Sunday, March 1, 2009

Overrated Best-sellers

Recently I read a great post titled, "In Defense of Bandwagons", which discusses varied attitudes towards reading popular fiction.

I confess, I am one of those people who often resists reading a best-seller if it is something I don't think I'll like. Being a best-seller isn't enough. Once Were Warriors is a "best-seller". Enough said.

But back to the great post...I do agree with Janssen, if something is wildly popular, there's probably a good reason. For this cause, I check "Top 100" lists from varied sources, and browse the "Top 20 shelves". I do care. I will not read the contents of a book solely because of its sales, but I will read its jacket - that is what the sales have earned.

Browsing best-sellers led me to my Grisham phase, discovery of The Poisonwood Bible, and my encounter with the Twilight books.

Sadly, not all dabbling in "what sells" has left me smiling.

I rank The DaVinci Code as number one on my "Overrated Best-sellers" list. I liked the movie better.

I now add Jodi Picoult's Picture Perfect to the same list. I have caught many a female English teacher clutching a work of Picoult during lunch hours...and this warranted my attention. I can now say I have sampled her myself, and been left wanting.

There's no doubt to the quality of Picoult's form...but I am not so rapt with the content. Yes, the story made me think. But I wouldn't read one of her books again - I wasn't truly satisfied, and there was too much "adults only" romping about for my taste. Oh, how I wish there were Parent Advisory notes on books.

I am currently on the fence when it comes to Patricia Cornwell. My dear father sent me an omnibus of her first three novels so I could follow Maria's advice and "start at the very beginning".

I finished Postmortem fairly quickly...but for all the hype Cornwell's received, I found the story a) a little grim for my taste, and b) lacked strong points of difference from other formulaic murder mysteries. I thought Cornwell was going to "wow" me, based on her reputation...but was more enthralled with Jonathan Kellerman's The Conspiracy Club - a murder-suspense standalone novel I think is comparable - but it's less grim, more gripping.

So I'll proceed with Body of Evidence, and then decide if I'm sticking to alternative authors for my mysteries.
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