Monday, April 9, 2012

(49)Hit Lit by James W. Hall

Hit List: 
Cracking the Code of the Twentieth Century's Biggest Bestseller 

Publication Date: April 10, 2012
Pages: 336

Feel free to skip over this post if you do not want to see me get my geek on. If you are a Word Nerd like me, then continue on...

In his new book, Hit List, Author James W. Hall takes a look at twelve novels published in the 20th century and shares his thoughts on why they were wildly successful.  The books he chose are listed as follows:
  • Gone With the Wind
  • Peyton Place
  • Bridges of Madison County
  • The Firm
  • The Davinci Code
  • The Exorcist
  • Jaws
  • Dead Zone
  • Valley of the Dolls
  • To Kill A Mockingbird
  • The Godfather
  • The Hunt for Red October.
I admit to having read five of these novels and have seen several other of the movies.  (lol - does that count?) But all of these novels have been bestsellers, some are still bestsellers even after all of these years. Some were "one hit wonders" and others were the beginning of successful careers for the author. But none of that matters because anyone who considers themselves avid readers have heard of these novels.

 Hall takes all twelve of these novels and looks at the common themes in them and why he thinks they became bestsellers.  One common theme that sticks in my mind is that the main characters in each of these novels did not have a traditional nuclear family, or if they did it was incredibly dysfunctional, laden with infidelity and/or abuse. Even Scout had lost her mother at a tender age.  

I admit that I knew very little about Peyton Place and purchased it to read, but I have yet to have read it at the time I am writing this post.  I also bought Jaws and Gone With the Wind (I can't find my copy) based on this book. I think that Hit Lit is one of those books that will only find an audience with real Word Nerds and those interested in replicating the success in their own books. 

What do you think? Have you ready any of the twelve books listed and do you think you will read this book? 


Sam (Tiny Library) said...

My sister would love this book - she did a unit on American Bestsellers for her English lit degree. I remember her talking to me about Peyton Place & Gone With The Wind and how lots of the female characters in bestsellers only find sexual pleasure after being raped by the male characters.

Shannon... said...

I have read several myself:
The Firm
The Davinci Code
The Exorcist
To Kill A Mockingbird

This book sounds very interesting, I may try to get to it!

Mimi said...

At some point, I'd read it if it crossed my path, but I'm not sure I'd seek it out.

I've read "Gone With the Wind"
"Bridges of Madison County"
"The Firm"
"DaVinci Code"
"To Kill a Mockingbird"

and seen a couple of the film versions of others and some of these.

james hall said...

Thanks for your kind works about my book Hit Lit. I love seeing how readers are sharing and discussing books in forums like this. On "one hit wonders", well, it sounds like a bit of a put down, but when you consider that the one and only book they wrote is one of the most popular novel of all time in America, well, that's awfully special. Maybe they just had nothing left to say. Thanks for taking the time to post about Hit Lit. James Hall

Why I Read...

I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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