One of Jimmy Fallon’s regular routines is Tonight Show Superlatives. I’ve noticed that book bloggers have their own vocabulary of superlatives and other descriptors to call attention to a particular book or set of books. “Best” or “greatest” just get pedestrian after a while. Strictly speaking, a “superlative” denotes something of the highest quality or degree and often comes in the form of “most …” or “____-est” and involve the comparison of more than two things. Most of the words I’ve found book bloggers using don’t fall strictly into these grammatical forms but if you are looking for some adjectives to spice up your book blog titles, you might try some of these:
- Must-read. This refers to a book, or in some cases a list of books, that you don’t dare exit this life without reading. The only problem I have is that I’ve seen enough such lists that I need a life span three times as long as is granted to us mortals to possibly read all these “must-reads.” Most will be “might-reads” at best. Not as superlative.
- Freaking good. I came across this one just this week. The term “freaking” is one of emphasis, whether of anger or appreciation. It is a euphemism for a similar sounding vulgarity beginning with the same letter. Not one to use in a blog for the church ladies! As a child of the 60’s and 70’s it conjures up images of being “freaked out” on drugs. I suppose some books have that effect.
- Standalone. I like this one! It suggests something that is not like the others. The only challenge is you can’t use it very often. Too many “standalones” no longer stand alone.
- Rad. Frankly, I was kind of surprised to see this one still around. I understand that it traces back to Gen-Xers who used it as a shorthand for “radical”, something beyond “cool.” Good to use for a freaking-good standalone that harks back to earlier times!
- Crazy. Another term that has the idea of “extreme,” perhaps in an off-beat eccentric way. Strikes me as a good superlative for anything written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez!
Then there are some ones that I think get over-used (and “must-read” probably could fall in this category):
- Awesome. Seriously, I saw this just this week. Seems to be so overused. When everything is awesome, is anything?
- Iconic. Strictly speaking this has to do with icons. Before they were ever little images on a computer screen, they were religious images in which one encountered the one imaged. The idea seems to be a book that is symbolic of its genre. This one might be over-used and under-understood.
- Excellent. There is standard English “excellent” and then there is Bill and Ted “excellent.” This one might be tired out.
- Bodacious, another superlative from the movie just might be under-used. Apparently it is slang from the U.S. South that may combine “bold” and “audacious.” Personally, I like the idea of some bodacious Baldacci!
- Wicked good. Here’s another regional term from New England (and maybe old England) coming into wider use. “Wicked” is another one of those terms that substitutes for “really” (which can get very tiresome) but the phrase carries this interesting contradiction, which just might also not be a bad summary of most of us humans. I like to think of the best mysteries as “wicked good” because they usually involve both a murder (and a murderer) and a sleuth committed to ferreting out evil and exposing it.
I’ve had a bodaciously wicked good time coming up with these. But I bet you could add to the list, and help me spice up my book blogs as well!