There are simply too many books to pick from, even if you eliminate the genres you never read. When I first got a Kindle, I snapped up every freebie that looked marginally interesting and also purchased a number of inexpensive ones that seemed promising—and rapidly stockpiled over a thousand books. So then I tried to be more selective and began to do more sampling. But that didn’t slow down my acquisition of ebooks.
As the number continued to climb, I realized there was no way I’d ever be able to read them all, much less find the time to review some of them for our group blog. That’s when I had a truly brilliant idea. I could review samples. Since samples are only 10% of the book and include the front pages, that would cut down on my reading time by more than 90%. Sure, some books are plagued by poor character development, slumping middles, and weak endings, but you can still tell an awful lot about a story’s potential and the quality of the writing from the sample. So I checked the samples I had accumulated on my Kindle. OMG! I had over a hundred unread samples.
While I was still reeling from that shock, along came Amazon’s new KDP Select program and a massive new wave of freebies. Ack!!! I grabbed a life jacket and flung myself into the ocean of books, sorting through the 300 to 500 new freebies every day for several weeks until I was drowning in books.
I’m now ready to surrender. Completely. Forget reading books. I don’t even want to acquire any more freebies. Unfortunately, I still need to write reviews for our blog. So I’ve decided to review just the titles because that can be done without reading the book—without even adding the book to my massive unread collection. And titles are pretty darn important. How many times have you bought a book just because it had a great title? Well, maybe never, but you probably at least looked at it and considered buying it.
Great titles relate to or reflect the content. So a well-named humorous book usually evokes a smile or even a laugh. A killer mystery title is intriguingly mysterious or perhaps has a dead body in it, while humorous mysteries slay you with their mangled clichés or deadly puns. Literary titles should be profound, of course; Nonfiction titles should be informative. Et cetera.
A title should also be memorable or “catchy,” a difficult quality to define. It’s even harder to achieve. It’s captured using techniques such as word choice, arrangement, repetition, rhythm, and rhyme. But the most important aspect of “catchiness” is creating one that connects in some way with your target audience. Good luck figuring that out.
However, the biggest challenge when naming a book is thinking of an original title. With a gazillion or more books out there in the universe, most of the good titles have already been used. Or so it seems. And given that 95% of the thoughts that people think today are the same thoughts they had yesterday, it’s amazing that anyone ever comes up with anything at all that’s genuinely new and creative. So I based my standard for uniqueness on whether the book is prominently featured on the first page of internet search results.
With that criteria, along with my own personal preference for clever titles, I’ve whittled my list of favorite titles down to 5 (plus 1 late entry) from all the ones I’ve stumbled across in the past year or so. So basically what I’m saying is this list has absolutely no professional merit or scientific basis and is not connected to the actual content of the book or even the quality of the cover.
1) Retired Not Expired by Eda Suzanne
What’s not to like? It’s a wonderfully descriptive and catchy title, with both rhythm and rhyme to it. The structure even has parallel construction. And all this in just three words. (I have to confess that I’ve actually read this book, since there’s indisputable evidence.)
2) When My Mind Wanders It Brings Back Souvenirs by Gordon Kirkland
It’s clever and catchy. But what makes it so good is it’s the truth. And nothing is funnier than the truth when it’s expressed well. It’s the kind of line that I wish I had thought of. (Yes, you’re detecting a little title envy there.)
3) Reality: Fantasy’s Evil Twin by Donna T. Cavanagh
This twist title is hysterically funny. (And it keeps getting funnier every time I think about it.) It may even be another truth, although we’ll probably never know for sure since we’re all caught up in the evil clutches of reality.
4) What Would Erma Do? Confessions of a First-Time Humor Columnist by Gayle Carline
This title combines a well-known phrase with Erma Bombeck, the queen/goddess of “family life humor” columnists. Combining two completely unrelated ideas can be tricky because it has to create a conceptual connection where none existed before. This one works and effectively reflects the content and style.
5a) Dead(ish) by Naomi Kramer
Sometimes simplicity works best. I even love the way this title was done—not Deadish but rather Dead(ish), as if there was a pause, then a qualifying afterthought added. “She’s dead…ish.” Much better than “sort of dead.”
5b) In Deep Voodoo (Mojo, Louisiana humorous mystery series) by Stephanie Bond
Since I love puns and word play, I had to include one on my list. The dilemma I had was picking just one out of so many good choices. My final selection probably reveals a little too much about the level of my sense of humor.
Too Dead To Dance (Jennifer Penny Mystery) by Diane Morlan. Another humorous mystery title that tickled my fancy. What a great excuse for not being able to dance!
Best Friends & Bastards by Jaci Byrne. Very nice alliteration with a thought-provoking twist about friendships.
Dance of the Winnebagos (Jackrabbit Junction Mystery Series) by Ann Charles. An intriguing visual. I’m not sure what she’s referring to, but I see the dance as being the orchestrated back-and-forth movements of someone trying to park a Winnebago in a space that’s too small, especially when being guided by helpful onlookers.
The Scent of Sunlight by Annie Bellet. Strong, effective alliteration creating a pleasing sound, plus it combines the sense of smell with the sensation of sunlight in a unique way, making it a very “sensual” title.
The Mediocre Housewife by Stephanie Affourtit. Now that’s a main character I can actually identify with.
Two Fools and a Cat by Kim Brown and Jazzymyne Brown. The phrase “and a Cat” is a perfect balance for “Two Fools.” Other animals, such as a dog or an owl, just don’t have the necessary traits to provide that particular balance.
The Secret World of Fluffy Ratbag by David Hoyle. Okay, so this one made the “honorable mentions” list simply because I love the name of Fluffy Ratbag for a longhaired cat.
The Dregs of History by George Fripley. We learn more from our failures than from our successes, so why are history books filled with famous successful people when we should be studying the anonymous dregs?
Thinner Thighs In Thirty Years by Consuelo Saah Baehr. Finally! Truth in advertising. Forget all those “thirty days” scams. Thirty years is more realistic.
Unmarketable Dross, Vol. VI – the worst $2.88 nobody will spend by George Berger. All right, you caught me. That’s not the real title of the book, and instead, it’s just a clever marketing ploy by the author. But I still like it. It’s the “Vol. VI” that makes it so good.
Now that I cheated on my favorites list by having a tie for my #5 choice and lied about the title of the last book on my “honorable mentions” list, it’s probably time to finish this off. So in conclusion, I have to say that this was almost as much work as if I had actually read and reviewed a book (or a few samples). Hmm…I wonder if it’d be easier to just review book covers? After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.