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A White Bread Analogy   3 comments

James W. Hall writes crime thrillers and teaches college-level courses about popular
fiction, specifically bestsellers. Although it’s interesting, his recent nonfiction endeav-
or, Hit Lit  subtitled Cracking the Code of the Twentieth Century’s Biggest
Bestsellers
, reads like a textbook, but one likely to end up on the bargain table in a
bookstore.

The concept is intriguing: analyze 12 novels and identify the characteristics that
make them bestsellers. Included in the list is To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone
with the Wind, The DaVinci Code, The Exorcist, Valley of the Dolls,
The Godfather, The Dead Zone, The Firm, The Hunt for Red October,
The Bridges of Madison County, Peyton Place
and, Jaws. I admit I’ve
only read six. Interestingly, the dozen were also made into popular movies – but
that’s another story. Hall, apparently stuck on the number 12, establishes that same
quantity of criteria to examine and actually makes a good case for why, say, Valley
of the Dolls
struck a chord with so many readers. What might be even more worth-
while would be to compare these with less popular tomes. to me, the titles selected
by Hall are the equivalent of white bread. It’s easy enough to slap together a sand-
wich between two pieces of nutrition-lacking, tasteless slices, but there are so many
other varieties that go well beyond mere basic sustenance.

I can easily envision using Hall’s work in the classroom, with the caveat that the num-
ber twelve, both in the book selections and the characteristics reviewed, is not neces-
sarily a magic number.

Hit Lit

Two-and-a-Half Bookmarks
Random House, 2012
287 pages (includes index)

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Posted August 5, 2012 by bluepagespecial in Books, Reviews

Tagged with , , , , ,

3 responses to “A White Bread Analogy

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  1. interested and amused with your conments, read or not to read???? what do you advise?

    also, need something GREAT for just before school starts…anything crazy to recommend, nothing too heavy.

  2. comments, not conments…I guess I should seriously look into reading glasses, I can’t see what I’m writing!

  3. I loved The Night Circus, A Good American, and The Dovekeepers — all reviewed here. You can’t go wrong with any, so you should read them all!

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