Comparative or Competitive Titles

When you publish a book, the author is often asked for several “comparative titles” or “competitive titles” to use in marketing the book. What the publisher or publicist is after is titles of books that are in some way similar in content or theme. So, the question the authors asks herself is this: “Would readers of (fill in the blank) also like my book?”


For my recent book PILGRIM INTERRUPTED, here are a few comparative titles. If you liked any of these books, you might like Pilgrim Interrupted. And if you haven’t read any of these books, I highly recommend them! Especially if you liked Pilgrim!

Sinners Welcome by Mary Karr. From her website: “Mary Karr describes herself as a black-belt sinner, and this—her fourth collection of poems—traces her improbable journey from the inferno of a tormented childhood into a resolutely irreverent Catholicism.” The book isn’t all poetry—there are some wonderful essays included.

Confessions of a Christian Mystic by River Jordan. Author Niles Reddick (also from Tennessee, like River) writes in his review for Southern Literary Review: “River Jordan’s Confessions of a Christian Mystic is an inspirational work of nonfiction and unveils parts of her journey, illustrates her deep and abiding faith in God, and most importantly offers readers both a road map and encouragement to keep looking in every nook and cranny to find God, build a relationship with God, and keep that faith over a lifetime.”

Short Trip to the Edge: A Pilgrimage to Prayer by Scott Cairns. The only other Orthodox writer in this group, a convert from the Baptist faith to Orthodoxy, Scott writes with wit and exquisite prose, his narrative taking the reader from a beach in Virginia to the most holy Orthodox monasteries in the world to a monastery in Arizona and back again as Scott struggles to find his prayer path. Along the way, Cairns forged relationships with monks, priests, and fellow pilgrims.

The Virgin of Prince Street by Sonja Livingston. In her own words, Sonja “explores the tender terrain of the human heart” in this collection. As she digs deeper into the ways that people express their faith, their devotion to God, she visits a mobile confessional booth in Louisiana, a holy well in Ireland, a mass at a jail on Thanksgiving day, and even an Orthodox Epiphany service in Florida, where young boys dive into the water to retrieve the cross tossed by the Orthodox priest to commemorate Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River. Her stories have an air of quirkiness about them, which I love, while not being sacrilegious. (I was honored to be in conversation with Sonja at Novel bookstore in Memphis when the book launched.)

A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle. Originally published in 1972, this deeply personal memoir details Madeleine L’Engle’s journey to find balance between her career as a Newbery Medal–winning author and her responsibilities as a wife, mother, teacher, and Christian. As she considers the roles that creativity, family, citizenship, and faith play in her life, L’Engle reveals the complexities behind the author whose works have long been cherished by children and adults alike. Written in simple, profound, and often humorous prose, A Circle of Quiet is an insightful woman’s elegant search for the meaning and purpose of her life.

Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life by Kathleen Norris. Published in September 2008, Acedia & Me was a New York Times bestseller. It is a study of acedia, the ancient word for the spiritual side of sloth. In it she examines the topic in the light of theology, psychology, monastic spirituality, and her own experience.


Comparisons in Blurbs for Pilgrim Interrupted

I was honored to be compared to Mary Karr, Madeleine L’Engle, Brené Brown, and Elizabeth Gilbert, in blurbs written by best-selling authors for my book Pilgrim Interrupted, so be sure and check out books by Brown and Gilbert, too! Here are excerpts from two blurbs:

Readers of Madeleine L’Engle’s non-fiction such as A Circle of Quiet will love this work.—Jolina Petersheim, bestselling author of How the Light Gets In

Readers of Brené Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Mary Karr will find solace here, as Cushman encourages us to open ourselves to understanding our own stories, and to live fully into our own becoming.—Jennifer Horne, editor of All Out of Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality and Circling Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality, author of the poetry collections Bottle Tree, Little Wanderer, and Borrowed Light and the short story collection Tell the World You’re a Wildflower. Jennifer was the Poet Laureate of Alabama from 2017-2021.

Thanks, always, for reading.