Obsessed with The Name Therapist

When you grow up with a name that is always mispronounced, you become interested in names. This interest becomes a full blown obsession when your mom insists that everyone has to agree on the names of your four little siblings, starting when you are 11.

My name is Eva (pronounced Ava) and I am a name nerd.

People that know me in real life have known this about me for a long time. I love talking about names and I love naming things. My car was called Sally Mazda, I had a bicycle called Betty, and I talked about names for weeks and weeks and weeks for my dog, Henrik. If you are having a baby and are ok talking about names, I will spend hours and hours throwing them at you.

But it’s not a normal hobby, you know? You can’t exactly take baby name books out of the library just to peruse. (Why can’t we?!)

Thanks to the internet, I know that I’m not the only one.

Duana Taha has long been one of my favourite parts of my daily gossip obsession Lainey Gossip. I was delighted the day her casual pieces on celebrity baby names became a full on advice column about baby names.

Then came the announcement that she was releasing a full-length book all about names. I wrote the release date in my agenda right away. And on April 5th, I went and bought the book.

I spent an entire day last weekend reading the whole, glorious thing.


The Name Therapist: How Growing Up With My Odd Name Taught Me Everything You Need To Know About Yours is wonderful. I laughed and nodded the whole way through. Not only does Duana discuss the history of her own unusual name and how it marked her out as different from day 1, she talks to other name experts, looks into the Jennifer phenomenon, stripper names,  discusses how culture and religion influence names and looks back at naming her son.

I was horrified to read my name mentioned in the stripper chapter. Duana starts looking at stripper names in an effort to see if there are any themes. And for comparison, she looks at the names of high-end escorts. Obviously.

These names still have a sexy factor – Paloma, Tatiana, and a lot, lot, lot of Evas – but they end in A and there’s often an implication of an exotic, not-from-here locale.

I guess that’s ok, then.

And how about this cover? Do you know what a Starbucks name is? If you use one, you know what it is. I love seeing what names will be written on my cup when I tell them my name. I’ve gotten Amy, Ivy, and once Victava. Which is not a real name, as far as I know.

Oh I loved this book. And reading it and telling people about it has uncovered a number of closeted name nerds I didn’t know about. One friend admitted that when she was 8, her favourite book to take out from the library was a baby name book. So I guess I can take those out of the library!

If you are flirting with a name interest, if you are in the middle of a full blown obsession, if you are looking at naming a human in the not-too-distant future (or a pet – Duana looks at pet names too!), read this book. I want to read it again.

19 thoughts on “Obsessed with The Name Therapist

  1. Eva, I feel for you. My name looks like it is Tanya but it’s Tonya. Or Taanya, just not TAnya like Tanya Tucker. I hate an overly American pronunciation. Since moving to the UK people get that the ‘a’ is much longer. Thank goodness.

    • Oh, and don’t even get me started on my last name – Boughtflower. Looks simple but people struggle. Needless to say I use my husband’s name whenever possible – Walker. No need to spell it or repeat it for anyone.

  2. This sounds like fun! I have a dabbling interest in names, but probably not an obsessive interest like yours. I think my own name is pretty straight forward, but so many people have trouble spelling it and pronouncing it.
    But, more importantly, I just like to know about names and where they come from. When a baby is born, I always ask for the name right away. Pets too. I had so much fun (and stress) picking out my own kids names. That’s the hardest, because you know they’re forever, and you can’t go back and change it (well, you can, I guess, but you don’t want to have to…). I also like to know why certain names are trending. Something else I tried to avoid when naming my kids, but you can’t tell if there are no others by the same name, or if you are just at the start of a name trend but won’t notice it until it’s too late.
    I guess it sounds like I might like this book! 🙂

    • It sounds like you might have more than a dabbling interest, Naomi! And thanks to the internet, you can totally see what names are popular in your area. I know the BC government collects baby names and releases a list of how many times all the names have been used in a given year. And recently there was also a list released as an excel file where you could search names and their popularity by postal code. I live in an area where Chloe and Lucas are popular!
      Name is always the first question I ask too!

  3. Sounds like a fun book. And the timing for this post is perfect, because Naomi and I met in person yesterday for the first time and when I mentioned your name (in a conversation about the Green Gables Readalong) I pronounced it incorrectly. So I’m glad to know how to get it right!

  4. I know for a fact that my name will not be in this book. In all my life, I have never met a person with the same name. It took me about 30 years to be no longer annoyed by the fact that people will never correctly pronounce or spell my name. It took me almost as long to finally realize that things will be much easier if I just say “Terry” when I order something that requires me giving my name. (Although the guy at the pizza place still insists on writing “Kelly” on the boxes…) And it’s totally OK if you check out baby name books at the library. They are really interesting! (Be warned, though! Reading those books prevented my husband and me from picking names for any of our kids until we were on the way to the hospital each time.)

    • I’m curious about your name now! The author had a similar experience – your name might not be in the book but a lot of what she writes in the book will likely be familiar to you.
      So I guess you have a “starbucks name”!

  5. Wow! I will be reading this one. My name is not unusual except for its spelling. No one can ever guess it because they expect Jennine to be spelled Jeanine or Janeen. So I get Jennie and Jennifer mostly. Justine if they only hear my name said. The nickname I go by for people who were closest to me growing up is Jen…it’s what I prefer to go by actually but after so many years of people messing up my name, I started going with whatever. If it’s a one or two time meeting, it’s not worth correcting hardly ever. I stopped telling people who had potential to be in my life to call me Jen and I wish I hadn’t. Overall, I know I don’t resent my name because there’s a very special and weird story behind it. But, I totally get it, so I will read this book.

    • I hope you do! And I hope you get something out of it. Funny how a nickname can be totally wrapped up in a time in your life or a certain group of people. I can’t see how your name would be difficult for people though! Was this something you thought about when you named your own children?

      • In a way I did. None of the names we picked for our kids were particularly hard to pronounce, but our middle child is named Mackenzie, so we tried to pick an easy, more logical spelling. Ends up that’s not possible…everyone’s experience with names with lots of spellings is different. But, at least people can pronounce it. Lol

  6. Pingback: ‘Eligible’ for my love | The Paperback Princess

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