Bestsellers: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short by John Sutherland

By John Sutherland

Woman Chatterley's Lover. The Blue Lagoon. Portnoy's criticism. The Da Vinci Code. For the final century, the tastes and personal tastes of the typical reader were mirrored within the American and British bestseller lists, and this Very brief advent takes an attractive glance through the lists to bare what now we have been reading--and why. John Sutherland indicates that bestseller lists computer screen one of many most powerful pulses in smooth literature and are consequently valuable of significant learn. Exploring the connection among bestsellers and the models, ideologies, and cultural issues of the day, the booklet comprises brief case-studies and full of life summaries of bestsellers over the years: from In His Steps--now virtually absolutely forgotten, however the largest all-time bestseller among 1895 and 1945--to long past with the Wind, The Andromeda pressure, and The Da Vinci Code. Discussing either vintage and modern novels, along a few superb titles and long-forgotten names. Sutherland lifts the lid at the bestseller undefined, revealing what makes a booklet right into a bestseller and what separates bestsellers from canonical fiction.

Reviews:

His amiable trawl in the course of the historical past of well known books is usually wonderful Scott Pack, the days breezily exciting Kevin strength, Irish instances (Dublin) Sutherland successfully demanding situations the belief book's advertisement good fortune in some way invalidates both its author's integrity or the severe acumen of its readers. as an alternative we're provided a believable imaginative and prescient of the blockbuster or the bodice-ripper as narrative in its purest shape. Jonathan Keates, TLS

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Additional resources for Bestsellers: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

Sample text

50) and densely researched (the author gave up his law practice to write it), Wallace’s epic story of Ben Hur – Prince of Judea, galley slave, chariot jockey, and, finally, Christian disciple – was slow to take off. But, boosted by Sunday-school commendation, sales had reached the million mark when in 1913, Harper’s sold a further one million copies, at one go, to the department store Sears, Roebuck – the biggest ever single order for a work of fiction. The spectacular film version of 1925, starring Ramon Novarro, led to another boom in Ben Hur’s sales, as did the Charlton Heston (Gore Vidal-scripted) 1959 movie.

Buck’s The Good Earth and John Steinbeck’s East of Eden superannuated bestsellers decades after they had first figured in the lists. Most amazingly, George Eliot’s Middlemarch was, for a month or two, the bestselling fiction paperback in the UK in spring 1994, on the strength, again, of a massively popular television dramatization by Andrew Davies. In the absence of such extraordinary circumstances, like the snows of yesteryear, once the bestseller’s brief season is gone, it is gone for good. For those of a curious disposition, this relates to one of the bestseller’s perennially fascinating aspects.

Are there cyclical patterns? Bestsellers In his study of the subject, Making the Lists, Michael Korda suggests that there are cyclical patterns in the American bestseller. Like the Laffer curve in economics, or boom/bust sequences in the housing market, the same kinds of book recur over time with meaningful regularity in the bestseller lists. The Korda thesis may be tested (and, arguably, confirmed) by reference to ‘religious bestsellers’ – novels that take on themselves the Miltonic task of explaining the ways of God to man.

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