October 30, 2011

My Name is Jessica & I'm Obsessed with Baby Names

It's true. Since I was about eight I've kept lists of names. I used to check out baby name books from the library as a kid. When I was pregnant I spent obsessive hours on baby name blogs and message boards. On my mommy blog I wrote a couple of long posts about how we finally picked Eleanor's name.

So I can say with sincerity that I have checked out a LOT of the baby name resources out there, and hands down the best one I've found is The Baby Name Wizard by Laura Wattenberg. This isn't your typical book with lists of 20,000 names (half of which are ridiculous) and some vague "meanings" to them. Rather it has a more selective listing of names (but it still includes thousands!) with broader information about each name.

Beneath each name is a small graph showing the year it was most popular, its current popularity, a list of style groupings that the name belongs to, nicknames, sibling names for the name, and a brief paragraph explaining people's impressions of the name.

For example:
Currently #42, peaked at #1 in the 1980s. (When I was born. What a coincidence.)
Style: New Classics, '70s-'80s, Shakespearean
Nicknames: Jessie, Jess
Sisters: Nicole, Erica, Jennifer, Vanessa, Amanda (I have friends with ALL of these names. The lady knows what she is talking about!)
Brothers: Jeremy, Ryan, Brandon, Jonathan, Christopher
"Everything parents have always loved about Jessica still applies. It's a delicately feminine name with Shakespearean heritage and a peppy nickname. It's an impeccable choice, but not one that will attract much notice -- it's been so popular for so long it gets taken for granted. Less common lacy classics include Cecilia, Juliana, and Veronica."

Then if you happen to love Jessica, you could turn to the New Classics or '70s-'80s lists to find other similar names. Or you could flip to the sibling names to see what the sibling names for those names are. Basically if you like names at all, this book will suck you in for hours.

Oh, and Laura Wattenberg has an equally addicting baby name blog with lots of the same information, plus maps and charts for each name, and thoughtful, well-written posts on everything from British v. American baby names to Pope Benedict's take on names to the "mysterious persistence of little Johnny". I highly recommend the blog too!

Rating: 5 out of 5
Should I recommend this to my grandma? Sure. Hopefully she's not having more kids!

Do you have a favorite baby name book or website? Or am I just crazy and obsessed?


This post contains Amazon affiliate links.