There are two very important things that define books and they are: (1) how pretty the cover is and can I eat it, and (2) is the title awesome.
People shout on about “don’t judge a book by its cover” but that is literally the FIRST thing I’m judging. Is it pretty? Does the title intrigue me? Am I hooked like I was the first time I was introduced to the notion you can eat dessert first in case of the apocalypse???
These are important questions.
And since I read over 200 books per year, I see many titles. I notice patterns and preferences. And as a writer myself, who cries for AT LEAST 19 HOURS whenever I’m forced to think up a title — you can firmly accuse me of being hyper-aware of the names of books.
So I’m going to analyse 10 types of titles we often see in YA books. And full disclaimer: I can love ANY type of title so long as it’s amazing, fits the book, and stands out!
Also there’s a fun game at the end of this post because I am magnanimous to you.
It’s Top Ten Tuesday AGAIN (I mean, surprise, it is Tuesday) and the prompt is: Top Ten Unique Book Titles. Which I will actually mention a ton of unique titles in this post so — BOOM, MY FAIRY FIENDS. I’m doing it properly.
1. THE “RANDOM FANTASY GENERATOR” TITLE
You know how when you cut out a bunch of random “edgy” words from the dictionary and then just throw them in the air and see which ones land close together? This is how people title fantasy novels. I mean if it doesn’t have “shadow” or “queen” or “bone” in it…is it REALLY a fantasy book????
WORDS FANTASY BOOKS NEED TO PROBABLY NEVER USE AGAIN:
- queen / king / prince
Look, I get it! They’re catchy and make us feel dark and nefarious. And I am absolutely shamefully guaranteed to pick up a book if it has “queen in the title” even if it’s cliche. Queenhood my aspiration, ok, I can’t help it.
2. THE “[INSERT NAME] OF THE [CONFUSING EVENT]” TITLE
These actually kill my delicate constitution because first off: I don’t remember names. I barely remember mine, mostly because I have five siblings and my parents have probably called me by my name ONCE in my life. The rest of the time I get called by a sister’s name.
So names can be catching, but when it’s a series and they’re followed by words that are interchangeable…mate, I cannot remember the order for the life of me.
- Harry Potter and the WHATEVER THE HECK HAPPENS. I mean, I know the titles, I still am not sure the order. Except Philosopher comes first and Deathly Hallows ends it. The middle is confusing and there are chocolate frogs.
- Percy Jackson and the SOME WEIRD EVENT that hopefully will not end in death but it might??? Percy put that thing down whatever it is. No, really, without looking it up, I have NO idea what comes after Lightning Thief. I only remember that one because I struggle to spell Lightning with out putting an E in.
- Skulduggery Pleasant and HAHA HAHA NO IDEA. I don’t even know which book I’m up to in the series because of this.
3. THE “CONGRATS! WE KNOW YOUR NAME” TITLE
Like I just said: me + names = we’ve got a problem. The problem is usually me panicking about what the title is AND what the character is called. But fine, I’m working on handling this.
Although I do like these titles! But also occasionally desperate and guilty confusion happens.
- The Adoration of Jenna Fox
- Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda
- Eliza And Her Monsters
- The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly
- The Half Life of Molly Pearce
- The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
- Emmy & Oliver
- Locke & Mori
- Vassa In The Night
- Tash Hearts Tolstoy
4. THE “THIS SEEMS FAMILIAR HAVE WE MET BEFORE” TITLE
I’ve talked about mixing up titles before and it’s something I continue to do like a hobby! Some people do crossword puzzles. I mix up book titles and confuse everyone half to death and back again.
Why Cait. Why cannot thine brain handle titles.
- Daughter Of Smoke And Bone + Shadow & Bone + Daughter Of The Burning City
- City of Bones + City of Saints And Thieves
- Queen of Shadows + Shadow Queen
- The Knife Of Never Letting Go + The Knife Of Memory
- Ps. I Still Love You + PS. I Like You
- What’s Left Of Me + what’s left in my fridge hopefully cake I’m sorry but this is what I’m thinking about
- A Gathering of Shadows + The Gathering Dark
- The Raven King + The Raven Boys (HAHA OK FORGIVE ME FOR THIS ONE)
- History Is All You Left Me + the actual stressful remembrance of school and having to remember history dates
- Princess of Thorns + Prince of Thorns (THIS IS FAIR, RIGHT???)
5. THE “GENERIC ONE WORD” TITLE
Sometimes I prefer to speak in monosyllables too, so I do understand why these titles exist. Some of us can’t even use full sentences until they’ve had coffee and been awake for 3 to 12 hours. Unfortunately using one-word titles has a lot of pros and cons. For instance:
PRO: It’s easy to remember!
CON: It’s so easy to remember you forgot it.
I’m not even kidding this is a real issue. Like no one’s going to forget the word “Fragment” right? But which heckin’ book is called Fragment. WHAT WAS IT ABOUT??? WHY IS IT CALLED THAT??? PLEASE SEND HELP.
These titles are a struggle. These are all books I’ve read: Spark, Wilful, Gone, Afterward, Shiver, Bang, Teeth, Rogue, Desolation, Masquerade, Sparrow, Countless…
I swear there’s this book called One that I’d like to read, and it’s got a pinkish cover with like a girl levitating on it? Can I remember the author? NO. Is the book lost to me forever now? YES.
6. THE “THIS TITLE IS SO LONG I’M GOING TO NEED A NAP AFTER I FINISH SAYING IT” TITLE.
Less is more unless you’re taking about cake or book titles…APPARENTLY. There are some titles that I appreciate for their aesthetic beauty and then I take a nap after saying them because wow. That was exhausting. And we won’t even talk about trying to hashtag them on twitter. And trying to acronym them is just hilarious. I mean, when I say, “Hey I was just reading AADDTSOTU” you say “Bless you, do you need a tissue?”
NOTABLE HORRORS INCLUDE:
- Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe
- The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making
- The Strange And Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
- The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time
- I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You
- The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
- The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
CAN I CATCH A COFFEE AND A BREAK NOW LIKE WOW.
7. THE “THING & THING” TITLE WHICH I’LL NEVER MESS UP I’M SURE
Look the best thing to do is not put two words which are COMPLETELY INTERCHANGEABLE very close to each other. I love Ink & Bone. I truly do…but it’s the only one my feeble mind can grip. Come over to Quill & Paper or Fire & Ink and I JUST LOSE IT FOR THE SEQUELS OK.
Someone just wants me to cry. I’m very bad at keeping things in order. This is why I sometimes eat dessert for breakfast. *
* HA. Total accident…
8. THE “SNEAKILY CLEVER REFERENCE” TITLE
I do like when titles are subtly sneaky references to something in the book. OR If they have double meaning! Like one of my favourites is Here Lies Daniel Tate. Which is like what you’d put on a tombstone, right? BUT ALSO…Daniel Tate is a huge liar. Half Bad is another clever one and Autoboyography.
9. THE “THIS DOESN’T RELATE TO THE BOOK BUT OK” TITLE
These are nice and aesthetic usually and I like them! I just still have no idea how they relate to anything. Most of the time I just smile politely at the cover and then shout, “WHY!” and receive no answer because books are rude. I suppose maybe you’re supposed to divine metaphorical enlightenment from them but I’m not good with metaphors. Or enlightenment. No really, I always sit in the dark because it feeds my soul.
- When I Am Through With You —> honestly this just sounds like a kid getting in trouble
- Turtles All The Way Down —> I LOVE this book and the title does make sense after reading (#hey #metaphors) but there are no turtles in it
- Everything All At Once —> I’m still not sure, but if it was cake, I’d be up for it
- The Light That Gets Lost —> no torches or lanterns went missing. I’m still looking though.
- Challenger Deep —> what is going on, son
- I Crawl Through It —> good job, but what now
- Hush Hush —> it still bothers me that I have no idea what it’s titled this…lowkey hoping Nora would scream it at Patch the awful heinous fool but she didn’t.
10. THE “THAT TITLE IS AWKWARD AND I’M ABOUT TO EMBARRASS MYSELF” TITLE
Now the thing about titles is sometimes they aren’t thought through very well. And I get it! Things are easy to overlook. But I have come across many titles which have me pause, re-evaluate my life, and then flee the country.
- Strange the Dreamer has an acronym of STD which when you’re trying to save time on Instagram and say “Oh yeah I loved STD!”….you also have to then apologise for existing.
- Pawn by Aimee Carter caused me quite a problem when I announced loudly to my sister I was reading “PAWN”. Now I’m not sure if this is an Australian accent thing…but I sure as heck sounded like I said “porn”. So wow. (And Australians don’t tend to say “R” because we’re lazy, so like…pawn and porn…yeah.)
- The Last Mortal Bond is one I just cannot freaking SAY. I call it “The Last Mortal Coil” and “The Mortal Bond” and “The Last Bond” and “James Bond in Fantasy World”…and it’s just a hot mess. I’ve literally had people on Instagram correct me and it’s freaking hard to be NEFARIOUS when you can’t even say a book title right.
- LIFEL1K3 is one that’s not actually OUT until 2018 and admit I’ve been calling it “Life K 37” in my head for NO GOOD REASON AT ALL. I was actually shocked when I heard it is Lifelike. What the actual heck. Also I have mild dyslexia and this makes life fun. (No literally I read the “life” then the “K” then the “3” and then the 1 as a 7.)
OK NOW IT’S TIME TO FIND YOUR YA BOOK TITLE.
I made a very lovely graphic here that has a 3% chance of giving you an awesome YA title that will probably either help you in your own writing endeavours or give you a great memoir title idea or make you question why you read this blog. But I’m sure it’ll be fine.