With “Pi Day” coming March 14, I thought I’d mention novels I like that have numbers in their titles. I’m probably forgetting some of the ones I’ve read, and am deliberately leaving out ones I haven’t read. But here goes — from low numbers to high:
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Ken Kesey’s psychiatric ward-set novel says a lot about freedom, individualism, and…psychiatric wards. Perhaps better known for the film version.
One of Ours. Willa Cather’s absorbing World War I-themed novel won a Pulitzer.
One Summer. David Balducci’s poignant look at an unexpected death and life after that.
A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens’ classic tale of the French revolution has what might be literature’s most memorable opening and closing passages.
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands. Jorge Amado’s novel looks at an irresponsible (but charismatic) first hubby and a responsible (but kind of boring) second hubby. But the star is the kind, talented, memorable Dona Flor herself.
The Two Towers. The middle installment of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy is not as interesting as the first and third books, but still pretty darn good.
Two in the Field. Darryl Brock’s okay sequel to his amazing baseball/time-travel novel If I Never Get Back includes a cameo by the infamous General Custer.
The Three Musketeers. Alexandre Dumas’ fun, thrilling, swashbuckling novel. His second-best book after The Count of Monte Cristo — which features a person who’s a count rather than a numbers-related counting. 🙂
Three Junes. Julia Glass’ absorbing tale contains a trio of sections set a number of years apart.
Three Stations. One of Martin Cruz Smith’s seven excellent sequels to Gorky Park.
The Sign of the Four. Among Arthur Conan Doyle’s best Sherlock Holmes mysteries.
Slaughterhouse-Five. Kurt Vonnegut’s iconic look at the horrors of World War II.
The House of the Seven Gables. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s melancholy novel of old New England.
From a Buick 8. One of Stephen King’s lower-key novels, and quite haunting.
Twenty Years After. The first of Dumas’ sequels to The Three Musketeers.
Catch-22. Joseph Heller’s hilarious, bitingly satiric antiwar novel.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Robin Sloan’s quirky novel is set in San Francisco and New York City, and has a mystery element.
61 Hours. Might be my favorite of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels. Set in a snowy and bitterly cold South Dakota.
Around the World in Eighty Days. A Jules Verne adventure novel whose title is self-explanatory.
One Hundred Years of Solitude. Gabriel García Márquez’s tour de force is a multi-generational family saga that’s also about Latin America’s social and political history.
Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury’s sobering book about book-burning.
Nineteen Eighty-Four. George Orwell’s dystopian classic about an ultra-controlled society.
2001: A Space Odyssey. Arthur C. Clarke’s mind-blowing sci-fi novel.
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Another Jules Verne favorite with a self-explanatory title.
And then there are the 25 (so far) Janet Evanovich novels starring bounty hunter Stephanie Plum that have numbers in their titles: One for the Money, Two for the Dough, Three to Get Deadly…
Life of Pi doesn’t qualify for this blog post because Pi is of course not a number but rather the nickname of Piscine Molitor Patel — the star of Yann Martel’s novel.
Your favorite books with numbers in their titles, including ones I mentioned or didn’t mention?
My literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.
In addition to this weekly blog, I write the award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com. The latest weekly piece — about a massive mega-mansion coming to my town — is here.