It's no secret -- readers love this title


The secret lives of just about everyone on the planet aren't so secretive anymore -- and we're not just talking tabloid celebrities.

These days, the hush-hush cavorts of the bronc-ridin', chaw-spittin' cowboy over yonder is also out of the bag. At least, that's what the title of Tom Groneberg's memoir leads readers to believe.

When he wrapped up The Secret Life of Cowboys before its release in late July, Groneberg worried the book title wasn't as original as he hoped. An editor convinced him that he was "buying into a tradition," and the title stuck.

Many artists and writers are part of that tradition. Take, for example: The Secret Life of Bees (fiction book), The Secret Life of the Brain (PBS documentary), The Secret Life of Plants (botany book), The Secret Life of Bill Clinton (a tell-all book), The Secret Life of Maps (museum exhibit), The Secret Life of Us (Australian soap opera) and The Secret Life of Morgan Davis (song). The list goes on.

The Secret Life of ... title has survived for decades, primarily because it works under serious and humorous circumstances, said Jerome Kramer, editor in chief of Books magazine.

"There's a certain ironic sense of humor attached to that phrase," Kramer said. "It's catchy and it's kind of fun. It falls somewhere between a genuine promise of intrigue and a playfully ironic promise that you're not going to get what you expect, but something funnier."

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