Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Why Waste Words?



Not gonna lie, I'm not super enthusiastic about today's topic of Top Ten Long Book Titles.  Maybe it's because I read mostly mystery/thrillers, which usually have short, snappy titles like The Mist, Killing Time, or Blood Moon.  Longer titles seem to be more the norm for rom-coms, contemporary fiction, and children's books.  To see if I'm right about this, I decided to take a look at the books I've read so far this year.  How long is the average title?  Does title length really vary by genre?  How many words is the longest title I've read this year?

Before we get to that, though, I want to give a quick shout-out to Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl.  Give our lovely host some love, won't you?  You can learn all about Top Ten Tuesday on her blog.

Okay, here we go with my ultra scientific study of title length.  I've read 130 books so far this year.  Here's how their titles break down:

ONE WORD:  6
TWO WORDS:  28
THREE WORDS:  39
FOUR WORDS:  22
FIVE WORDS:  21
SIX WORDS:  9
SEVEN WORDS:  2
EIGHT WORDS:  2 
LONGEST TITLE WINNERS:  The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix (horror) and The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead (contemporary MG) 


I appear to prefer three-word titles.  Interestingly, titles of this length appear in every genre I've read this year—mystery, memoir, rom-coms, historical fiction, YA, MG, etc.  Three-word titles do seem to be trendy these days.  I've especially noticed a string of them with this format:  The ______'s ______, like The Lieutenant's Daughter, The Embalmer's Apprentice, The Killer's Niece, etc.  What titular trends have you noticed lately?

Which super long titles have you discovered?  Which are your favorite?  I'd truly love to know.  Leave me a comment on this post and I will happily return the favor on your blog. 

Happy TTT!

43 comments:

  1. Thirty-nine words is impressive!

    My <a href="www.lydiaschoch.com/“>post</a>.

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    1. Thirty-nine words would be an impressively long title! In this case, I meant that 39 of the books I've read this year had 3-word titles. LOL.

      Thanks for coming by, Lydia!

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  2. Oh, damn, I forgot to mention I had ordered The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires as well!

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    1. Nice! I hope you enjoy it.

      Thanks for stopping by, Alexandra!

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  3. I admire all the analysis you put into this. I just another topic. 🤣 However, I agree with you. I like shorter titles. I am very lazy. The book I finished yesterday is called: David Tung Can’t Have a Girlfriend Until He Gets Into an Ivy League College. Funny, but too long

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    1. Ha ha. I do enjoy data analysis, especially when it pertains to my reading :)

      That is a funny title. I hadn't heard of that book before yesterday, but now I'm definitely going to read it.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Sam!

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  4. I generally prefer shorter titles too. We're all just going to shorten it when we're talking about it anyway. Has anyone ever said, "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" in conversation? I know I haven't. It's always just "Guernsey" or "That Guernsey book."

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    1. Right? Or use abbreviations like TKAM for TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD or TFIOS for THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. Why not just shorten the titles in the first place??

      Thanks for stopping by, Jen!

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  5. Oh I like how you broke this down. I had not thought of doing that but now I'm curious haha!

    Southern Book Club Guide is an interesting title!

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    1. It actually didn't take long to look through the books I've read this year and count up the words in the titles. It was interesting to look at title trends and which I tend to read.

      Thanks for coming, Greg!

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  6. Interesting trend that you noticed in your titles. One recent one I noticed is that I seem to be reading a lot of titles with royalty (King, American Queen, Gypsy King, etc) even though there are no actual royals in the book. Ha!

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    1. Interesting! I tend to shy away from books about royalty so I probably wouldn't pick up books with these titles. How funny that they actually have nothing to do with actual royals, though!

      Thanks for stopping by, Tanya!

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  7. You're right, most mystery and suspense books have super short titles. Fun way to break down this week's TTT! :D

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    1. Except for Agatha Christie's novels, I couldn't think of any mystery/suspense books with super long titles. I'm sure they're out there, but these days it seems like mystery/suspense titles are short, snappy, and ominous :)

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lark!

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  8. I love your break down. I have not read many books with one word titles and I need one for a challenge I am in. I did find a lot of children's books with long titles as well.

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    1. I've read a few one-word title books this year, which I think is the norm for me. Mystery/thriller books often have one-word titles. There's something mysterious about them, I guess!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Carla!

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  9. Not including all those wordy subtitles that have become so common these days, a quick glance at my list comes up with these:

    In the Electric Mist with the Confederate Dead

    An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England

    Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?

    A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World

    The Day the World Ended at Little Big Horn

    Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart

    So, 8-12 words seems to be the longest I usually run into.

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    1. I'm sure I'd run into longer titles if I read more non-fiction, but novels don't tend to have super-long titles. AN ARSONIST'S GUIDE TO WRITERS' HOMES IN NEW ENGLAND is a very interesting title ... LOL.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Sam!

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  10. I love your research with your 2020 books! The vast majority of my 74 so far seem to be two or three word titles. The longest is The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter - 7.

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    1. Two-three words seems to be the norm, especially with mystery/thriller books. I prefer the shorter titles - they're much easier to remember!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Cath!

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  11. This is such a cool idea for a post! I can see why there are so many three word titles. The blank blank appears a lot on my shelf too. :D I have seriously got to read The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires! Great post and happy reading!

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    1. THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB'S GUIDE really is a fun book. In some ways, it's more social commentary than horror, but there are still plenty of thrills and chills. I hope you enjoy it when you get to it!

      Thanks for stopping by, Hayden!

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  12. LOOK AT THOSE STATS. Love a good analysis of reading data! I actually didn't even think about word count specifically; I went solely on character count (with syllable count in the back of my mind). But you inspired me to compare my 2020 list and none of the titles exceed 6 words, at least in fiction. Only 18/80 are three words; I'm noticing a higher concentration of 2 and 4 word titles -- of course, a lot of mine are older, too.

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    1. Analyzing my reading stats brings me a lot of pleasure. I'm not sure why, but it does ... LOL. Counting syllables would have been smart because that's what really makes the difference, but I didn't even think of doing that.

      I think 2-4 word titles are the most common, which makes sense. Publishers seem to want something that's memorable, although long titles can be memorable, too, if they're unique and/or funny.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, RS!

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  13. P.S. I automatically read your title in Kevin's voice and I was NOT displeased to see the appropriate gif accompanying it at the bottom.

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    1. Ha ha. I love Kevin! I saw another version of the same GIF that said, "Kevin Malone is a genius. We just don't realize it." So true!

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  14. I think that titles using the formula "The ___'s Wife/Daughter" are not only boring, but annoying these days. It is 2020. Women are their own people. They shouldn't be identified as being the wife or daughter of someone anymore.

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    1. You're right - most, if not all, of the titles I've seen with this format refer to women. I hadn't realized that, but you're right - it is lame that they're not acknowledged in their own right.

      Thanks for stopping by, Davida!

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  15. That must have been a lot of work to count up all those title lengths!

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    1. Ha ha. It actually went faster than I thought it would!

      Thanks for coming by, Brooke!

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  16. This is really interesting as I found it quite hard to come up with a list of really long titles this week.

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    1. Same. And I just didn't feel like Googling a bunch of long titles, you know? I often twist the TTT topic when I'm feeling lazy!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  17. Great idea. You always find the most interesting twists to our topics.

    My longest title had 72 letters (15 words). Granted, that was a non-fiction but the next one with 58 letters and 12 words was a novel.

    I actually love books with long titles, they are always fun. However, I never included the "subtitle" because there are so many nowadays. For me, a title stops at the colon.

    Thanks for visiting my TTT earlier.

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    1. Super-long titles can definitely be unique and memorable, too. I've seen a lot on this week's lists that are really funny, too.

      Thanks for coming by, Marianne!

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  18. I don't mind long titles! Some of the most interesting books I've read have weirdly long and specific titles. They're fun to me but I read mostly PNR and UF so maybe I've just grown used to it over the years. Great post!

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    1. For sure. I think title trends have a lot to do with genre. Also, they change over time. Back in Agatha Christie's day, long mystery titles were common - now, not so much.

      Thanks for stopping by, Mikky!

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  19. I think I prefer the 3 word titles. This was a tough topic for me and definitely not a favorite.

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    1. Same. Not my favorite topic, but it did turn out to be more interesting than I thought it would be.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Katherine!

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  20. Oooh, I love your twist to the post! It seems like three-word titles is your niche. I'm super curious about how long the titles I normally read are. I'd figure it'd be right around three to five words, so maybe an average of four?

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    1. Now I'm wondering what the average title length is among novels published every year. I would guess 3-4 words. Not too short, not too long ...

      Thanks for stopping by, Sammie!

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  21. I like your statistics! Long book titles are a mystery to me as I'm not sure what value they have. We all refer to the books by shortened versions of the long titles.

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    1. For real! I'm not sure what the appeal is either, except that sometimes they are funny and thus eye-catching and memorable. In general, though, I think short and sweet is the way to go.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Helen!

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  22. Interesting post!
    I don't mind long titles but some of them do seem to follow the same formula at the moment which can make them hard to separate.

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