Google+ YA Romantics: Trending Thursday: Sound-a-Like Contemporary Titles

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Trending Thursday: Sound-a-Like Contemporary Titles


Welcome to this week's installment of Trending Thursday, a weekly post in which I trendspot and we discuss. Cover trends, character name trends, premise trends, blogging trends -- anything goes!

Today's post is about titles. Recently I reviewed a book I enjoyed, but when I sat down to write the review ... I couldn't remember the title. I knew that it had a bunch of pronouns and prepositions. Was t You Without Me? Me After You? What was the name of that book?

This title suffered from a very common syndrome: VTS (Vague Title Syndrome.)  

VTS seems to be an epidemic in contemporary fiction, which is one of my favorite genres. I'm not picking on ANY of these titles in and of themselves. But after a while, many of them start to sound alike... 

First, the You and Me Titles:


Between You and Me -- yes, there are two!


Then there are the Lost and Found Titles




Next, the IF Titles:




Not all contemporaries have vague titles. Here are some that I love. Why? They're specific. No pronouns. They give me an idea of what to expect ... or make me curious.


The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
What a great title -- evocative and descriptive...


Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King
I love a title that makes me ask: why?


Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Another title that makes me ask questions. Where? Why?



The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
An early book by Jennifer E. Smith, You Are Here, had a case of VCTS. But her more recent books have great titles. Yes, they are long, and I usually end up abbreviating them to stuff like SPoLaFS, but I think they're catchy!



The Chapel Wars
by Lindsey Leavitt
Here's a title I love from an upcoming book -- and I adore the cover too.

As I point out in comments, many genres have sound-a-like title issues. What about all the one-word dystopian titles? Hmmm... idea for another post.  What are your thoughts about titles? Tell me in comments :)


37 comments:

  1. I'm not a big fan of contemporary books so I haven't read the fast majority of these but all the titles are SO similar. You'd think they'd change them up to not confuse people...or maybe more sell that way. No clue. And I love Vague Title Syndrome, haha. So true!

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    1. For me the problem is both the vagueness and the similarity. I get SO confused....

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  2. I love this feature! I always wonder when books have the same title. The marketing departments have a lot of say in how a book is titled and and always wonder what those meetings are like....

    Kate @ Ex Libris

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    1. I'm pretty sure you can't copyright a title, so it does happen that books have the same title. But these vague ones are starting to get to me. Stop the insanity!!!

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  3. I steer clear from this genre so I wasn't aware of the VTS (care to patent it?) But now I think it's because they all sounded the same. :)

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    1. :) Everyone mocks my acronyms but I love them!
      I agree - it's confusing when titles sound the same. But this is not just a factor in contemporary genre -- what about all the one-word dystopian titles?
      Or I used to read a lot of romance, and many of those start to sound alike after a while..

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  4. I think similar titles in a series or even a loose series are a cute way to group the books together...I'm thinking of Anna and the French Kiss and all the other ones...I like really pretty and poetic titles...like the Beautiful Creatures books as well. Great post!

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    1. That's a great point. All the books I listed are by different authors and the books are unrelated.

      But I LOVE when an author chooses similar titles to indicate that the books are a series or companion books. Like Miranda Kenneally: Catching Jordan, Stealing Parker, Racing Savannah.

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  5. You always manage to pinpoint the trending things in the blogosphere that I'm too dense to notice and now that I think about it there are a lot of books with vogue titles. I love contemporary books and this doesn't bother me much.
    Oh and another contemporary book with a title I really like (but haven't read) is This Song will Save Your Life. It makes me wonder what song could that be and because of the catchy title I want to read the book.
    - Farzy @ Books Keep Me Sane

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    1. Fantastic example! That title is memorable and it makes you want to read the book. Which is great, if you haven't read it!

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  6. Titles and covers are so similar now that I have the same problem when I go to write my reviews.

    On my Kindle, I can't even remember what I've already read. All the couples staring longingly at each other lol Same, same, same.

    I also noticed this past week a lot of "If I Stay" books are begin released soon. I guess that could capitalize on Gayle Forman's popularity but I was like already read it....wait...why are they releasing it again?...oh new book...why would I want to read that? It probably won't stand up to Gayle's.

    It just confuses me.

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    1. Yes! "If I" is kind of a cool way to start a title, but if too many other books use the formula, it gets confusing. There are also other "Summer I" books, like "The Summer I Became a Nerd," but that formula seems more memorable even when it's riffed on...

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  7. That is such a great point. You're completely right. I have gotten so many contemporary fiction titles mixed up because of this. It just confuses me. I like something that stands out. Something that I can remember. And, like you said, something that makes me ask why. You need to make me curious. I like those titles best. Like, when I saw The Symptoms of My Insanity by Mindy Raf, I wanted to read it before I read what it was about. That title grabbed me. I wanted to know what this girl was going through. Great post!
    -Kelsey

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    1. I'm easily confused, so there's that, but I want a memorable title. When I go to a bookstore and can't remember the title, I can't buy the book.

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  8. I love direct titles too - like Amy & Roger's Epic Detour or The Statistical Probability. They're fun, informative and different from the same-old ambiguous titles a lot of books go for.

    Dystopian book titles tend to be short and sweet, normally only one or two words and always really vague / mysterious. It can be a bit tiring, but considering the subject matter I suppose it's what makes sense!

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    1. Contemporary titles can be SO good when they hint at what's to come. I think that the cover and title are a great chance to hook a reader in, and for me, vague isn't that compelling!

      I think the one-word titles have become kind of spoof-worthy. I'm going to play around with that and see if I can come up with a post.

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  9. I definitely prefer titles that are to the the point! I've also found that a lot of romance genre novels are like this, quite vague. Not all of them, but just the ones I've come across.

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    1. Definitely!! Romance titles can be very formulaic: To Love a Prince, To Marry a Duke, To Seduce a Rake, etc. Don't know if those are real titles. I just made them up :)

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  10. Just popping in to say 1) great post, as always and 2) read PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ if you haven't yet. That book is so incredibly amazing! :D

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  11. I've never noticed this before, but it does seem really obvious now! There are a lot of vague and similar contemporary titles out there. Which, now that I think about it, probably explains why I struggle to remember so many of them. I like those unique ones you shared, especially Please Ignore Vera Dietz. LOVE that title. It's so familiar to me, it almost feels like I've read the book (and I haven't!). I also really like On the Jellicoe Road, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, Graffiti Moon and Anna and the French Kiss. It's hard to mix them up with other books!

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  12. Not sure if anyone else mentioned it yet but what bugs me is when a title changes prior to release and the second title is totally wrong or forgettable. Like for instance there was last year's Broken Hearts, Severed Heads (or maybe it was the other way around)--now THAT'S a title that grabs your attention, no? It's unique. It's weird. It makes you wonder. And, it turn's out having read the book, it's TOTALLY relevant to the story. Then the book's title was changed to The Beginning of Everything. How bland. How utterly forgettable--which is exactly what happened to me over and over again. And the worst thing about it? I thought that book was fabulous. Super smart and very well written. But that title they went with really, really hurt it, imo.

    Incidentally in the category of titles that sound alike: The Beginning of Everything also sounds an awful lot like another book released last year (that I also happened to love) The Theory of Everything. Very, very confusing. And neither book got the attention it deserved. Was that in part due to the vague and similar sounding titles? I dunno....

    Fun post, Jen:)

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  13. What a fun feature! It is amazing to me how many titles have similar names. I have a general feeling that I've seen or heard many of these titles before, but not until seeing this post and having them all side by side do I see how widespread it is. I really love the unique titles that don't have the vague constructions so popular these days.

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  14. Ah, wonderful feature! And I agree, a lot of contemporaries are made less memorable because their titles are just way too similar to every other book out there. I have an awful memory, so it definitely doesn't help when I want to keep track of the books I want to buy. Dystopians seem a little better though, because the blurbs are more memorable and can be easily distinguished.

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  15. What a great feature! Contemporary titles do get a bit repetitive and vague, but it's still my favorite genre. :) I do love finding a book with an interesting and unique title (like The Chapel Wars--the title itself makes it sound interesting).

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  16. I love Jennifer E Smith's books, not only are her titles awesome and memorable, but the books are pretty good too ;) I too get confused with so many repeat/bland titles. Is that decided by the publisher though? I wonder how the authors feel about that.

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  17. I definitely get confused with titles that sound alike. Especially the contemporary ones because they're usually pretty vague. They're hilarious when you put them all next to each other and read them though! I never noticed just HOW similar so many of them were!

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  18. I never noticed this similarity as I'm usually pretty good with titles and authors (I do have trouble when the cover is redesigned though). As I looked through those lists though, I thought I had probably read at least a few of them but I couldn't be sure without seeing the author and/or cover. I guess they all work together to stick into my brain.

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  19. I'm totally with you here. I get SO confused. And it's not even contemporaries, I reckon, it's most books. Like books titled "Resilient" and "Unbreakable" and "Fragments" or whatnot. Oh gosh. I got very confused between Panic and Uninvited recently because they sounded the same to me and the covers are SO similar. >_< I love the title of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. I want to read it just based on title alone. I also want to read The Elegance of the Hedgehog, just because of the title.

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  20. Great post, there are so many similar sounding titles that it makes them kind of hard to remember! I think the more memorable or accurately described a title is, the better chance it has to stick. Thanks for the comparisons!

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

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  21. This is one of my favorite posts you do.

    Sometimes I wonder if titles mirror best sellers. The other day I saw as book called Fifty Shades of Decay. Zombie erotica? Anyone who types in fifty shades in amazon will find this.

    Its all about keywords.

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  22. I have never really noticed this before, but wow so many sound-alikes. I'm not sure if it bothers me, maybe a bit, but I definitely <3 original sounding titles the best. My problem with one word titles is that I have a hard time remembering them, especially when they start with the same letter.

    And The Chapel Wars is such a cute title :)

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  23. I'm with you. I much prefer the clever titles, even when they're on the longish side. With as many books as we read, it does tend to get confusing when they all start to sound the same.

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  24. Such a fun post again! I haven't noticed this before either. I guess I wasn't really paying attention. lol

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  25. I enjoyed this post so much! And I love the idea of a one-word dystopian titles post!

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  26. Oh my God, Jen! This post is fantastic! I didn't put much attention to this topic until now!
    I don't read a lot of contemporary book, but I think I'll start doing it soon.
    Great post!!! And yes, dystopian titles next time, please!
    Lis @ The reader lines

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  27. It drives me nuts when so many books have a similar title! They should stand out not blend in. :(

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