Have you ever picked up a book and thought, “Wait, isn’t that the same title as that other book?” Publishers don’t necessarily do this to trick us but as a way to group similar books together. Fans of suspense novels might remember when Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was released—suddenly every book in the suspense section had “Girl” in the title. (Note: most of the “girls” in question were actually adult women but I digress.)
This publishing trend carries into the world of historical fiction as well.
Comment below if I missed any major title trends!
1. Place Names
This one has been pervasive for a few years but seems to be especially common in books set after 1900. Including a place name gives the reader (or, better yet, the prospective reader) a taste of the setting without knowing anything else about the book.
- The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
- The Last Rose of Shanghai
- The Tattooist of Auschwitz
- The Last Bookshop of London
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
- The Paris Library
- The Venice Sketchbook
- The Berlin Girl
- The Lost Girl of Berlin
2. Someone’s “Daughter”
Personally, I’m happy this trend fell out of favour after heavy usage. The fo rmula was basically just “The [Job Title]’s Daughter.” And they were plentiful. I didn’t care for it because it robbed the main character of her power and identity—even if many of these characters were, yes, technically the property of their fathers. A similar title trend is “The [Job Title]’s Wife” which is also very popular in this genre.
- The Paris Daughter (as far as histfic title trends go, this is a twofer)
- Daughter of the Reich
- The Mapmaker’s Daughter
- The Diplomat’s Daughter
- The Kingmaker’s Daughter
- The Clockmaker’s Daughter
- The Traitor’s Daughter
The word “Light” seems to be particularly common in wartime fiction. I blame All the Light We Cannot See for this. (I’m joking. It’s an incredible book.) Since “light” is associated with hope, I suppose it works well with wartime novels which are oftentimes very dark.
- The Light We Left Behind
- The Light Beyond the Trenches
- Light Over London
- A Light in the Window
- The Age of Light
- Woman of Light
- The Mirror & the Light
- The Light Between Us
- Swan Light
I combined these two since they give off the same kind of vibe. Again, a lot of these books take place during wartime—can you tell which sub-genre I’m currently writing in? Skies symbolize limitlessness, eternity (or eternal life), and sometimes refer to gods or an afterlife. Meanwhile, stars tend to evoke feelings of hope and spirituality and concepts like navigation and guidance.
- Daughters of the Night Sky (another title twofer!)
- Beneath a Starless Sky (oh ho, another one!)
- The Stars We Share
- The Forest of Vanishing Stars
- On a Night of a Thousand Stars
- Beneath a Scarlet Sky
- Where the Sky Begins
- Red Sky Over Hawaii
- Under a Sky on Fire
- Under a Painted Sky
Are there any book naming trends you don’t like? Or are there any that you gravitate to? Let us know in the comments.
Jillianne writes delightful historical fiction featuring rebellious ladies and happy endings. Her debut novel was shortlisted for the 2016 PEI Book Award and Victorian historical fiction novel, The Spirited Mrs. Pringle, was longlisted for the 2022 Historical Fiction Company Book Award. Her WWII romance trilogy, Homefront Hearts, will be released by the end of 2023. Jill lives on Canada’s beautiful east coast.