Book Titles: Why Not Catch-21?

Quirky Titles Display at Bishopdale Library
“Quirky Titles” Display at Bishopdale Library

There are 211 different books in Christchurch City Libraries to help you name your future offspring, but only one to guide the choice of title for your soon-to-be-published book. And that is the cunningly titled Why Not Catch-21? The Stories Behind the Titles.

I am fascinated by book titles, especially the zany “what were they thinking” offerings. Here is a selection of some of my current favourites.

Huffington Post lists a New Zealand book as having one of their top fifteen most ridiculous titles: the wonderfully rhythmic Come Onshore and We Will Kill and Eat You All. It’s a love story caught in the middle of the cultural collision between Westerners and Maori. Having nailed a great title though, the publishers went all lily-livered and opted for a dreadfully bland blue cover which does nothing at all for the book.

Knitting with Dog Hair is an old favourite of mine – billed as Better a sweater from a dog you know and love than a sheep you’ll never meet. If you love dogs and have a vacuum cleaner, you are well ahead of the pack in this. I’ve missed years of Scottish Terrier sheddings which would, according to the author, have yielded a slightly coarse but spinnable undercoat. I think this activity would have driven me to drink. In which case I could have rejigged the title and called my book Hair of the Dog.

I still wonder at the appeal of British Mousetraps and Their Makers, but this book is regularly borrowed. The cover shows several complicated, scary, medieval looking traps. It makes me wonder if mice of other nationalities would also fall prey to these Proudly British devices.

Cover of Traditional Molvanian baby namesFinally, when you and your partner tire of the sweetness of the whole baby naming thing, have a palate cleansing look at the outrageous Traditional Molvanian Baby Names. This title sounds normal until you realise that Molvania doesn’t exist (the blurb describes it as just north of Bulgaria and downwind from Chernobyl). This book will provide you with much needed comic ammunition for when the in-laws become antsy about your name choice for their grandchild. Just shove a few of these XYZ and K mouthfuls into the mix and they are sure to get back in line.

Imagine then my delight that this interest in wacky titles is more widespread than I had thought. Bishopdale Library has a running display of some of these offerings. It is great to see rare books getting an airing – and apparently they do attract a lot of attention. At Bishopdale, team members are constantly on the look-out for weird and wacky titles to add to their display. If you’d like to help this darling little Community Library – just add your suggestions below!

 

What’s in a name?

coverBeing in an advanced stage of pregnancy, the issue of an appropriate name for the unborn child is becoming pressing.

The selection of a name for offspring is fraught with pitfalls and necessitates vigorous negotiating between the parents-to-be over individual favourites. The shooting down of each other’s top picks without a qualm can leave the list of suitable names somewhat depleted. Then there is the issue of whether the name can be shortened, lengthened, nicknamed … not to mention what unintended recognition the initials might provide. During discussions before our first child was born, I was keen on Ingrid Ruby as an option as a girl’s name – however the full initials resulted in I.R.A … hmmm, perhaps not.

As you know, the rich and famous often label their children with weird and wonderful handles – Daisy Boo, Bronx Mowgli and Princess Tiaamii to name but a few – and of course Harper Seven is the latest progeny named by famous parents to create worldwide comment and speculation.

The weight of this task can not be underestimated – as the appellation will be laden on the small person for years to come. I’m sure you can all think of a most unusual or downright weird name you’ve mocked in the past. I can still remember the full four names of an unfortunate at my high school – she featured in the yearly magazine in categories such as ‘person with the longest name’ or ‘oddest name’ for the full five years.

Fortunately, to help with this momentous task the library has baby name books aplenty to pore through and hopefully be inspired by. Though maybe I should begin by reading What not to name your baby first…

Do you have a favourite name of all time or one you particularly despise?