What’s in a Name?

I’m an obsessive, insatiable reader, and have been since I was four years old. But lately, there’s a trend in books that annoys me mightily.

It’s the names.

I understand that authors want their books to stand out, but I want characters that are memorable for their dialogue, actions, and thoughts. Not a bunch of stupid names.

I’ve got a little list. (And they’d surely not be missed.)

First, let me say that I’m not including science fiction and fantasy books in this rant. Those authors can make up names all day long. (Though the wizard named Alanon made it impossible for me to read that series.)

Digression: Has anyone else noticed that new prescription names sound like alien overlords? Xeljanz. Vioxx. Or damsels in distress? Lunesta. Levitra.

Romance novels may be the worst offenders, though off-putting names can occur in any genre. I think the worst I’ve seen was a couple whose names were Ben Heat and Rebecca Sweet. Ick. Just ick.

Then there was a couple named Faith and Royal. (Royal’s last name was Baxter. I couldn’t help myself. I kept thinking Royal Bastard.)

Last names that are meant to define character are irritating too: Knight, Savage. Another notable was Lexy Baker who was, well, a baker. Like the readers couldn’t figure that out.

First names too: Taffeta (nickname: Taffy), Bliss.

The ones that really annoy me are the cross-gender names. I know this is a trend in real life, not just in books, and we’ll just have to live with little girls named Taylor and Jordan and Madison. Thank you so much, Splash!

But this is getting ridiculous. Here are some actual names of female characters I’ve seen:






I don’t know why those characters aren’t in therapy.

And while we’re on the subject, puns for book titles have gone over the top. I mean, Maui Widow Waltz? Come on. Really?




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