Nicola here. A short and hopefully sweet blog from me today as I’m heading off on holiday to Scotland soon and am surrounded by dog and human packing and am trying to work out how much food we will all need for 2 weeks in remote locations!
Anyway, back to the blog, and a writing friend mentioned to me a week or so ago that she thought numbers in book titles were becoming a trend. Just as there had been “girl” titles, so there are now number titles, and a glance at the UK charts seems to support this: Joanna Cannon’s new book is called “Three Things about Elsie” and Jonas Johannsen has written “The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred Year Old Man” to name but two.
Of course, books with numbers in the titles are nothing new. The Three Musketeers was written back in 1844 and The Thirty Nine Steps in 1915. (And when you look at John Buchan's books he obviously had a thing about using numbers in titles!) There is definitely something appealing about numbers. According to psychologists and marketing gurus, numbers are a time honoured way of grabbing attention. Our brains are attracted to numbers because of the way they are wired to organise information into a logical order. Curiously other things about numbers are that they attract our attention more if they are written as 7 rather than seven – a number is better than a word. Small numbers are more attractive than larger ones and odd numbers apparently have more appeal than even ones, which really is – odd.
Perhaps it’s the case that our minds have been trained by social media and by the way that articles in magazines, newspapers and online so often list information in bitesized chunks. But with book titles there is more to it than just logical appeal. There is definitely an intriguing, mystery element about numbers. If we read a title such as “The Ninth Sister” we wonder about the other eight and why the ninth is special. Where do the 39 steps lead?
Some people use the numbers in book titles as a system of organising their bookshelves, which you could also do with colours, or with places (village, town, lake, sea etc) or in lots of other ways. At present the numbers in titles fashion doesn’t seem to have spilled over into romance books as much as some other genres such a crime and thriller, but perhaps it’s only a matter of time. Or perhaps a book called The Seventh Duke wouldn’t be as interesting to a historical romance fan because we would assume the previous six were simply his ancestors!
Do you find numbers in book titles intriguing? Do odd number s work better for you than even? And do you have a favourite book to recommend with a number in the title?