Trends: Sound Alike/Look Alike Book Titles

book and glassesPurposeful or not, titles with similar sounding names can be confusing and annoying. It has led to duplication of purchases in some instances. There’s nothing distinctive about sound alike/look alike titles and not everybody does it either. Some titles sound cute, some not. I realize that some titles are meant to be derivative or similar but still. I’d prefer titles that stand out and are not so similar to the other titles.

I realize that this idea of not having “sound alike/look alike titles” may have some publishers or industry others thinking that these titles might sound as if they are “stand alones” and that similar sounding titles are indicative of being apart of a series. Some titles sound so much alike that sometimes, readers like myself mistakenly believe it’s not new or original. It took me just 10 minutes to find these examples below and please feel free to share your own. Notice that not all books are listed in a particular series because not all books have similar sound alike/look alike names. Imagine that. Some titles start off distinctive then devolve into sound alike/look alike titles as if the well of creativity has run dry.

Kathy Reichs (Temperance Brennan Novels)

  • Bones
  • 206 Bones
  • Break No Bones
  • Bones To Ashes

Suzanne Brockmann (Troubleshooters series)

  • Hot Pursuit
  • Hot Target

Gena Showalter (Lords of the Underworld)

  • The Darkest Night
  • The Darkest Kiss
  • The Darkest Pleasure

Emma Holly (Midnight series?)

  • Catching Midnight
  • Breaking Midnight
  • Kissing Midnight
  • Hunting Midnight
  • Courting Midnight
  • Saving Midnight

Lori Leigh (Nauti series)

  • Nauti Boy
  • Nauti Nights
  • Nauti Dreams
  • Nauti Intentions

JR Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood)

  • Lover Eternal
  • Lover Awakened
  • Lover Revealed
  • Lover Unbound
  • Lover Enshrined
  • Lover Avenged
  • Lover Mine

Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampire Series)

  • Dead Until Dark
  • Dead to the World
  • Dead As a Doornail
  • Definitely Dead
  • Dead and Gone

On the opposite side of the spectrum, here are examples of a series without the “look alike/sound alike” titles.

Julia Spencer-Fleming (Rev. Clare Fergusson series)

  • In The Bleak Midwinter
  • A Fountain Filled With Blood
  • Out of the Deep I Cry
  • To Darkness and to Death
  • I Shall Not Want

Patricia Cornwell (Scarpetta Series)

  • Body of Evidence
  • All That Remains
  • Cruel and Unusual
  • Scarpetta
  • The Last Precinct

Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson Series)

  • Moon Called
  • Blood Bound
  • Iron Kissed
  • Bone Crossed

So, what’s your preference? How do you feel about the titles of series books? Dislike the trend? Like it and leave it alone because it’s working for you? It might just be me who is flipping out about this trend. Guess the bottom line is that if you can keep up with it then it’s a go.

photo credit: Zitona

About Keishon

Voracious reader of just about everything.
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15 Responses to Trends: Sound Alike/Look Alike Book Titles

  1. Tara Marie says:

    It’s curious, when I look at them listed together the sound alike names seem annoying and yet it does remind the reader that they are part of a series.

    I have a particular problem with JD Robb’s … In Death series. I have no idea what I’ve read and what I’ve missed in the series, so I end up not reading any older ones and only buying new.

  2. Hilcia says:

    Great post. When a series is long and the names are so similar, after a while it can get confusing. Christine Feehan’s Ghostwalker series has “Game” in all the titles. I used to read it, but after a while, I couldn’t remember which book I’d read. Ex: Shadow Game, Mind Game, Conspiracy Game… it goes on and on…

    Kresley Cole’s IAD series is on the other hand has long, involved names and after a while, I gave up trying to remember the title of the books — just went by the covers.
    A Hunger Like No Other (I remember that one)
    No Rest for the Wicked
    Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night (started to confuse books)
    Dark Needs at Night’s Edge (Huh?)
    Dark Desires After Dusk (Who?)
    Kiss of a Demon King (I remember this one)
    Deep Kiss of Winter (Upcoming book)
    I know I’m missing one but for the life of me, can’t locate the title. 🙂

  3. Tee says:

    Probably because I don’t care to have to constantly refer to lists, if the book is part of a series, I would prefer to be able to tell immediately by the title where it actually fits in the series order. Debbie Macomber has a series out right now that has, so far, 9 books. She titles them by the house address of the person who basically is the main character of the story, even though other characters are deeply involved. The very first number is the number in the series also. For instance: “16 Lighthouse Road,” “204 Rosewood Lane,” “311 Pelican Road,” etc. Of course, that wouldn’t work for everyone, but why couldn’t a label be put somewhere on the cover indicating the series and number. For example: “Morrigan’s Cross” by Nora Roberts. Near the bottom a note could indicate “Circle Trilogy, Bk 1.” I think Roberts does do this, but I don’t know how consistently. If other authors also did it, they could title their books anything they’d like and we’d figure the rest of it ourselves.

    Good article, Keishon. It just happens to be a pet peeve of mine also.

  4. If it’s part of a series I prefer that the titles be similar. This tells me it’s an installment of a series I’m reading with just a glance. I can pick up a new book in the series without delving into the blurb – reading the title is enough.
    I don’t think they have to have a similar word but maybe a similar theme (ex: Susan Mallery’s Buchanan series – Delicious, Irresistible, Sizzling, Tempting).
    A good example on the benefit of a similar title in a series is Eloisa James’ backlist. Her newest series, the Desperate Duchesses, doesn’t have similar titles and I find myself having to go to her website when there is a new release to see if the book is part of the series (she was still writing The Essex Sister series while writing the Duchesses) but her Pleasure Trilogy is easily identified.

  5. Jill D. says:

    I kind of like it when you have a series and the titles have a commonality which links them. Mercy Thompson series is a good example because each of the titles are descriptive of the plot. For example in Moon Called the plot focuses on werewolves and in Blood Bound the plot focuses on vampires.

    It can also go the other way when a title doesn’t do a good job of representing the book and then they can easily get mixed up. Kresley Cole’s IAD series is a perfect example. I can never keep straight who’s book is who’s, especially between Dark Needs at Night’s Edge and Dark Desires after Dusk. To top it all off, the covers are extremely similar.

    You forgot to mention also when there are two books with the same title. I have seen this happen a few times. I know there are examples but for the life of me right now I can’t think of a one. Arrhhhhhh!

  6. Janet W says:

    Love Mary Balogh (btw, why is my text so large?) but Slightly and Simply started to wear thin for me: much prefer her new series where the titles are all different.

    And yes, similar or different titles, why not number them? Jo Beverley has long continuing series and her titles are always unique to the books.

  7. Avid Reader says:

    @Hilcia:

    I started to list Kresley Cole. Her titles…yeah, pretty bad as are the covers for most of them, too.

    @Tara Marie: In Death series almost made my list. Haven’t read them in awhile.

  8. Avid Reader says:

    @Janet W: I fixed it (large font). Balogh’s Slightly series? Never read them. Prefer the older Balogh titles.

  9. Janet W says:

    @Avid Reader: Me too (like Regencies best) but I’m wired to read everything she writes. Have you heard about her upcoming just after Christmas novella? A Matter of Class? Same plot (sorta) as Christmas Promise, only in reverse. The two families hate each other. His dad, wealthy cit. Her father, verra broke earl. She does something imprudent (?) and no one’s lining up to marry her. Enter son of wealthy cit who is Really Living Large and enjoying life and has no intention of getting married … until dad took (or threatens) to take the T-bird away. And that’s how the book starts. There’s an excerpt on marybalogh.com. On yes, you may well believe I will enter every contest on the internet to get an early copy 🙂

    Tara Marie, I had to make a print-out of the In Deaths titles and put it in a plastic protector and keep it with my books. Because of what you said. I only read the new from the library and wait for the new ones to come out in PB or get them at the UBS: I’m terrified of re-buying. I do, however, almost always have an extra copy of Naked in Death so I can give it away and get someone new hooked on the madness that is JD Robb!!

  10. Tara Marie says:

    @Janet W: I’m not big on anthologies, and was going to pass on this one, but I like the sound of the Balogh, so it’s going on the TBB list.

  11. Avid Reader says:

    @Janet W: Like Tara Marie, I like the sound of that Balogh story. Thanks for the heads up on it.

  12. SarahT says:

    Great post!

    A series of books with similar titles is fine if said series is a trilogy. As soon as there are more than three books, I start to get confused and mix up the titles. Every time I want to discuss the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, I have to check my bookshelves to make sure I know which one is which. I’ve actually made the mistake of ordering a buying a couple of Brockmann books twice due to similar titles.

  13. Karen Scott says:

    Love this post Keishon.

    Ditto on this comment from Tara:

    I have a par­tic­u­lar prob­lem with JD Robb’s … In Death series. I have no idea what I’ve read and what I’ve missed in the series, so I end up not read­ing any older ones and only buy­ing new.

    Not only have I bought some of the books twice, I struggle to match the stories to the book name. Naked In Death I always remember because it was the first one, after that I really struggle.

  14. willaful says:

    I don’t mind the ones which are obviously meant to link a series. It’s the ones that are just full of buzzwords, like the Coles, or like just about every Regency published in the last five years, that really drive me nuts. Pick one from column A (wicked, sinful, daring, scandalous), one from column B (seduction, affair, temptation) and one from column C (duke, duke, duke, duke.)

  15. Avid Reader says:

    I don’t mind the ones which are obvi­ously meant to link a series. It’s the ones that are just full of buzz­words, like the Coles

    I should have listed hers (Kresley Cole) as her titles are one of the worst offenders of this practice. Sigh. Next time.

    Thank You Karen Scott. We must talk again. Don’t be a stranger.

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