The Name Therapist

Evergreen book number three is done. I can now cross Duana Taha’s The Name Therapist off my list. This book is all about names, specifically ‘unusual’ names, and the ways they shape who we are as people.

The Name Therapist, by Diana Taha

I was quite intrigued by this particular book. Taha is a self-professed name nerd and her pure joy at discussing names really comes through the pages. As someone with an unusual name myself I found myself agreeing with almost everything she said (full confession, my name sounds ‘normal’ but it has an odd spelling that throws people off and that means I will never have a souvenir keychain/mug/magnet with my name on it). And I had no idea that having a Starbucks name – an easy name you give the barista rather than having to repeat your unusual name over and over before breaking down and just spelling it out – was such a widespread phenomenon.

She does raise some interesting points, especially the fact that ‘normal’ names tend to be anglicized names. Taha is writing from the multicultural city of Toronto and notes that in a city of so many immigrants the fact that we still consider some names ‘normal’ and others ‘unusual’ or ‘ethnic’ really makes you think – why is it that as people put down roots over the generations they tend to give their kids ‘North American’ names? Why aren’t their ‘cultural’ names being integrated into North American culture? Definitely something to ponder.

It was an entertaining read but after a while it started to get a bit repetitive. Apparently Taha writes a regular name advice column for and I think that’s the perfect format for this topic, at least the way she approaches it. There are only so many times I can read about someone lamenting the lack of souvenirs with the name on it or the fact that their name never came up on The Romper Room in a single book before starting to get bored. However, reading those same musings as brief snippets on a regular but not frequent basis would probably be perfectly fine. Overall I did enjoy this book, and I will probably recommend it to people looking for a light summer read, but she only ever really scratches the surface, there isn’t much to sink your teeth into with this book.


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