Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Re: Title

Does the {Title}: {Long, pretentious, tease of a subtitle that summarizes the entire book} format of non-fiction book titles annoy you? Of course it does.

This blog imagines how some classics might be marketed if they were written today. An example:
Then: The Wealth of Nations
Now: Invisible Hands: The Mysterious Market Forces That Control Our Lives and How to Profit from Them
Fun, right? Here are some I half-expect to see in bookstores:

Then: The tortoise and the hare
Now: Slower: On hubris, winning and the seven habits of highly effective athletes

Then: Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats
Now: Purr: Skimbleshanks, Mungojerry, Growltiger and the dark secrets behind the domestication of America's whiskered wild

Then: The Bhagvad Gita
Now: The Lecture: Everything I needed to know about decision-making I learned from slaughtering my uncles and cousins

OK, you get the point. Your turn now.



Tabula Rasa said...

ha! the comments section on the original post takes care of many of the obvious choices.

km said...

I loved the one on Quran :)

Rahul Siddharthan said...

Only the colon is new. Book titles used to be pretty long. "Gulliver's travels" was originally "Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of several Ships". "The Mayor of Casterbridge" was "The life and death of the Mayor of Casterbridge: the story of a man of character". Sherlock Holmes's magnum opus was "Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, with some Observations upon the Segregation of the Queen." There are many other examples.

I think the colon improves matters, by at least highlighting a usable "short title". And of course, I greatly favour "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" over the shorter version.

??! said...

Then: 'The Old Testament'
Now: 'The Good Book: How to survive (and learn from) a series of temptations, mass exterminations, and sundry miracles'.

Rahul: My favourite being "The Hobbit; or, There and Back Again".

km said...

Rahul: True, true. Though the subtitle in "Dr. Strangelove" was a spoof of that self-help book so popular in the '50s and '60s.

??!: Think of how one might re-title the Ramayan. The mind boggles.

??! said...

Are you ok (not like you to go three whole weeks without a post)? Or are you on a break too? Or (gasp) has the Net finally become boring?

MockTurtle said...


Here's a little something to cheer you up. Come back bro.

Tabula Rasa said...

brilliant link!

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