Certain literary titles make for appealing and memorable books. War and Peace, for one.
Of course, there is more to books than titles, but same as with meeting someone, the first impression counts.
Book titles taken from literature speak to curiosity.
Faulkner’s Absalom! Absalom! taken from the Books of Samuel. Another, and more recent, P.D. James’ The Skull Beneath the Skin, taken from T.S. Eliot’s Whispers of Immortality. Of course, if the books were no good, this would be nothing more than cocktail trivia.
Well-conceived titles entice the reader, at the very least, to pick up the book, wouldn’t you say?
The lyricism in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, for example. The cool sound of Dr. Seuss’ One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. How about Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Some publishing houses have strict formulas for titles, no matter the author’s grand idea, looking for short declarative phrases, like Run Fast or Hold Tight.
Imagine the titles mentioned above under such rules. On the other hand, I have yet to meet the reader who set a book down based on dislike for the title.
Literature Is the Question Minus the Answer
My title decision for Stranger or Friend was pretty immediate. The OR in the middle fell under Literature Is the Question Minus the Answer. While the mystery was solved, I hope the story remained an expression of the pursuit of the answer.
The mystery I’m currently working on is still Untitled, which, to me, means that I am somehow interfering with the story. Then again, daily blogging can do that. :)