Here is something I think is a really good baby-naming tip: When searching for a name for your baby, look at your bookshelf. Favorite characters and favorite authors make great choices.
The book A is for Atticus claims to be based on that idea, but it is not. A book-length list of a bunch of characters and authors is pointless. If they're not YOUR favorite characters and authors, who cares what their names are or what the author thinks of them? What, are you going to leaf through it and think, "Oh, Alexander! I like the name Alexander! And oh, there was an Alexander 'in Shakespeare,' so it's a LITERARY name! Score!" No.
The writing style of the book annoyed me, too, but of course that's entirely subjective: some of you would read it and die of love, because people are drawn to different writing styles and that's just the way things go. Here's a sample:
"Isabella: Though there have been a tidal wave of Isabellas in recent years (it's cemented in the top 5), I still can't help but view it as gloriously beautiful and somehow interesting, although there is now an Isabella in every classroom nation-wide."
Let's ignore word choices such as "cemented" and "somehow" and "can't help but" and "Though/although"---those are perfect examples of choices that annoy me but might make you say, "What exactly is the problem with those?" Let's instead go directly to "in every classroom nation-wide." Even in 30-student classrooms, an Isabella per classroom would mean that over 6% of baby girls were being named Isabella. In our 20-per-classroom area, an Isabella per classroom would mean 10% of baby girls were being named Isabella.
In 2007, which is the highest percentage of Isabellas so far, the percentage of girls named Isabella is still well under 1%. Those babies aren't even in classrooms yet (the rate for the current first graders is significantly lower), but if they WERE, and even if we rounded up to 1%, they'd be in those classrooms at an average rate of one Isabella per six to seven classrooms. Yes, some classrooms will have several Isabellas--but then other classrooms will have ZERO Isabellas to compensate for that. In my son's 21-student class this year, there are THREE children named Noah, and that does not mean the birth rate for Noahs is 27%. It means: (1) that flukes like this are unavoidable, and (2) that there are many zero-Noah classrooms compensating for this fluke.
Exaggerations and inaccuracies of this sort PLAGUE the book. I can almost overlook the excessively thesaurisized language (it really is okay to use the verb "named" again and again---there is no need to resort to "dub" and "hailed"), the wearying repetitions of certain pet expressions and words (who among us wants to cast the first stone in THAT arena? also also great great just just okay okay well well), the incorrect plurals (bouquet of daisies, yes, but a group of women named Daisy are Daisys), the lame unnecessary adjectives ("minivan-driving moms"---sigh), the peculiar rhetorical questions ("Could a name sound more made-up than Briana?"), the inappropriate assumption of motives ("John Travolta and Kelly Preston spelled it Bleu to act all French"), the clunky sentence chunks divided by commas ("And although Amelia continues to ascend, possibly hitting the top 50 anytime [sic], it will always have the feel of an heirloom, no matter how popular it gets.").....
Er, where was I? Oh, yes! I can almost overlook all those annoyances, but I can't STAND it when perceived statistics ("It seems like the name ____ is EVERYWHERE") are presented as if they are the same as actual statistics.
Don't even get me started on her attributing baby name trends to celebrities, when in fact most of the time those celebrities were just swept up in the same trend as the rest of us. GAH.
Well. I am willing to send this book on to one of you, if you don't mind a few dog-eared pages and if you think you can get over the problems and read it as a fun baby-name book. If only one of you wants it, it's yours! If more than one, I'll choose one "Yes, I want it!" comment randomly. You can still comment on the post without being entered: I'll choose from comments that specifically mention wanting the book, not from all comments.
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