Thursday, April 24, 2008

ADD Titles: How Book Titles Have Gotten so Long They're Really Just Short Summaries Because Authors Are Desperate For Readers' Fleeting Attention.

It's the latest fad in book titles. A title, a colon, and then a short description of the book. Take for example the new release, "Hungry Girl: Recipes and Survival Strategies for Guilt-Free Eating in the Real World", or "The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids". Why all the massive verbage in the top line of a book report? Simple. Authors, skilled and not, are adapting to the twenty-second-commercial audience that gets distracted if the cover of a book isn't compelling. This audience doesn't even take the time to open the inside flap. No more browsing through a bookstore or library reading a page here, a chapter there. This has allowed for the emergence of a new genre of books - books that make you stupider for having read them.

Okay, to be fair the book I'm currently reading is called "Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America 1789-1989". My husband enjoyed "When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long Term Capital Management". Both books are well written and cranially challenging. So the length of a title is not necessarily inversely proportionate to the quality of the book. But as books have become a huge industry in the US with the rise of Oprah's book list, the popularity of book clubs, and the growth of bookstore giants like Barnes and Noble and Borders, scanning the New York Times Best Seller List convinces me that the increase in readers has come at the expense of the quality of writing.

Regarding the risk of offending my three-paragraph-post reading audience I shall limit my rant to suggesting more attention grabbing titles for classic literature in the hopes that it will be more widely read. Like:

A Tale of Two Cities: One Man's Harrowing Tale of Survival and Sacrifice During the French Revolution

Hamlet: The Tragedy of Despair in the Face of Treachery and Betrayal

Pride and Prejudice: Battling Preconceived Notions and Class Consciousness in Matters of the Heart

Or perhaps titles should be more accurate to lure their reading audience. Like:

Animal Farm: A Chilling Statement on Twentieth Century Soviet Totalitarianism As Told By Cute And Cuddly Animals

The Count of Monte Cristo: While Money Can't Give You Your Life Back, It Sure Goes A Long Way Toward Revenge

The Odyssey: Ticking Off A God Can Delay Your Trip Home, But You Can Meet Some Hot Babes Along The Way

Of course some books, even classics, are best left with ambiguous titles or else no one would read them. Like:

Mrs. Dalloway: Whatever Pops Into my Head While Planning a Party

Catcher in the Rye: Angst, Angst, Angst

Oedipus Rex: Why Incest is SOOOO Wrong

And so we conclude, gentle reader, that more than ever, great care is needed in choosing what we read but more importantly, remember to always read this blog.


Ambie said...

oh wait wait I got one ...

Othello : How losing your handkershief can cause death.

ray said...

hee hee. How about:

The Hunchback of Notre Dame: No Matter How Noble and Kind You Are, If You're Ugly, You Will Be Hated and Despised.

(Victor Hugo's original book does not have a "Disney" ending. More like a "Hamlet" ending aka everyone ends up dead.)

Tim said...

Ray, judging by the books you and Christian are reading, my guess is that you're done with four.

ray said...

Hey, ambie. Is it me or did Tim just call me boring??

Or maybe he means more having more offspring is the opposite of having long term capital to manage.