Getting testy

One of the most entertaining topics for discussion in book groups is the title. It’s interesting to consider why and how an author arrives at a work’s title. It’s the most important thing an author will ever do for a completed work, and usually the first thing the editor wants to change.

No one knows this better than Bill Ott, Editor of Booklist. Readers familiar with Bill’s “Back Page” column will know that when Bill wants to keep us on our toes, he offers up a quiz, a tough one. I don’t know anyone who has ever scored 100% on a “Back Page” quiz.

Anyone looking for a witty diversion for a book group discussion can’t go wrong with one of these quizzes. If nothing else, they might inspire book group facilitators to write their own quizzes using the titles discussed throughout the year.

But to get you started, some of the best quizzes from Booklist have been gathered in one chapter in The Back Page, a collection of Bill’s most thought provoking, humorous, and sometimes curmudgeonly columns.ott

Start with the “Working Titles” quiz and consider reading one or two titles off the guess list. You have a built in discussion topic, “what makes this title important and memorable?” Then discuss what kind of superbrain it takes to get the high score on “Back Page”.

Top score gets to choose the next reading selection. Low score has to lead discussion.

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About the Author:

Kaite Mediatore Stover refuses to give up her day job as director of readers' services for The Kansas City Public Library to read tarot cards professionally or be the merch girl/roadie for her husband's numerous bands. Follow her on Twitter at @MarianLiberryan.

2 Comments on "Getting testy"

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  1. rgrim@sbcglobal.net' randy grim says:

    my new book don’t dump the dog wasnot the working title. it was the first thing my editor changed….3 times! here are the working titles and why the editor said no…

    “bark if you think i am stupid” (too mean)
    “man is from mars dog is from pluto” (just a flat no way)
    “dumped” (needs more of an explanition)

  2. marianlibertarian@yahoo.com' Kaite Stover says:

    Randy,
    Just took a look at your book. I think you hit on the best title. Although the man-mars-dog-pluto one is kinda kicky. Good luck with your good works.

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