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What Type Of Title Makes You Want To Read A Book?

A photograph of Aimee Bender's The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake

Today I’m asking the above – what books have you sought out purely because their titles intrigued you? I believe there are likely some books that would grab everyone, but because we all approach reading differently, in the context of our differing personalities and backgrounds, I think it’s safe to say the answer wouldn’t be a one size fits all, rather ‘multiple sizes to fit a varied audience with a one-off sort-of one size fits all’. If that makes any sense.

As for myself, I’m partial to random titles. Whilst I loved the sound of The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake as Iris presented it in her review, it was nevertheless the title that made the biggest impression on me. The title is just so different, or at least it was at the time (more on that later), however I have to admit the fact that there was ‘lemon cake’ promised was just as important. I’m not a foodie, per se, but the idea of lemon cake just sounds wonderful. When I read that title I couldn’t help but picture a beautiful round springy cake. It makes my mouth water to write about it.

I think in this case it’s fair to say that Aimee Bender may have had this effect in mind when she was planning her title. (Of course if it was suggested by her publisher, they may have been thinking of the marketability of food, too.)

Other ‘random’ titles that have caught my interest and later my utter attention are The Obscure Logic Of The Heart (wasn’t keen) and The Luminous Life Of Lilly Aphrodite (loved). The first due to its sheer randomness, the second, well, let me digress.

I love alliteration. Pride and Prejudice, I Capture The Castle, and yes, the aforementioned Colin. I love alliteration so much that if an editing client has made use of it I can’t help but read the sentence with a huge smile on my face, even if I know that we’re ultimately going to have to cut or change it. If I had to write about a newspaper article in English Language class I concentrated on alliteration and whenever I’m stuck for an opening for a review, it gets the first look in. So although I won’t be drawn to an alliterative title as I am random ones, if it rolls off the tongue I will be noting it down.

In moving away from myself to encompass you all, there’s another question that must be asked. My thought that we will be intrigued by different titles still stands, but in recent years something has happened that implies there is that one size fits all.

Do you think the current trend of long quirky titles has anything to do with the idea that we read books because of their titles? Certainly it seems that authors/marketers/publishers have my interests in mind, and as such it’s surely safe to say that quirky titles are the one size fits all. A title is important, so it’s safe to assume that in giving us random quirky titles, market research has shown that they sell well. We’ve titles such as The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, The First Book Of Calamity Leek, and The Unfinished Work Of Elizabeth D.

On this note I will say that in my own opinion I think the market is saturated. I think now there are so many quirky titles they aren’t going to have as much of an affect, as far as choosing books for their titles, that they would have had in the past couple of years. I know that I’ll see a random title and no matter the subject matter of the title, I will inevitably think ‘been there, done that’. I will read the book anyway if I like the sound of it but the title will play no role in my choice. In a very few cases it has put me off.

Perhaps I, you, we, will stop being interested in random titles entirely and be drawn to another type instead.

I know I will always be drawn to titles that evoke things I like or am interested in. History – naturally, food – sometimes, locations and the names of real people – often, but as far as format goes alliteration and, if not overused for too much longer, random titles, will always hold first place for me. A cover can be average, a blurb not too informative, but if the title’s right I’ll be reading the book.

Over to you – what kind of title entices you to read a book? And do you think the trend of quirky titles is to do with a general interest in books with quirky titles? (Or do you think authors are just copying each other because they like the concept?)


Belle Wong

February 23, 2015, 2:29 am

I’ve picked a read because of the title, too, although I can’t think of any offhand right now. More often, though, an interesting title will nudge me to look up the book – but if I don’t find the synopsis that interesting, I don’t read the book, great title or not.


February 23, 2015, 1:46 pm

Yes, a title will get me to pick up the book and look at it, but what it’s about has more effect on whether I’ll read it.
I did like the Lemon Cake title. I also go for the one-word title that combines concepts, like Austenland.


February 23, 2015, 5:29 pm

I am a real sucker for a pretty cover and a title that involves anything to do with magic, magical creatures, food and history. I have been tempted to read some different books due to unusual titles though, including The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The Silver Linings Playbook and When God was a Rabbit.


February 26, 2015, 2:59 pm

I am sure I have picked up a book solely based on the title, but not in a long time… Most of my purchases and such are prompted by reviews and buzz about a certain book more than the title. That’s just an example of how my habits have changed since I started blogging.

Lory @ Emerald City Book Review

February 26, 2015, 10:21 pm

Hey, my discussion post in March is about this topic too — following on last month’s about annoying title trends. If titles are TOO quirky I confess that they annoy me. I’m seeing a new pattern in some of the ones you mention: The (adjective) (noun) of (name, or other noun). Interesting…


February 27, 2015, 12:51 pm

For me, the most enganging titles are the ones which address nature, animals, and books (libraries, bookstores, readers, etc). But they need to have a beautiful cover too in order to make me grab it and take a look (in case I don’t know the book).
Those long and random titles don’t appleal to me because I can’t imagine what the book is about.


March 1, 2015, 7:15 pm

Titles, like book covers, are one of those things that can so easily entice me or put me off. If it sounds like a romance I definitely won’t read. I think I like titles that sound interesting.


March 3, 2015, 1:28 pm

Belle: That’s a good point – if you read the blurb afterwards, it can of course change your thoughts.

Jeanne: One word combining concepts; I like that. Lemon Cake worked, I think, because the title was apt. Nowadays it does more often seem to be about the effect rather than the actual fit.

Jessica: Food – oh yes! I reckon that is very much a deliberate thought, that they’re going to make us imagine lovely meals and that will lure us in. I love your examples. When God Was A Rabbit is one of the best, in this case, I’d say, because of the other ideas it draws in.

Kailana: Interesting. As much as I like them, it is good to be able to pass it by, especially given the marketing factor of titles.

Lory: I have yours open to read :) Yes, there comes a point where if they’re too quirky it’s obvious it’s just for show. Good point about structure.

Isi: I like that you’ve included ‘books’ – that’s surely true for most of us but didn’t occur to me at the time. ‘Never judge a book by its cover’ – it’s never going to work, is it?

I like that you’ve pointed that out – that you can imagine what the book will be about – because I started thinking that after I posted. There comes a point where the quirkiness takes over and it’s truly a random title. In those cases it can be pretty off-putting.

Alice: Which makes the thoughts behind it even more important (I’m thinking here of books that suggest one genre but are another).



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