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Monday, September 10, 2012

181 stories of how books got their titles

Ten minutes ago I received an e-mail from Commitscion Natasha Rego (Class of 2014), a co-editor of the college newspaper. She wrote that she happened to read my post on Ray Bradbury today, and after clicking on the links I had provided she realised that Bradbury is the author of Fahrenheit 451, the novel set in a dark future in which reading is illegal and firemen burn any house that contains books.

"I watched this movie a week ago," Natasha added, "and I was going to tell you about it sometime this week. I thought you would find it interesting to know that Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which paper burns (I think)."

A quick Google search led to a serendipitous discovery: There's an entire blog, published by journalist and writer Gary Dexter, that is devoted to the origins of book titles. How cool is that!


Looking up the appropriate post on "How Books Got Their Titles" led to another discovery: Bradbury might have got Celsius and Fahrenheit mixed up. I didn't know that. Check it out here: "Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury". (By the way, Slate magazine has also taken a stab at answering the question: "Does Paper Really Burn at 451 Degrees Fahrenheit?")

True, the post may not be conclusive as far as the temperature at which paper burns is concerned. But it's such fun for book-lovers to learn how some of the best-known books got their titles. Here's Dexter on the origins of Winnie-the-Pooh, for example. Want to know who Jeeves, P.G. Wodehouse's immortal creation, was named after? Take a peek here.

In all, there are 181 stories of how books got their titles. The full list can be accessed here.