26 Books in 2017 Book 19: A Book With a One-Word Title

Unless by Carol Shields

Book number 19 in the challenge has to be a book with a one-word title.

At first I could only think of a couple that I’d actually read, but with a bit of effort I came up with several more.

My list started with books read in childhood up to the present. Below are some of them –

From my schooldays:

  • Heidi by Johanna Spyrie
  • Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Greenvoe by Georg Mackay Brown


From my time at university

  • Beowulf
  • Middlemarch by George Eliot


Adult era

  • Persuasion by Jane Austen
  • Emma by Jane Austen
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  • Room by Emma Donoghue


My favourite one-word title

But my pick of the list I came up with has got to be Unless by Carol Shields.

Carol Shields is one of my all-time favourite authors. I aspire to write like she did.

In Unless, published in 2002, she tells what appears to be a simple tale of the ordinary, the domestic and the everyday. But it’s so much more than that. This is ‘women’s fiction’ at its most meaningful and best, and indeed it defies and subverts this narrow categorisation.

Unless is a feminist take on  twenty-first century, family life and the insight and wisdom of Shields’ writing still applies today, fifteen years after its publication.

Shields was a Canadian writer. Her most famous book The Stone Diaries won the Pulitzer prize. Sadly, Carol Shields died in 2003 whilst still only in her forties.

Back Cover Blurb for Unless: Reta Winters has a loving family, good friends, and growing success as a writer of light fiction. Then her eldest daughter suddenly withdraws from the world, abandoning university to sit on a street corner, wearing a sign that reads only ‘Goodness’. As Reta seeks the causes of her daughter’s retreat, her enquiry turns into an unflinching, often very funny meditation on society and where we find meaning and hope. ‘Unless’ is a dazzling and daring novel from the undisputed master of extraordinary fictions about so-called ‘ordinary’ lives.

So over to you – what is your favourite book with a one-word title?

11 thoughts on “26 Books in 2017 Book 19: A Book With a One-Word Title

  1. When this came out it’s topic was a bit too close to home and so it remains the one Shields’ novel I have yet to read. You have reminded me that I need to pull it off the shelf.

  2. I too love Carl Shield’s books. She was a remarkable writer. One word books I enjoyed over the years – Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter, when I was young, Restoration by Rose Tremain as an adult.

  3. I really loved The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields but I don’t think I’ve read this one. My favourite book with a one word title? Tricky. I loved Rebecca and Emma. Looking at what I’ve read this year only 5 (out of very nearly 100 now) have a one word title and I think that Su Bristow’s Sealskin is my favourite to date. Most titles seems to be getting longer these days don’t they?

    • Hi Joanne, I hadn’t thought about the one-word titles not being so popular at the moment. My last novel and my next novel both have single-word titles so maybe I need to start a new trend 🙂 I remember reading your review of Sealskin and how much you said you’d enjoyed it. Thanks so much for visiting and commenting.

  4. I’m looking at my list of 2017 books I’ve read so far. Not one one-word title. So then I moved to my 2016 list. Speaking of women’s fiction, Barbara Delinsky wrote SUDDENLY, which I enjoyed. Nora Ephron’s HEARTBURN is an oldie but goodie. And speaking of Jane Austen, in 2016 I read ELIGIBLE by Curtis Sittenfeld, a wonderful contemporary take on Austen’s themes.
    I’m putting UNLESS on my to-be-read list. Thanks!

    • Yes, Pam, one-word titles seem to be out of fashion at the moment. Thanks for visiting the blog and for commenting with some one-word titles that mean something to you. I hope you enjoy ‘Unless’.

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