Wednesday, April 11, 2007


I'm looking for some ideas here. I have the golden opportunity to write a book about Chesterton. I'd like to write a book that you'd like to give to all those people who say, "I can't read Chesterton" or "I've tried Chesterton, he's too deep for me" or "Chesterton who?"

What would catch the eye of a non-Chestertonian? I'm looking for title ideas, and content ideas. I have some ideas, but I'm just one person, so I thought I'd get your ideas. We all run across non-Chestertonians every day. What kind of book might turn them into Chestertonians...a book that isn't written by Chesterton but about Chesterton?

Thanks for your help, proceed to the comments box.

Here are some title ideas I've had:
Chesterton Who?
Chesterton for Dummies (Can't do that, but something like that)
You CAN Read Chesterton (with a little help)
A Chesterton Primer
Trying Out Chesterton
What's the Big Deal About Chesterton?
Who is (was?) Gilbert Chesterton?
Trying to Read Chesterton
Chesterton: Too Deep for Me
How to Read a Book By G.K.Chesterton
Chesterton for the Average Joe


  1. Common Chesterton
    Cracking Chesterton
    Chesterton Reading

    I kind of like this one I just thought of..

    "Beginning at Beaconsfield"

  2. Have you noticed that many book titles these days have long subtitles?


    Simpleology: The Simple Science of Getting What You Want by Mark Joyner

    Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny by Suze Orman

    Law of Attraction: The Science of Attracting More of What You Want and Less of What You Don't by Michael Losier
    Well, you see what I mean. It’s a sort of way of getting advertising into the title. So,
    A Skeleton Key to G.K. Chesterton: A Beginner’s Guide to Reading and Understanding the 20th Century’s Greatest Thinker

    Reading G.K. Chesterton: An Inviting New Approach that Will Open Your Mind to This great Thinker’s Insights

    But It’s your book. You’ll Eventually Think of the Perfect title.
    ~ Gramps

  3. How about just a big, bold "G.K."?
    It would grab their attention and, hopefully, their curiosity!

  4. I like "Chester--Who?"

  5. I think a good subtitle would be "Learning how to appreciate the greatest writer you've never heard of."

  6. Think about how it's going to be sold, that is, will it be in bookstores, just on the Net, at conferences? If it's just in a bookstore, the average person will only see the spine, so what in the title that will actually get them to check what this book is about - especially when there are literally thousands and thousands of other books competing with it at any time?

    So, go for clear and intriguing, not obscure. I'm a big believer in clarity, truth in advertising and saying what you mean. A title can be clever, funny, or inspiring. Avoid titles that are too factual or it might come across as dull.

    One technique is to make a list of words that people might like to use to describe GKC and his writings. Just keep generating a list of those words and eventually you can use that as a brainstorming list.

    Another technique is to look through your own books (or those in a bookstore) and make a list of book titles that capture your attention. Write down the titles and then sit down with the list and start to ask yourself why those titles stood out. What ideas from those titles can you use for your title?

    I think Dale's two books (from the TV series) are exceptionally good at introducing GKC. I think your idea of targeting the non-Chestertonian is distinct from those two and is something that many of us would like to have handy. Think about taking the most quotable notions from GKC and connecting them the world we see all around us. Connecting Chesterton to the world we see in simple, clear terms has some value.

    For some (many?) people, GKC's books are and always will be too deep. That's OK, so think the Classic Comics or the like. Boil it down to the essentials, but then let them know where those ideas came from so they can go deeper if they want. Recall that at the turn of the last century there were these little blue books that were the essence of major literary works. They gave millions of people essential ideas so that the great ideas filtered into the common culture. They were a great part of our history.

    It would have to be reasonably short and reasonably priced - I'm tired to giving people $14 books and then never hearing from them again because their didn't like what GKC made them think about, though it is a good social filter . . .

    The following are off the top of my head and not filtered . . . so they might be a waste of electrons. (You could start with a list of what won't work - here's your starter list!)

    If you're so smart, how come you haven't read Chesterton?

    Elementary Chesterton

    Reading Chesterton

    Why you should read Chesterton

    Chesterton's Greatest Ideas

    Connecting Chesterton

    Big Thinking from a Big Thinker

    Diving into Chesterton: A primer

    Starting Chesterton

    Chesterton's Greatest Ideas

    Chesterton's Really Big Ideas

    Finding Chesterton

  7. But just saying "Chesterton" to people who don't know Chesterton wouldn't be a grabber, would it?
    ~ Gramps

  8. Gramps, you're absolutely correct. But as I think more of Nancy's project, the more I believe it will be bought by the likes of us looking for a convenient way of answering the question: Who is Chesterton and why should I care?

    This is a book for people who have gotten at least to the point of asking. Doesn't seem as likely of a read for the great "unwashed" masses?

  9. Actually David,

    The "If you are so smart..." would grab my attention. I think if I were looking through a selection of new titles at a bookstore, I would have to stop because my curiosity would get the best of me!

    "Smarter than me? Huh?"

  10. Yeah! That got my attention (and a laugh) and might be the excellent bridge between those who already know and want others to know - and those who are both curious by nature and would take up the challenge presented by such a title.

    Sam Horn is a professional speaker and writer who actually consults with authors on creating snappy titles that grab attention. I just looked and she's got a blog for this sort of thing:

    (No, this is not a paid endorsement of any sort - just one more resource tossed into the mix.)

  11. Who is 300 pounds, loves cigars, beer, poetry, and is read all over?


    The Invisible Big Man


    GK Chesterton: Defender of Family Values with Cigar and Wineglass


    Wine, Cigars, Family and Tradition: The Thought of GK Chesterton


    Light Wings and Colossal Genius


    Murderers, Maniacs, Monks, and Mischief: Understanding GK Chesterton


    From Gaslight to Glowing Monitors: The Brilliance of GK Chesterton through the years.

    Blahblah blah

  12. "From Chesterwhoer to Chestertonian" is my best one. Sorry.

  13. I would also like a book about Chesterton that I could give to my devoutly agnostic brothers - who are proud of their free thinking abilities, but as soon as they see anything even aluding to faith, they immediately reject it. And, so they've never read anything more of Chesterton than a few of his aphorisms. I've always loved that C. S. Lewis, after reading GKC, said something along the lines of "a committed atheist can't be too careful on which books he reads." Wouldn't in be nice to lead a few more of them out of wilderness?

  14. The title idea that popped into my head as soon as I read your post was "Truth by the Chester-tonne". I've always found his size something endearing... kind of like a frizzy, grey-haired Saint Nick. It may not be a title that would attract those who weren't already fond of him, however; so I thought of a few more:

    The Absurd Apostle

    Common Sense: an introduction to it's greatest advocate.

    Formed of Clay, Fired by Truth

    This is fun! You should have a prize for the person who's title idea is chosen... like a free copy of your book when it's done. ;)


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