Top Ten Tuesday: most common words on my shelves

Text only: top ten TUESDAY

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish, and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. It’s all about books, lists and sharing the love we have of both with our bookish friends. This week, we’re having a bit of fun and looking at words that commonly appear in genre titles. I thought I’d keep it more personal and find out what the most common words are in my books’ titles. At the risk of going full clickbait, the answer may surprise you…

I’ll admit I’ve cheated: I used an online tool to analyse my LibraryThing rather than actually spending hours staring at my bookshelf (tempting as that was, I was in the wrong country). I was happy to place bets on Dragon, King and perhaps Saga being right up there, but I really couldn’t have picked this list if I’d tried. Even if I had been staring at my bookshelves, I suspect…

1. World

I’ve got lots of non-fiction contributing to this unexpected winner (subtitles are such a good way to swing it), but it’s also surprisingly common in SFF titles: The Gone-Away WorldWorld’s EndThe War of the WorldsBrave New WorldThe Eye of the WorldWorld War ZThe Anvil of the WorldUp the Walls of the World. Who knew?

2. Book

I mean, this seems plain daft, but gosh we do love putting the word Book in the names of our, erm, books. Self-evident, much? But a thing, nonetheless: Old Possum’s Book of Practical CatsLady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy BookThe Book of ThreeThe Book ThiefThe Graveyard BookOf Books and Earth and CourtshipThe Book of the Unnamed Midwife, The Book of Etta, The Black Book …and this isn’t even all of them. Tch.

3. Dark(ness)

Now this feels more like me! Even if I only include Dark rather than allowing roots to count to a single whole, this one scores highly: The Dark is RisingAgainst a Dark BackgroundAfter DarkDark MatterThe Dark DefilesThe Time of the DarkRend the DarkCertain Dark Things, Shadow of a Dark QueenDark Ages, Dark Heart, Way Down Dark… and then I have a lot of darkness. Oh yes, this word is a sure way to my heart.

4. King

This one I half-expected, as it’s a regular fantasy choice. I wasn’t wrong (although I remain disappointed in myself for not having more queens on the shelf). The High KingThe Fall of the KingsThe King’s Peace and The King’s Name, Rage of a Demon KingI’m the King of the CastleThe Lost King (there’s a whole trilogy of kings here), Twelve Kings, Kings of the Wyld, The Moon King and well, a lot of history books can help out too.

5++. Story, Tales and History

Yes, we’re back to the self-evident. These three cluster and because it’s often in subtitles (or short story collections), I’m not giving them separate shelf space. Special mention to The Secret History for being one of my favourite books of all time.

8. Red

As I went over this in great detail last week, I’ll just leave this one here. I do love red, although I also love blue and green, which are way less common in book titles.

9++. Dragon, English and Shadow

HOORAY, WE’RE BACK ON TRACK! I am indeed English (so there’s lots of history books helping that word out) and dragons are a favourite (as, apparently, are all forms of darkness. Make of that what you will). Favourite dragons: A Natural History of DragonsThe Girl with the Dragon TattooDragonspell, His Majesty’s Dragon. Favourite shadows: A Gathering of ShadowsShadow Man, In Morningstar’s ShadowShadowsong. Most anticipated Englishness: Filthy English – the How, Why, When and What of Everyday Swearing. Funniest English: Watching the English – the Hidden Rules of English Behaviour.

Bonus: Man, Girl, and Sea

As we had so many ties, I’m chucking in the next joint group too as I’m delighted to see equal gender representation – that’s a happy accident – and irritated that blokes get to be men and women are always girls. Fuck you, book titles. Thankfully, there’s also the sea. Shout out to The Girl Who Rides Like a Man because that seems appropriate (hooray, Alanna) and to Red Seas Under Red Skies for having epic seas, men and girls women.

At the next tier, I found City, Time, War, Star, Life and Black. There’s just no escaping that thing of darkness, is there?


Any idea what words show up most often on your bookshelf?