Naming a book is something like naming a baby. It can be fun, but you need to be careful. It shouldn't be too outrageous (I once heard a mother call out "Tink" to her young daughter and was, upon inquiring, informed that the nickname was short for Tinkerbell!) but you want something memorable, something suggestive of a budding personality, something creative yet appropriate. Above all, you want something that will compel readers to pick the book up.
There is, of course, a real science to naming a book, and with my manuscript nearing completion, I scoured Amazon for immigrant and medical memoirs to see what catchy titles had been created. Regarding the latter genre, I came across some great ones: The Scalpel and the Soul; The Healing Blade; Intern; Heimlich's Maneuvers; Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs; and (among my favorites) the humorous In Stitches.
Now, during the last months of pitching the completed manuscript to agents and soliciting testimonials, blurbs and referrals from my client's connections, the issue of the title has become pressing. What's more, the working title I have been using for the book (and which I considered strikingly clever) has been called into question. It has elicited from early readers either enthusiastic approval or blatant disdain.
The book, which I characterize as part immigrant chronicle and part medical memoir, follows the life of my client from his beginnings in a post World War II refugee camp, through his boyhood immigration to Phoenix Arizona and his family's struggle in the late 1950s and 1960s, to his journey through med school and subsequent rise to prominence as a spinal neurosurgeon.
Given his profession and the theme that runs through the book of overcoming adversity and striving for excellence, I have been using the working title of Backbone: A Journey from Refugee to Neurosurgeon. I liked the double meaning of the word "backbone," even though my client informed me that any self-respecting spine surgeon would not refer to the spine as such.
Over time, my client has warmed to the title, but now I am having second thoughts, especially since, as noted above, my client is not even an orthopedic surgeon but a neurosurgeon (a fact that seems significant to me) and because both my editress friend and husband abhor it.
So now, I come to you, my small cadre of readers, to ask for your vote on the matter. Do you like this title? Do you think a different title would work better? Do you have any suggestions of your own for a title for this book? Do any of the titles below appeal to you?
- Daring to Care: My Life from Refugee to Neurosurgeon
- Doctor of the Spine: A Life Story
- The Making of a Neurosurgeon
- Blessed by America: A Journey from Refugee to Neurosurgeon