Well, here I am again. The title is chosen and the cover done. Nearing the point of no return. This time I have gone for something that signals the genre a little more explicitly. Though having decided I need to be more overt, less of the enigmatic and ‘trying to be clever’, I then read a totally conflicting piece of advice that one ought to ‘add some mystery’ to the choice of title. Typical really.
A year or so ago, during a similarly pained process, I wrote a somewhat tongue-in-cheek piece on Choosing a Title for Your Book (link below) that considered some of the common tropes and models that appear to be applied in the book naming process (in fiction).
Come to think of it, I have noticed another common paradigm, using ‘Daughter’ in the title – Kate Morton’s The Clockmaker’s Daughter; The Alchemist’s Daughter by Katharine McMahon; The Botanist’s Daughter by Kayte Nunn; Karen Viggers‘ The Orchardist’s Daughter; The Butcher’s Daughter by Jane E. James; The Arbotionist’s Daughter by Elisabeth Hyde… I even noticed a psychological thriller named The Paramedic’s Daughter (Tara Lyons) the other day. It’s not entirely new, Philip Pullman published young fiction The Firework Maker’s Daughter a few years ago (2004), and I’m sure there are others.
The old-fashioned or esoteric professions of these titular women’s fathers (or is it mothers?) also seem to be a trend – clockmaker, alchemist, orchardist. Presumably they signal a particular time period. Interesting how titles seem to go in fashions.
Maybe there should be a prize simply for the best book title – well, it seems an art in itself.
Quick brainstorm and I am adding in the below (some translated into English, as you see). Not a totally original selection, but that’s probably no coincidence.
The Dud Avocado Elaine Dundy
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Bloom
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
(with a special mention also for Adams’s The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul)
The Electric Michelangelo by Sarah Hall
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver
What are your favourite book titles, fiction or fact?
Original article Choosing a Title for Your Book