Top Ten Tuesday: one word to rule them all

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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. Today we’re celebrating books with one-word titles.

One word to say it all. It might tease. It may mislead. It may declare a location, or put its protagonists name in spotlights above the door. It’s probably not enough to persuade you to buy it. But it just might be perfect, in the end. Let’s take a look at some books where one word is all the calling card they need.

Let’s start with 5 I’ve already read…

Scratch that, let’s start by cheating: three for the price of one. Anna Stephens made up the words that grace her blood-drenched debut trilogy, but they’re good strong words, bold as the storytelling inside the covers.

Nick Harkaway is another author who laughs at genre boundaries and mashes up ideas into surprisingly poignant tales of adventure. Gnomon is a criticism of the surveillance state and our modern willingness to surrender our data by way of Carthaginian witches and a world-consuming shark. Tigerman is perhaps best described as Le Carré meets Kickass; Angelmaker has an octogenarian spy mistress and a rogue’s heir try to stave off an apocalypse of steampunk monks and mechanical bees. Fewer words, more fun.

Shh, it’s only two for one this time, that’s barely cheating at all. Giving your post-apocalyptic social disaster stories comforting names like Shelter and Haven is aspirational at best, but it sets the tone for the Aftermath. All anyone wants is a refuge – but it’s an awfully big ask.

Next for something completely different: no cheating! My final two picks are outside my usual genre diet. Fieldwork is a faux memoir about missionaries and murderous anthropologists, exploring the meddling lives and dangerously conflicting beliefs of expatriates in Thailand. Stargazing is the autobiography it appears, of the author’s unexpected summer as a Scottish lighthouse keeper – pure comfort. 

So, ignoring the other 50 or so one-word titles on my shelf that I’ve read, let’s take a look at a few from my TBR…

Lexicon by Max Barry is my BookSpin read for February, another thriller about privacy and identity, this time by way of warring poets who wield language as a weapon to manipulate the mind – no, literally, mind control, not epic rhyme and metaphor.

Speaking of authors called Max, Max Brooks is back this year! Devolution is a found-footagejournal account of a town apparently massacred by Bigfoot. I love how Max Brooks wove first-hand accounts into a history of the zombie apocalypse; I’m very excited to read his next supernatural study.

Along with Lexicon, I’m hoping 2020 is the year I finally read Planetfall by Emma Newman, Dust (aka Pinion) by Elizabeth Bear, and Sourdough by Robin Sloan. I feel if I ever wanted a purely SF-focused blog concept, ‘two space operas and some sourdough’ sums me pretty well (because we all know bread-making is magic).

I honestly thought this was going to be a tricky topic, but it turns out I have over 100 books that trust to one word to lure you in. Picking just 10 has ended up being surprisingly tricky- and that’s in spite of me being stubborn, so these don’t even have an article!

Do you have any favourite pithy book titles?