Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Sunday Symposium: Chapter Titles

Sunday, September 9, 2012 with 16 comments


The Sunday Symposium is a new weekly feature in which I'll be discussing various bookish topics and asking for your commentary, as well.  This week's topic is chapter titles.

But first things first, the winner of the Amazon gift card from last week's Sunday Symposium is:  Heather C. (khal khaleesi).  Congrats, Heather!  You should be receiving an email from me shortly.  And thanks to everyone else who commented last week!

So, I read a book recently that had the most insane chapter titles...just random phrases pulled from the text of the chapters they headed.  It drove me bonkers.  I mean, why take the time to give chapters titles if they're going to be so nonsensical?

I'll be honest.  I don't need chapters.  The only purpose they serve for me is giving me a good stopping point so that I can take a break or go to bed.  I might actually stay up all night to finish a book if they didn't exist, regardless of the fact that I need to be up by 5am for work.  So numbered chapters is really all that I require.

There are some authors -- who shall remain nameless -- that spend exorbitant amounts of time creating and then explaining the reasoning behind the chapter titles in their books, sometimes along with a passage from another author's work that also needs explanation.  This is all well and good (and pretty and fanciful) but as an avid reader, I find it unnecessary.  It actually makes me feel inadequate as a reader that an author does this and then feels the need to explain.  If anything, let me ponder over it.  (I won't, but that's neither here nor there.)

So, my question to you, dear readers, is do numbered chapters suffice?  Do you love chapter titles because they give you a sense of what's coming?  Do you enjoy deciphering the meaning behind a chapter's title, well after you've finished the book?

As always, thanks for stopping by and happy reading!

16 comments:

  1. Hm... I sort of agree. Most of the time I've forgotten about the title by the time I would realize why it's titled as it's titled. Some authors make me laugh with their titles though, and I like it when they make them part of the structure and do something special with them. But usually I'm perfectly satsified for them to be just the chapter number.
    What I do love though is a short quote just beneath the chapter that sets the tone for what's to come without giving too much away.

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    1. Oh, I do like the humorous chapter titles. Or the ones that are song titles. :) And a short quote is fine as long as it's not from some obscure piece of literature I've never read before.

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  2. I don't usually read chapter titles, which has backfired on me. For instance, in one book I read I didn't realize until halfway through the novel that the half of the chapters took place in a completely different town....geez, totally made more sense after that. Also, I feel that even if the chapter titles announce that a POV switch has been done, I should be able to tell who is speaking by the context of the narrative.

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    1. Ha...well, I could see how chapter titles are important in that situation. And I agree...I shouldn't have to read the character's name at the beginning of a chapter in order to know who the narrator is at the time. If the writing is good, it'll be obvious.

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  3. I don't need chapter names. I barely look if they're there. I do like chapter breaks though. Like you, mostly because it gives me a stopping point.

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    1. Gotta have those stopping points or I'd be a zombie at work the next day. :P

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  4. Me neither. I glance at the chapter titles, but thats about it. But I have to ask you, what is the name of that book you were reading?

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    1. I'm not sure I want to say. :( It was an indie and I ended up not even reviewing it because the book ended up being so bad...for me, anyway. I've seen others who loved it. It just wasn't for me, though.

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  5. I can go either way with this really. Numbered chapters are usually fine, but I do tend to like deciphering the meaning behind chapter names too. Though a lot of the time with multiple POV books the chapter names are just the names of the characters so that takes the fun out of it in that sense.

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  6. I love when chapters are titled and I especially love when they have an illustration to go along with them. Does that make me weird? Probably, but I don't know... I just like it. It gives me a hint to whats going to happen next and I like that.

    Great discussion post =D

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  7. Ha -- I knew we were friends for a reason. I even notice chapter titles. In fact, I read a review once that pointed out that all the book's chapter titles were song titles and I felt embarrassed because -- whoosh-- right over my head. I'm glad some readers notice and appreciate things like this, because I'm sure the author put a lot of work into them!

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  8. Okay, that was supposed to say "I DONT even notice chapter titles." clearly I also don't notice typos :)

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