What is a Book Title?
The Reader’s Digest Universal Dictionary defines ‘Title’ as ‘an identifying name given to a book.’
Webster’s Ninth New College Dictionary defines it as ‘the distinguishing name of a written, printed or filmed production.’
While the Concise Oxford Dictionary defines it as ‘book or publication as distinguished from others.’
The best definition perhaps is found in The New Lexicon Webster’s Encyclopedia Dictionary of The English Language ‘Title is a word, phrase or sentence used to designate a book, chapter, poem, etc, thus distinguishing it from others and often indicating the nature of its contents.’
Hence the outstanding definition in all is ‘distinguished, distinguishing, identifying.’
Lately there are too many books out there and unfortunately there’s nothing distinguishing about the content nor the title.
When Portia De Rossi’s book came out, “The Unbearable Lightness,” I heard about it with my daughter and she said, ‘hey isn’t that?’ And I said yes without letting her even finish her sentence for I knew she was talking about “The Unbearable Lightness Of Being” a book by Milan Kundera which was first published in USA in 1984. But then listening to Portia talk about her past I thought well maybe that title best suited the content. But still couldn’t the author have come up with a perhaps unique or totally distinguishing title for her book?
Once in a while you come across a story that reminds you of a similar book by a different author. There is no exact way of telling the same story by two different people. But there could be variations with the title, right?
On O’s (The Oprah Magazine) amazing reads to start the year 2011 is “The Winter of our Discontent” by Susan Maushart (Penguin). “The Winter of Our Discontent” is a book by John Steinbeck published in 1961.
Perhaps the author will sell more books and be more prosperous than Steinbeck was at the time, but will she stand out as Steinbeck did and still does? I’ll take my bet on it.
Is it just me or aren’t there enough words in the English Language to choose titles from by new authors? Is it lack of creativity or ignorance on the part of publishers or editors? Or have they just started a new trend, Recycling Titles?