I Believe in Terrible Titles
When I first pick up a book, I look at the title, not the author, the genre, or the abstract picture behind the words. If that title is unappealing, most people will put the book down and pick up a new one. This is what I used to do anyway.
I will not say I am a great reader, but I enjoy it and so I read in my spare time. For years, picking books out at the library was an epic quest for the perfect story. Unfortunately, I only gave the books with the best titles a chance. If that initial glance at the title did not spark my emotions, the book was back on the shelf in a heartbeat. I never even considered reading the summery on the back; it all depended on the title. Because I chose books this way, the books I read disappointed me more often than not. Something was wrong with how I chose what to read, but I didn’t know what.
My freshman year of high school, Advanced English no longer consisted of book reports but class discussions on the texts assigned to us. The first novel we read was The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton. If I’d picked this book on my own, I would have immediately replaced it on the shelf; the title did not inspire any confidence in the novel for me. It sounded boring. However, I was forced to read it.
The Andromeda Strain was not what I was expecting. I loved it! Because I looked past the title and into the content, I discovered an amazing story which would have been lost on the shelf in the library. After reading the book, I decided to try something new.
When I had a little spare time, I went to the library to get some light reading. Walking through the many rows of books, I looked for the perfect story, only this time, the title had a different meaning for me. The title no longer meant “good book/bad title” but, “look deeper to find what is really inside.” Somehow, I am always surprised when I look deeper.
Just as books have titles of a few words pasted across the cover, people are given labels plastered across their foreheads which many others use to define who they are. “The jock” is stupid, a book with a plain and boring title. “The nerd” is socially inept, a book with a title too analytical to be interesting. “The skater or druggie” has no future, a book with a dead end title which at first has no significance but has so much more meaning when you look deeper.
All books have titles. Every person has a label. Good title/bad title, the class clown/the class loser. It is behind those terrible titles that I find the real thing, the best stories, the best relationships. I believe that if you start with the terrible titles, you will always be surprised with what is hidden within each page of the novel.
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