Overused Book Titles

In addition to writing, I work in a public library. This gives me an opportunity to notice when certain book titles have been overused. Looking for a book called The Gift, because your friend recommended it, but you can’t remember the author? Okay, well, sure. No problem. None at all. Let’s spend the next twenty minutes reading through the descriptions of the sixteen different books we have with that title in an effort to figure out which one it is. Authors and publishers, consider yourselves put on notice. I will actively discourage readers from any new book titled The Gift.

Here are more titles on my list for recommended retirement:

Twilight – Did you know about a dozen authors thought of using this before Stephenie Meyer? Time to let it fade into darkness.

On Thin Ice – Don’t go there; too many writers already have.

Redemption – This title is beyond itself

Forever – Which is how long it will take to narrow down the search to the one you’re seeking, if you don’t remember the author’s name.

The Return – It keeps coming back into the publishing world.

Reunion – Publishers keep revisiting this title, too.

The Search – Didn’t go far enough for an original name.

The Secret – It’s enigmatic why you’d want to have your book confused with so many others of the same title.

Sanctuary – It can blend in with the crowd and never be found.

The Island – Where overused book titles go for sanctuary.

In Too Deep – But if you can find your way out, maybe you can build a new title for yourself.

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Is it a Scandinavian Thing?

I finally read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. So, I’m a little late to the party. I liked the book; I plan to read the next two. I don’t feel compelled to write any kind of review. Considering the book’s lingering status as an international bestseller, I think it’s been reviewed plenty.

I did come away from the reading with a nagging question. Is it a Scandinavian thing or just a Larsson thing? I’m talking about the author’s need to inform us readers of the exact square footage of every room and building mentioned in the story, along with the engineering specs of every computer used by any character. I know specific is supposed to be better than general when it comes to writing. “Humvee” is better than “really big vehicle.”  “PowerBook” is better than “laptop”. It allows the reader to visualize the scene better. But do we need to know the date of manufacture, size of the screen, hard drive capacity, processing speed, and whether the keyboard is backlit?

I find this more amusing than annoying. My computer jock spouse (he of German ancestry) would likely consider the paragraphs describing the computers as the most important information in the story. But I can’t help wondering if this is a literary tic – all writers have them – or a cultural thing. I haven’t read much Scandinavian fiction, so I can’t compare. Maybe it’s time to broaden my horizons and perhaps find the answer to my question.