The Name Game


Naming a child is serious business. You hope to pick a name that you will like and that they will like. It’s also good to think about the nicknames that could crop up.  Most importantly you hope that the name will stand the test of time. In the past six months three of my daughter’s friends have had daughters of their own. I love to hear what the parents have named their baby and yet, just before I find out,  I almost want to hold my breath. Naming children is not as predictable as it used to be. Their names are Avery, Phoebe and Shelby.

Naming a book is also serious business. A title can influence whether a book is read or purchased. In recent years The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows has been the best tongue twister we have heard requested in a long time. “Who is the author?” hasn’t been much help. I can see people saying “Oh, never mind!” if communicating becomes more difficult, which would be a shame because The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a gem of a book. After reading the book you can’t imagine it having any other title,  just as I can’t imagine my children with any other names.

One-word titles have their place as well. Choke by Stuart Woods and Away by Amy Bloom are a couple of examples. I recently met a library patron who told me that “Duck”, “Dodge” and “Hide” were the names of her boys. Their given names are William, Robert and David. Using nicknames for them did simplify things when needed. Titles can show emotion and can pull the reader in as much as the cover of the book. My favorite example is The Grace That Keeps This World by Tom Bailey. I read this book because of the title. Sometimes humor will be used in a title. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan or My Sister From the Black Lagoon by Laurie Fox come to mind. Authors can sometimes come up with the wrong title. In 1999 I chose to read Eddie’s Bastard by William Kowalski. The two words were tall and covered the entire front cover. I could not convince anybody to read this book. Eddie’s Bastard was his first book,  and it is a very good book, definitely worth reading. I had no luck and I felt it was because this book had the wrong title.Now the book has a more welcoming cover, with the same title and it was published as a Nook choice in 2009. Some titles are just meant to capture your attention. Two of my favorites are Big Bad Wolf (perfection) by James Patterson and Tick Tock by James Patterson. Can’t you just see that crocodile waiting for his chance to grab Captain Hook? What are some of your favorite titles?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         — Janet

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