|Spring Sun, Winter Snow|
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Ever Pick Up a Book for Its Title?
A bookselling and publishing newsletter called “Shelf Awareness” comes to me every business day in my e-mailbox, brimming with the latest corporate bulletins, bookstores being opened, sold, and closed, media events scheduled, and so forth. One of SA’s regular features, “Book Brahmin,” interviews authors and asks a series of questions, such as [What’s] on your nightstand now; Favorite book when you were a child; Your top five authors; Book you’ve faked reading; Book you’re an evangelist for; etc. The format is more or less the same each time, but the feature always different depending on the interviewee.
When the question comes for the writer to name a book he or she has “bought for the cover,” however, many (most?) deny they have ever done such a thing. Even those who admit to having pretended to have a read they never read deny they have ever bought a book for its cover. I wonder what the answers might be like it they were asked about the title rather than the cover. A cover gets my attention first, but a title can really hook me in.
I thought of this today when adding another book to my “Books Read 2013” list and, glancing down the 2012 list, saw the fabulous title Why the Tree Loves the Ax, a title that still gives me shivers! Then there is A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers. Irresistible! (On the repellent side of the equation are books I avoided for years because of their titles, books like Ethan Frome and Bleak House.) Also, when I look at lists of bestsellers, it sometimes seems to me that there are certain words that are magic in titles, words like stone(s), river, water, lake, road, summer, winter. Of course, there are more, and you have your own, I'm sure.
So I’m curious. Do you notice feeling different levels of attraction and repulsion to titles of books and sometimes fall under the spell of certain words in a title? Do you ever begin reading a book for its title?