The Novella Club discussion

Just for fun > What's in a title?

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message 1: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Presently I'm reading a terrific little crime novel called Seance on a Wet Afternoon by Mark McShane. I mentioned it to a friend who remarked that the title made her instantly curious about the book. Well, isn't that the point?
It seems to me that authors (playwrights too) have become rather boring with their titles: "Rent," "Wit," "Choke," "Proof"....what ever happened to the poetical title? Here are ten favorites:

Desire Under the Elms

A Streetcar Named Desire

The Ballad of the Sad Cafe

A Raisin in the Sun

Splendor in the Grass

A Moon for the Misbegotten

Breakfast at Tiffany's

The Muses Are Heard

The Night of the Iguana

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

What are some of your favorite poetical titles?

message 2: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 76 comments I'm not sure about Novella titles as such but I know what you mean. - I always think that Maugham's titles are very poetic

The Moon and Sixpence

The Trembling of a Leaf

The Razor's Edge

Of Human Bondage

The Painted Veil

message 3: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Yes Maugham had some good ones. Most of McCullers did too: Reflections in a Golden Eye, The Member of the Wedding, The Mortgaged Heart and those already mentioned.

O'Neill too: Long Day's Journey into Night, "Mourning Becomes Elektra."

message 7: by SarahC (last edited Mar 07, 2011 03:20PM) (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 126 comments Ah, yes, book titles -- responsible for quite a few impulse purchases for me I am sure :) Yes, I like poetical titles too - I guess they help us to dream a little bit in the beginning -- even if the book turns out not to meet expectations in the end!

Here is my list

A Glass of Blessings
Our Mutual Friend
My Family and Other Animals
Ella Minnow Pea
The Search for Delicious
Nightingale Wood
The Seven Sisters

And finally, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club -- but I couldn't get this to list properly as a book link.

And as you can see, I must like my titles alliterative a little bit. And of course, some titles do become more poetic with me when I have loved the book and know the true meaning of the title afterward -- I'm a sap.

message 8: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 126 comments Those early 20th century writers did do a good job with titles, didn't they - Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Williams, Capote. Oh, what about The Grass Harp?

message 9: by Ivan (last edited Mar 07, 2011 03:34PM) (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
"Below the hill grows a field of high Indian grass that changes colour with the seasons: go to see it in the fall, late September, when it has gone red as sunset, when the scarlet shadows like firelight over it and the autumn winds strum on its dry leaves singing human music, a harp of voices......Do you hear? that is the grass harp, always telling a story - it knows the stories of all the people on the hill, of all the people who ever lived, and when we are dead it will tell ours, too."
- The Grass Harp by Truman Capote

message 10: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 126 comments Now that just made a little catch in my chest when I read that. Why else do we read, but the hope that we run across a little something nice like that occasionally. :)

message 11: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
The Postman Always Rings Twice - great title and a novella too.

message 12: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 126 comments I have never read that, but certainly I have heard of it all my life it seems.

message 14: by Edel (new)

Edel (edellittlebookfairy) | 71 comments I was in the bookshop the week after you had posted the title of the book you were reading - Seance on a wet afternoon and with that title in mind I was wandering down the aisles considering which one of these books would I pick up just going by the name... It was depressing.. Dull Dull Dull!!!!!.
A great title immediately makes you want to know more .. One word titles are never going to make me use up enough energy to pick them up unless their title happens to be Rebecca( love du Maurier!!) or maybe Dracula or Frankenstein..Maybe all the good titles have been used up .. who knows .. but I do know that unless there starts to be some more interesting titles then book shopping will become disheartening .Older book titles were just the best.. I remember first coming across "84 Charring cross Road" ..I was hooked by the title straight away. I wanted to know where this place was , who lived there and what happened there and what it looked like.. My imagination was going faster then I could keep up with .. Now thats a sign of a great book.

message 15: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
I absolutely agree. Lots of the best titles are taken directlty from poetry.

Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) I like quirky names for books, but I've always been a fan of one word titles for both books and restaurants.


The Powerbook


message 17: by Hayes (last edited Apr 11, 2011 11:29PM) (new)

Hayes (hayes13) And what about my childhood favorites?

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
Black Hearts in Battersea (Joan Aiken is great for alliteration, SarahC, isn't she?)

ETA: I love a great title and adore the Bradley trio

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag and A Red Herring Without Mustard

message 19: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 76 comments Jeannette wrote: "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society"

I thought that this was such a charming little book! - agree that it's a great title!

message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

I enjoyed it, too. | 1 comments I'm Not afford
The Well and the Mine
After Long silence
The boy In the Stripped Pajamas
Christmas Holiday

message 22: by Aubrey (last edited Jun 24, 2011 09:35PM) (new)

message 23: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 25, 2011 07:53PM) (new)

The Catcher in the Rye
To Kill a Mockingbird
A Room with a View
This House of Sky
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The Grapes of Wrath
Gone with the Wind
Heart of Darkness
The Red Badge of Courage

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