How To Write a Bestseller

May 24, 2008 at 12:08 am (Books, Rants, Summer)

Today I went to my fantastic local library looking for another stack of books to read, having decimated my previous one. Last time, I was able to find a fantastic group of books from just the first of four bookshelves of new arrivals, so I was quite hopeful. My hopes, however, were dashed quite roundly.

Apparently, in this day and age, if you want a book to be published, you must write about someone discovering the secret past or identity of

  • Him/herself, having had amnesia or something of the like
  • His/her parent/parental figure, who either just died or is in the process of dying
  • His/her ancestor
  • His/her best friend
  • His/her parent’s friend
  • A random acquaintance the protagonist happens to stumble upon in some delightfully odd manner

In order to discover this secret past/identity, the protagonist must discover some innate truth about himself or humanity in general – or both, if the author is really daring!

The result of this dreadful trend is that after reading the inside cover of over a hundred books, I came home with three, only one of which comes close to the above trend, but was chosen in spite of that because of a reason I shall elucidate in a moment. The three books are:

  • Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips, which is a debut novel about the Greek gods, alive and kicking, living together in a small flat in London, trying to eke out an existence as their powers wane. Being a sucker for mythology, this of course appealed to me, not to mention it looks like quite an amusing, light-hearted read. As the front cover states, “Being immortal is not all it once was.”
  • Heart of Stone by C. E. Murphy. I almost didn’t pick this one up, since it looks a bit too much like a stereotypical fantasy novel, which I had my fill of during high school, making it quite hard for any fantasy novel to catch my interest enough for me to try it, much less finish it. So what was the tipping point, you ask? Well, the fantasy comes from one of the main characters being, essentially, a living gargoyle. As mentioned, I have read quite a bit of fantasy, and have not come across such a creature before (if you have, please let me know!), and so I figured that if the author was creative enough to come up with the initial idea, then they deserve a reading. I’ll let you know if it was worth it.
  • The Executor: A Comedy of Letters by Michael Kruger (translated by John Hargraves), is the one mentioned above, that ventures close to the self-discovery territory. Essentially, a famous writer dies suddenly, and his best friend and executor (of his will, not his life!) comes to his home to search through his papers and notes to find his magnus opus. I’m still not quite sure if I’ll enjoy this, but, in the interest of full disclosure, what drew me in was the last line on the book flap: “The Executor is a witty, ironic, charming commentary on writers, their books, and their long-suffering friends.”

None of these are very long, so hopefully they will last me through the long weekend. Of course, even once the long weekend is over, I don’t know where I’ll find new books, since the New Book section at the library is all searched-out for another month or so – until they switch out the old new books in favor of newer new books. So if you have any suggestions of books you’ve enjoyed – old or new – please let me know! Thank you!


1 Comment

  1. Finally, Something to Do (And More Books - YEY!) « Save Me From the Cold said,

    […] Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen is another self-discovery book that breaks my rule, but it looks like a nice book without too much drama or self-imposed importance. I’m not […]

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