Life & Death in YA Lit**

I have been noticing this trend  – this one isn’t about the cover, but about the title. It seemed like the word “dead” was the word of the year in YA lit.
It occurred to me that I could use Wordle to test my theory. I took the titles (minus leading A’s and The’s) of the 401 YA titles* that I’ve looked at this year, copied and pasted them into Wordle – and VOILA! Theory proved!

So then I wondered if this was indicative of the actual content of these books. I used CIP summaries and subjects for all of the same books (minus their titles). And here’s what I got:

Wow. YA lit is really about high school, and dating, friendship, family, and LIFE! Pretty interesting, it seems to me…
You can see my complete list of titles here.

*I counted the book as YA if publishers and/or reviewers considered the book for ages 12+ (or older).
**Based on some comments I read here, I adjusted the words input to Wordle and re-created the above Wordles. In the originals, because of capitalization, some words were repeated. I adjusted them so everything is lower-case. The result is pretty much the same. Contrary to one person’s comment, “
Am I the only one who realizes that this test doesn’t verify that “dead” is the most common word found in book titles, but that the author of this particular blog is personally ATTRACTED to book titles containing the words dead and/or life.  A more accurate study would be to take the titles of ALL YA books published in 2010, not just the ones this particular person has read” – I have included every 2010 YA book that I know about for 2010. Most titles covered in the usual review journals will be on this list. And by the way – it’s the reverse, for me. I am NOT attracted to book titles containing the words dead and/or life!

9 Responses to “Life & Death in YA Lit**”

  1. Somewhat related: I feel like every day I see a new book with the word “thief” in it. The Thief, The Book Thief, The Lightning Thief, She Thief, Thief Eyes, Thief of Time, The Thief Lord, The Magic Thief.

    I almost want to write a book called Thief Thief. (About a character that steals thieves… and struggles with high school, dating, friendship, family, and life!)

    I wonder if there’s a book called Dead Thief? That might work too.

  2. Like the research! Books and covers…

  3. I completely agree with Nicholas!

    I assume the “dead’ in the title think is probably because of the large proportion of YA paranormal fans… trying to appeal to that sensibility maybe?

  4. This is an amazing bit of research–such fascinating results.

    And Nicholas Rose, you should definitely write the Thief Thief. Or the Dead Thief. I’d read either one.

    I started a hybrid titles game at my blog one time after coming up with “The Secret Life of the Beekeper’s Wife’s Daughter.” It’s here: .

  5. Fascinating! Thanks for sharing!

  6. […] Jacket Whys uses Wordle to find out the most popular words in YA titles this year: “life” and “dead”.  Looking at our 2010 titles, we contributed THE LIFE OF GLASS by Jillian Cantor and ONCE DEAD, TWICE SHY by Kim Harrison, among others. […]

  7. Very interesting!! Sell life & high-school with death & darkness…. Yup, pretty interesting, for sure! And yay for wordle. ;)

  8. Wow. This really gave my coworker and I a good laugh. We work in a library, so I have to say this is pretty accurate and hilarious. What a great idea!

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