In this first of a series of blogs exploring book titles, I’m featuring two bloggers – Jules and Carly – who between them were enticed to read and share their thoughts on a staggering 176 books in 2016.
I sweated for weeks over the title of my debut novel, The Husband Who Refused to Die.

Although I knew the most important thing was the writing – the plot, characters, voice, and language – I was also mindful that with millions of books out there all vying for attention, the front cover was going to play a crucial role in attracting potential readers in the first instance. And in the centre, those few, large words were the first ones they’d read, the gateway to thousands more; perhaps the point at which some degree of judgment was made.

Maybe I was guilty of putting too much weight on the title (something to do with years of headline writing as a newspaper sub-editor perhaps?), but I’ve been known to remember a particularly striking one even after I’ve forgotten the finer details of the story. And I confess to buying The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, by Mark Haddon, almost entirely based on the title, which amused and intrigued me (and had the word ‘dog’ in it; always hard to resist).

But is this true of other readers?

Is the title really as important as I believed?

And did I hit the spot with my own choice?


First up to answer questions is Jules, at littlemissnosleep.wordpress.com. Jules read a mighty 126 books in 2016; mostly novels. She enjoys most genres, depending on her mood. As a child, Jules was obsessed with horror, but now loves a psychological thriller and ‘getting into the minds of warped characters’ and is also keen on contemporary, historical and women’s fiction, especially if they’re thought-provoking or make her cry. Here are her thoughts:

Is the title a significant factor when it comes to choosing a book?

I’m a very visual person, so I’d say the design of the front cover is more important than the title. However, I do find myself attracted to certain titles over others. I’d say I’m not so keen on one-word titles, preferring longer ones that make me think.

What do you look for in a novel title, and what do you see as its function? 

I want it to give me a brief idea of what the book’s about. It needs to be something that piques my interest and draws me in.

If it’s an eye-catching title that makes me think, ‘Ooh, I wonder what this is about?’, then I’m much more likely to pick it up and read the blurb. I think this is particularly important in libraries and bookshops, where a potential reader sees the title on the spine before pulling the book out and seeing the front cover. I believe we shop differently online, as we are often faced with the cover, which is likely to have a stronger impact than the title.

What novel titles have particularly impressed you?

The Dreams of the Black Butterfly by Mark James Barrett, Catch the Moon, Mary by Wendy Waters, Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris, Lessons from Ducks by Tammy Robinson, The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon, Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher, Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern.

I like unusual titles, those that make me question what they’re saying. For instance, from the titles above, I’m been made to consider whether butterflies do actually dream, how is Mary going to catch the moon, how is it possible to have five quarters of an orange, and what is the light between oceans?

Has a book title ever put you off reading a book, or even turning it over to look at the back cover blurb?

Yes, definitely, especially if the cover isn’t very impressive either. The worst titles for me are ones that are two words long and begin with ‘The’, such as The Lie, The Gift and The Martian. I feel they lack creativity, don’t say enough about the book, and leave me feeling somewhat underwhelmed.

Having read three books called The Lie, each being a different genre, I’m pretty sure I’m unlikely to pick up another book by that title in my lifetime. I want titles to be unique to that book and my later experience of it.

Also, I don’t like titles without any capital letters. It goes against everything I was taught at school.

Have you ever bought a book based on the title alone?

Yes, The Dreams of the Black Butterfly. It was on a list of books by authors attending a book event, and jumped off the screen at me.

I read so much, I quite often forget titles, but this one has stayed with me. Also, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ramsom Riggs is a title I couldn’t resist, although I’ve yet to read it.

My novel is called The Husband Who Refused to Die. What are your thoughts on this as a title?

It’s an interesting title that gives me an idea of who the main characters in the book are likely to be. I’d definitely be intrigued enough to read the blurb.

What genre would you assume it to be?

I’m actually torn, as one part of me is saying it is a dark comedy thriller ­– the kind where the wife hits the husband over the head with a frying pan for leaving his dirty pants on the floor one too many times, but she just can’t quite get him to die.

On the other hand, the title makes me think it might be a contemporary drama/romance. Perhaps a heart-breaking story of a sick husband who keeps just about holding on to life, and how the wife deals with it, or the story of a deceased husband with a dark past full of secrets that continue to haunt the wife after his death. I’m off to go and find out what your book is actually about now, so I can see how wrong or right I am!

If you wrote a book about your reading life, what would you call it?  

I’d actually name my book after my new blog LittleMissNoSleep Daydreams of Books. I’ve had insomnia for many years, getting between two and five hours sleep a night. In the mornings, I either squeeze in a few minutes reading before I get out of bed, or spend half an hour getting ready for work, wishing I could be reading.

While I’m working, I’m generally daydreaming about books I want to buy or request on NetGalley, and looking forward to the evening so I can finally read.

It’s almost impossible for me to fall asleep without reading, so I love bedtime as it usually means I get between thirty minutes and two hours reading done. I’ve been known to read for an hour or two in the middle of the night too.

I’d like to think my book would be contemporary women’s fiction about a woman who struggles with insomnia, but uses books to help treat the condition, while books also allow her to go on adventures her body is too tired to go on in real life. If it was turned into a horror, books would suddenly disappear from existence, and the woman with insomnia would eventually go insane, trapped in a mind that refuses to sleep, but no imaginary stories to help her through the torture of many hours of darkness.

Jules can also be found at www.goodreads.com/user/show/4824134-jules, and twitter.com/saph1re.


Next to share her thoughts is Carly, at https://chazwordpressblog.wordpress.com. Carly’s a keen chick lit reader and got through an impressive 50 books in 2016. Here’s what she has to say:

Is the title a significant factor when it comes to choosing a book?

No, not really. You should never judge a book by its cover/title; it’s what’s inside that counts.

What do you look for in a novel title and what do you see as its function? 

I like pretty, colourful writing when reading a title. This tells me it’s going to be a story full of fun and love; and for women. I find the font and colour of a title more captivating than the words, although I do buy books with ‘cake’ or ‘café’ in the title as baking is my second hobby.

What novel titles have particularly impressed you?

The Chocolate Lovers’ Club by Carole Matthews. Just the mention of chocolate had me reeled in. The Plumberry School of Comfort Food by Cathy Bramley caught my eye and seemed relevant because I’d just got a job as a food technician within a school.

Has a book title ever put you off reading a book, or even turning it over to look at the back cover blurb?

I don’t like the title of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. To me that says scary book – even the cover looked dark and eerie. Yet it was such a lovely book.

Have you ever bought a book based on the title alone?

Yes, Hurrah For Gin: A book for perfectly imperfect parents by Katie Kirby because I knew it would be a good book, full of true accounts of what parenthood is really like – and I loved it.

My novel is called The Husband Who Refused to Die. What are your thoughts on this as a title?

This title is intriguing and I can’t wait to read it in front of my husband.

What genre would you assume it to be?

Psychological thriller.

If you wrote a book about your reading life, what would you call it? 

Always Time to Read.

Carly can also be found at https://twitter.com/chazbookworm


In the next blog, I discover what titles mean to two more avid readers; John, at https://thelastwordbookreview.wordpress.com, and Nicola, of http://shortbookandscribes.uk