What a mouthful! Check out this long list of books with long titles to see which ones belong on your shortlist of books to read next.
Before we dive into my long list of books with long titles, let’s consider some interesting stats about book titles.
The Guinness world record for the longest book title belongs to Vityala Yethindra for his book “The Historical Development of the Heart from Its Formation From …” In all, the title contains 3,777 words and over 26,000 characters!
According to an analysis of book titles by Michael Tauberg, the average book title length for fiction books has increased from 2 to 3 words. Which makes books with five or more words in the title stand out against the competition, for good or for ill.
One last caveat. I decided not to count subtitles. When you add in the subtitle, you suddenly have scores of books with one word titles that are now technically examples of long titles. Sorry, but that’s cheating in my book.
Fiction Books with Long Titles
Seven-year-old Elsa knows that she is a bit different. But she finds solace in her crazy grandmother whose magical stories of lands where everyone can just be themselves. When her grandmother dies, Elsa is tasked with a grand adventure delivering a stack of letters from her grandmother apologizing to different people for wrongs she committed.
Brilliantly gifted and supremely logical, fifteen-year-old Christopher John Francis Boone, a teenager with autism, can easily relate to animals but struggles with human emotions. When Wellington, his neighbor’s dog, is killed, Christopher sets out to solve the case just like Sherlock Holmes would.
In the throes of a middle-age crisis, Evelyn unexpectedly finds comfort from the elderly Mrs. Threadgoode. Mrs. Threadgoode tells her a fascinating tale of two women, Idgie and Ruth, who ran the Whistle Stop Cafe in Alabama in the 1930s – an era of hard luck, racism, small town problems, lots of laughter and the occasional murder. Books with long titles are often shortened automatically by readers, and unsurprisingly, the film version is simply titled Fried Green Tomatoes.
Socially awkward Eleanor Oliphant has the habit of saying exactly what she thinks and much prefers to spend her weekends at home talking on the phone to her mother. When Eleanor and her slovenly coworker Raymond help an elderly gentleman after a fall, they become friends and Eleanor learns that opening up isn’t always a bad thing.
After losing his job in the Great Recession, Clay Jannon takes a position at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. However, something is odd about this particular bookstore. The customers are sparse and never buy any books. Instead, the “check out” obscure large volumes lost in the hidden corners of the store.
Luck has never been on the side of Oscar, a kind but severely overweight Dominican nerd who dreams of finding love. Living in the ghetto in New Jersey with his strict mother and rebellious sister, he blames a family curse for his luck. For generations, his family has been plagued by prison, tragic accidents, and ill-fated love stories.
Historical Fiction Books with 5 or more words in the title
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
When I consider books with long titles, this novel is always the first to come to mind with its terribly long and strange title. On the German-occupied island of Guernsey, the residents form a book club as an excuse for breaking curfew. Written as a series of letters after the war between the book club and writer Juliet Ashton, the story gives you a look at what life was like on the occupied island. This fun novel is sure to leave you smiling at the colorful cast of characters and makes the perfect book for your reading list, even if the title is a mouthful.
Taylor Jenkins Reid
At 87 years old, Hollywood bombshell Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to reveal her story – all the salacious details of her unapologetic life. Everyone is clamoring to know about her rise to stardom and, more importantly, about her seven husbands. Probably one of the most clever book titles I’ve ever seen, you’ll enjoy this story of a modern-day Scarlett O’Hara.
In a dark retelling of the famous Frankenstein tale, Elizabeth Lavenza is taken in by the Frankenstein family as a young woman and becomes inseparable from the infamous Victor. As Victor descends into darkness with an increasingly dangerous temper, Elizabeth must use all her cunning to survive.
During his childhood in the 1940s, Henry Lee, a Chinese-American, fell in love with Keiko Okabe. When Keiko’s family is moved to a Japanese internment camp, Henry promises to find her again. Now, forty years later, the discovery of the Okabe’s family’s belongings in an old hotel spurs Henry to fulfill his promise.
Kim Michele Richardson
During the Great Depression, the Pack Horse Library Project in rural Kentucky brought books to rural Kentuckians through horseback-writing librarians. 19-year-old Cussy Carter, the last remaining member of the rare blue-skinned Appalachian people, must overcome the suspicions of the locals and win their friendship to fulfill her mission of delivering books.
Born with red eyes, Sam Hill has been called the “Devil Boy” all his life. Reflecting on his life, Sam realizes that his childhood friendship with two other misfits – Ernie Cantwell, the only African American boy at his school, and Mickie Kennedy, a firestorm in the form of a girl – has defined and shaped his life.
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Fantastical Tales with Long Book Titles
While working on her graduate research in rural Illinois, Joanna Teale returns one night to find a little girl outside her cabin. But not just any little girl. Ursa claims to be an alien who needs to witness 5 miracles before she can return to her planet. Is this a charming science fiction tale? Or is Ursa just an abused and neglected little girl?
A man returns home for a funeral and reflects upon his childhood forty years ago. A visit to the house at the end of the lane brings back a flood of memories that are hard to believe are true. When he was seven, he meets a girl named Lettie Hempstock who knows just what to do when strange things beginning happening.
V. E. Schwab
To escape a forced marriage, Addie LaRue makes a bargain with the devil in 1714. She gets to live forever, but the catch is she will be forgotten by everyone she meets. After 300 years, Addie has become resigned to her fate until she meets a young man who remembers her name.
On the 19th anniversary of their son’s murder, Lord and Lady Hardcastle throw a party with the same guests as that fateful day long ago. At 11 pm, Evelyn Hardcastle is murdered. In a Groundhog Day-esque fashion, Aidan Bishop must relive this day 8 times, but from the perspective of eight different witnesses. His task: identify Evelyn’s murderer, or do it all over again.
Alix E. Harrow
Growing up in the early 1900s, January Scaller lives in an expansive mansion in Vermont, the home of her guardian Mr. Locke, who collects peculiar treasures from all over the world. January herself is one of those treasures, not quite white but also not quite black. Her father travels the world finding treasures for Mr. Locke, while January sits at home trying to be a good girl. When January discovers a book about doors – magical passageways between worlds – she begins a journey toward a fantastical future and an understanding of her past.
Douglas Adams’s science fiction satire starts with the destruction of Earth through eminent domain laws for the new galactic highway. At the last moment, Arthur Dent is saved by his friend Ford Prefect and off they go on an epic journey through the galaxy.
Classic old books with long titles
Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous tale has become part of our own vernacular when discussing split personality. In the novella, Gabriel John Utterson becomes concerned about his friend Dr. Henry Jekyll who has been acting strangely. Something is wrong with the relationship between the kind intellectual Jekyll and the cruel violent Mr. Hyde, and Utterson is determined to uncover the truth.
Of all the famous book titles on this list, I feel like this is one of the few you cannot shorten without losing important substance. Mark Twain perfectly summarizes his satirical novel in the title, pondering what would happen if a 19th-century Connecticut Yankee was magically transported back in time to King Arthur’s realm.
Solzhenitsyn joins Tolstoy and Dostoevsky among the best Russian works with his groundbreaking novel, the first time an account of Stalin’s repression was openly distributed in the Soviet Union. Solzhenitsyn describes one day in the life of Ivan Denisovich Shukov as he struggles to maintain his dignity while imprisoned in a forced-labor camp.
Famous orator and former slave Frederick Douglass penned his memoir and treatise on abolition in 1845. Douglass started his life under the ownership of a cruel master then moved between masters of varying levels of kindness before ending up as a field hand from which he eventually escapes. Douglass’s important text shows that although the kindness of masters varies wildly, slavery is morally wrong under every one of them.
Largely forgotten and believed to be a work of fiction, historians in the 1980s finally proved that Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl was Harriett Jacobs’s memoir of her life as a slave. Told in a brilliantly clear and compelling narrative, Jacob shines the light on the hypocrisy and sexual abuse inherent in master-slave relationships. Eventually, Jacobs escapes, living in hiding in an attic for seven years before moving to the North.
Nonfiction Stories with Great Long Titles
In 1981, a death at the grandest mansion in Savannah provokes the question: Was it murder or self-defense. The shooting sends a tidal wave through the town whose effects are still visible a decade later. With a colorful cast of characters, you’ll hardly believe this narrative nonfiction story isn’t a novel.
Poet Maya Angelou’s memoir of the early years of her life is touching and heartbreaking all at the same time. Growing up with her grandmother in a small Southern town, she details how affecting the segregation was as a young black girl, as well as the feeling of abandonment from her mother.
Though the title of the book equivalent of click-bait, the book itself was extremely interesting. The subtitle, “The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by Trauma, Madness, and Recovery,” would be more appropriate, though much less catchy. Sam Kean teaches about the various parts of the brain using compelling true stories that temper down the science-heavy segments to make the book more relatable for the general reader. He expertly weaves the storytelling while not skimping on the science, giving you a fairly in-depth basic primer on the science and history of neuroscience.
Raising questions about privacy, medical research, and ethics, Rebecca Skloot spent more than a decade researching the history of Henrietta Lacks and her immortal cells. Just before her death of cervical cancer, Henrietta Lack’s cells were taken without her permission and scientists figured out how to keep them alive indefinitely. The created cell line was then used for countless medical research. Interspersing the history of Henrietta’s family with the medical use of her cells, Lacks has penned a memorable work.
Lori Gottlieb has seen it all in her practice as a therapist – a narcissist Hollywood producer, a terminally ill young newlywed, a senior citizen considering euthanasia, a young woman who always falls for the wrong guys. Yet when a crisis happens in her life, she finds herself seeking out a therapist for help with the same problems her patients have.
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Better Yourself through books with long titles
Brevity might be the soul of wit, but funny titles can come in all sizes. Originally published as Use What You’ve Got, Corcoran ended up joining the society of books with long titles when they republished with a new extremely long title. Real estate mogul and Shark Tank expert Barbara Corcoran tells how she turned $1,000 borrowed from a boyfriend into a real estate empire. Along the way, she inserts funny little business lessons she learned from her childhood.
You must be comfortable with reading profanity for this book. As Manson introduces his topic, he drops F-bombs left and right, almost like a blogger keyword stuffing for SEO. The swear words tailed off considerably once you get into the meat of the book, which allows Manson’s original idea to fully shine. He hypothesizes that the key to life is not to be happy. Instead, the key is to embrace the limitations, flaws, and suffering of life. You’ll be left with plenty to think about after reading this anti-self-help book.
Stephen R. Covey
Stephen R. Covey’s well-known work was groundbreaking when it was first published. Covey emphasizes the importance of character when building habits that will make you more productive. Most of his concepts are widely accepted today, though modern writers use much less dry managerial terms when discussing the topic.
Queen of modern minimalism books, Marie Kondo’s classic is considered the go-to guide for decluttering. With her KonMari method, decluttering became a huge craze in the United States and throughout the world. Her premise centers on the question, “Does it Spark Joy?” Of all the minimalism books, she goes for the big win. She has you declutter by category, taking all your books out and sorting through them at the same time. You create a big mess, but you end up with big rewards. Though, I’m curious to know if every word in her long title sparks joy for her.
Published in 1936, Dale Carnegie’s guide to winning people over is rather timeless. With tips to get people to like you, convince people of your point of view, and transform people without building resentment, Carnegie teaches the interpersonal tactics to smooth out your professional life.
Long Catchy book Titles in YA
Benjamin Alire Sáenz
The winner of the longest book title on my list is also the winner of numerous literary awards. When Aristotle meets Dante at the local swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. What blooms is a lasting friendship that will shape the course of their lives.
After her sister goes off to college, Lara Jean is adjusting to life without her. To her surprise, she finds that all the past letters she wrote to her crushes, never intending for them to see the light, have been mailed by mistake. Now she must fake a relationship with a popular boy at school to hide her feelings for her sister’s ex-boyfriend.
Against her wishes, sixteen-year-old Zander Osborne is sent to Camp Padua, a Michigan summer camp for at-risk teens. Between her crazy cabinmate Cassie and the pathological liar Bek, Zander doesn’t feel like she belongs. Then there’s the charming Grover Cleveland to whom Zander feels irresistibly drawn. As unlikely friendships develop, Zander begins to learn more about what it means to truly understand herself.
Ransom Riggs mixes vintage photography with a fantastical tale of an abandoned orphanage. After a horrific tragedy, Jacob journeys to a remote island in Wales where he discovers the ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The further he explores, the more Jacob realizes that these children were much more than just peculiar.
J. K. Rowling
The fifth book in the J. K. Rowling’s acclaimed Harry Potter series has Harry battling a series case of teenage angst. Although he witnessed Voldemort return, no one seems to be doing anything about it. Harry’s quick temper is further tested by Dolores Umbridge, a new teacher intent on making his life miserable and preventing him from spreading lies. All the entire series is composed of books with more than five words in the title, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the longest of them.
What are your favorite books with long titles?