Tag: The Bestseller Code (page 2 of 2)

State of Wonder Book Review

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As part of our challenge to read through the 100 Bestseller List presented in The Bestseller Code, I read Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder (Book #99 on the list).  In State of Wonder, Dr. Marina Singh works for a pharmaceutical company in Minnesota.  The story begins with her boss/lover, Mr. Fox, reading her a letter stating that her co-worker and friend, Anders Eckmann, has died at the company’s research site in the remote Amazon jungle.  Dr. Eckmann was sent to Brazil to discern the progress of research into a fertility drug, research led by Dr. Annick Swenson.  Since Dr. Swenson was an early mentor of Marina’s, Mr. Fox believes that Marina will be able to complete Eckmann’s mission to bring back the information, and so he sends Marina to Brazil.

This book couldn’t have been more different from our previous read, Shutter Island, #100 on the list.   While Shutter Island grabbed my attention from the very beginning, I quite literally felt as though I were slogging through the Amazon jungle, hacking a pathway through the first third of State of Wonder.

Read the rest of my review over at It’s A Mystery Blog.

Shutter Island: The Novel Review

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Shutter Island: The Novel


Shutter Island: A Novel, by Dennis Lehane, is #100 on the 100 Book List created by the computer model described in The Bestseller Code by Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers (see Bestseller Code 100 post).  Host Roberta will be reviewing this book later from the writer’s perspective, but today I will review it from a reader’s perspective.

I’ll admit up front that this is not a book I would have picked off the shelf to read.  The cover graphics on the paperback are menacing and The New York Times review blurb begins with, “An eerie, startlingly original story…. A deft, suspenseful thriller….”

Read the rest of my review over at It’s A Mystery Blog.


Join Roberta and me over at It’s A Mystery Blog as we read through the 100 Books List.


The Bestseller Code: Anatomy of the Blockbuster Novel

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!

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