An Examination of 10 of the Best (and Worst) Memoir Titles
Stan Smith was one of the greatest tennis player’s of his era, a former world No. 1 and two-time Grand Slam winner. But thanks to the iconic Adidas kicks that bear his name, he’s probably best known as … just that: a shoe.
We admittedly haven’t read it, but we do understand the book is as much about the legacy of the shoe as the legacy of the man (and how the two are forever intertwined, course). What stands out, however, is that the title is damn near perfect: it sums up the focus of the book while winking at the author’s unexpected legacy. In other words, it’s memorable in good ways, and not an excruciating pun, like 99.9% of memoir titles. (And kudos for excellent exclamation-point deployment to boot.)
— Dan Freebairn (@KickPosters) September 7, 2018
It also got us thinking: What are the best and worst titles for autobiographies (regardless of the quality of content held within the pages, which I cannot stress enough)?
Here’s a quick rundown of some our favorites …
Good: Some People Think I’m a Shoe! by Stan Smith
Bad: Open by Andre Agassi
Fantastic storytelling marred by a weak tennis pun. All autobiographies could technically be called “Open.”
Good: Acid for the Children by Flea
The Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist is a brilliantly odd headcase. This title hits all those notes.
Bad: Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis
Oh, hey, like his song. At least it wasn’t a variation on “California.”
Good: Nerd Do Well: A Small Boy’s Journey to Becoming a Big Kid by Simon Pegg
A dorky joke for a charmingly dorky guy.
Bad: Book by Whoopi Goldberg
In one word, tell us nothing about yourself, Whoopi. (Tie: Still Me by the late Christopher Reeve. Appreciate the post-injury self-deprecation, but wow that makes us cringe.)
Good: An American Life by Ronald Reagan
The president we associate with “Morning in America” makes a simple but straightforward point.
Bad: My Life by Bill Clinton
You know what all autobiographies are? Stories of “my life.” Better title: It’s Complicated.
Good: Bossypants by Tina Fey
A slightly nonsensical, funny term that does well to sum up the driven woman who would become Liz Lemon.
Bad: Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death and Jazz Chickens by Eddie Izzard Oh, hey, comedy’s rule of three. Except the last phrase needs to be funny.