The book never did hit the big time, but we had fun appearing on BookTV (much to our surprise) and radio shows. We also got a few nice reviews. Library Journal In each chapter, the … Continue reading
Oh, man. What can I say about Why We Read? This book was such a labor of love. It occurred to me and my then-boyfriend, now-love slave (okay, husband) that we really needed to write a book together. But what could a nonfiction-reading Classics professor (him, in case you're not sure) and a fiction-loving s'mores enthusiast (that would be me) possibly write about? Why, books, of course, the very things that had brought us together.
The result was this lovely little book analyzing the bestsellers of 1991 to 2006. We came, we read, we snarked, and mainly we wondered WHY THE HECK we had decided to write a book that required us to read tens of thousands of some of the awfulest pages ever written.
But seriously, it was quite the experience, once-in-a-lifetime type stuff. You should be hearing the opening strains of "I've Had the Time of My Life" right about now.
Book jacket spiel? Okey doke:
We American readers have a lot of dirty little secrets--and our bestselling books are spilling them all.
We have bought millions of books about cheese. We can't resist conspiratorial crooks or the number 7. We want to believe our spouses are aliens. And over a million of us read 50-100 nearly identical books every single year.
American reading habits speak volumes about our quirks--but even more about our desires and fears. In Why We Read What We Read: A Delightfully Opinionated Journey Through Contemporary Bestsellers, Lisa Adams and John Heath take a snappy tour through nearly 200 of the bestselling books to hit the shelves since 1990, hauling out their persistent themes and noodling into the American psyche. What do readers want from their love lives? Who's got the greatest grip on God? Is everybody in Washington crazy--and nasty? Is there more to life than Chicken Soup?
Immersing themselves in the mega-selling worlds of Nora Roberts, J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown, Nicholas Sparks, Bill O'Reilly, John Grisham, John Grey, Spencer Johnson, Rick Warren, and hundreds of other authors, Adams and Heath demonstrate that top-selling books are not merely flukes, not merely predictable favorites from a handful of genre masters. Rather, their common themes stretch across genres, satisfying a reading public scouring the bookshelves for comfort and encouragement from these disparate (and perhaps unlikely) gurus.
That's all well and good--if a bit repetitive--but it turns out that most of these favorite books do exactly the opposite of what readers say they want. Ferreting out the appeal of these titles, Adams and Heath demonstrate how many inspirational books obstruct change, romances keep readers lonely, thrillers comfort, and political books undermine democratic values. They also explore those bestsellers, springing up from the oddest places at times, that bare human experience in all its messy, complicated, shades-of-gray splendor and thus give readers a more realistic shot at the growth and answers they seek.
The first book to examine bestsellers from a reader's perspective--and perhaps the first entertaining book about bestsellers ever written--Why We Read What We Read is an incisive and eye-opening journey through American culture and all its angst and anxieties, obsessions and dreams.
Just to follow up on John’s comments about the top political sellers for 2007, here are the actual top 15 nonfiction bestsellers: 1. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. Atria/Beyond Words (11/06) 4,590,000 2. The Dangerous … Continue reading
This post by John Heath, whatever it might say above Taking a look at the bestselling lists from 2007 and 2008, I have not been surprised that they generally look a lot like those from … Continue reading
Okay, I’m serious now, people. Stop reading James Patterson! He’s just not that good. The numbers, alas, say otherwise: in addition to the four paperback bestsellers already mentioned in my earlier post, the guy has … Continue reading
Here they be. 1. Blood Brothers. Nora Roberts. Orig. Jove (2,247,730) 2. Cross. James Patterson. Rep. Grand Central (1,831,296) 3. Angels Fall. Nora Roberts. Rep. Jove (1,655,329) 4. Judge & Jury. James Patterson & Andrew … Continue reading
Okay, they’ve been here, it turns out, for almost a month. But Publisher’s Weekly has this sneaky way of burying each year’s numbers in its voluminous archives, hiding their presence even from its own search … Continue reading
Hey! My article, “How NOT to Write a Bestseller,” went up last week, but I just discovered it! I’m so on top of things. Beneath the Cover is a great place to find articles on … Continue reading
Sorry for the long absence, folks. Teeth have been pulled out of my face and radioactive iodine injected into my cat. It’s been a crazy month. But I’ll be posting my latest review very soon. … Continue reading
Joel Osteen has written another book. It’s called Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day, and it’s #2 right now—it premiered last week at #1, but got bumped by the … Continue reading
“Author hopes to elevate level of political discourse by illuminating legal issues surrounding hot-button topics,” claims this article in one of our local papers, The Almanac. The subject is Palo Alto resident Malcolm Friedberg, who’s … Continue reading
Some people come to relationships with pets and furniture. We came with books. We have so many books. When we fantasize about our dream house, the most important room is always the library, with great … Continue reading
I swear I didn’t cut him into tiny pieces and bury him in the basement.
So we’ve been getting a lot of flack on this blog post about how we apparently hate romance novels, mostly from people who haven’t read our book but have read reviews of it. People have … Continue reading
So we went to a wedding this past weekend, and I think it’s fair to say we had never been so thrilled to be at any wedding in our lives. Never mind that we had … Continue reading
…because Why We Read What We Read goes through the end of 2006, but we’ve actually read a few things since then. And this way, people can actually comment on our crackpot theories! Much better … Continue reading