Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Like My Titles Like I Like My Women: Awkward and Confusing

The library is a literary singles bar. Everyone walks in looking to find a meaningful connection before they leave. Preferably, you'd like something memorable and rewarding, but a bit of lighthearted fun would be okay as well should you stumble across it.

The first stage of this search is purely visual. You scan the room waiting for something to catch your eye. Seeing as there is a lot of competition for your attention, aesthetics are important. Despite the old saying, both literal and metaphorical books are judged by their covers. It's not fair, but it is true. Take that to heart lazy graphic designers (and on a more personal note- my sub-par wardrobe and fashion sense)! A weak cover will doom a book to the remainder bin.

So now that something has appealed to you, that first bit of communication is crucial to maintaining intrigue and momentum. And this is where, like so often happens at a bar, everything collapses. An exceedingly lame pick up line is a deal breaker. So is a pathetic title.

My personal pet peeve is in the form of one word titles. To my mind, it is a wasted opportunity. Perhaps your book is about the "Damage" that occurs when someone lives "Life" on the "Edge." But couldn't it be put in a more exciting or poetic manner? Or to the very least, a quieter one? I want a title that whispers enticingly to me. Instead, the one word title comes in the form of a shout. They are all but missing an exclamation point at the end. And, as we know, shouting in a library is frowned upon.

I prefer longer, more cryptic titles. Titles that cause you tilt your head to the side and make a little "hmm" sound. Or, in the case of a book I found this morning, a "Whhhhhaaaat?" sound. The more confusing and awkward, the more I want to read it. My logic is this: a curious title leads me to believe that the author is going to be a creative story-teller. More over, the person is confident enough to market the book with a ridiculous name. That's either foolhardy or courageous. I respect both in an author. Of course, this isn't always the case. Sometimes a weird title is the best part about a book.

Or, perhaps, the best part about a blog entry.
posted by jw