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BOOK REVIEW: COOL NAMES FOR BABIES

The Book: Cool Names for Babies

The Authors: Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz

Publication Info: Revised edition, published January, 2008, by St. Martin's Press, New York

Author’s Track Record: Redmond Satran and Rosenkrantz have an impressive backlist of baby name books to their credit, including the famous 'Beyond' series, and The Baby Name Bible.

What You Get:

The famous arbiters of baby name tastes and trends, Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz, are at it again, this time with a revised edition of their classic 2003 book, Cool Names for Babies. Whether a name is 'cool' or not, and what 'cool' even means in this context, is of course a matter of opinion. Still, these two authors have been at the game long enough to have some real insights into the rise and fall of 'hip' baby names, which is another way of looking at 'cool.'

So what's in the revised edition, and is it that different from the first one? For starters, it's about 30 pages bigger, so that's an indication that more names than ever are now 'cool.' Yikes! Even more choices for status-conscious parents! Indeed, as the authors state in their introduction, "in the five years since the first edition of Cool Names for Babies was published, the cool factor has become even more important in choosing a name." Why am I not surprised?

The four categories of cool baby names remain the same in the new edition: hot cool (mainstream names); cool cool (famous names); pre-cool cool (old names); and finally, new cool (creative names). Many of the names have changed since the first edition -- how could they not -- 'cool' comes with a 'sell by' date by definition. But still, many of the names have remained the same, or at least on the same list. Isabella is now the # 1 cool girl's name; in 2003 it was # 11. Ethan is the coolest boy's name of the moment; five years ago it was # 5. Many of the 'cool cool' names -- aka famous names, have changed, but then, we've had a whole new crop of celebrity baby names and other pop culture names since then. Even so, a lot of famous celeb names still appear on both lists. But is Calista really still a cool name? How about Demi?

So why does it matter if a name is cool or not? Well, apparently it matters to a lot of people, in this age of personal branding. As Redmond Satran and Rosenkrantz point out, "cool has taken over from such qualities as tradition and stylishness as the premier criterion of a name." (Add to that the availability of a matching domain name for a future personal website). If you want a really good definition of 'cool baby names' then this book has it. Cool, as the authors assert, means unusual, but not too trendy. Cool is diverse, dipping into ethnic names from around the world. Cool draws on popular culture, in its many forms. And, perhaps ultimately, cool isn't everything.


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