The Times Literary Supplement (TLC) features someone on its final page who is known only as JC. JC has interesting things to say about authors, books and literary criticism — anything and everything connected to reading. I have no idea if JC is male or female, but I’m going to assume “he” is male. In a recent issue, he told readers he’s making a list of books with the names of months in their titles.
After considerable thought, I was able to come up with only one such work: William Faulkner’s, Light in August. Following a bit of research, I found a few others:The Darling Buds of May (H.E. Bates), and, The Dean’s December (Saul Bellow), for example. I never did find a title for each month.
But I’ve been thinking of book titles ever since, and it occurs to me that locating titles with specific words has the makings of a good game.
Forget the months of the year. There are all kinds of other categories that might make good hunting. What about the seasons?
Ernest Hemingway’s, The Torrents of Spring, comes to mind. So does Morley Callaghan’s, That Summer in Paris. And there’s, A Girl in Winter, by Philip Larkin.
Or, we could look for numbers, as in, The House of Seven Gables (Nathaniel Hawthorne), The Three Musketeers (Alexandre Dumas), and, The Thirty-nine Steps (John Buchan).
Cities are pinpointed in some titles, such as Goodbye to Berlin (Christine Isherwood), Our Man in Havana (Graham Greene), Death in Venice (Thomas Mann), and, Bethlehem Road (Anne Perry).
And there are countries: Ira Levin’s, The Boys from Brazil, and, A High Wind in Jamaica, by Richard Hughes.
Let’s not forget the days of the week as immortalized in John Steinbeck’s, Sweet Thursday, and Mary Higgins Clark’s, My Gal Sunday.
The alphabet’s an easy one. Mystery writer Sue Grafton is writing an entire series featuring the letters of the alphabet. A is for Alibi is the first of these. Her most recent offering is V is for Vengeance.
Then there’s the weather. We have Valentin Petrovich Katayer’s, Winter Wind, not to mention Shakespeare’s, The Tempest.
Most fiction deals with feelings and emotions and, sure enough, some titles go there too. There are, The Winter of our Discontent, by Steinbeck, Love in Amsterdam, by Nicola Freeling, Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, and, Captains Courageous, by Rudyard Kipling.
There’s also plant life. Under the Greenwood Tree, by Thomas Hardy, The Cherry Orchard, by Anton Chekhov, and Roses are Red, by James Patterson, are examples.
So very much more can be connected to book titles: animals, holidays, landmarks, men and women’s names, famous battles, colours, food, even furniture and furnishings, as in Agatha Christie’s, The Mirror Cracked from Side to Side.
So, now that television has entered re-run season, why not compile a list or two? It’s a pursuit guaranteed to keep you out of trouble.
Even if you hate word games, you probably like to read and I do believe I’ve just provided your summer reading list.