Ever wondered why some book titles are very short, and others are very long? Here’s an explanation.
Every month I scan a long list of book titles that I have compiled for further study. Recently, I noticed the remarkable variety in the lengths of titles. In general, books purporting to be for minority audiences tend to be very long, books for popular consumption were on the short side.
For an example of the longer variety, here’s a twenty-six-word mega-title.
Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It, Richard Reeves, Brookings Institution Press, 2017.
In earlier times, the lengthy book title was commonplace for tales where the author felt compelled to spell out their redemptive message or cautionary tale in some detail. This practice was well and truly inverted by Jane Austin’s one-word titles Persuasion, and Emma. These made her three-word titles Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice appear, well, wordy.
The longest book title in English
The Guinness Book of Records (where else) accepts the claim of a Dr S. Subramonian for producing the longest title in English.
The book, is about Daniel Radcliffe, best known for his starring role in the Harry Potter movies.
According to Atkins Bookshelf
The longest title begins with
“Daniel Radcliffe the story of the not so ordinary boy chosen from thousands of hopefuls” and after about 1,000 words ends with “whom let many more laurels be blessed with to his ever royal crown of fame.”
Atkins Bookshelf provides the entire title, on the link I have provided.
The book itself is a mere 123 pages long. Like other Guinness Book of Records entries, this one is a blatant bid for a claim for fame.
Not so with the book of the play:
The persecution and assassination of Jean Paul Marat as performed by the inmates of the Asylum of Chareton under the direction of the Marquis de Sade.
In word length, this just just creeps ahead of Dream Hoarders etc etc. Its title was insufficient to deter playgoers and literary commentators.
Why such long titles?
Presumably the trend to long titles has something to do with selection algorithms, that recent electronic illustration of Darwinian theory. Such a title permits large number of keywords which increase the chances of a book reaching the attention of its niche audience.
My modest proposal
Shortly after this week’s post was published, The Economist accepted a briefer version, shown below.
The magnificent draw by the Lions’ in New Zealand earlier this month, is followed by widespread outbreaks of The Third Imposter Syndrome
The spectacular rugby series in New Zealand ended in a hard-fought 15-15 draw. The result was in doubt to the last minute. The teams had each won one of the othr two games for the series.
A feeling of flatness followed
Most commentators have shown the signs of being in the first stage of mourning, expressing a feeling of flatness and being unable to experience emotions. One sports psychologist suggested that biologically we are hard-wired to compete and strive for victory, and equally fight to avoid defeat. (Flight or flight drives). We are not able to deal with the experience an unresolved conflict or draw. I’m not sure of this, but it is an entertaining idea. It also brings to mind Kipling’s ‘Two Imposters‘ of Triumph and Disaster.
Minutes after the game, Lions’ captain Sam Warburton spoke articulately about it, adding that he felt ready for extra time. That was a natural first response. It might be added, in context, the draw was secured by Warburton, after some special pleading with the referee to reverse a penalty as the final whistle approached.
The third imposter
Dealing with grief is natural, and only later are there other reactions as feelings of numbness and denial diminish. If this first reaction persists, we will fail to celebrate the magnificent rear-guard action fought by the Lions last weekend.
We have not overcome those two impostors triumph and disaster, but been become gripped by that third imposter, frustrated ambition.
Have we forgotten the way we celebrate other great sporting ‘draws’ in Cricket test matches against Australia, and last-minute victories denied stronger opposition in football? And even more spectacularly, how we continue to cherish acts of spectacular courage such as The Great Escape and Dunkirk?
I was browsing yesterday for a book on horses in the Simply Books No 1 emporium. As I did so, my eye was caught by an instruction manual entitled How Not to Write a Novel.
Horse book nicely installed in its gift-wrapped box, I add How Not to Write a Novel to my purchase. It was a sound investment. And, as they say in many a blurb, I read it long into the evening, as the battles of tennis supremacy at Wimbledon pass me unheeded across the room. I tick off various crimes against publication I commit on a regular basis.
Mind reeling from what I had learned, I cross out a load of post-modern film-flam from my uncompleted novel. My previously unnamed narrator gets a memorable name, and faces more heroic challenges.
The title? One comes to mind. But I fear for legal challenges at a later date. Still, I can at least make it the topic of this week’s blog post …
“Chewbakka Jones and the Temple of Doom”
Sports psychologist Chewbakka Jones is attempting to rescue his academic career by identifying the ingredients of sporting success. His most promising pupil is Tim, a would-be chess-boxing champion.
His research, which takes place in a sleepy community centre, is disrupted by an invasion of bats, and disturbing ghostly manifestations. The setbacks are connected to a feud between a wealthy businessman and the Dalai Lama, leader of a secret society operating at the Hall.
When Tim and the Dalai Lama are kidnapped, Chewbakka is reluctantly dragged into a perilous rescue attempt.
“The main focus of the speech was breakfast,” says a TV reporter, adding “Brexit, not breakfast. Sorry, I knew I’d get that wrong, sooner or later.”
No one could say they weren’t warned. The Supreme Leader had promised a coalition of chaos if she lost six seats and a coalition of chaos was what the country was getting. What she hadn’t made clear was that the coalition of chaos would be all hers.
After a morning’s work of emergency repairs to her circuits, which had overloaded the night before, the Maybot was eventually in a fit state to meet the Queen shortly after 12 o’clock. Her husband Philip put her through her final tests. “Who are you?” he asked. “I am the Supreme Leader,” the Maybot replied, rather more confidently than she felt. “Strong and stable. Strong and stable”.
John Crace, The Guardian, Friday 9th June, The Maybot is trapped in the first phase of election grief – denial
15th June: David Land, Director, Drive 2 Business will be speaking about Leading through Supply Chains in the Automotive Sector
6th July: Emma Walton, Head of People (Operations) will be speaking on Responsible Leadership and Social Impact
Sunderland Business School is pleased to announce its second series of the popular Business Breakfast Seminars, which began in January and will run until July 2017. All of the award-winning businesses invited to lead these events represent different facets of the core theme which is Leading with Impact. Not only do they represent a clear alignment with the core values of our Strategic Plan, the award-winning businesses leading these free events have been carefully selected as aligning with the core values underlining our new strategic plan: inspiring, innovative, collaborative, inclusive and excellent.
Leading with impact
Leading with Impact a reflects our commitment to developing excellence in leadership and management development as one of our strategic growth areas. The seminars provide a learning and networking opportunity where award winning business leaders share their experience and expertise on the major challenges facing organizations today. This is a great opportunity for business leaders to start the working day with some with some time out to learn from their peers, share experiences, reflect, and engage in lively dialogue about the best ways of addressing key strategic challenges.
Participants are also able to take advantage of a light business breakfast and an opportunity to make initial introductions and network. During the seminar itself, speakers will leave plenty of time for an interactive dialogue and debate on the lessons learnt from their experiences.
The seminars will take place between 8-10am on Thursdays at Sunderland Business School, the Reg Vardy Centre, St Peter’s Campus, St Peter’s Way, Sunderland SR6 0DD
Contact us via email@example.com