Book Buzz: Buy its Cover

We're not supposed to judge a book by its cover (hah!), but what about its title? A few grabbed my attention as I perused the spring book catalogs for books to review--and isn't that the goal of a title, to rope you in and make you take a closer look? Fair warning: What follows is an entirely superficial discussion; Since I only went on to open a few of these, I cannot vouch for what's inside.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. Interesting enough to make me want to read the capsule description, which tells me this is a novel about a group of friends who feel they are, well, more interesting than you or me. Due out in April, this will arouse interest not just because of its title, but because of its author's solid reputation as an interesting writer.

White Dog Fell from the Sky by Eleanor Morse. I don't know why this phrase makes me think of Africa, but sure enough this novel is set in Botswana (where, during the apartheid era, a troubled American couple befriends an African medical student). I like the magical and ominous connotations, the sparse pithiness of all those one-syllable words, the hint of folklore. This came out in January.

Hikikomori and the Rental Sister by Jeff Backhaus. A rental sister: interesting concept, sounds practical and vaguely erotic--must be Japanese. Turns out to be a debut about a husband and wife, and her Japanese, uh, sister. Pubbed in January.

Drinking With Men: A Memoir by Rosie Schaap. I'm thinking black-outs, one-night stands, and eventual AA meetings--the standard fare for memoirs these days--but the jacket says it's "a love letter to bars, pubs, and taverns." This one's out, in case you need a Valentine.

There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya. It's a real risk making a title this long, and the flip, hipster tone of it definitely focuses in on a certain audience: tough to pull off, and I do not recommend going this route. What saves it for me is the author's name, and the fact that it's a novel in translation--perhaps it's not so snarky in the original Russian... Pubs this month, February: another twisted Valentine.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. The words are actually quite hum-drum on their own, but there's something catchy about the rhythm and the alliteration here that make me read it a couple times. Also, puns are overused in titles, and often of the quality that make you groan, but the multiple meanings here sneak up on you and incite wonder instead. Now this one I can vouch for: I give it a rave in the March Good Housekeeping, which should be on the stands now.

Love is a Canoe by Ben Schrank. A title with the "L" word in it is going to sound corny no matter what, but pair it with a canoe, and it's very awkardness intrigues me. I instantly think, "romantic comedy," and that's what I get--always sweet when the title doesn't feel like a bait-and-switch. This one I also read, and reviewed, in the February issue of Good Housekeeping.

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