Thursday, September 23, 2010

How Important Is The Title Of A Book? . . .

Below is a list of 13 classic, beloved books. Have you ever wondered how much influence a title has with readers? I know I have. I’ve read most of the books on this list, and I’ll be the first to admit the writing in almost every case is compelling, the plot strong, and the characters deep.

But take a good look at the titles. Do they draw you in, make you wonder what the book is about? If you forget about the blurb for a second and look just at the title, doesn’t it sort of tell a story of its own, or at least make you want to find out what the story is about?

We should never underestimate the power of a book title. It’s a huge factor in determining whether or not people will opt to read it rather than the millions also beckoning them. Let’s pretend again for a moment you know nothing about the books you’re holding in your hands. One is The Red Badge of Courage, the other, Nasal Maintenance (there really is such a book). Which one would you buy? 

The Call of the Wild
1903, by Jack London
When his beloved master is killed, the dog Buck flees to the wild, where he becomes the leader of a wolf pack. Rousing adventure set in Alaska’s Klondike country.

Crime and Punishment
1886, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
First published in Russian in 1866, this masterful psychological novel shows the horror and remorse of Raskolnikoff, a student, after he has killed an old woman for her money.

The Red Badge of Courage
1895, by Stephen Crane
Through the eyes of Henry Fleming, a young Civil War soldier, we see the fears of battle and the inexplicable courage that comes when soldiers unite in a wartime machine.

A Tale of Two Cities
1859, by Charles Dickens
This dramatic story of Paris and London during the Reign of Terror contains some of Dickens’ most memorable characters—Madame Defarge with her knitting and the self-sacrificing Sidney Carton.

Heart of Darkness
1902, by Joseph Conrad
Marlow relates the tale of Mr. Kurtz, successful in his greedy quest for ivory in the African Congo but leaving in its place hunger, death and slavery, for the natives.

Of Mice and Men
1937, by John Steinbeck
George and Lenny, itinerant Depression-era farm laborers, have their dream of attaining the good life shattered on a troubled ranch in the the Salinas Valley in Steinbeck's monumental novella of social realism.

The Scarlet Letter
1850, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hawthorne’s novel is a study of sin, guilt, and revenge. Adultress Hester Prynne must bear public humiliation but Roger Chillingsworth and Arthur Dimmesdale suffer equally.

Wuthering Heights
1847, by Emily Bronte
Catherine and Heathcliff are the tempestuous lovers in this tale of passion and revenge on the Yorkshire moors.

Their Eyes Were Watching God
1937, by Zora Neale Hurston
An African-American woman in 1930s rural Florida finds freedom and self-knowledge through a personal journey encompassing three very different marriages.

Lord of the Flies
1954, by William Golding
A group of English schoolboys, marooned on a tropical island during a time of atomic warfare, bring both civilization and savagery to their community.

The Sound and the Fury
1929, by William Faulkner
The moral decay of the Old South is presented through the eyes of four members of the once prominent Compson family of Jefferson, Mississippi.

Invisible Man
1952, by Ralph Ellison
A young African American man moves to New York City and discovers he is “invisible,” seen only as a racial stereotype and never as himself.

Of Human Bondage
1915, by W. Somerset Maugham
Afflicted with a club foot, Philip Carey suffers through his life, struggling to free himself from a destructive love affair and finally finding contentment as a country doctor.

Happy choosing titles!

Keta Diablo writes erotic romance and gay fiction for numerous publishers. You can find her on the web at the links below.

Check back in three days, September 26th and Keta will tell you how she selects the titles of her books, including her latest release Where the Rain Is Made.

Keta’s Haunt Author Home:

Keta’s Erotic Romance Blog, Keta’s Keep,

Keta’s Gay Fiction Blog, The Stuff of Myth and Men,


Vivien Jackson said...

Ugh. This is a sore spot for me. My titles are lame. Advice?

Savanna Kougar said...

Interesting. I adore good titles. And, if I see one, I always check the book out. And, sometimes, I'll include that title in a story I'm writing, but in a whole different way than the book.

Alice Audrey said...

I like my titles, but they don't generally start off well.

My list is here.

Kimberly Menozzi said...

Usually, I've found I go through several titles before I settle on "the one". Sometimes this means I end up right back where I started. Once in a while, however, I get it right the first time - but that's a rare event! LOL!