Title envy

I have mentioned before that I am terrible at thinking up titles, as is probably evident from the rather bland titles of my novels. I am envious of people like my friend Hillary, who doesn’t just come up with kick-ass titles for her books, but manages to name every chapter as well. If I had to do that I’d probably end up curled up in a corner, weeping quietly. So today’s entry in my 26-Week Book Challenge is one where my own work will never merit even an honorary mention: my favourite title.

And the thing is, I haven’t even read this book. I’m not sure that I ever will, because even though I think the title is absolutely awesome and incredibly intriguing, I’ve never been struck by a desire to read this book.

This title brings up all sorts of questions – why does darkness have hands? If it has a left hand, does it have a right hand too? Does darkness have an opposite and does it also have hands? Are these real or metaphorical hands? All sorts of philosophical and literal questions, but I still don’t feel like reading the book. Maybe because I’ve read A Wizard of Earthsea by the same author, and while I enjoyed it well enough, it didn’t blow me away.

This does bring up the interesting question of how important a title is to a book. Am I an exception in that no matter how much I love this title, it isn’t making me read the book? Is the cover more important than the title? At which point will a title put me off from reading a book? I’m just throwing these questions out randomly, because I don’t really know the answer to them. I believe that titles don’t really matter much to me, because if they did I’d probably never have sat down to read any Iain M Banks. (I mean, Consider Phlebas? What kind of a title is that?)

And speaking of Consider Phlebas, there are some books out there where you wonder where on earth the author dragged the name from. I don’t remember anyone called Phlebas in the book. I mean, for all that The Ritual is a very bland title, it was the only one I could think of that fitted my book, since the entire thing is pretty much driven by the ritual which I’ve named the book after. Same with The Conspiracy.

So this is a short post, and I only have two questions to ask this week: how much do titles mean to you, and should I read The Left Hand of Darkness? Comments as always appreciated!


9 thoughts on “Title envy

  1. Green Embers

    Yes, you should read Ursla LeGuin. To be on the left hand side of someone is to be considered on um… bad side sort of. To be on the right hand of someone is a sense of honor and prestige. I believe it is Biblical. Sometimes I can come up with cool titles and other times not so much. I find blog posts much the same way, lol.

    1. Erica Dakin Post author

      Titles just confound me. I can hammer out a blog post easily enough, but often I spend five to ten minutes just thinking up a title, and even then they suck. =/

  2. Deborah Jay

    Follow your love of that Ursula Le Guin title and read the book – it is stuffed with amazing concepts and emotions.
    I think titles are pretty personal – what one likes, another won’t. I’ve just started writing a series using puns in the titles – readers are polarised, they either love it or hate it – but at least it catches the eye, even if people do think its a spelling mistake!

    1. Erica Dakin Post author

      I must admit that I was put off by Piers Anthony’s Xanth series exactly because of the bad pun titles, but that was back when I didn’t fully appreciate puns yet. I would have to see yours before I’d judge them! 😉

  3. paulinemross

    ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ is a fairly cerebral book, interesting, but not a light read. I recently foisted it on my book group, and half of them either flat out refused to read a word (it’s science fiction! the horror!) or gave up, and the other half reckoned it was rewarding but difficult.
    PS I suck at titles, too. Maybe H. should start a little business selling them?

    1. Erica Dakin Post author

      I bet she’d make a killing! Anyway, not a bedtime read then. Hmm, might have to do some more research and reading reviews and stuff…


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