Since Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series — The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, The Girl in the Spider’s Nest — author Emily St. John Mandel, of the award winning novel Station Eleven, has been fascinated by the word ‘Girl’ used in titles of books.
She contributed to Nate Silver’s website called FiveThirtyEight with a piece wherein she analysed a database of books, taken from Goodreads, that include the particular word ‘girl’ in their title.
She writes in her piece,“Who are these girls? Why are there so many of them? Books with ‘girl’ in their title make up a tiny fraction of all the books published in a given year, but they appear again and again on bestseller lists. I was curious about more than just how often ‘girl’ books appeared; I wanted to understand who was writing these books, and the fate of the ‘girl’ in the title.”
She says that as a Penguin Random House author, it is easy for her to log on and observe the real time sales activity on the books. Understanding trends, why a book succeeds or wins is perspective of course, but data is easily available which can be analysed by authors for their future research.
It’s natural for an author to dvelve into research that will help them sell their books to an even larger audience, and the Goodreads data gave Emily some perspective. She notices that this year is seeming to be the biggest year for ‘girls’ in fiction writing. According to the Goodreads’ analysis, nearly 1 percent of fiction titles feature the word ‘girl’ in it.
While there are authors who have different viewpoints on if the ‘girl’ in the title should be replaced with ‘woman’ according to the story, some follow the bandwagon of luck and recognition that comes with the word ‘girl’ in the title. Since there have been bestsellers that have ‘girl’ in the book title, they want to continue with it, while others completely disagree and say that it needs to do justice to the protagonist.
Emily Mandel also discovered that the ‘girl’ is more likely to end up dead, if the book is written by a male.
What does that say about writers, male or otherwise — you be the judge!
Feature Image Courtesy: voxmagazine.com