What is it that sets a great book, a popular book, a best seller, apart from the thousands of other books? While plot, writing, timing and characterisation all play a part, these novels have something else, but what?
They conclude that those who write with passion and struggle are more likely to produce writing apart from the average, and a high percentage of the authors discussed experienced significant deprivation and overcame substantial hurdles. Others, on the other hand, did not, and their work is no less compelling for that.
In an attempt to capture something of the spark that ignites best sellers, Bond and Sheedy have created vignettes of the life and times of the writers of some of Western literature’s most beloved, and highest selling, books – whittled down from an initial list of two hundred, there are 40 novels (ranging from Pride and Prejudice to War of the Worlds, Hollywood Wives to Winnie-the-Pooh) and ten non-fiction texts, selected on reputation as much as sales, and covering the gamut of tastes rather than purely snobbish literary works.
It’s fitting that this is my last review for 2007 – next year I intend to read fewer, but more meritorious, books, including some of those discussed in Behind the Best Sellers, How to Read a Novel, and The Complete Polysyllabic Spree. That’s the plan, anyway. And we know that someone visits the blog. Have you read something based on a review? Violently disagree with us? Feel free to comment (click on the hypertext ‘comments’ link), or suggest any books you think we’d enjoy. Happy New Year and stay tuned! - Alex