Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, June 6, 2007

What is Your Favorite Book Title?

The great book title. Much like the yeti, it is a mystical creature that often eludes the hardiest of searches. Oftentimes it is mistakenly spotted in the woods, but let's be honest: when you see Sasquatch, you know it's Sasquatch. (Also a great title is hairy and best viewed on grainy video. Yay metaphors!)

I have seen books go through twenty tentative titles before a final title was finally chosen, and it's often an agonizing choice. There's a reason for that: a great title can really capture a reader's attention and can separate a book from the pack. Although they're great books that suceeded on their own merits, no doubt titles like HEARTBREAKING WORK OF STAGGERING GENIUS, SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS and THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST helped set those books apart.

So you tell me: you don't have to have read the book or even liked it, but what is your favorite book title of all time? As always, you can only pick one. Why? Because I'm mean. (And it's more fun that way.)






90 comments:

Katie Alender said...

I searched my bookshelves and the one that jumped out at me was Ally Carter's I'D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU BUT THEN I'D HAVE TO KILL YOU. It's perfect for the book.

Stephen Parrish said...

Nathan, I think you should change the title of this post to:

What is Your Favorite Book Title? You Tell Me

It flows better. Just some friendly advice.

Nathan Bransford said...

Stephen-

Thanks for the suggestion. It's a weekly feature called You Tell Me, so I like to tip off people that it means they need to leave their Bloglines bubble and come and comment. Sometimes it reads well, sometimes it's awkward, but who am I to change my own arbitrarily decided features?

Stephen Parrish said...

It was a joke. I was keying on your mention of numerous title changes.

Nathan Bransford said...

Stephen-

Ah!! Forgive me, I'm slow.

Chisem said...

The Watchers by Dean Koontz. Perfectly captures the theme of the book; part romance, part thriller, and part horror.

Merry Jelinek said...

Hypocrite in a White Poofy Dress; tales of growing up groovy and clueless.

It was just as much fun to read as the title would suggest, too.

Anonymous said...

Elvis, Jesus, and Coca Cola. When you add "by Kinky Friedman" then, my friends, you have a great book title.

Gerri said...

My current one: Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day.

Hilarious spoof on travel books, and it has some darn good stuff in it, too.

original bran fan said...

THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY.

It's got irreverance, scope, and it is intriguing. It is a very fitting title for the book.

Stephen Parrish said...

Nathan, all you need is a Crapometer to rule the known universe.

That was a compliment, by the way, in case you decide to be slow again.

Here's my input:

I Heard the Owl Call My Name, by Margaret Craven.

Annalee said...

There's an anthology of alternative history short stories called ONE LAMP. I haven't read it, but I keep meaning to snap up a copy because I think that's terribly clever.

Roxan said...

Breakfast Of Champions.

Christopher M. Park said...

Hmm... how about HE SAID, SHE SHOUTED LOUDLY? Well, technically that's not a book -- but it should be. I think that title is just hilarious.

As to actual books... I suppose I'll say I AM LEGEND by Richard Matheson. Talk about an evocative title, especially once you learn what the topic is and what the title actually means.

Chris

Lauren said...

ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE, by Robert M. Pirsig

But not the approximately 51,397 newspaper, magazine, and blog entry titles that have riffed on it since then.

(And I'm guilty of that. Used to have a website that borrowed from said title.)

B.E. Sanderson said...

A fun one that's in my TBR pile:

Bill the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Bottled Brains

Sounds like fun, and since it's Harry Harrison, it probably will be.

Brian said...

HELLO, GROIN by Beth Goobie (I'm also fond of the author's last name).

Bernita said...

NIGHT IS THE HUNTER

Barbara said...

THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING -- that's one, spotted on a bookshelf, that stuck with me and actually dragged me back to read the book.

Therese Walsh said...

All right, it's the title of a play, but it still deserves a bow: A Streetcar Named Desire.

millhousethecat said...

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal

By Christopher Moore

It's also a helluva good book.

MelodyO said...

The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat -- Oliver Sacks. Now THAT catches the eye when perusing a bookshelf.

Kim Stagliano said...

Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Bradbury.... dreamy!

Heidi the Hick said...

FARGO, ROCK CITY!

(The cover with the Holstein cow with the Gene Simmons make up is hilarious.)

RED STICK WRITER said...

Lewis Grizzard was a beloved Southern humorist. His syndicated column originated from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He left a legacy of columns and books, as well as recordings of some of his public appearances. Lewis occasionally sat on Johnny Carson’s couch and guested on Designing Women. We lost years more smiles and laughs when he expired at 49 following the fourth surgery aimed at resolving a congenital heart problem. Many of his book titles were stories in and of themselves. My favorite was SHOOT LOW, BOYS – THEY’RE RIDIN’ SHETLAND PONIES. Another good one was CHILI DAWGS ALWAYS BARK AT NIGHT. He wrote one about sex. It was called DON'T BEND OVER IN THE GARDEN, GRANNY, YOU KNOW THEM TATERS GOT EYES. Being the good old Southern boy that he was, Lewis replaced all of the “dirty” words in that one with the term “woo woo.”

Kim Stagliano said...

Ooh, may I vote for another? When I said goodbye to Miss Snark (after groveling and begging her not to sign off) I used "So Long and Thanks for all the Fish" as my adieu. That's another fabulous title.

Girl in Boy Clothes said...

Lolita

Blunt. Provocative.

Yuri said...

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JESUS CHRIST by Jose Saramago

The title is as provocative as the novel itself. As a side effect, it also does a great job of filtering the audience. In other words, people who are likely to be offended by the book most probably won't even pick it up.

Sarah Hina said...

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS

Anonymous said...

War and Peace

Conflict in the title

Jordyn said...

THE BOYFRIEND LIST (by E. Lockhart)

No contest.
I know Ally Carter's I'D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU BUT THEN I'D HAVE TO KILL YOU is commonly regarded as pretty dern awesome, but I think it's too long.

Dan Leo said...

The Catcher in the Rye
Catch-22
Slaughterhouse-5
The Sun Also Rises
Blood Meridian

Funny how these great American novels all have such great titles. I'm gonna go with Catcher as my own fave, so dreamlike and evocative...

Lide said...

Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality by Glen Ellenbogen

I saw it on the shelf and had to have it. Didn't matter what it was about.

Liz said...

Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood...

Marva said...

Steal This Book by Abbie Hoffman. If you have to ask, you're too young.

elphaba said...

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Mary Paddock said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Paddock said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Animal Dreams

Mary Paddock said...

Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy
wins hands down as my favorite title of all time

Second though would be "Confederacy of Dunces" (However I truly hated the book)

In the non-fiction category, "Why do Whales and Children Sing" has to be my favorite title of all time.

Stephanie Zvan said...

Bimbos of the Death Sun is a great title that, unfortunately, the book can't quite live up to.

Jude said...

"Undead and Unwed" by MaryJanice Davidson neatly captured so much of the book -- humorous, chicklit, paranormal.

David Roth said...

Has to be (Shamless plug alert) "Sometimes I Hear Voices" by, well, me.

john levitt said...

The Last Temptation Of Christ.

A Paperback Writer said...

My all-time favorite book title is from a self-help book my mom had in the 70s. I never read it, but, you gotta admit that IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING, YOU'LL PROBABLY END UP SOMEPLACE ELSE is a heckuva good title.
My second favorite book title is from a kids' book in the Bunnicula series: THE CELERY STALKS AT MIDNIGHT. Great stuff.
Then, the one that caught my eye on the library shelf. I read it, and it was hilarious: THE PIRATES! IN AN ADVENTURE WITH THE COMMUNISTS!

Writers' Support and Inspiration said...

Lawrence Block's "Telling Lies for Fun and Profit". Great title and a fabulous book as well.

Heather

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Anything Dixie Cash puts her (their?) name on.

On Mt. TBR: My Heart May be Broken, but My Hair Looks Fabulous.

Laurel said...

It's a book of poems. Is that allowed?

"Return to a place lit by a glass of milk" By Charles Simic

EBO said...

Just about any book by Patrick F. McManus seems to have a good title (although the books are actually all books of short stories). The one that jumps to mind immediately is: They Shoot Canoes Don’t They?

Anonymous said...

SATAN: HIS PSYCHOTHERAPY AND CURE BY THE UNFORTUNATE DR. KASSLER, J.S.P.S. by Jeremy Leven

Jennifer McK said...

I'd have to say I saw a book called "Bitter Is The New Black" by Jen Lancaster.

Michelle Moran said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michelle Moran said...

Current favorite title (or maybe it's just the amazing cover): BLOOD OF FLOWERS.

And it's not just a great title. It's also a great historical novel.

Dave said...

I came to this late tonight -

Favorite book title: "Are You Loathsome Tonight" by Poppy Z Brite.

Favorite Movie title: "Sorority Babes at the Slime Ball Bowlerama"

Anonymous said...

The Neverending Story or in the original German: Die Unendliche Geschichte (at least according to Wikipedia)

Nate said...

ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST

and

THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS

reality said...

The Winter Of Our Discontent...
John Steinbeck.

Not only does it have a good sound to it. It is relevant to the story.

Lisa said...

EVEN COWGIRLS GET THE BLUES, always struck me as a memorable title. Based on the comments deleted, I have to believe someone must have come up with THE NO [expletive deleted]RULE: BUILDING A CIVILIZED WORKPLACE AND SURVIVING ONE THAT ISN'T. It's non-fiction, but come on -- it's a catchy title.

Josephine Damian said...

"Because it is Bitter, and Because it is My Heart" by Joyce Carol Oates

Invokes curiosity, emotion, and makes you want to read more.

writtenwyrdd said...

HOLLOW CHOCOLATE BUNNIES OF THE APOCOLYPSE by Christopher Moore. I didn't know who he was at all, but that title caught my eye. I've been a fan of his writing since.

writtenwyrdd said...

Favorite movie title: CANNIBAL: THE MUSICAL. If you are into Troma films, this is the best one.

Janniel said...

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things (Carolyn Mackler) has tickled my funny bone since I first heard it.

Rachel said...

I have to go with "THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER"

The title still gives me chills long after I've forgotten major parts of the plot.

Anonymous said...

STEAL THIS BOOK.

Nocturnal Princess said...

A Darkness More Than Night by Michael Connelly. Chills run down my neck.

CMonster said...

Elsewhere by Will Shetterly.

Followed by (or preceded by, depending on your mode of travel): The Hitchhiker's Guide Trilogy.

dmh said...

Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy

A Corner of the Universe

The Slightly True Story of Cedar B. Hartley, Who Planned to Live an Unusual Life

takoda said...

The only two books I bought based on their titles were: FIRE IN THE EARTH and Dohttps://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=5334836757176538347&postID=6655639476037421689steyevsky's THE IDIOT


I loved Dean Koontz' THE WATCHERS. Now I'm wondering if I have to buy I"D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU BUT THEN I"D HAVE TO KILL YOU

M.W. said...

Love in the Time of Cholera
The Sound and the Fury
The Red and the Black
A Series of Unfortunate Events (okay, a series title, but still, awesome)
War and Peace

Oh, there is more...

sunjunkie said...

writtenwyrdd: According to amazon.com, the author of _Hollow Chocolate Bunnies..._ is Robert Rankin. Has Christopher Moore written under a pseudonym, or was that just a slip? I *adore* all things Christopher Moore, so if there's more Moore hiding out there somewhere, do tell!

R.J. Anderson said...

My brother thinks In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead (James Lee Burke) is the best title ever. Me, I keep wanting to put "the" in between "with" and "Confederate".

But that also reminds me that I think Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a fab title, even though I've only seen "Blade Runner" and never got around to reading Philip K. Dick's original book.

Obviously, long quirky titles that make you wonder what on earth the book could possibly be about (and yet give you just enough of a clue to be intriguing) are the big grabber for me.

Ben said...

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Zen of Writing said...

Welcome to the Monkey House
The Day of the Triffids
The End of Mr Y
Neuromancer
The Brothers Karamazov (wouldn't work as well as The Karamazov Brothers)
Down and Out in Paris and London
Hard Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World

Anonymous said...

Even Thai Girls Cry

lizz said...

"The City in Which I Love You" Li-Young Lee

Anonymous said...

Les Misérables. Very simple, very evocative.

dana p said...

Ten Thousand Light Years From Home
Bastard Out of Carolina
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
Look Homeward, Angel
Too Late the Phalarope
Mothers and Other Monsters
I Am a Camera
The Sheep Look Up

Determinist said...

"The Secrets of Walking Erect", it is the title to a book I've never written.

I always loved the title and wanted to write it some day. Sort of an instruction manual about being human. The closest current thing to it isthe video "Dance Monkeys Dance" by Ernest Cline

Anonymous said...

Even though I'm not a big Salinger fan, and even though it's a short story, I'm going to have to go with:
A PERFECT DAY FOR BANANAFISH

To Girl-in-boy-clothes:
The word LOLITA became synonymous with a provocative young female only AFTER Nabokov had written it. So, at the time he titled his novel, it was merely a female given name. Guess you know your title has really succeeded when it passes into the common lingo.

Anonymous said...

M.W. : Faulkner stole the title THE SOUND AND THE FURY from Shakespeare. Although he was smart enough to steal only the very best, I don't think he should get the credit for the brilliance of that title.

Colleen said...

The only book I can recall buying for its title alone was Fits Like a Rubber Dress by Roxane Ward.

One of the most evocative titles has to be Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown. My heart breaks just reading the title.

Anonymous said...

SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES is also from Shakespeare. (It's in Macbeth, Act IV, I think.)

I guess Shakespeare is just awesome. And apparently dreamy :).

Anonymous said...

And we can add INFINITE JEST to this list of titles lifted from the Bard.

Jennifer said...

COMPLETE AND UTTER FAILURE by Neil Steinberg and I STILL MISS MY MAN BUT MY AIM IS GETTING BETTER by Sarah Shankman

Jennifer said...

oops! (picked two; cannot follow directions; goes to the back of the line)

Tom Burchfield said...

Mine is:

"All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes By" by John Farris. Pretty good southern horror gothic novel, too.

Jenny said...

The Aforementioned Bimbos ... is one of my favorite titles, as is the novella title "Pol Pot's Beautiful Daughter" - and the story lives up to the strange name.

Graham said...

Stupid White Men, by Michael Moore. A title that totally sums up the Bush administration.

Anonymous said...

I don't think STUPID WHITE MEN does quite sum up the Bush administration.... You wouldn't want to leave out a certain stupid black female, and a certain stupid Latino male, would you? In fact, the Bush administration has a pretty good record in terms of hiring stupid people of all sexes and ethnicities.

writtenwyrdd said...

"writtenwyrdd: According to amazon.com, the author of _Hollow Chocolate Bunnies..._ is Robert Rankin. Has Christopher Moore written under a pseudonym, or was that just a slip? I *adore* all things Christopher Moore, so if there's more Moore hiding out there somewhere, do tell!"

Yeah, I erred. BFD.

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