, having zero to do with the enjoyment of said book.

    funny story, last year I read Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. At first I was like “it has the word Assassin in the title? and the word apprentice? and that cover art? are you flipping kidding me? no way in hell I am reading that”. a month later I had zipped through the entire trilogy at a breakneck speed, and Hobb has become one of my favorite authors.

    • Jessica says:

      I realize that most of the examples I gave here are long; now I’m wondering, if I look at my bookshelves, if I’d notice a pattern of long or short titled books. Hmm.

      lol. I’ve not read the Assassin’s Apprentice book(s), and for very much the reason you gave: the title makes me laugh, but not in a positive way. More in a “Ha! That is not an appealing title to me!” sort of snort. My version of book title snobbery, perhaps.

      • Kia says:

        The Assassin’s series is really quite good, and does some Pretty Deep Things. Although, you are correct that the titles are sort of Lame Generic Fantasy Title-ish.

      • Jessica says:

        The title is kinda lame, but honestly, I’m reading a series where all the titles have “shadow” in them; talk about unoriginal. Also, they are about an assassin, so I need to stop being so snobby about the Assassin’s series. If the library has them available, I’ll look into them. Might be a while, though, given all the books on my reader and on my night stand.

        Now that I think about it, what is up with all the SFF books out there with “shadow” as part of the title? They’re everywhere.

  3. spragujs says:

    I can’t think of any books off the top of my head, but I’m always almost persuaded (we do have the iPad version) to buy the game Smallworld by Days of Wonder because of the font it’s printed in!

    • Jessica says:

      Ooooh fonts. Fonts are special and fun. When I’m tinkering in Photoshop, I love playing with the fonts and downloading new ones. I’m fascinated by the emotion you can evoke just by font choice.

  4. Kia says:

    I’ve heard of the Necromancer one, too. Thanks for the reminder on that. I, uh, have to say, though, that I had an ARC once of one of Mario Acevedo’s titles (later in the series – I can’t remember the title) and I wasn’t terribly impressed. The main character of that series (of which Nymphos is the first) is a jerk. And not even a terribly interesting jerk. But it’s just my opinion, so if you pick up that series, I’d love to hear your take on it. 🙂

    Also, a couple of title’s that caught my attention: Jesse Petersen’s MARRIED WITH ZOMBIES. Cherie Priest’s BLOODSHOT (out next week!). And an old time-y favorite: David & Leigh Eddings’ THE REDEMPTION OF ALTHALUS. Although I’m sure I could think of some stranger ones if it wasn’t my January brain-mush time.

    • Jessica says:

      I keep looking at Acevedo’s books in the store, but so far, at least, I’ve always picked up something else, because even though Nymphos sounds like a fun title, it also doesn’t appeal quite the same way some others have. Although between me, you, and the Internet, I did “eenie meenie minie mo” to choose between it and Jasper Fforde’s Eyre Affair earlier this month when I spending my gift card. Ended up with Fford; based on what you said, I’m even gladder for it.

      Married With Zombies really is a fun title. It too triggers an earworm. I hear Sinatra in my head singing “Love and Marriage” when I see it.

      …sometimes my brain’s associations are annoying. Hmpf.

    • Jessica says:

      Oooh, the library system has a copy of Nymphos of Rocky Flats. Cool. Now I know I don’t have to drop 7 or 8 bucks on a novel with “nymphos” in the title.

  5. You can read “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” here: http://ejs.me/lev. Glad you like the title — hope you like the story.

  6. I posted a comment yesterday with a link so you could read my story, but perhaps it got caught in the spam filter because of the link.

  7. Jessica, just saw your post, glad you like the title of my debut novel! “Regarding Ducks and Universes” was maybe the third or fourth title I came up with and the one that stuck. I’ll be glad to send an ARC your way if you like – just drop me a note at my email address.

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