Skip to main content

The Name Therapist by Duana Taha

In addition to British period drama, I also enjoy following celebrity and entertainment gossip.  Years ago I discovered the celebrity gossip blog, laineygossip.com, and I've been reading it ever since.    Duana Taha, in addition to screenwriting for TV, also writes a column for laineygossip.com in which she offers advice for prospective new parents in naming their children.  Taha has been writing this column for a very long time, and I've been reading it for (probably) as long as she's been writing it.

Like Taha, I too am a name nerd.  When I was in middle school I received a book of baby names from one of my aunts for Christmas one year because she knew I liked names.  I read that book cover to cover (and I still have it).  When this same aunt was pregnant with her first child I may have given her lists of names for girls and boys, and when her second child was a boy, I think his middle name came from one of the lists I gave her during her first pregnancy.  While I still consider myself a name nerd, I'm not as much of one as I was then--I mean, I'm not reading baby name books like I did then.  And I think Taha's name nerdiness is on a whole other level from mine.  I mean, the woman has commandeered for herself a career that is partially based upon her expertise in onomastics.

Taha's book The Name Therapist: How Growing Up with my Odd Name Taught Me Everything You Need to Know About Yours is a lot like her column on steroids except she's not doling out name advice.  Instead this book is a long meditation on names and their effects on our personalities and lives.  Taha writes about what it's like to grow up with a given name that no one else has and no one else has heard of.  While I can't really identify with this part of the book, I do have a cousin and another friend who can.  I have a cousin who has a name no one else has (literally no one else has her name), and people always have trouble pronouncing it.  This cousin's name struggles are also wrapped up in people wanting to know 'what she is' or 'where she comes from,' and Taha touches on this too in the context of ethnic names that sound unusual and 'exotic' to Anglo ears.

My name is not as unusual as Taha's given name; however, I was the only Angela in my class until junior year in high school when another Angela moved into our district.  Now that I think about it that Angela was a senior, and we only had one class together, so technically, I was still the only Angela in my class.  I can think of maybe two or three other Angelas that were in different grades at my school.  Reading this book has caused me to ruminate on my name and the representation of other names in my high school class.  So I turned to my high school yearbook as a data source (I told you I was a name nerd).  In the year I graduated there were six (!) Jasons and five Ashleys in my class; five Matthews too.  Four each of Amanda, Rebecca, and Jennifer.  Three each of Jessica, Nathan(iel), Christopher, Michelle, Rachel, Holly, and Michael.  There were a handful of other names that 'only' had two people wearing them and others represented just once (one of which is that friend who has a name no one else has).  So what does this data tell you about when I was born and the names that were popular then?

--Reviewed by Ms.  Angie

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Broken by Karin Slaughter

Before I begin the formal review there are a few things I need to get off my chest in the wake of finishing this book; I'll do so without giving away too many (or any) spoilers.
The OUTRAGE!: the identity of Detective Lena Adams' new beau; the low depths to which Grant County's interim chief has sunk and brought the police force down with him; agent Will Trent's wife, Angie's, sixth sense/nasty habit of reappearing in his life just when he's slipping away from her. Thank God for small miracles though because while Angie was certainly referred to during the book, the broad didn't make an appearance. One sign that I've become way too invested in these characters is that I'd like to employ John Connolly's odd pair of assassins, Louis and Angel, to contract out a hit on Angie; do you think Karin Slaughter and John Connolly could work out a special cross over?
Hallelujah: Dr. Sara Linton and agent Will Trent are both back. There is no hallelujah for…

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

When the end came, it seemed to do so completely out of the blue, and it wasn't until long afterward that I was able to see that there was a chain of events leading up to it. Some of those events had nothing to do with us, the Morrisons, but were solely the concern of the Pyes, who lived on a farm about a mile away and were our nearest neighbors." from page seven
I must confess that it took me longer than it really needed to in order to finish the novel Crow Lake by Mary Lawson. The entire story is building up to the big catastrophe that forever destroys all the hopes and dreams the Morrison clan ever dared to hope and dream for its future. In the eyes of the narrator, it is even worse than the tragedy of the car crash that claimed both parents' lives one evening on the heels of some good news the family has received and celebrated. Now you can see why I dreaded getting to the end of a book that drips in foreboding like nobody's business. What can be a worse tra…

In The Woods by Tana French

"What I warn you to remember is that I am a detective. Our relationship with the truth is fundamental, but cracked, refracting confusingly like fragmented glass. It is the core of our careers, the endgame of every move we make, and we pursue it with strategies painstakingly constructed of lies ... and every variation on deception. The truth is the most desirable woman in the world and we are the most jealous lovers, reflexively denying anyone else the slightest glimpse of her. We betray her routinely ... This is my job ... What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this--two things: I crave truth. And I lie." opening lines of In The Woods chapter 1, pages 3-4
In The Woods by Tana French, an Irish writer, is an extremely well-written and well-crafted mystery novel. The downside is that this is French's debut novel, and her website (located at http://www.tanafrench.com/) does not offer any insi…