C by Tom McCarthy

C by Tom McCarthy, one of the novels shortlisted for this year's Booker Prize, is not the first novel to be assigned a single letter from the alphabet as its title. In fact, there are numerous examples that stretch from A by Andy Warhol to Z by Vassilis Vassilikos, although not every letter of the alphabet appears to have been singled out for the literary treatment – does anyone want R?

Literary superstars like John Berger, John Updike and Thomas Pynchon all have penned single letter titled books. Purists will be quick to say some of these titles on our list are subtitled by the words ‘A Novel’ but thousands of books are named this way and readers seem to gloss over this aspect of naming literature. Others have longer subtitles but we’re talking about titles, not subtitles.

Although there is some memorable reads on this list, authors and publishers would be wise to move away from this trend as the influence of the Internet continues to affect book-buying. Single letter titles are not particularly friendly to Internet search engines that thrive more detailed data than just A or B. It’s also interesting to debate whether V by Thomas Pynchon is more memorable than a longer title like The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. To some people length matters, to others it does not matter at all.

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A to Z of Recommended Reading Play Video



Shortest Book Titles

A by Andy Warhol
A
Andy Warhol
C by Maurice Baring
C
Maurice Baring
E by Matt Beaumont
E
Matt Beaumont
G by John Berger
G
John Berger
H by Elizabeth Shepard
H
Elizabeth Shepard
H by Lin Haire-Sargeant
H
Lin Haire-Sargeant
K by Mary Roberts Rinehart
K
Mary Roberts Rinehart
K by Ronald Hayman
K
Ronald Hayman
M by John Sack
M
John Sack
N by Louis Edwards
N
Louis Edwards
O by Omari Grandberry
O
Omari Grandberry
P by Andrew Lewis Conn
P
Andrew Lewis Conn
Q by Luther Blissett
Q
Luther Blissett
S by John Updike
S
John Updike
S by Harry Mathews, Jean Echenoz, Mark Polizzotti, Florence Delay, Oliver Rolin, Sonja Greenlee & Patrick Deville
S
Harry Mathews et al.
V by Thomas Pynchon
V
Thomas Pynchon
W by Georges Perec
W
Georges Perec
X by Sue Coe
X
Sue Coe
Y by Brian Vaughn
Y
Brian Vaughn
Z by Vassilis Vassilikos
Z
Vassilis Vassilikos

Books that almost made the cut

N or M? by Agatha Christie
N or M?
Agatha Christie
Do by A.C. Ping
Do
A.C. Ping
U and I by Nicholson Baker
U and I
Nicholson Baker
It by Stephen King
It
Stephen King
CDB by William Steig
CDB!
William Steig
Moo by Jane Smiley
Moo
Jane Smiley
Lo! by Charles Fort
Lo!
Charles Fort
We by Charles Lindbergh
We
Charles Lindbergh
We by John Dickinson
We
John Dickinson
Zed by Elizabeth McClung
Zed
Elizabeth McClung

A to Z of Recommended Reading



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