I have a lot of name books. Each one is beloved for one reason or another, and I plan to post about each one in due time.
The first — the mama of them all in my humble opinion — is The Baby Name Wizard, Revised 3rd Edition: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby by Laura Wattenberg.
You might think that, for a Catholic baby name blog, I might start with a book of saints names. There are many such that are excellent references, but no name book besides TBNW that I’ve ever come across has all the elements that I love in a name book: pronunciation, commentary, popularity, nickname options. Not only does TBNW have all those, but it has a feature that I’ve never seen anywhere, and I just love it: it offers “Brother” and “Sister” suggestions for every single entry, by which it does not mean names that should necessarily be sibling names of someone with the entry name (though they are excellent suggestions), but more that the sibling names listed are similar to the entry in style and popularity; someone interested in the entry name might very well find that he or she also loves the listed sibling names and is inspired by them. It’s a particularly helpful feature for someone who has a sense of some names that he or she likes, but none of the ones on their list are striking them as *the* one. The listed sibling names might provide that very name, or send them on the path to finding it.
For example: Dakota (girl) has Sedona, Oakley, Montana, Shenandoah, Laramie, and Bryce listed as sister names, and Maverick, Chayton, Ridge, Jedidiah, Coty, and Sawyer listed as brother names. Not only do you have twelve more names to consider, but those names also give a fuller idea of the image that “Dakota” on a little girl projects.
I mentioned the “Saints” section in a previous post, and the names listed are truly delectable. Given that the “quirkier corners of 2000 years of religious history” were plumbed to create the list, there are some really fun options on there, like Amata, Filomena, and Landry for girls; Cormac, Gennaro, and Tillo for boys. Some of the more obscure ones aren’t listed in the main part of the book, but others are, leading to great related options: Felicity’s sisters include Verity, Juliet, and Arabella, and brothers include Crispin, Colin, and Oliver; Rocco’s sisters include Mia, Giada, and Lucia, and brothers include Luca, Arlo, and Jude.
I’ve read TBNW front to back a hundred times or more, and I always learn something new with each read. I can’t recommend this book highly enough (and if you’re a real name enthusiast, you can check out the author’s blog, which she updates weekly, and the various forums available to discuss naming issues and questions).