We haven’t yet read any of the ten books on BC’s National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction longlist, but four books are already winners in the category of subtitles:
- Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training (Tom Jokinen)
- The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delaney Begins Her Life’s Work at 72 (Molly Peacock)
- The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival (John Vaillant)
- The Wave: In the Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean (Susan Casey)
#1? Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training. The wry contrast between “adventures” and “undertaker,” not to mention the intrigue of “in-training,” seal the deal.
The great subtitles challenge the dry, even humourless reputation non-fiction as a genre tends to have vs. fiction (just think of how the media reacts to non-fiction awards compared to more fiction-heavy counterparts). All four of the BC Award's subtitles suggest inspired writing, and make cemeteries, later-life creativity, man-eating tigers, and big-ass waves seem like pressing things to know about.
For other musings on subtitles, check out the Guardian’s faves (love their background on Twelfth Night’s “What You Will”) and a blog called Exploring Our Matrix’s collection (one commenter offered Your Ass and a Hole in the Ground: A Comparative Study). For great titles, period, Goodreads has a fun bunch including:
- The Hollow Bunnies of the Apocalypse (Robert Rankin)
- Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea (Chelsea Handler)
- An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England (Brock Clark)
- The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead (Max Brooks)
- I Still Miss My Man But My Aim Is Getting Better (Sarah Shankman)
Got a favourite subtitle? Tweet it our way @cdnbookshelf.