Welcome to my new blog series, Let‘s Talk, where I’ll be dissecting all the parts of a romance book from the covers to the characters. I’ll share some of my favorites, talk about pet peeves, and discuss why each element is so important to the overall story.
Just like a great cover, a book’s title can also tell us a little bit about the story we’re getting. For some people the title can make or break whether they decide to pick up a book. Now I must admit that I’m notorious for forgetting the titles of books and often when someone asks me “hey, what are you reading?” I have to actually look at the cover of the book to figure out the title. It’s not that I don’t care, but I usually choose my books based on the author, sometimes the cover, and especially the description. However, that doesn’t mean that some titles don’t jump out or that I don’t see familiar patterns. I mean it’s not a Harlequin romance if it doesn’t have a Greek, Sheik, or Tycoon in the title, right?
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I won’t spend too much time on bad title choices because overall I think most titles are either great or just neutral. That being said, there are times a title can give a reader a negative impression of the book. My best example of this was from college when my boyfriend (now husband) was looking at my stack of library books and he points out The Italian’s Suitable Wife. He couldn’t get over how the title implied the woman was acceptable, not amazing, not great, not perfect, just suitable. On one hand, the title fit the plot of the story, but after he pointed this out to me, I had a really hard time liking the hero in the story because the title had given me a bad impression of how he viewed his wife. Such a simple thing, a single word choice in the title, but it really affected how I viewed the book.
Most of the time, I like the titles I come across and I do tend to remember titles better now that I’m writing reviews and blogging about books. One of the things that often helps with this is the consistency of naming conventions in series. Whether this is the same number of words in the title for each book or the use of repeating words, I find I can remember titles and their corresponding series better this way. These types of things are a great way to help readers remember your books as well as link together connected stories.
For me personally, book titles that have funny innuendo, play with puns, or use clever naming schemes are ones I’m more likely to remember. Clearly, I like titles that connect with my funny bone.
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Innuendos can be risky, but in the romance genre I think we can all appreciate a good innuendo in our book titles. Though when asked what I’m reading by non-romance readers, I have occasionally stuttered over my response *awkward*. This typically happens when the author goes all the way with the innuendo and you get things like Alice Clayton’s Hudson Valley series which all involve chefs and food:
Or the very obvious Big Rock series by Lauren Blakely which centers on the male POV and doesn’t pull any punches with these titles:
I’ll say I haven’t read either of these series but when I sat down to write this post, I immediately thought of these. Which I think speaks for itself on how much an impression the titles made for me.
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Along the same lines, are titles that use puns which can often be easy to remember and again can make us laugh. I happen to love puns already so if a book title can use them I’m even happier. My favorite pun titles are ones that use similar sounding words to create new meanings. Annabeth Albert’s Perfect Harmony series does this with it’s music themed titles:
Cozy mysteries tend to be the best at the pun based titles, as seen in the Paw Enforcement series by Diane Kelly:
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The last title type I’ll talk about is when an author does something clever with titles that stands out and makes an impression on me. This can happen in a variety of ways and I see this most often with series. The 2B trilogy by Ann Aguirre caught my eye when it first came out because each book is named after a Backstreet Boys song. As a child of the 90’s who loved this boy band, I was all for this idea:
Authors can also be clever by telling a story through their titles. Ellen Connor’s Dark Age Dawning trilogy is a post-apocalyptic romance and I love the analogy of time passing that the titles create:
I see this title trend a lot now and I think it’s great because not only does it tie the titles together but it also clearly tells the reader what to expect.
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Book titles can be a tricky thing and really I don’t how author’s pick them. Anytime I’m asked to name something my mind completely blanks and I become useless. But when done well titles can really catch a reader’s eye, help them remember the book, and even be a source of discussion.
Come back on March 21st to check out the next in the Let’s Talk series where I’ll be doing a mini post about Point of View.
How do you react to book titles?