10 Types of Book Titles- Plus Very Helpful Advice for Titling Your Book

In my travels (between the shelves in the library I mean. Let’s be realistic), I have seen many things. And, aside from the occasional human who rounds the corner and gives me a heart-attack, most of the things I have seen have been books. I’ve seen books of all shapes and sizes (metaphorically at least. In a literal sense most books are generally the same shape). I’ve seen books on subjects ranging from rabbits and country summers to the Apocalypse and painful death.

But of all the books I have seen, there is something they all have in common:

Every book has a title.

Over the vast years of my life I have noticed some categories which book titles often fall into. Thus, I have taken it upon myself to inform you.

Here are 10 Types of Book Titles which I have found living on the spines of books everywhere.

 

1. The Name

This book’s title is the name of a character (usually the main character) or, in some cases, two names. There is no puzzling over the meaning of the title as its intentions are perfectly clear.

These sorts of titles are helpful in first person narratives in case you forget the narrator’s name. A quick glance at the cover will remind you.

Also useful for discussing two years later when you can’t remember anything about the book except the title. At least you remember the main character’s name as well.

Examples:

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Basil Billyong by Asha Lizzy Rose

Momo by Michael Ende

 

2. The Title

‘What?’ you say. ‘Aren’t these ALL titles?’ Indeed they are. But in this instance by ‘Title’ I do not mean the title of the book, but the title of the character. This book title is similar to the sort mentioned above, except in this instance it isn’t precisely the person’s name.

Examples:

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

The Giver by Lois Lowry

 

3. The Journey, the Life, the Story, etc. of Someone

This is a story about Someone. Therefore, the natural conclusion would be to call it “Someone’s Story” or “The Adventures of Someone”.

Pretty straight forward.

Examples:

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard

 

4. The Person and the Thing that Happened

This title manages to tell us who the main character is AND who or what they will encounter that will be important.

Also useful for remembering the vague idea of the plot 59 years later.

Examples:

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

Harry Potter and the Important Thing at Hogwarts that Year by J.K. Rowling

 

5. The Central Object, Event, or Location

This title is similar to the one mentioned above except for one thing: we don’t get the main character’s name in big bold letters on the cover to help us remember.

Why is the main character’s name omitted from the title? Perhaps because authors think we will be able to remember. Or perhaps because they know we won’t and they like to make us suffer.

Examples:

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

 

6. This and That

And then authors, having come to the conclusion that readers don’t need the main character’s name in the title, began to question things further. “Do readers really need the title to remind them of key elements of the plot?” they asked themselves. “No indeed!”

And thus they decided to name their books with random pairings of words that vaguely encompass the theme of the story.

Examples:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead

 

7. The Once Uttered Phrase

If you have ever read such a book as this, you have undoubtedly experienced the following phenomena: You are sitting quietly, reading an enigmatically titled book, when you come across a phrase which you instantly recognize. Why do you recognize it? Because it’s the TITLE, by Jove! And you leap to your feet with a triumphant shout because now you know why the book bears the title that it does! This knowledge is most satisfying and should be rewarded with a snack immediately.

Examples:

City of Orphans by Avi

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro

What Hearts by Bruce Brooks

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

 

8. The Oft Repeated Phrase

This title is quite similar to the one mentioned above and causes the same phenomena of triumphant shouting and snacks. But with THIS sort of book the phrase is a recurring theme throughout the story.

Example:

Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverley Cleary

 

9. The Title That Makes Sense Now

When reading this sort of book, you may spend the majority of it wondering what the meaning of the title is. Or perhaps you only partially understand.

But once you’ve finished the book, you close it and look at the cover and your eyes bulge as you read the title again because it MEANS so much more now.

I love this sort of title. Unfortunately, I can only think of a few.

Example:

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

 

10. The Title that Still Doesn’t Make Sense

When reading this sort of book, you may spend the majority of it wondering what the meaning of the title is.

Upon finishing the book, you close it and look at the cover and as you read the title….

You still don’t understand why it’sΒ  the title.

Does it sound cool? Sure. Do you know what it’s meaning is? Nope.

Examples:

Something Invisible, by SiobhΓ‘n Parkinson

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

 

And there you have it. You may all consider yourselves enlightened on the subject of book categorization.

By the way, if you are ever endeavoring to title a book you have written (a torturous task which I have not yet succeeded in), you may find this list helpful. Just pick a title type and insert specifics from your story!

For example, I could title my book using type four and call it The Unnamed Kid and the Emotional Confusion, or I could use title type seven and call it The Water is Blue.

See how well it works?

 

Have you encountered all these types of titles? Is there a type I’ve missed? Do you have a favorite book title? What would you call your book if you titled it according to one of these types? Do we deserve to get snacks when we figure out why a book has the title that it does? Please share your thoughts!

 

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11 thoughts on “10 Types of Book Titles- Plus Very Helpful Advice for Titling Your Book

  1. YES, this post!! I think I’ve encountered all of these except for the eighth and ninth one. Ooh, favorite title is hard. Off the top of my head, I really like The Name of the Wind. I would say it’s a combination of seven and nine. Does that make sense? Haha, yes please, I would be very happy with some snacks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Name of the Wind sounds like quite a cool title πŸ™‚ Sometimes it’s hard to categorize them. Like ‘When You Reach Me’ I put as a nine, but it’s also sort of an eight?
      I think the world would be a happier place if everyone had more snacks. *proceeds to send snacks to everyone*

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think this is a great summary haha! I really like titles that make sense as you read?! And like when it’s a phrase in the book and you get to go “OH THAT’S THE TITLE.” That amuses me. But like some just random ones really stick out to me! Lately I just got a book called The Oddling Prince and I freaking love it. And I like titles with king/queen/prince in t hem even though they’re pretty cliche. I cannot help myself. πŸ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Random titles can be loads of fun. Even if it doesn’t quite make sense or I don’t understand what exactly it has to do with the book, I’m willing to forgive a random title if it’s quirky and amusing.
      And honestly, royalty is just so shiny. So how could we, magpies and nifflers that we are, not be drawn to them?

      Like

  3. I love these types! So accurate too! I’m absolutely terrible at naming my books, but I have used the “once uttered phrase”, and I’m a repeat offender when it comes to the name titles, I’ve literally named some of my old first drafts “Hannah” “Aimee” and “Ryu”, after the characters πŸ˜€
    And I’m probably guilty of the “title that still doesn’t make sense” too.
    A really enjoyable post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have yet to name… anything. I usually refer to my stories as “The Lena story” or “The Dominic story”. Of course, this causes problems when I DON’T NAME MY CHARACTERS- something which has been happening alarmingly often lately. Now, not only do my stories not have names, they don’t have nicknames by which I can refer to them.
      Dear me, such problems.
      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

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