“Something Wicked This Way Comes” by Ray Bradbury
“The Fault in our Stars” by John Green
“Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley
How did these authors come up with such great book titles? They didn’t. They stole them from Shakespeare. It’s the same with the book “Infinite Jest” David Foster Wallace. And with the first Mumford and Son’s CD, Sigh No More.
Of course, the Bard isn’t the only poet you can draw from.
Cormac McCarthy ripped off “No Country for Old Men” from the opening line of a William Butler Yeats poem. John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” is from a line from Robert Burn’s “To a Mouse”: The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men.
Book titles are tricky. And important. A great book title can sell your book and be career-defining. And a terrible one can undersell you.
If you are casting around for a bestselling book title, there is a ton of dead white men whose poetry is sitting around in the public domain (out of copyright), waiting to be scrapped for parts.
Pick up your copy of “The Unabridged Works of William Shakespeare” and start underlining!