The Book Nerd’s Guide to Baby Names

Welcome to the Book Nerd’s Guide to Life! Every other week, we convene in this safe place to discuss the unique challenges of life for people whose noses are always wedged in books. See past guides here.

Last time we were together, we discussed how best to merge the collected works of two book nerds into one home. That was two weeks ago. For the sake of argument, let’s say your relationship has progressed dramatically since that time. We won’t ask questions. This is a safe space, after all.

As I was saying, your relationship has progressed drastically. You are now in the market for baby names. Naturally, your inspo list derives largely from the combined bookcases your partnership has produced. But how do you decide on the right name? You and your partner both read—a lot. How do you winnow the list to something reasonable, and with options that won’t concern family and friends? (Cersei’s a compelling character, but that’s quite a bit of baggage to bestow on a newborn.)

Just breathe. We’ll take it one step at a time.

Divide your favorite books into three piles: new favorites, classics, and guilty pleasures. This will help you in the initial sorting process, and clarify for you the depth of your devotion to each.

Remove the guilty pleasures pile. If you have even the slightest hesitation of bringing up your love of a book in a social situation, then you’re going to be utterly tongue-tied when it comes to explaining your child’s given name when the inevitable strangers ask—and they will ask.

Eliminate those characters whose initials probably evade your knitting skills. If you can’t Molly Weasley the delicate symmetry of an “M” onto a sweater, then out go Matilda and Marianne. Do the letter justice or don’t do it at all.

Strongly reconsider selecting the name of a character who meets a tragic end. I was going to say something about Old Dan and Little Ann here, but tears began welling as I typed. That’s probably going to be the same case for you, and that’s going to be a disconcerting reaction when a receptionist is just asking you to fill out forms at the dentist’s office.

Rank the remaining characters in order by earning potential. You might as well set those kids on the right path from the start. Pip is cute and all, but it’s not the name of a CEO.

Examine the top three names for each gender and write them over and over in a notebook. Someday a lovestruck tween is going to do this for your spawn, and the name you’ve chosen needs to look good filling up a composition book when combined with your last name. “Mrs. Zaphod Erickson” might be a dealbreaker.

Pick your winner. Once you’ve finished the process, you should have the name of a character 1) from a book you love, 2) who makes it out alive, 3) has a good career trajectory, and 4) has a name that isn’t going to cause issues in your day to day life. Congratulations, you’ve got a bouncing baby Hermione.

Now it’s time for a middle name. Gulp.

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