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  • Brian Boone 5:00 pm on 2018/01/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , maurice sendak, , , ,   

    6 Classic Books That Almost Had Completely Different Titles 

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    Have you ever written a book? It’s very, very hard. Writers have to come up with thousands of perfect words and arrange them just so to create a thrilling and original narrative that also expresses their worldview via memorable and compelling characters. Doing all that requires a set of long-form expression skills, which is quite the opposite of coming up with a title—or encapsulating the entire novel into a handful of well-chosen words. A lot of writers can’t make a book and then also come up with a great title—the latter could and maybe should be up to editors and the marketing department. Here are some beloved classic novels whose authors nearly cursed with a terrible title. 

    Where the Wild Horses Are, by Maurice Sendak
    Where the Wild Things Are is a universally beloved childhood favorite. That’s probably because it’s a lot of fun, but also a little bit scary, and Maurice Sendak never coddles or placates the reader. The friendly monsters called “Wild Things” are so well and mysteriously named that its perplexing that Sendak only called the book what he did to solve a problem. He’d initially planned to write Where the Wild Horses Are. Except that when he sat down to illustrate, he had a really hard time drawing horses. Horses became “Things” and the book’s name changed, too.  

    Tomorrow is Another Day, by Margaret Mitchell
    Let’s get real: Gone with the Wind is a powerful, epic tale of war, love, self-respect, proto-feminism, and believing in onself…but it’s also a bit of a soap opera. As such, Margaret Mitchell nearly stuck her Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War novel with a number of soapy titles, such as Tote the Weary Load, Bugles Sang True, and Not in Our Stars. Still, the book almost went to print under the name Tomorrow is Another Day…even though that’s a total spoiler for the book’s moving final line. Ultimately Mitchell found the best title from “Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae,” a poem by 19th century French poet Ernest Dowson. 

    Something That Happened, by John Steinbeck
    John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men is history’s second-best Great Depression novel, second only to Steinbeck’s The Grapes of WrathAs such, it’s a sad tale about desperate men doing desperate things, and Steinbeck reportedly wanted to make sure that the novel didn’t judge the characters one way or the other for the book’s violent conclusion. He tried to express that by going full objective journalism for the title, which is so nonjudgmental that it’s kind of hilarious. He changed his mind when he found some words that said the same thing, that humans are victims of fate, only more poetically. They were in a poem, in fact: Robert Burns’ “Of Mice and Men.” 

    The Last Man in Europe, by George Orwell
    Up until a few months before publication, Orwell was going to call, his novel about a future dystopian totalitarian state in which Big Brother was always watching The Last Man in Europe. At virtually the last minute, Orwell’s publishers asked him to come up something more commercial than what sounds like a book about the last human alive after a zombie apocalypse. His solution: the blunt, ominous far-off futuristic year in which the scary book took place: 1984.  

    Trimalchio in West Egg, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    F. Scott Fitzgerald suggested many high-fallutin’ titles for what ultimately became The Great Gatsby, his book about the rise and fall of the personification of the American Dream in the Jazz Age. Under the Red, White, and Blue was a little too on the nose, as was Gold-Hatted Gatsby. The High-Bounding Lover was just a little-too-1920s. Fitzgerald also really wanted to call his book Trimalchio in West Egg. The latter part reflects the book’s setting; the first part is a literary reference to Trimalchio, a character who enjoys life in obscene excess in the 1st century Roman book The Satyricon. 

    Panasonic, by Don DeLillo
    DeLillo’s meditation on modern life and its many pollutants was titled Panasonic reportedly up to the last round of galleys. But then the Matsushita Corporation, which controlled the trademark of the well-known consumer electronics company, wouldn’t grant permission. So White Noise it was.

    What working titles of classic books are you glad were ultimately revised?

    The post 6 Classic Books That Almost Had Completely Different Titles appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Kat Rosenfield 4:15 pm on 2016/08/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , , happy birthday mr. president, , lauren groff, maurice sendak, ralph waldo emerson   

    Celebrate Barack Obama’s Birthday with 6 of His Favorite Books 

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    Happy birthday, Mister President, happy birthday to you!

    It might be an historic election year, but on this date, our commander in chief is celebrating his own milestone: Barack Obama, 44th President of the U.S., turns 55 years old today. And to honor the Prez on his birthday, we’re rounding up a list of recommended reads vetted by the man himself. Because in addition to being our fearless leader, President Obama is also quite the fearless reader.

    From novels to biographies to classic children’s books, these are the titles the President has namedropped over the years as his faves (or in one case, clearly enjoyed so much he didn’t have to).

    Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
    This novel shot to the top of bestseller lists everywhere after the President named it as his favorite book of 2015, but let’s be honest, it was probably already on its way there to begin with. Groff’s intricate, ambitious, mesmerizing portrait of a marriage—and the revelation of the mysteries and lies contained therein—is a seriously gripping read.

    For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
    Hemingway’s sweeping war novel was named by President Obama in a Rolling Stone interview as a work that inspired him as a young man, with its themes of love, loyalty, idealism, and courage. Interestingly, this is also a book with documented bipartisan appeal; it’s a big favorite of one-time Republican presidential nominee (and Obama political opponent) John McCain.

    The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri
    Lahiri’s tale of two brothers coming of age in 1960s Calcutta, set against the backdrop of the Indian quest for independence, was cracked open by the President in a very different setting last summer: among others titles, it was brought along as a vacation read during the first family’s trip to Martha’s Vineyard.

    Self-Reliance, by Ralph Waldo Emerson
    Along with Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, this title is listed as one of the President’s faves on his Facebook page. A passionate argument in support of individualism as a vital founding principle of a free and civilized society, Emerson’s essay is just the kind of thing you’d expect the leader of the free world to appreciate.

    Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
    With his measured, strategic approach to policy and amazing skills as an orator, Barack Obama has long been compared to a certain Presidential predecessor—and this book might be a reason why. In 2009, the President noted that Doris Kearns Goodwin’s expansive biography of Lincoln gave him an insight into how best to shape his own cabinet. Among the moves he pulled from the 16th president’s playbook? Naming former rival (and now Democratic nominee) Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State.

    Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
    The president may not have ever specifically named this classic as a fave, but you can’t watch the video of POTUS and FLOTUS reading it aloud at the White House annual Easter Egg Roll and pretend they don’t both love it. Let the wild rumpus start!

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