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Which Best Selling Novel Should You Read? March 2016

March 6, 2016
It's a best seller and a Pulitzer Prize winner. Somebody out there HAS to hate this book.

It’s a best seller and a Pulitzer Prize winner. Somebody out there HAS to hate this book.

Reading a current best-seller list is like scanning the television guide; we might not watch/read everything, but it’s good to know what’s new.  Even though the new best-selling novels are too expensive to buy right now,  the high prices won’t last forever, and I like to plan ahead.  By reading the March 2016 best-sellers list, I can see what I’ll want to read in March 2017.

  1.   All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr-

I’m surprised this novel doesn’t get more negative reviews.  It’s a #1 best seller, and it’s won (or received) the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2015.   When a novel hits #1 or wins a Pulitzer, a bunch of contrarians start griping about how it’s overrated.  This novel is both.  How can it NOT be considered overrated?  Where are the contrarians?

Maybe the book doesn’t deserve any negative reviews, but that’s not the point.  No matter how great a book is, the contrarians must come out once it reaches a certain point of success.

Contrarians, I’m disappointed in you.

    2.    A Girl’s Guide to Moving On by Debbie Macomber-

This is a best-selling novel written by a best-selling author, but it sounds like a blog title.  I read a lot of blogs, and I’m sure I’ve seen that title before.  I’ve written blog titles like that, except for the word girl or the words moving on.  I’m not a girl, but I’ve been told that I write like one.  I’m not sure what that means.

Obviously, nobody agrees with me about the bloggish title of this novel because the book is #2 on the best sellers list.  Congratulations, book with a blog title!!

    3.  The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins-

Here is proof that success brings out the contrarians.  The Girl on the Train has been a best seller for months, but almost everybody I know says it’s not that good.  Maybe they say that because it’s not that good, or maybe they say that because their expectations were so high for a book that’s been on the best seller list for so long.

People I know keep saying it’s overrated, but it keeps selling.  I wish I could write a book that was overrated.

    4.  The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah-

Here’s the second novel on this list to be set during World War II.  I’d write a novel set during World War II too, but then I’d have to do research, and I’d probably mess something up.  In my book, partisan fighters would tweet out Nazi troop movements, or POWs would escape while German soldiers were staring at their phones.

In my memory, people have been staring at their phones all my life.  I’ve only been staring at my phone for five years, but I swear I have memories of me staring at my phone in elementary school (in 1971).  I’d better not write a novel set during World War II.

   5.  Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee-

Harper Lee passed away last month, but her rough draft is still a best seller.  It may even remain on the best seller list longer than The Girl on the Train.  Maybe this is morbid of me, but it’s kind of too bad that Harper Lee didn’t publish her rough draft earlier when she could have enjoyed the success that it’s having.  I mean, I guess it’s good that her estate will still make a lot of money off it, but maybe it would have been better if it had been discovered when…

Never mind.  It’s probably morbid of me.

   6.  Cometh the Hour by Jeffrey Archer-

This is book 6 of a 7 book Clifton Chronicles series.  The blurb mentions a bunch of characters, so it sounds like you have to read the first five books to understand the sixth book.  Maybe the series is pretty good.  It probably is, but I don’t read a book series that goes over three books anymore, and if I do, I don’t start until the author is completely finished.  When book 7 of the  Clifton Chronicles cometh, I might read book 1.

   7.  Wedding Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke-

This is a food murder book.  I think food murder is a horrible idea for a book series.  I thought Sue Grafton’s alphabet mystery series was a horrible idea, but this is worse.  There are already 19 food murder books by this author (and I don’t want to make any bad puns with the author’s last name).  I don’t care how many successful food murder books this author writes, I still think it’s a horrible idea.  I’m never going to change my mind.  I’m open-minded about many topics, but food murder books is not one of them.  I cannot change my mind on this.

I need to apologize to Sue Grafton.

   8.  My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout-

This book is a bad role model for students.  My two daughters have been told by their English teachers not to start off their compositions with “My name is…”  Now a best-selling book title starts with “My Name Is…  How do I explain this to my daughters?  Maybe I should tell them to title their essays “My Name Is _________” and see how their teachers respond.  I hate it when famous authors use writing techniques that our English teachers told us not to use.

On the other hand, I like titles that are complete sentences.

   9.  Brotherhood in Death by J. D. Robb-

J.D. Robb sounds like a guy, but she’s a woman.  Evelyn Waugh sounds like a woman, but he was a guy.  Robert Galbraith sounds like a guy, but she’s J.K. Rowling, who also sounds like a guy but is really a woman.  I know that gender shouldn’t matter when a reader is selecting a book, but c’mon.  An author shouldn’t try to deceive his/her readers like that.  If a guy wants to read a book written by a guy, he should have that choice without looking up an author’s name on the internet to see if he or she is cheating.

   10.  NYPD Red 4 by James Patterson and MARSHALL KARP-

I’m pretty sure MARSHALL KARP did most of the writing, and the other author will get most of the money, so I’m trying to help out MARSHALL KARP as much as I can.  I’m not going to read NYPD Red 4 by MARSHALL KARP because I don’t like the scam that the other author is pulling, but maybe MARSHALL KARP can start publishing his own novels soon so that MARSHALL KARP can start getting credit for what he writes.

*****

These are the top ten best selling novels so far in March.  Which one are you most likely to read?  Is a Pulitzer Prize winning novel automatically overrated?  Do you have memories of staring at your phone before staring at phones was possible?

*****

Here’s the reason why I like a book title that is a complete sentence.

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28 Comments
  1. I almost never read bestsellers.
    It seems like my whole life is about being contrarian, and not reading bestselling books, is yet another one of the ways I’m Americanizing wrong.

  2. Raney Simmon permalink

    I don’t read books based on whether they are bestsellers or not. If the content of the book sounds interesting enough, I’ll give it a read. But if it doesn’t interest me, I’m not going to bother, whether it’s a bestseller or not.

    • I admit it, I fall for the hype sometimes.

      I usually do what you do, but every once in a while, I hear so much hype about a book that I feel compelled to start reading it, even if it’s a book I typically wouldn’t be interested in. Gone Girl was kind of like that.

  3. I have read exactly none of these books, but I’ve read several pages of All the Light We Cannot See and they were fantastic. I think the first page only has like two paragraphs on it, and I kind of almost feel to my knees as I read it, it was so good. If I were to read one of these books, that would be it. But I probably won’t.

    I was having a conversation earlier today about food murder books. I call them recipe murder books, because a lot of them have recipes in them. Either way, there’s a whole genre dedicated to them, and I think that’s a disgusting way to go. No pun intended. I don’t understand why people want to combine these two things into one book, which nine times out of ten has a cutesy, punny title.

    Now, titles that are complete sentences…. I like them a lot for blog posts (not so much for books). In fact I have titled a few of my own posts with complete sentences, and that is a technique I borrowed from you, good sir. Although, come to think, they are sometimes incomplete sentences with periods. You may want to avoid them, actually. They go against everything our English teachers taught us about titles. And sentences.

    • Okay, I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks food/recipe murder books are a bad idea. Both of us can’t be wrong. I might be wrong about a lot of stuff, but if the two of us agree on something, then I know I’m not wrong.

  4. Wonderful sellection

  5. I tried to read Girl on a Train, couldn’t finish it. bleh.
    Um, food murder, guess you don’t want to beta my current WIP then. LOL.

  6. I don’t think your comments about Harper Lee are morbid at all. They make sense to me. I do wish the release of the draft had been presented with more accuracy. The draft is an interest in itself, but many were led to think of it as a distinct work.

    • I agree. I think it would have been more honest to present it as a rough draft, but it probably wouldn’t have made as much money that way.

  7. I just love your idea of WW2 POWs escaping while German soldiers are staring at their phones. Perhaps you should consider writing a WW2 novel set in an alternate universe?

    • Thanks. I’ve never written real historical fiction or alternate universe historical fiction, so it would be a change of pace. I am, however, an expert at staring at my phone (though I can quit any time I choose).

  8. I have The Girl on the Train waiting to be read – yes I fell for the hype and it will probably disappoint me greatly.
    Wouldn’t read Jeffrey Archer on principal – he was a Conservative politician here in the UK for some years. Was sacked – twice – for being dodgy and dishonest. Went to jail for perjury and perverting the course of justice (lying to the police, basically). He’s a repellent human being. I know that shouldn’t make a difference to whether I read his books, but I wouldn’t give the man a penny of my money. Rant over 🙂
    Food murder books – is that a genre? Good lord. What’s next? BDSM eroticism and home improvements?
    Totally agree with you about that OTHER AUTHOR. Did you see that aspiring authors can win the chance to co write with him? As long as they’ve paid money up front for one of his online courses, of course. http://www.adweek.com/galleycat/masterclass-to-host-the-co-author-a-book-with-james-patterson-writing-competition/116120
    Could be our opportunity to write an overrated bestseller?
    Love your WWII idea – and Susan’s spin on it is inspired. If people will read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, they’ll read Nazis and Cellphones.

    • “Love your WWII idea – and Susan’s spin on it is inspired. If people will read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, they’ll read Nazis and Cellphones.”-

      Ha ha! The only problem with using a World War II book for zombies or cellphones is that I don’t think any World War II books are in the public domain yet. That means I’d have to write the book myself and do… research.

      I didn’t know all that stuff about Jeffrey Archer. And I’m not sure I want to click on the link to the James Patterson competition. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to do it. My blood pressure has been a lot better recently.

      • Yes, research can be a chore unless you’re generally obssessed by a certain period, and WWII is so widely written about an author takes a risk with the facts at their peril.
        How about a time travel story where the Nazi soldiers are transported to the present? Then they can have their cellphones and you won’t need to research battles and troop movements 🙂
        I’ll give the Patterson comp a miss too – I have no desire to pay him money for the privilege that he’ll look at my work. He truly is a one man money making phenomenon.

  9. I don’t tend to read best sellers till they fall off the list, if at all. Lately my book reading is based on what my 6 year old brings home. (See Jane Run is still super popular by the way) and things my husband finds on Audible (his dyslexia keeps him from reading bound books) Some of the most interesting things are on there and most of them I’ve never heard of. Mostly I’ll look at the description and then the first paragraph of a book. If you can’t interest me in either of those sections you won’t keep my interest for an entire book and I won’t waste my time. My March reading (listening) Lamb the Gospel According to Biff Christ’s Childhood Pal So far a hilarious book!

  10. Hahaha very funny. I tried reading All the Light…once, but I found it too melodramatic and overrated. Maybe I should finish it and be the contrarian you’re looking for!

    I rather liked Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. Too bad it seems like the person who should be looking after her best interest was more interested in her’s.

    And food murder, really? That’s a thing?

    • So you liked Go Set a Watchman and disliked (the part you read of) All the Light We Cannot See. That’s the opposite of what most readers think. I think you already are the contrarian (I mean that as a compliment), even if you never finish All the Light We Cannot See.

  11. I didn’t even know food murder books was a thing. Why combine something so ugly with something so beautiful? It’s like Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett in book form. And Lyle is the food in this scenario. America is full of crazy people (Trump keeps winning), so that must account for this list. I agree that an author shouldn’t try to deceive his/her readers like that. That is bad form. Really, anyone trying to fool us with their gender is bad form. I want to be able to glance once at a book title (or a person) and be able to know, not call a P.I. to help me determine gender. And that also goes for people named Terry and Jamie. Change your gender-neutral name so we know to whom we’re talking. Guessing games wears me down. Yes, I realize my name is Kerbey. 🙂

    • As long as it’s your given name, it’s no problem. In fact, even if you chose the name Kerbey, it’s no problem. I believe people should be able to choose their own names, even if it confuses potential readers, as long as it’s NOT done for the sole purpose of deceiving potential readers.

      • Actually, it’s my dead dog’s name, and I said that in my bio, so I’m honest. I guess you can name a neutered dog an androgynous name, since it’s not full-on male anymore. 😦

  12. Came across your blog and love it! Following 🙂

    I have to say, I am sick to death of WWII books at present. I understand that it is a pivotal historical period, but after I trudged through ‘Life After Life’ by Kate Atkinson for my book club I was done with WWII for a good long while. I feel like a Judgy McJudgerson, but sometimes I think people set novels in WWII because it has the built-in war drama. And I get it, it’s hard enough to write novels, why not use the drama of one of the most influential and well-recorded wars in human history to almost automatically pique the interest of the reader? I just wonder if I’m the only one whose interest in WWII novels is waning, or who at least needs a break from it.

    • Well, there ARE a lot of World War II books out there. I think World War II is popular because it’s easy to set up the good guys and the bad guys. An author might have a difficult time doing that with some other wars.

  13. abishta permalink

    This is probably not the place for this comment but I can’t figure out where else on WordPress to make it and I wanted you to know that I really enjoyed your book “Crap is Not a Bad Word!: and Other Topics Polite People Don’t Discuss”

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