This blog is basically about how good books are nice and bad books are the pits. And then I get grumpy.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

This is not an example of one....

Some writers are blessed with an ability to produce thought-provoking or unusual titles for their works, not the formulaic kind that just consist of the main character's name or maybe a noun and adjective. Perhaps it's their editors writing them, but somebody has a talent for it.

Every once in a while I'll run across an impressive title and store it somewhere in my memory where it settles in a corner and gathers dust until something jogs the gray matter and the title resurfaces.

There have been so many over time and I haven't kept track of them so I am QUITE irritated because I know there are more and I'd like to remember them. What a fun thing that would be for bibliophile list-maker to be able to do! But the thing is I can only recall one of them and it's a great one, but I know there are more and perhaps one day they'll come to mind but where's that mental list when I need it? Well, you see the frustration, don't you?

So, here's a list of titles because they deserve a mention somewhere of how great they are and because it's always nice to re-read great writing, or even to re-read that lure, that tease, that encapsulation of an idea that takes 70,000 words to fully articulate, the title.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (the best title on this list by far)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
(so expressive)

Anne's House of Dreams by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fanny Flagg (a noun phrase anda prepositional phrase!)

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (Yeah, it's just an adj and a noun, but what a combo!)

How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life by Mameve Medwed (intriguing)

Tolstoy Lied, A Love Story by Rachel Kadish
(a short complete sentence that makes the reader wonder,"Lied about what?")

I am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert (have no idea what it means, but love the enthusiastically bad grammar)

Love's Labour's Lost by William Shakespeare (a play this time - gorgeous use of alliteration, though again, what does it mean?)

As you can see, it's not an exhaustive list and maybe more reflective of guilt and misery than this blog's name indicates. Still,not a bad list since the books and play on it make me want to know more (especially since I haven't read them all yet!)

Anyone have a favorite title of their own?


Dornroeschen said...

Hi, aniko, I am more or less free now so I'll start making comments here!

Your post made me turn back to my bookshelves to check if I have books with any expressive titles. But before that I certainly remembered "Sense and Sensibility"! Two different qualities described by similar-sounding words, sounds expressive to me :-)

You've got interesting titles here: I read only one of them though (and never heard about the others) - "Anne's House of Dreams" and highly recommend it if you haven't read it yet! However, you should start the Anne books by L.M.Montgomery in order, "The House of Dreams" is the 5th book in the series about the unforgettable Anne Shirley. I'm a big LMM and Anne fan, and her writing is at places as ethereal as the title you liked! Generally, LMM's book titles consist of the name of a herione and the house where she lives, but the houses have beautiful names. Another book title of her's that is beautiful is "A Road to Yesterday", a collection of stories. It sounds so bittersweet!

Scanning through my books I spotted a title consisting of nothing but a name, but I think it's a perfect choice. The title character never appears in the novel directly, in fact, she's dead by the time the narration starts, but her presence in the novel in domineering, at least in the narrator's mind. I mean "Rebecca" by Daphne DuMaurier. And it's even more interesting that the main character's name (it's a first-person narration) is never revealed, it's only said that it's beautiful and unusial but never mentioned!

It's also interesting how expressive titles are preserved (or changed) in translation. I've always been fascinated how the title of "The Thorn Birds" sounds in Russian, something like "Singing in the thorns" (I even like it better than the original title), makes me think of "Gone with the wind" too, beautiful usage of participle constructions, both sound quite romantic.

I have a book in German titled "My liebes Fraulein Mozart", a fictional story about Mozart's sister Nannerl. I did not know it when I bought it, but the book turned out to be translated from Italian, and the original title was "La sorella di Mozart" (I don't know Italian but I guess it should be literally translated as simply as "Mozart's Sister"). The German title is so much more beautiful, it makes you want to know who said those words to Nannerl and what her love story was. A good job done by thetranslator, I think, especially that the book's plot actually is structured around letters between Nannerl and her lover!

I found a couple of other appealing titles among my German books, like "Becky Brown, versprich nach mir zu suchen!" (so emotional), "Amelie und Liebe unterm Regenschirm" (simple enough but also playful) and "Tintenherz" (just intriguing), but I have to read them yet!

Welcome to my blog, too. It's not only about books, however (I tend to focuson drawings and photos more!), though I post reviews occassionally, and even my own illustrations to books like to Lucy Maud Montgomery novels. I hope you enjoy it!

Yours is interesting, and I see you updated the look making it brighter!

Off to read your other posts,

Shimona said...

How about "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close", by Jonathan Safran Foer, for an intriguing title? It's my latest acquisition (which means I haven't read it yet). I was attracted to it because the blurb on the back cover reminded of a beautiful and moving book I have read and loved and highly recommend - "The History of Love" by Nicole Krauss. And amazingly enough, it turns out that Krauss is Safran Foer's wife!

Jemima said...


Thank you for your comments! You mention a lot of books that are on my to-be-read list. You know I have a book DuMaurier wrote about the writing of Rebecca that's just waiting for me. But first I have to get to Rebecca!

Jemima said...


Thank you for commenting!

The coincidence you mention about the books being written Foer and Krauss seems so serendipitous! It's like part of the magic of literature, isn't it?

Dornroeschen said...

I think "Rebecca" is brilliant, you'll read it quite quickly too! I also have "Rebecca Notebooks", but I haven't read it yet. It also includes some essays. Have you seen "Finding Neverland"? Daphne was a cousin to those boys and she has an essay about them!

Jemima said...

I have seen 'Finding Neverland,' and it is really a fine, lovely film. I love the scene in which JM Barrie retires for the night and opens his bedroom door and behind it is, basically, a wonderland of imagination.

I also have the Rebecca Notebook and look forward to reading it and the novel, too...

Dornroeschen said...

There's also a German-language musical based on Rebecca, it used to run in Vienna not long ago and it starts anew there in September :-)Actually listening to the CD made me remember how wonderful the book was!

Chelsia said...
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