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On the Joy of Titles

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I don't own this t-shirt from OffWorld Designs, but I really should...

I don’t own this t-shirt from OffWorld Designs, but I really should…

One of the most fun things I do here at the Library is order new books. I love it because a) it’s so fun and b) it contributes to my overload of things to read. I keep a list in my library account to keep track of stuff I want to read and my current list in our catalog currently numbers 121 fiction books and 31 non-fiction books. It’s no wonder I’m about three years behind the newest books. On the bright side, by the time I get there, the books are generally on the shelf right away.

If you’ve ever wondered who’s in charge of ordering at UDPL, adult book ordering is done primarily by our reference librarians. I order sci fi, science, romance, craft books & adult graphic novels. (Yes, you can tell that I grabbed all my favorites.) Debra orders history, biography and the bulk of fiction. Janet does health, gardening, cooking & mystery books. And we all chip in on other people’s areas, especially when there’s a book that we must have or the world will fall apart. We order from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist and some publications from our book jobber, Baker & Taylor’s. I also periodically check the most popular books on Amazon to make sure we have them.

Still, there is nothing like looking through new book titles and I periodically have to stop and read them out loud to my fellow long-suffering librarians. Here are some of my favorites that I’ve run across recently:

Miss Dimple and the slightly bewildered angel: a mystery / Mignon F. Ballard.
Housebroken: Admissions of an Untidy Life / Laurie Notaro
How to moon a cat / Rebecca M. Hale.
Everybody Behaves Badly: the true story behind Hemingway’s masterpiece The sun also rises / Lesley M.M. Blume.
Much Ado about Muffin / Victoria Hamilton
The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place: the art of being messy / Jennifer McCartney.
How to be miserable: 40 strategies you already use /Randy J. Paterson, PhD.
Heaven’s ditch: God, gold, and murder on the Erie Canal / Jack Kelly.
I’ve got sand in all the wrong places / by Lisa Scottoline & Francesca Serritella.
Sticking it out: from Juilliard to the orchestra pit, a percussionist’s memoir /Patti Niemi.
Chaos Monkeys: obscene fortune and random failure in Silicon Valley / Antonio García Martínez.
Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d: A Flavia de Luce Novel / Alan Bradley

I have not read any of these books, so I can’t vouch for their quality, but aren’t the titles worth the price of admission? To be fair, I think that some genres, like mysteries and non-fiction, lend themselves to clever titles. I have to admit that the titles for current literary fiction bestsellers, like The nest : a novel  by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, really don’t do much for me. Plus, as a librarian, I am firmly of the belief that all titles should be as long as possible to make them easy to look up. One-word titles should be banned completely. You have not known fear until you have a hopeful patron standing in front of you looking for “Help” and she does not know the author. Searching by title, there are 2,472 items in our catalog that have “Help” in the title. Although it happened several years ago, this moment is seared in my memory as a moment I failed as a librarian.

So, there you have it. Sometimes, the title is the best thing about a book!


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