At Westerly Library & Wilcox Park: How do you judge these books with strange titles? | Guest columns


They say “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but what about its title?

I’m definitely guilty of this, but there’s no shame! When you’re looking through books on a shelf, with their spines sticking out, the title is pretty much the only thing you can see. Authors obviously go to great lengths to choose one that will appeal to their target audience. Should it be a dark and chilling title, like “Winter’s Bone” or “Along Came a Spider”? Philosophical and vaguely pretentious, à la “The unbearable lightness of being”? Light and punny, like “Here’s Looking at Euclid”? Or oddly specific, as in “How do you know if your cat is plotting to kill you”? I think it all depends on the author! If you’re looking for your next book and want to judge it strictly by title, I’ve picked out some of the most interesting ones we have.

The more foreign the title, the more likely it is to grab your attention. Comedy writer Jack Douglas’ “The Jewish-Japanese Sex and Cookbook and How to Raise Wolves” was clearly crafted with this goal in mind. On the other hand, some of them are now so well known that we don’t notice how weird they are anymore; “Do androids dream of electric sheep? by Philip K. Dick. is a perfect example.

Other titles seem absurd at first, but make perfect sense once you’ve read the book. Sci-fi fans won’t mind Douglas Adams’ “Goodbye and Thanks for All the Fishes,” though the rest of the world might be scratching their heads. “The Peculiar Sadness of Lemon Cake” by Aimee Bender, while peculiar, accurately describes her book about a girl who tastes a cake her mother baked and realizes she can taste the emotions of food. Finally, Mark Haddon’s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” is a fantastical story about a neurodivergent boy who embarks on a Sherlock Holmes-esque quest after – you guessed it – a strange and terrible event involving a dog. in the night .

Then there are the titles that are clearly meant to make you laugh; the actors are the masters. Jim Gaffigan’s books “Dad is Fat” and “Food: A Love Story” are hilarious, as is (at least for me) “I’d Like to Play Alone, Please” from stand-up comedy Tom Segura. David Sedaris has several, including “Exploring Diabetes with Owls,” “A Carnival of Snacks,” and the succinctly titled “Nude.”

If you want to continue, there are a number of authors who have entire collections of oddly titled (but very good) books. Alexander McCall Smith wrote more than 50, including “The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs”, “The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds” and most recently “A Song of Comfortable Chairs”. Another is David Rosenfelt, who specializes in dog-themed mysteries like “Dachsund Through the Snow” and “Holy Chow.” Judge away, but maybe try some of them too!

Most requested books

  • 1. “The Nantucket Hotel” by Elin Hilderbrand
  • 2. “The It Girl” by Ruth Ware
  • 3. “Verity” by Colleen Hoover
  • 4. “It’s Ending With Us” by Colleen Hoover
  • 5. “Man 6:20” by David Baldacci
  • 6. “Chemistry Lessons” by Bonnie Garmus
  • 7. “The House Across the Lake” by Riley Sager
  • 8. “I’m Glad My Mom Is Dead” by Jennette McCurdy
  • 9. “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • 10. “Horse” by Geraldine Brooks

Most requested DVDs

  • 1. “Elvis”
  • 2. “Top Gun: Maverick”
  • 3. “Jurassic World: Dominion”
  • 4. “Downton Abbey: A New Era”
  • 5. “Where the Crawdads Sing”
  • 6. “The Minions: The Rise of Gru”
  • 7. “Last Seen Alive”
  • 8. “CODA”
  • 9. “The Light Year”
  • 10. “Mr. Malcolm’s List”

This week

MONDAY — The library will be closed for Labor Day.

TUESDAY — 11am-11.30am, Painting for toddlers – Children from 2 to 5 years old are invited to join us for an artistic morning in the Kids room Castle. Registration is required; 4:00-5:30 p.m., Weekly Summer Dungeons & Dragons – A teen-led Dungeons & Dragons campaign! Registration is mandatory; 5:30-7:30 p.m., Club Tricot et Crochet – The group meets on the 2nd floor of the library.

WEDNESDAY — 9:30am-10:00am, Essentrics Stretch in the Park – Bring mat, towel and water; 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Fall Family Storytime – A family storytime, for children from birth to 11 years old, when accompanied by a caregiver; 2-3:30 p.m., Virtual Tech Social – We meet on Zoom to answer your technical questions. Prior registration is required; 5-6pm, Pride Club – Meet other LGBTQIA2+ teens and allies while enjoying snacks, playing games and hanging out! Pride Club is for all students in grades 7-12; 5 to 7 p.m., Jillian Barber Exhibition: Retrospective – Join us at Hoxie Gallery for the opening of the Jillian Barbers exhibition and to meet the artist. His pieces can be seen in the Hoxie Gallery throughout September during library opening hours.

THURSDAY — 5-7pm, Teen Crafternoon Thursdays – Join us for weekly craft activities and snacks; 5:30-6:30 p.m., Zumba in the Park – A free Zumba class at Wilcox Park; 5:30-7:30 p.m., Chess Club – Players of all skill levels are welcome.

FRIDAY — 9am-10am, Yoga in the Park with Michael Dotolo – Join us at the back of the pond; 10-11 a.m., Project Outreach Veterans Assistance – Members of the organization are on hand to help veterans navigate the benefits and other services available.

SATURDAY — 9am-12pm, URI Master Gardener Kiosk – Get research-based answers to all your gardening questions; 10am-11.30am, walking tour of Wilcox Park | Specimen Trees – This tour features some of the master gardeners’ favorite trees in the park. Meet on the Esplanade at the side entrance to the library; 10:30-11:30 a.m., Zumba in the Park – A free Zumba class at Wilcox Park; 1-2 p.m., Teen Yoga – Teens in grades 7-12 are invited to unwind with yoga in the park with Chelsea Hauck of Bluebird Yoga. If it rains, we will meet in the Teen area. Registration is mandatory.

Cassie Skobrak is the Adult Services Librarian at Westerly Library and Wilcox Park.


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