Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Thy Title is…erm?: Recalling Book Titles

I just had a debate with author Ann Somerville about book titles. I'd complained I found some of her book titles hard to memorise, such as Somatesthesia (book info at Samhain and a dictionary entry at Dictionary.com) and Interstitial (book info at Samhain and a dictionary entry at Merriam Webster).

As I explained to her, I couldn't recall those book titles easily – let alone spell or pronounce them – when making book recommendations to various friends. I can only say, "Urm, just google her name when you get home. That's if you could even remember to do that." The only ones I could remember were Many Roads Home and On Wings, Rising (but I sometimes cocked this one up by remembering it as "On Rising Wings").

The debate got me thinking about a reader's memory and book titles from the romance genre. Some say the romance genre probably has the biggest output of novels in history of literature. With so many romance novels around, how do we remember certain books?

I think there are two usual ways of remembering a book: a title or an author. It depends, though. There are some readers who manage to remember both. There are some readers who couldn't remember either, so they could only remember the details of a story.

For the romance genre, I think it's an author's name that readers remember the most, which is somewhat different from readers of general literature who are likely to recommend just titles alone. Gone With the Wind. A Clockwork Orange. White Teeth. To Kill a Mocking Bird. Fight Club. Women in Love. Life of Pi. Far From the Madding Crowd. Birdsong. Forever Amber. The Beach. Pride and Prejudice. My Brilliant Career. The Da Vinci Code. The Poisonwood Bible. Whether you read all of these or not, it's likely you recognise certain titles as the work of so-and-so.

That's not usually the case with romance titles; probably because the majority of romance titles tend to be generic. Or awkward as hell, like some of Ann Somerville's book titles and HQN author Carla Cassidy's legendary HQN title, Pregnesia.

Sure, there are some titles that the majority recognises, such as Dream Man, Outlander, McKenzie's Mountain, Lord of Scoundrels, Rejar, and so on. But these tend to appear frequently in lists of favourite books, which make it easier for some of us to memorise those titles.

So I believe it is authors' names general romance readers remember the most. And I truly believe that without an author's name, most readers would struggle to recognise a non-distinctive title as a certain author's work. Once we know whose books we're discussing, we recall titles quite easily. Take a recent book discussion for example. Someone asked about Nobody's Baby But Mine and there wasn't a response. One person asked, "Who wrote NBBM?" It was Susan Elizabeth Phillips. That prompted a mass of responses from readers. I have to admit when I saw that title, I thought it was a Susan Andersen book, but I eventually realised I confused it with Andersen's contemporary romance series (Baby, I'm Yours; Be Mine, Baby, and Baby, Don't Go).

And how about a book series with similar titles? It practically kills me! Sometimes, I have a problem remembering which story belongs to which title. Such as Mary Balogh's Simply series, Amanda Quick's one-word titles (Mistress, Seduction, etc.) and Meljean Brook's Demon series.   I still don't know how readers manage to do this with a longer book series, such as J.D. Robb's In Death series, Lora Leigh's ??? series, and Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series. How do you do it? Without checking a book database or reviews?

I did wonder if book titles taken from songs or films would work better because of a memory association? Julia Quinn's film-inspired titles, such as Ten Things I Love About You (Film: Ten Things I Hate About You), How to Marry a Marquis (How to Marry a Millionaire), The Viscount Who Loved Me (The Spy Who Loved Me), To Sir Philip, With Love (To Sir, With Love), and so on.   (Note: many of these films were based on novels so let's ignore this little mountain.)

How about Harlequin/Mills & Boon book titles? Would it be unwise of me to go there? Hell, yeah, but I'm going there, anyway.   I'm talking about the sort of these titles – I'm hyper-linking those titles in case you don't believe me – The Nurse's Brooding Boss, From Playboy to Papa!, Tamed: the Barbarian King, And Babies Make Five, High-Society Secret Baby; Propositioned Into a Foreign Affair, Daddy Devastating; Fixed Up with Mr. Right?, Mistress: Pregnant By the Spanish Billionaire; Bachelor’s Bought Bride, Twelve-Gauge Guardian, One Night with the Wealthy Rancher, Posh Doc, Society Wedding; Lost in a Stallion's Arms, The Illegitimate King, Good Girl or Gold-Digger?, Bedded by Blackmail, and Executive’s Pregnancy Ultimatum. You get the idea.

I can understand why this kind of these titles exists. A typical HQN/M&B title usually summarises the key elements of a story to help readers – usually while shopping in a supermarket – to decide which to buy without having to read a book blurb. In a way, a HQN/M&B title functions just like a headline of a magazine or newspaper.

But honestly, some HQN/M&B titles are sheer (excuse my language) bat-shit crazy and hard to memorise.   How do readers remember any of those titles? Could you easily recall those titles when making recommendations to friends?

In short, what I'd like to know is how do you remember generic or awkward book titles? Or even remember all titles of a series? Could you even remember which story goes with a title of a book series? What is your usual method of remembering book titles (or indeed, authors' names)?

47 Comments

  1. Tweets that mention Thy Title is…erm?: Recalling Book Titles | Dear Author -- Topsy.com
    May 25, 2010 @ 06:09:14

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by girrlitsbooks.com.au, dearauthor. dearauthor said: New post: Thy Title is…erm?: Recalling Book Titles http://bit.ly/9DobHc [...]

  2. Mireya
    May 25, 2010 @ 06:11:38

    I always remember the name of the authors that impressed me though. When I recommend anything, I go by author name.

    I read upwards of 3 books a week, I’ve read thousands of books in my 47 years of life (starting at 5), that without including novellas and anthologies. There is no way I’ll ever remember a title unless it is a classic or a literature piece that got drilled in my head by my teachers, and specially not when many of the titles have been used more than once and by different authors.

    With author names it just goes with the way I handle the names of authors that I like: if I like the author, I dig into the author’s backlist and read more of his/her work. Once I am done, the author’s name is pretty much “imbedded” in my brain cells. If the author is new, I make a “wishlist” in Amazon or BandN (sometimes both). I don’t use special formulas or techniques to remember an author’s name, tbh.

    ReplyReply

  3. Azure
    May 25, 2010 @ 06:25:22

    It depends on how many times I’ve read the book. If it’s an author whose works I’ve read a lot, I’ll remember the titles and what the books were about a little better. Like, I’ve read the J.D. Robb series enough to know the basic storyline attached to each title.

    It’s funny this should come up, because I just finished rereading Mary Balogh’s “A Summer to Remember” and was trying to remember which book featured Lauren’s cousin Peter. I knew it was one of the “Simply” books, but couldn’t remember which one. And I guessed wrong when I looked it up.

    ReplyReply

  4. Sheryl Nantus
    May 25, 2010 @ 06:29:16

    I hate to admit it, but I usually recognize an author by the cover art.

    Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series has a very distinctive set of covers that pull me over the second I see it on the shelf.

    Same with the J. D. Robb series – I’m sure it’s part of the marketing, but cover art does more for me to draw or repel me from picking up the book right off the bat than anything else.

    But then, I’m “special”. My mother said so.

    ;)

    ReplyReply

  5. Jayne
    May 25, 2010 @ 06:47:44

    @Sheryl Nantus: “I hate to admit it, but I usually recognize an author by the cover art.”

    I think a lot of people are the same way. I like to look at the TRR “Reader Helping Reader” section and see if I can identify the books these people are looking for. And lots of the time, they can describe the cover art, even for books they read years ago, but not remember author or title.

    ReplyReply

  6. Terry Odell
    May 25, 2010 @ 06:55:36

    I don’t have too much trouble with author names (especially when I’m reading series, so they’re drilled more firmly into my brain.) It’s titles that will do me in every time–like series titles that are connected, such as the Rain titles for Barry Eisler, or Robb’s “In Death”. I’m clueless as to which comes where, or if I’ve read it.

    I wish series books would put the number on the cover.

    I’ve got the same problem with my next book. It’s the sequel to When Danger Calls, and I thought connecting the titles would be a good idea, so it’s Where Danger Hides. I’m already confused!

    ReplyReply

  7. Heather Massey
    May 25, 2010 @ 07:11:04

    Great post.

    I’ve enjoyed the science fiction romance titles by Ann Somerville you mentioned (reading SOMATESTHESIA right now, as a matter of fact). I find her titles very refreshing given the parade of sameness like Seducing A Scandalous Duke or whatever.

    While I enjoy reading historicals, I have to rely on reviews and other info when deciding which one to read because none of the titles stand out to me in any way. Which is a shame because I’m a sucker for a good title.

    Maybe, as in the case with Ms. Somerville’s work, the subgenre makes a difference. I can easily keep track of titles in SFR. I’m wondering if this is because there’s no common code words like “Duke” that publishers keep recycling (although “alien” in SFR titles is certainly a contender). The subgenre is niche enough that no one is concerned about marketing it a certain way.

    ReplyReply

  8. CathyKJ
    May 25, 2010 @ 07:11:58

    I’m pretty good with author’s names, much more so than titles. Since getting a Kindle I’ve stopped paying attention to most cover art (for better or worse). The series I have the most trouble with is Kresley Cole’s IAD books, the first five especially. It’s almost like someone kept subbing in synonyms to come up with new titles. I almost exclusively refer to those books by their hero/heroine pair.

    The In Death books are hard for me, too. Sometimes the title word is enough of a hint to jog my memory, but usually I have to flip through the book or scan the blurb to remember what it was about.

    Oh, and I usually dislike books in a series/group that all have the same first word. While I like knowing they’re connected, trying to distinguish Secret Wishes from Secret Dreams from Secret Fantasy is really difficult for me (I tried to make those up, sorry if I’ve encroached on someone’s titles).

    Generally, I really appreciate books that have distinct, but not wacky, titles. It makes it easier to recommend them. If not, I just suggest “Writer XYZ, the one about the demon and the valkyrie on a road trip.”

    ReplyReply

  9. Ros
    May 25, 2010 @ 07:14:46

    I’m another one that would say cover art. It’s not a brilliant way of remembering in order to make recommendations, ‘Oh, read that book with the pink lettering and the girl in a blue dress, you’ll love it.’ But as a way of recognising authors/titles I like in a library or bookshop, it works well, and as a way of finding my own books on my many shelves, it’s brilliant. I have them shelved by colour and I always know where everything is.

    ReplyReply

  10. DianeN
    May 25, 2010 @ 07:20:56

    I think my biggest problem with remembering titles is that they often have no real relevance to the stories. For instance, I love Suzanne Brockmann’s SEAL Team 16 books, but I can’t for the life of me remember which one is Flashpoint and which one is Breaking Point. There are no clues in those titles at all!! I like a book title that actually means something important to the story, and I think publishers should look to the great books of the past for guidance. How perfect is Pride and Prejudice as a book title? Or, heck, even Moby Dick!

    ReplyReply

  11. DS
    May 25, 2010 @ 07:58:39

    Overlearned titles– ones of books I have known and loved for years stick in my head. I could probably name nearly all of Heyer’s published output. It helps that they are short simple titles. Dorothy Sayer’s mysteries, a great many science fiction and fantasy titles also come quickly to mind.

    Some titles are just memorable because they are clever. Jasper Fforde’s titles fall under that category for me.

    But a lot of romance and UF titles (and covers) are just interchangeable. I have to check the blurb or read the first page to decide if I have already read the book. This goes back to books published in the 70′s and 80′s when all of the books tried to look like Avon’s successful brand with titles to match.

    The word love got a real workout, cf., Valerie Sherwood (I just found a bag of her old novels in a thrift shop so they are fresh in my mind.)

    Actually the two titles by Ann Somerville stick in my mind. Both are terms I run into in medical records so I just associate them with lung disease and gut feeling.

    ReplyReply

  12. Katharine Ashe
    May 25, 2010 @ 07:59:18

    I agree about putting numbers on the covers of books in series, Terry.

    When I adore a book, I read it over and over again for a week or so. After that I remember the title and author. Otherwise I don’t usually remember either, unless I’ve discussed a book with someone–conversation seems to make it stick, whether I like it or not!

    ReplyReply

  13. Randi
    May 25, 2010 @ 08:55:55

    I’m pretty awful at remembering titles. I’m a little better at author names, but mostly I rely on my little notebook I carry around with me everywhere. It’s where I write down my wish list, suggestions, and which books I own that I keep (I won’t write down books I didn’t like). I also have a tendency to list series order in my little notebook, b/c hot damn, is it really hard to keep track. It’s even worse when publishers start offering omnibus editions (Tanya Huff and Lois Bujold, I’m looking at you), because I think it’s a new story; but it’s not. That really peeves me no end.

    Terry: TOTALLY agree on the numbering system. Criminey, how hard can it be to put a number on the spine of a book. It also helps new-to-author readers realize that what they’re picking up is a series, not a stand alone.

    As I can’t stand starting a series in the middle, I’m probably a numbering nazi (I do end up numbering my books by hand).

    CS Harris could do with a numbering system. So could Loretta Chase. So could Shiloh Walker (hello! trying to figure out the Hunter series…OMG so so confusing!!!!)

    Essentially: I have to write shit down. LOL.

    ReplyReply

  14. evie byrne
    May 25, 2010 @ 09:25:58

    Another vote for numbers on the spines of series books. I can’t understand why something so commonsensical is so rare.

    I’m assuming that publishers want us to navigate by author name primarily, because they leave us little else to work with. I read mostly historical romance, and for the most part I find the covers and titles are pretty interchangeable. They blur in my memory.

    Of course there are exceptions. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie comes to mind. What a great title! Immediately I know this Ian is mad, Scottish, and nobility. I also know its a romance, so its going to be about someone loving this mad Scot. Hot! I’m sold. And I’ll never forget the title or confuse it with another. Would that book have done as well if it had been given a more generic title?

    ReplyReply

  15. ehoyden
    May 25, 2010 @ 10:22:18

    Another vote for numbering the books on the covers or backs for series order. Or add a page inside the book listing the series in order. No brainer there. Cheap promo for the rest of the series.

    I don’t recognize many authors by covers anymore since they’ve gotten so generic.

    I read lots of books and can't keep track of them in my brain. I have to keep a list of what I read and a short synopsis of each book unless they're DNF's. I just sync it to my phone, nook, and laptop in case I need it when at the library or bookstore…or a friend wants a rec.

    I also go to author’s websites for info, but that sometimes isn’t as good as fiction database.

    Books with crazy titles I can’t pronounce might be a turn off unless they were recommended. Like the ones by Somerville you mentioned. They sound like some disorder my insurance wouldn’t cover. Not dissing her books since I’ve never read her. It just doesn’t tell me anything about the book itself. Series books with the words ‘Rule’, ‘Duke’, ‘Scoundrel’, ‘Hellion’, etc are hard to keep track of since they are used so often.

    I agree with the tile, Madness of Lord Ian…perfect, unforgettable, and it fits the book.

    That also brings up the issue of names of characters that are so off the wall you can’t pronounce them. Or once you figure out how to pronounce them, you have to say the 6 syllable in your head six times a page. That’s crazy shit and it takes me out of the story, but that’s another topic itself I’m sure. Or characters primary and secondary in books that sound alike and get confusing as to who’s who.

    ReplyReply

  16. dick
    May 25, 2010 @ 10:25:31

    I can’t remember either titles or authors, myself. I usually have some vague idea about one or the other and can often locate the information I want that way. Otherwise, titles are so much alike in romance fiction–some exactly alike– usually giving little insight into the contents, that distinguishing amongst them is a feat of memory I can’t accomplish, especially if the author has published extensively. I don’t think even the Harlequin titles tell much, either, except perhaps the setting and/or the type of hero or heroine, which isn’t much information with romance fiction. When I first started reading romance fiction, I read Lisa Kleypas’ “Midnight Angel,” and was so perplexed by the non-relationship of the title and the content that I asked her. She had no answer for she didn’t title it.

    ReplyReply

  17. JulieJV
    May 25, 2010 @ 10:44:52

    @Randi: Essentially: I have to write shit down. LOL

    I’m right with you. After several separate instances of buying a book I already owned because the titles started blurring, (I have a HUGE TBR stash), I decided I needed a system. So now I have a cute little 3×5 Circa notebook from Levenger’s with removal pages. Each author I like or am interested in reading has their own page with their whole backlist listed with pub date so I can buy things in order if I have to make a choice between two finds. I like to read my books in order of pub date, and DEFINITELY in series order so I number the spines.

    Now, when I’m haunting the UBS I can pull out my notebook and flip through the pages to see what I “need”. I get a real thrill when I come across a title that is OOP or just hard to find. I also have a separate page with my autobuy authors listing their upcoming releases for hitting B&N, Borders, etc.

    I have a separate Circa notebook (love that Levenger’s) to write down my personal mini-review of each book including the names of the H/H, pub date, a review grade, etc. that I can refer back to.

    My TBR stash is all stored in plastic under-bed bins which I now refer to as my “book humidors.” I figure if my husband can have several cigar humidors I can do the same with my PBs. There’s also the books on my Kindle…

    Geez, this is incredibly anal. Sorry! Any surprise that my first high school job was working in a library? I just love a system.

    ReplyReply

  18. RebeccaJ
    May 25, 2010 @ 10:49:44

    I usually remember the author unless I’ve read the book so many times, like True Confessions, that the title comes to mind first.

    But I will say that is ANNOYS ME NO END when they come up with a title or a character name that I can’t pronounce. I keep trying and trying and then I just mentally skip over it every time I see it in the book. It seems some authors think “the more bizarre, the better”. Ugh.

    ReplyReply

  19. Sunita
    May 25, 2010 @ 10:59:35

    The Slightlys drive me crazy, I can only remember the first (SMarried) and last (SDangerous). I understand why authors do it, but it does make figuring out the order more difficult.

    It’s not just romance, though, I have the same problem with mystery and SFF series. I can remember about half of them, but after that I have to go to fantasticfiction.

    Some titles stick in my mind: Dancing with Clara (don’t remember the 1st and last), An Unwilling Bride (boy was she!), A Song Begins (and so does a series), etc. etc. But with genre novels, I remember by authors, not titles, as a rule.

    ReplyReply

  20. Marsha
    May 25, 2010 @ 11:37:27

    Heh. I don’t even try to remember anymore. I keep a book database in Excel that I export to my iPod touch every so often. It prevents duplicate buys as mentioned above and really helps with searches.

    Sometimes, a story will just pop in my head, and I decide that I want to read it again. Searching the database works better for me than searching stacks of books and overflowing bookcases. If the story is in ebook or audio format – bonus – I’ll find it much quicker.

    Add my vote to adding numbers to books in a series.

    ReplyReply

  21. Marsha
    May 25, 2010 @ 11:51:01

    I am easily confused and do struggle with obscure or repetitive titles. Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series (which I enjoy) confuses the heck out of me, title-wise, as does a recent Lisa Kleypas series to the point where I cannot figure out which I’ve read (Married by Morning? Dating by Dusk? Petting at the Post-Meridian?). Then there are two books I read in close succession which had similar titles something along the lines of “After the Kiss”. One I really liked and one was just o.k. and damned if I can remember which is which.

    My objection to the Somerville titles listed is that they seem too clever by at least half and designed to bring attention to the author’s own brainpower over anything in the writing. I know what those words mean and neither provokes the slightest desire to learn how they could be applied to fiction and remain interesting. A handful of Georgette Heyer’s titles fall into the same category for me.

    ReplyReply

  22. sao
    May 25, 2010 @ 11:58:08

    I’ve certainly bought books that I’d previously read and handed over to a book swap. I’m more careful with new books and bookstores are less likely to have back titles except from the most popular authors.

    I hate the Harlequin titles. Things like ‘Amnesiac Cowboy’s pregnant virgin boss’ make me think the characters are as generic as the title. I’d be okay with ‘Forgetful Tex and Virginia’s baby bump.’

    I like titles that remind me of the author. I keep forgetting who writes the A is for Alibi series, but I read it.

    ReplyReply

  23. Angela
    May 25, 2010 @ 11:59:45

    I think I’m with most people here. I genenrally remember author names – ones I enjoy, and ones I’m not fond of. But if I’m going to recommend a book it’s only because I love it, in which case I’ll rememember the name of the book as well. In fact I’ll probably be close to being able to recite the story from memory.

    I also have a book database in excel (and another format) that I export to my iPod for travel. I keep track of books I own, backlists that I want to own, and to-be-released books that I should be looking for.

    I don’t know what number I am, but add me to the list for series numbers on the spines. I absolutely hate reading a series out of order. So I tend to keep lists of series orders on my Kindle and iPod as well. I will admit that how I number and how the author/publisher numbers may be a bit different as I have to include all the novellas and short stories in the list too. So I tend to follow my own numbering system LOL

    ReplyReply

  24. Sahara Hoshi
    May 25, 2010 @ 12:45:08

    I have to agree with everything that is stated, however, some names are very poetic or have a paradox in the title such as:
    And Falling Fly

    ReplyReply

  25. Chelsea
    May 25, 2010 @ 12:58:56

    I can rarely match title to story. I remember the couples perfectly, and everything about them. I seem to only be able to connect to the title if it’s so unique and outragious and actually reflects the story–like The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker. That one sticks with me, even if it’s a mouthful.

    ReplyReply

  26. DS
    May 25, 2010 @ 13:01:33

    Sometimes when I don’t have anything else to do I take Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress and try to figure out which lines or phrases have made it into titles.

    I like literary titles and find them easy to remember, especially if I know the source.

    ETA: Anything that makes me think about the title fixes it in my mind and makes it easier to remember.

    ReplyReply

  27. js
    May 25, 2010 @ 13:11:08

    I’m terrible with titles, unless I’ve read the book at least three times – and the kindle is making me worse. I’m much more like to to describe a salient, non-spoilery plot point when referring to a book than I am to produce the title.

    And when it comes to character and place names, I agree with @RebeccaJ, if it is too difficult to pronounce, I skip it.

    ReplyReply

  28. Kristi
    May 25, 2010 @ 14:02:04

    Once I’ve read a book, and I see it later in a bookstore, I will probably remember it, but I’m an exceedingly visual learner. Tell me a title out loud and I’ll have forgotten it 30 seconds later, LOL.

    Unfortunately, I think I correlate the entire cover–the author’s name, the title, and the cover art. So it really messes with me when they re-release a book with completely different cover art (or they change the title). I’ll end up buying a book I’ve already read and get very annoyed at it.

    I second (third) (fourth…) about putting series number somewhere EASY to find (front cover, side cover, inside flap…don’t bury it in the text of a paragraph please). Tricking me into buying book #2 of a series first by omitting that part will NOT make me go back and purchase book #1. I’ll just skip it (its usually rehashed in the second book too for “continuity”). If you want me to purchase more books, let me start with book #1 and move forward.

    ReplyReply

  29. Mo
    May 25, 2010 @ 14:37:57

    I am another one who remembers the author but is not good with titles. Like Angela I have a spreadsheet in excel that I keep on my phone so I can pull it up in a bookstore. While I love series the lack of numbering is annoying. This is the best reference site I have found that easily and clearly give you the sequence of series http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/

    ReplyReply

  30. hapax
    May 25, 2010 @ 15:17:44

    Part of the problem with romance titles is, like mystery titles, an awful lot of titles get re-used. And re-re-used. So even if I remember ONE LAST KISS or FIRE AND ICE or whatever, it isn’t going to do me a lot of good if I don’t also remember the author.

    OTOH, last night I dreamed I wrote a HP titled THE SECRETARY’S MILLIONAIRE MISTRESS. I *really* wish I had dreamed the plot that went with it…

    ReplyReply

  31. Eva_baby
    May 25, 2010 @ 15:31:56

    I remember titles when they are evocative of the plot of the book. So titles like What The Librarian Did or Grimspace or You Should Have Died on a Monday immediately bring up not only the book plot and author but also the cover.

    But give me titles like Bound By Your Touch or Branded by Fire or Seduced by Moonlight and I’m definitely… um/er…yeah. They don’t really say anything.

    Authors are always my best mnemonic. I can’t even go by covers because so many covers a so much alike.

    ReplyReply

  32. MaryK
    May 25, 2010 @ 16:03:19

    What is your usual method of remembering book titles (or indeed, authors' names)?

    I don’t. :)

    I use a database to catalog my books and I make entries for books I want to get. When I shop, I export the list to a mobile device. Without a list, I’m pretty much lost.

    ReplyReply

  33. Persephone Green
    May 25, 2010 @ 16:04:29

    Weird names actually help me remember the book better, even if I misspell them. I always remember the author if I can by default, though.

    I agree with the person who said romance titles are too corny and repetitive. They are, in general. Example: as a store browser, I can’t tell a Certain Author’s work from the average regency author in the eighties except by the cover art (which isn’t my favorite, but it’s better than man-titty). The titles all blur together in a mishmash of duke, scandal, deceit, scoundrel, rake, etc. That’s a problem. Her work is good and should stand out, not feel dated.

    I’m not picking on Certain Author’s publishers specifically; this is a problem with ALL current romance publishers. If amplifying context requires that the title be The Handmaid’s Curse, The Duke’s Passion instead of merely A Duke’s Passion, so be it. Devil on the Black Bayou may sound clumsier than Devil’s Lake, but I’m gong to remember the first title.

    Also, the Lifetime Romance Corollary: if a book title sounds like it could be a Lifetime Movie of the Week, it needs a better title.

    ReplyReply

  34. library addict
    May 25, 2010 @ 18:15:14

    I can remember the In Deaths for the most part, but often get the titles of Nora’s early category books confused.

    I tend to remember author names more so than titles. I’ve been reading romance for a long time, and do okay with most of my favorite authors (remembering both titles and names). It’s the authors I read from the library and/or the ones I’ve read before and don’t like that do me in.

    And for whatever reason I can never keep all the Lora/Laura/Laurie authors straight.

    ReplyReply

  35. Suze
    May 25, 2010 @ 19:27:57

    Bad, bad, bad with titles and authors. Covers trigger my memory, but they’re becoming less useful now that I’m (mostly) digital. When I talk about series with my reading friends, we usually refer to them by the names of the primary couple. Like, for Brockmann’s troubleshooters, it’s Sam & Alyssa’s story, or Cosmo & Jane’s story.

    You know what would be a cool app? If you could use your cell phone camera to take a scan of a book’s bar code in the book store, and it would add that book to your TBR, or your wishlist in your favourite ebookstore. Then it would keep track of whether you’ve bought it, read it, what-have-you.

    That would almost make it worth buying an iPhone. (I don’t have a cellphone, because I don’t like to be available all the freaking time.) I seem to recall there was an app that would do something similar to catalogue your books and DVDs on your MacBook.

    Oh, if only I was technologically savvy enough to write that up myself. Or was interested and energetic enough to become savvy. If anyone wants to take that idea and make it happen, feel free.

    ReplyReply

  36. Kaetrin
    May 25, 2010 @ 19:54:46

    I’ve read all of the In Death books (except for the 1 on my TBR pile) and I can only really remember the plot in the first few. After that, I’d have to go to the blurb to refresh my memory.

    Half the time when I’m commenting on blogs and such, I have to go to the author’s web page to get the name of the book – I remember the author, the plot and/or the couple but often forget or mix up the title.

    And, when I shop at used bookstores, I take a list of what I don’t have – I’ve bought too many books twice or passed on a book I wanted but thought I already had. It’s so much easier buying newly released books – I KNOW I don’t already have it!!

    ReplyReply

  37. Teresa C
    May 25, 2010 @ 21:24:34

    I have resorted to a list of the In Death books. Not only are they listed in order, but I put little notes in for small plot points.
    Ceremony in Death is noted as “First meet Jamie. Trina puts a temp tatoo on Eve’s butt.”

    Since I have most, if not all, of these books in Audible MP3 audiobook format, I don’t even have a blurb to remind me which book is which on my player.

    But, I am not sure which series is easier/harder to keep straight, In Death or Discworld?

    ReplyReply

  38. sao
    May 25, 2010 @ 23:28:09

    Never in a million years am I going to waste my time maintaining a database or list of books and titles. I’d rather stick to book swaps where the cost of slipping up and buying a book I’ve read is 1 or 2 bucks. Or the library, where the cost is zero.

    ReplyReply

  39. MaryK
    May 25, 2010 @ 23:32:20

    @sao: Oh, but I like to play with my books. :D

    It satisfies my I-want-to-work-in-a-bookstore/be-a-librarian urges without having to deal with the public.

    ReplyReply

  40. Darcie Small
    May 25, 2010 @ 23:59:09

    To Suze: all the Google/Android phones (g1, etc.) have a free downloadable app that scans bar codes. I have not used it yet, but I watched someone else using it in a thrift store book section once. Just letting you know. She seemed to like it!

    ReplyReply

  41. RebeccaJ
    May 26, 2010 @ 08:30:23

    OMG, MaryK, that is GENIUS! And it would save me a heck of a lot of time.

    ReplyReply

  42. Angela
    May 26, 2010 @ 08:40:01

    MaryK, I use that same exact database! LOL It’s nice to be able to just enter the ISBN number and have the book come up with all the information. I can track notes, ratings, thoughts, characters. Everything.

    I also use their Movie one too.

    ReplyReply

  43. Maili
    May 26, 2010 @ 10:52:22

    Thank you all so much for chiming in. I really enjoyed reading it all.

    Good point about cover art. When I was younger I heavily relied on covers to remember whether I read it or not, and recognising certain covers as part of certain authors’ bodies of works. I’m not sure why I stopped doing this. Probably because covers became a specific style of a publisher, rather than an author, e.g. Avon.

    I think I tend to remember titles more if I recognised them from – or associated them with – literary or biblical sources, such as ‘Son of the Morning’ (the King James bible), ‘Zero at the Bone’ (Emily Dickinson’s ‘A Narrow Fellow in the Grass’); ‘Seize the Fire’ (William Blake’s ‘The Tyger’), and so on. But would I remember who wrote those novels? Not always. Bah.

    ReplyReply

  44. lucy
    May 26, 2010 @ 13:57:18

    When I starred reading I had a bit of trouble remembering titles and author’s name. I had to browse through the book to remember if i read it or not. Then I starred to keep a notebook or a text in the computer to remember which books and authors i read, hadn’t finished, or where exactly I left of in a particular book. But I kept losing the notebook, and the text.

    Now I’m much better at remembering titles and authors, and If I don’t remember I just use the internet to help me remember.

    I still wish that publishers and authors would come up with better titles, since some are so trite and generic that they make me ashame to be a romance reader. Like when someone asks me what I’m reading, I cringe a bit when I have to tell them the title. Corny titles are as embarrassing as the bodice-ripper covers, and they give the genre a bad reputation.

    Also, I’m totally in accord with numbering series. Most of the time my enjoyment of a book is ruined if don’t read it in order. Plus, I sometimes I cant keep track of which book is which.

    ReplyReply

  45. Lusty Reader
    May 26, 2010 @ 14:58:18

    great great topic, i agree with so many of your points! i know im late to the game but i would emphatically agree that i remember the author way more often that the title.

    when i talk to my non-bookworm friends they are always amazed about how many author/title names i can remember, but compared to how many i read, how many are on my tbr, and how many yall read it’s nothing ;)

    and with series books with similar titles (ex: Balough’s Simply, and any long family series) i don’t even BOTHER with the title, i just say “Wulf’s book” or whatever.

    ReplyReply

  46. SonomaLass
    May 26, 2010 @ 15:17:28

    Another vote for numbers, especially on long series. By the time I started the IN DEATH books, there were already 25 of them; I have a hard time keeping track of where I am, and I have once skipped one and a couple of times started one and realized I’d read it already. With Balogh’s SLIGHTLY series, I can sometimes remember which book goes with which sibling, but that doesn’t remind me of the order. I ended up reading them out of order, and I think I would have enjoyed them more if I hadn’t.

    Even with trilogies, it would be nice to see the order clearly labeled. Tessa Dare’s new series has the order in the titles (One Dance, Twice Tempted, Three Nights), but that would get old very quickly if publishers did it often. I liked her first trilogy of titles, because they referenced the heroines, they were unique, and I have no trouble remembering which is which.

    I like unique titles, but they do seem few and far between in historical romance. I do better at remembering authors and books I REALLY liked — like others here, I read a lot of books. I tried doing a spreadsheet to keep track, but I couldn’t make myself take the time to make entries. (At my partner’s insistence, I tried the same thing for tracking our wine cellar, which didn’t work either. I’m just not a data entry person.) I like the idea of a barcode scan!

    ReplyReply

  47. Elizabeth
    May 27, 2010 @ 11:17:31

    My method, developed over years of reading books, is to keep memos in my app phone with the booklists of all my favorite authors.
    I also own BookBag Plus software, essentially a card catalog for my phone, that lets me keep track of what books I own, which I have read. With all the similar names, sometimes I can’t remember if I have bought or if I have read a particular book.
    And I am one of those persnickety people who like to read books in order. I own the first four Shana Abe books, and once I get around to them in my TBR pile, I do want to start with the first.

    ReplyReply

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

%d bloggers like this: