Quiz: Can You Guess the Popular Book Based on its Obscure Subtitle?

Some classic book titles can never be forgotten, but their subtitles can be.
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Book subtitles are a funny thing. Sometimes, they become entrenched in the minds of the audience, as in the case of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Yet even ardent fans of Mitch Albom’s memoir Tuesdays With Morrie won’t bother with what comes after the colon: An Old Man, a Young Man and Life’s Greatest Lesson.

See if you can figure out which classic book uses these (often-forgotten) subtitles.

Subtitles are usually invoked when authors or publishers are fearful the title alone may not entice readers or provide enough context. The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson’s popular account of killer H.H. Holmes and the planning of the 1893 World’s Fair that took place within his stomping grounds, is subtitled Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America.

Other times, subtitles seem almost perfunctory. You’ve probably come across several biographies subtitled A Life or An American Life; historical accounts of major events may be said to have Changed the World.

In lieu of major marketing campaigns, subtitles were once thought to be one of the few times a publisher could get the complete idea of the book across. That’s how readers were initially introduced to Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719), which carried the original title The Life, and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner: Who Lived Eight and Twenty Years All Alone in an Un-Inhabited Island on the Coast of America, Near the Mouth of the Great River Oroonoque; Having Been Cast on Shore by Shipwreck, Wherein All the Men Perished But Himself. With an Account How He Was at Last As Strangely Deliver’d by Pyrates. Written by Himself.

Subtitle, or summary? You decide.

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