Book Review:

The Baby Name Wizard, by Laura Wattenberg

I will forever remember the look of shock on my high school math teacher’s face as she called attendance on the first day of school my sophomore year. “Sarah?” she called out. Four girls, myself included, replied “Here!”. FOUR. There were only 15 students in the class total.

I once asked my parents how they picked my name. They replied “We thought it was unique!”. I don’t even know how many friends I have named “Sarah” in my age group…it’s just too numerous.

So, when the time came to choose my sons’ names, I was panicked. I wanted them to be traditional, but didn’t want them to be the “Sarahs” of their generation. As a teacher, I wanted them to be nickname proof, or at least, taunting nickname proof. They couldn’t be too long since my last name is already a mouthful. The initials (and, similarly, monogram) couldn’t spell anything inappropriate. The names each had to “work” in whatever field my sons decided to go into…no one wants to hear “Hello, my name is Buddy, and I’ll be operating on you today!”. When Joshua came along, I also wanted to make sure the names went together as brothers. Nothing too cutesy, no “Bobby and Billy”, “Eddie and Freddie”, or “Hank and Frank” here.

Then I found the perfect name book.

The Baby Name Wizard by Laura Wattenberg may well be the only baby name book you’ll need to look at as a parent-to-be. It’s so much more than the usual list-style books and websites I’d come across. Names are categorized across many different areas, from style to popularity to origin. Each name is accompanied by a graph of it’s popularity over the past century, nicknames, and a short background of the name’s history. Wattenberg even suggests complimentary brother and sister names!

Is Wattenberg correct in her name assumptions? Well, let’s just say I looked up “Sarah”, and her suggestion for sibling was “Samuel”- my brother’s name 🙂 I guess my parents didn’t do too badly after all!

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