Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Could Use Better Titles Than Just A Name

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! While last week we highlighted books with awesome titles, this week we're considering the opposite: books with titles that could use a little more oomph. For me, I've always thought that just naming your book after a person in that book is a little bit of a cop-out (unless, of course, you've written a biography). So here are ten books with names as titles that I think could use an upgrade.

Emma: Austen's most famous works use Ye Olde Ampersand, so how about calling this one Love & Matrimony after the central theme?

Rebecca: It's symbolic that the book is named after a character who, though never alive during the narrative, dominates its events. But I would sort-of cheat and name it after its main character: The Second Mrs. deWinter, which I think creates intrigue about the first.

Lolita: Despite being the title character, young Delores isn't actually the main focus of the book (rather, it's narrator Humbert Humbert). I think No Choice would be a good replacement for this one...Humbert's desperate obsession makes him feel as though he doesn't have one, while she actually doesn't.

Anna Karenina: Anna herself is a fascinating character, but I might call this one instead The Train, paying homage to both the driving passion of the central affair as well as the importance of trains in several scenes.

Jane Eyre: This is a great book about coming of age, with strong gothic overtones and a person locked in an attic. The title coveys none of that. I'd crib an episode title from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and title this Becoming.

Macbeth: Let's just go with the theater tradition and official re-dub this The Scottish Play.

Tess of the D'urbervilles: The subtitle of this book is "A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented". That doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, so how about Purity?

Nefertiti: This novel was a little underwhelming for me, but a title like that isn't going to help it stand out. For all the emphasis the book places on the physical loveliness of the Egyptian queen, For Beauty would make a more intriguing title.

Olive Kitteridge: I've actually always liked it when books that are short story collections (which is very much what this is, "novel" or no) are named after one of the stories within. It's not the strongest entry, but A Little Burst is a story that's both representative of the whole and that makes a good name.

Mildred Pierce: This is a noir, but the name Mildred has always made me think of mildew, which just makes it sound damp. It would be better served leaning into its potboiler style, so I'd call it From Bad to Worse.


  1. I have not actually read any of these (I've seen a few related movies though), but you have quite the knack for coming up with titles that sound whimsical, and make me want to read the book!

    1. Haha thanks! These were actually super hard to do!

  2. Love your suggested change for Emma, and it fits with her other work nicely! Love some of your other suggestions, although The Scottish Play makes me giggle a little. xD

    Here's my TTT post.

    1. The Scottish Play is a little silly, but it's also how I think of it in my head after having done theater in high school!

  3. Ooh, The Second Mrs. deWinter is a great title.

    My TTT.

    1. Thanks! I do wish we got her name at some point, even maybe at the very end