4 Common Non-Fiction Title Cliches

May 29 2014 · Steve Benjamins

Last week, while browsing a bookstore, I noticed a pattern in the book titles: the same cliche was being used over and over again.

So I did a little informal research and confirmed the pattern: certain book title cliches are recycled. A lot. Especially non-fiction.

Here’s four particularily common cliches I found:

The End of …

The Joy of …

The Death of …

The War on …


Isn’t it astonishing how cookie-cutter book titles can be?

When I first sat down to write this post, I rubbed my hands together and thought of how fun it’d be to point out cliches in the book industry.

But as I wrote, my excitement deflated and I began to realize that pointing out recurring cliches and laughing at the book industry is too easy. It lets both you and I off the hook.

What’s much harder to do is to think about why cliches are used as often as they are.

Because when you think about it, cliches are undeniably effective. Cliches are shorthands that allow us to compress complex emotions, expressions and arguments into bite-sized statements. A cliche is kind of like a meme in this way.

But on the other hand, cliches are cheesy. They feel contrived. And when they are unfairly stacked up next to each other (like I’ve done in blog post), cliches look silly and lacking in originality.

So here’s my parting thought: you could take the easy way out and laugh at how unoriginal the book industry is (that’s what I was going to do afterall). But remember that doing so is also a comfortable way to pat yourself on the back and say: “I’m so smart- look how I can see through the book industry and their silly cliches!”

What’s harder to do, is to take the next step, put yourself in the book industries shoes and ask: why are cliches used as often as they are?

What do you think?

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