Ep. 10: On A First Name Basis: Books with just a first name for a title

Like one-name celebrities, there are books with one-name titles. The sole mention of such titles is evocative of all the feelings, good or bad, that the eponymous character represents. A list like Carrie, Hamlet, Rebecca, or Ulysses would be sufficient to prove this point, but we will elaborate:

Another first name that, thanks to the mastery of Stephen King, calls up chilling memories on those who have read this debut novel. A tormented teenager using telekinetic powers for retribution, written by Stephen King, what else can you ask for?

We found two recipes for bloody Mary inspired by the book. One of them, called Bloody Carrie, was created by Tim Federle for his book Tequila Mockingbird, and it involves vodka, tomato juice, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and...wasabi paste. The second one we found at The Tipsy Librarian, a blog dedicated to book reviews paired with a beverage, among other things.

The Kim in the title is actually short for Kimball. Kim, a young man living as a vagabond in the streets of Lahore, befriends a Tibetan monk in his quest to liberate himself from the Wheel of Life. As the nineteenth century is ending, and Great Britain and Russia play the Great Game over Central Asia, the book relates the adventures of the two friends while depicting the people and culture of India.

If you would like to spend a couple of weeks following in the footsteps of Kim and the lama, Wiki Voyage provides an extensively curated itinerary. The itinerary contains mostly travel by train, and all the stops contain practical information regarding travel in the present day as well as how the locations relate to the story by Kipling.
Kim and the lama (illustration from Kim, 1901 by  John Lockwood Kipling)
Candide is another of those first-name titles that embodies the main quality of the character; after all, candide can mean naive in French, the original language of the novel. Incurable optimists might be closer to a cure after reading this book. We meet Candide as a good-natured man, no matter what life throws at him. Until he discovers that not everything happens for a reason and all is not for the best. Voltaire is a brilliant satirist and  a comedian with great timing. 

If you like Voltaire's comedy in Candide, you might like a literary joke inspired by Voltaire. What do you think of Literary Lodge's writers block?
Voltaire's Writer's Block by Literary Lodge

One name, three versions of a person across centuries. Wolf wrote this book to immortalize her friend and lover Victoria Sackville-West. Victoria's son later said the book was "the longest and most charming love letter in literature."

Fiction to fashion has created an outfit inspired by the book that combine feminine pieces with some androgynous ones to fit this book perfectly. I think the outfit looks chic and comfortable. if you want to take a look at the outfit, pictures and information regarding where to purchase every item, can be found here.

We decided to review this titles using only six words this week: Elizabethan man becomes twentieth century woman. You can tell us your own Six Word Review.

Another first name title associated with specific emotions, this time about the book itself rather than the character. Often cited among the most challenging books in the English language, Ulysses follows Leopold Bloom, an Odysseus from 1904, on a day around Dublin. This is Joyce's ultimate ode to Dublin in his unique style.

The day immortalized in the book is June 16th, known as Bloomsday among literature lovers and indeed an event celebrated around Dublin. On june 16th, if you are a fan of Ulysses you might want to be in the city of Dublin for the occasion. You can enjoy the famous Bloomsday Breakfast, visit Davy Byrnes Pub, and enjoy street  performances of the novel around the city. You can find the program and all information for the festival by visiting the Bloomsday site.

The cover of the 1990 paperback edition published by Vintage is our selection this week for our Cover Gallery. In this cover, the letters for the title of the book are used to create a caricature of Joyce.

1990 paperback edition by Vintage
This is Gaiman first novel, and what a triumph. It can be described as a darker Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. When Coraline moves with her mother and father to Pink Palace Apartments, she finds a door that opens to another world, with another mother and another father, where everything looks perfect until it doesn't anymore. 

The 2009 animated film adaptation of Coraline is has been well received among critics and the general audience alike, and you can watch a trailer here.

For fans of Coraline, and we know we are many, we found a bounty of items that would make great gifts. If you love Coraline, wouldn't you like your very own Pink Palace Apartments keychain (from Ladybug and Baby Bird) or your own seeing stone (from Gwydions Forest)? Maybe you prefer a Coraline-themed candle (from The Book Nerd Fox), or a Coraline-themed zipper pouch (from Redbubble). 

Clockwise from upper left: The Other Mother candle (The Book Nerd Fox); Pink Palace Apartments keychain (Ladybug and Baby Bird); seeing stone and skeleton key necklaces (Gwydions Forest); Coraline-theme pouch (Redbubble)

One thing you might have noticed is that several of Shakespeare's plays are titled using just a first name. It could be argued that Hamlet, with its "To be or not to be" soliloquy, is among the most famous ones.

The setting of Hamlet is believed to be Kronborg Castle in Denmark, an easy train ride away from Copenhagen. If you visit the site, you can take tour of the castle guided by Horatio, Hamlet's friend, or you can see Hamlet's reenactments during the summer.

Photos by Sandra GrΓΌnewald (left) and Nick Karvounis (right)

The play narrates the passion between a Venetian lady and Othello, a Moorish prince, as it turn into tragedy. Othello is manipulated by Iago, his standards-bearer, into believing his wife is unfaithful. Thanks to the play, the name Othello itself has been associated with jealousy. 

Both Shakespeare's plays above, with first name titles, are one of our two pairs in Book vs Book this week.

Among book lovers, the name Rebecca is almost synonym with gothic settings. Curiously, Rebecca is not the name of the narrator, in fact the first name of the narrator is never known. She is a lady's maid who marries a wealthy widower and goes to live in his mansion. Once there, she endures as Rebecca's shadow looms over the marriage and the household. 

The book was adapted to screen in 1940, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. If old movies are not your thing, maybe you would like to recreate the tea described in Chapter 2, which was the inspiration for a crumpets recipe from The Little Library Cafe. Follow their recommendation of serving them with excess butter, jam and honey. 

This book precedes Dracula; in fact, it inspired Bram Stoker to create his famous vampire character. In this novella, however, the vampire is female as well as the victim.

Rebecca and Carmilla, besides having a female first name as their title, describe settings of gothic gloom. They are the second pair of contenders we are featuring in Book vs. Book this week.  

Can you guess which book with a first name as its title we have chosen this week for GuessWork? Go and let us know.

To buy books covered in this episode, visit our TBR Bundles 


Contact Us


Email *

Message *