Some of the Best Book Titles Are Right Under Your Nose
Titles on titles.
Okay, It's Time I Tell You All About My Favorite Book Titles
We're told not to judge a book by its cover. Of course, that's impossible. Not only is there an entire industry built behind book covers, but they are imperative in publishing. You reach for a book based on not only the cover, but the title.
Titles are a bit trickier to conjure up. Most of the time they make no sense to the naked eye. Will the title have an explanation woven into the 200 plus pages the author so diligently created? Or is a bulky metaphor staring you straight in the eye while you peruse your favorite bookstore?
That, to me, is part of the fun. Will I understand why the novel is named what it is? Will I finish reading that very last page and have an a-ha moment? There's no formula to a good book title. But I do find myself in my local bookstore whispering, "that's a really good title." I did it as recently as this weekend when I saw Save Me the Plums and thought, "wow, I wish I came up with that." My fiancé asked, "well what does it mean?" I didn't have the answer, but I enjoyed the mystery.
So I felt inclined to put a list of the best book titles I've come across in recent months. Some are older books while others are new releases. And the criteria that makes them the best book titles is not black or white; some caught my eye, some made me think, some were delightful to say aloud.
Regardless, they are some of the best book titles because they piqued my curiosity, they made me pick them up, purchase them, and ultimately, they got me to read.
1. When Breath Becomes Air
When Breath Becomes Air is a great title, one that really got my attention, as it sounded like the start of a poem. Little did I know that this book is rather heartbreaking. Author and neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer and life as he knew it was completely different than what he had in mind. Kalanithi died in 2015 while writing this book so really, the title is much more powerful than it seems.
2. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
I can hear myself saying these words to friends, colleagues, and the mirror: "maybe you should talk to someone." I think that's why I'm so drawn to Lori Gottlieb's latest novel. From first glance I get a sense of what it's about; seeking help, therapy, reconstruction, etc. And you can't help but think, is this book telling me something I already know? Should I go see someone? Shouldn't we all?
3. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry
Equal parts funny and endearing, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry is hilarious. You instantly think of this grandmother figure, maybe she's like yours, maybe she's more of an Auntie Mame. Then I realize it's by the author of A Man Called Ove, which was a hit in 2015 and speaks to the quality of this catchy title. The story of 7-year-old Elsa and her 77-year-old grandmother seems charming and lovely, just as the title would suggest.
4. Sorry I Wasn't What You Needed
The words feel overtly emotional at first, but upon further review, Sorry I Wasn't What You Needed could mean a number of things. It could be cathartic; breaking up with someone and repeating over and over again, "sorry I wasn't what you needed" might help one find closure in a healthy place. When receiving a rejection letter from your dream job maybe it's easier to compute, I wasn't what they needed but I am what someone needs. In this novel, C.J. Neubauer must try to understand what his father meant when he wrote, "I'm sorry I wasn't what you needed" before taking his own life.
5. Something Wicked This Way Comes
Oh, this title is so good. If I had a memoir, I would use the same title. Best friends, Jim Nightshade and William Halloway can't seem to escape fear when a traveling carnival comes to their town one creepy October. Desire and fear are at stake in this classic novel with a seriously great title.
6. I Was Told There'd Be Cake
I imagine myself showing up to a party I didn't want to go to only to be met with people I didn't want to interact with. I'd turn to the person who brought me here and say with some bite behind it, "I was told there'd be cake." If a title of essays can illicit such a hypothetical situation, it must be good. And, of course, what's inside Sloane Crosley's collection of essays is equally delightful and humorous as the title.
7. This Is Where I Leave You
Another ambiguous title goes to This Is Where I Leave You. My only knowledge of this novel comes from the 2014 movie starring Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, and Jason Bateman. On the surface it's a tale as old as time—a large, dysfunctional family comes together after the death of the patriarch. But the vague title intrigues me, which is exactly what it's supposed to do.
8. Save Me the Plums
Besides the fact that the author was the editor in chief of Gourmet magazine, I know very little about what Leave Me the Plums could mean. But it got my attention. It's so simple, save-me-the-last-bite-simple, but with so much potential and hidden meaning. I absolutely love the art that accompanies the title and believe me when I say everything about this newly released memoir has me chomping at the bit.
9. Nothing Good Can Come From This
I read Nothing Good Can Come From This last year and it changed me. That sounds so pretentious but it's true. The title is perfect and could pertain to so many things in life. While, it's obvious that nothing good might come from drinking, or binge drinking, the title is left hanging in the air, waiting for the reader to understand why.
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What's your favorite book title? We want to know!