Fun with Titles: How The Hell To Title a Book

I'm ConfusedThe very title of this post is a lie—titles are not fun. They are torture. I have no idea how to come up with a title for my book, except to imitate other people’s titles and pray for a miracle.

I thought I’d found the perfect title with By the Time I Turn Thirty. A good friend loved it. A writer I admire gave this scintillating review: “I don’t hate it.” But an experienced editor said I should find a more serious title, since I’d written a more serious book.

Over the weekend, I thought of two more titles:

(1)    Healthy Sick Happy Sad Success Failure: A Memoir

(2)    On the Other Side of Bright: A Memoir

Here were the reviews:


“I like the first one a lot.”

“What about the second one?” I asked.

“I don’t get it.”

“I’m not bright sided anymore. I’m not buying into all the self-help crap.”

“I still don’t get it.”


“I like On the Other Side of Bright best,” Friend 2 said. Since the book has something to do with Cystic Fibrosis, Friend 2 suggested I consider titles about breathing. “How about With Bated Breath?” he said. “It’s a nice allusion to The Merchant of Venice, which has that creepy ‘pound of flesh’ scene.”


“I don’t like either of them. And I never liked By the Time I Turn Thirty. I’m a picky bitch.”

Thank God for these people, even if I’m more confused than ever . . .