A couple of weeks ago, Roberta over at It’s A Mystery Blog shared with me a book that she had recently read, The Bestseller Code: Anatomy of the Blockbuster Novel, by Jodie Archer and Matthew L . Jockers. The authors created a computer model to evaluate whether books would become bestsellers. Doesn’t that sound intriguing? Could such a model help publishers decide which manuscript to publish? Would you be able to take the author’s findings and write your own bestseller?
In the final chapter of The Bestseller Code, the authors created a list of the 100 top books the computer chose as bestsellers. Roberta had received permission from the author to create an online book club to read through the list, and she wondered if I would be interested in participating in some fashion? A book club? Another reading list? Why sure, I said! Next thing I know, I’m cohosting said book club. Don’t laugh. You knew it was coming.
I’m currently about 70% through the book, and I’ll be honest, it’s a slow read. There’s a lot of grammatical and writing terms that I, as a reader, don’t use or think about every day. And it has a lot of techno-babble that has gone in one ear and out the other. But I’m enjoying the book. I was surprised to learn what Fifty Shades of Grey and The Da Vinci Code had in common, and why they both stayed at the top of the New York Times Bestsellers lists for such a massive length of time.
One passage struck me quite forcefully, as it described what reading a good book, a really good book, can do to me, for me.
Janice Radway, who has spent many years researching why people read popular books, explains her own experience with fiction wonderfully:
There are moments for me now when books become something other than mere objects, when they transport me elsewhere, to a trancelike state I find difficult to describe. … When this occurs, the book, the text, even my reading self dissolve in a peculiar state of transubstantiation whereby “I” become something other than what I have been and inhabit thoughts other than those I have been able to conceive before.
And there you have it. One of the very best reasons to read.
Join Roberta and me over at It’s A Mystery Blog as we read through the 100 Books List. We’ll publish the list on Monday, October 24, 2016, and share our thoughts as we read though the books. It will be fun!