Do you find some book titles confusing?

Posted November 17, 2019 by Lory in discussions / 26 Comments

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With the ever-proliferating number of books out there, it’s hardly surprising that some titles are similar or identical. What I do find surprising is that some of these books are not separated by years or genres, but are published close together, making confusion quite likely. One would think publishers and authors would take more care to make their books stand out and be different from the crowd. But perhaps it’s a way to get their books read, jumping on the bandwagon of someone else’s publicity? Perhaps uniqueness is not a value in the publishing world? Who knows what goes on in those inscrutable minds?

In a special category of confusion verging on the infuriating is the titling trend “X of Y and Z” which I already wrote about here. Recent examples in addition to my original list include Worlds of Ink and Shadow, Gods of Jade and Shadow, Whispers of Shadow and Flame, House of Ash and Brimstone, House of Salt and Sorrows …  I simply cannot understand why there are so many of these, and I wish the trend would stop!

But aside from that, there are some other titles that are especially hard for me to keep straight — thus today’s topic, and the examples below. Do you have the same experience? What titles do you find most confusing — and does it bother you, too?

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard (2006)
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (2014)

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafón (2001)
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (2007)

One Day by David Nicholls (2009)
One Day by Gene Weingarten (2019)

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz (2016)
A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders (2014)

The Great Library, series by Rachel Caine (started 2015)
The Invisible Library, series by Geraldine Cogman (started 2015)

Linked in the Book Blog Discussion Challenge hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight!

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26 responses to “Do you find some book titles confusing?

  1. This is probably going to be a perpetual problem—just like there are a limited number of stories in the world (which is why we have tropes and a basic story structure), there are a limited number of titles. But it definitely gets confusing!! In fact, when reading this, I was confused about your “One Day” titles thinking, “Isn’t that also a book by David Levithan?” It’s not—I looked it up, and that book is called Every Day, but it just goes to show that it’s easy to get confused!

    • Titles are often not remembered exactly, making it very easy to get confused. It would be fun to also make a list of very unique and memorable titles.

  2. The first two pairs you name always trip me up. Of them, I’ve only read Shadow of the Wind, but whenever people mention Name of the Wind, I think I might have read it.

    I also absolutely cannot remember the title Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (which I initially typed as Extremely Loud and Dangerously Close). I just sub in other random adverbs.

  3. I actually did confuse the Caine and Cogman series. I was thinking of them as one in the same, and requested the second book in one series, though it was the other I was reading. *sigh* Not only are there some similar titles, but there are some that are exactly the same, as you showed with One Day. There was that, ahem, drama with Nora Roberts, and I actually was inspired to start my One Old, One New feature, because I had two books with the same title.

  4. Titles like The Name of the Wind are designed to deliberately confuse, I suspect, or at least get you to do a double take: you think, is that the Carlos Ruiz Zafón or Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose? It may be a similar ploy as that publishers have when they jump on the bandwagon of designing similar book covers, to get the punter to pick up a book believing it is part of a series.

    You may remember I wrote a jokey post about book titles (https://wp.me/p2oNj1-3tY) — I had a complaint that someone nearly spat a drink on their keyboard, which I think may have meant it was a good thing…

    • There are some paths for that six degrees of separation meme here: The Shadow of the Wind, The Name of the Wind, The Name of the Rose …

      I do wonder if some of the confusion is intentional. When the books are published just a few years apart, it seems fishy to me.

  5. Oh the Wind books for sure. Also the X’s daughter/X’s wife titles always annoy me right away. Not so much that I get them confused, but they do kind of blur together as a group. Also, I generally don’t do well in remembering romance novel titles. I really like “Something About You” (Julie James) and “A Summer to Remember” (Mary Balogh) for example, but they’re not exactly stand-out titles.

  6. Urg I hate this! Recently I thought Polaris Rising (February 2019 by Jessie Mihalik) was the sequel to Aurora Rising (May 2019 by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman) I have no idea how I came to this conclusion because Polaris was released before Aurora, but they just confuse me 😂😂 And then to make things even worse Aurora Blazing (October 2019 by Jessie Mihalik) is the sequel to Polaris Rising and Aurora Burning (2020 by by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman) is the Sequel to Aurora Rising.

    • Whoa, those are easy to mix up! Series can be tricky. Robin Hobb is one author where I need a handbook to keep track of all her different trilogies with similar titles.

  7. Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton (2015) and Little Black Lies by Sandra Block (2014). I must have read a review of the first but then come across the second at the library. After reading it, I was perplexed. I finally figured it out, got the Bolton book and then read all her previous books in about a month.

    • Oh my gosh, even the authors’ initials are the same! This really starts to look like purposeful confusion. However at least you found a book/author you liked!

  8. It always makes me feel sad for lesser-known authors who – purely coincidentally – end up with one of their books having the same title as a big-time bestseller. I know there were a couple of books called “Becoming” long before Michelle Obama published hers, and I can only imagine that they’re never going to crop up in a Google search ever again. There was also “Mad About The Boy”, this little Aussie/Brit-expat rom-com that I absolutely adored… which has been completely forgotten now that Helen Fielding of Bridget Jones fame has released a book of the same name. It’s inevitable, and no one’s fault of course, but still… bummer!

  9. I am happy to know that I am not the only one who mixed up The Name of the Wind and the Shadow of the Wind! .

    Along with the Wife/Daughter book titles, the “Girl” titles were/are supper annoying.

    • Really, it is only in the last few months that I finally figured out those were two different books. Geez.

      Oh, the Girl books — PLEASE STOOOOOP! I can’t take any more of these.

  10. Very interesting. When I published a book a few years ago, I was told the title had to be different form an existing title (the publisher ended up giving a title so different from what I wanted, and way too long, marketingly speaking: https://cistercianpublications.org/Detail.aspx?ISBN=9780879072278.
    But since, yes, I have run into exactly similar titles. The last one yesterday: The Blue. The one I have read, by the way, is fabulous: https://wordsandpeace.com/2018/11/27/book-review-the-blue/
    According to Goodreads, there are actually 2 other novels with that exact same title!

    • There is in fact no copyright on titles. So you are free to use the same title as another book, if you want to. If your publisher insisted I guess that was a marketing decision. As we can see, other publishers do not make this a priority at all!

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