Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Best Seller List

The Sunday New York Times turned up missing at the end of my driveway this past weekend. The front page, metro section and Sunday styles remain absent from this writer’s life. How to survive with no arts & leisure?

During the week my news source is radio and computer. On the weekend things are different. I page through the Week in Review to learn what has happened in the world from the often times skewed viewpoint of my favorite newspaper. Delivery is both Saturday and Sunday morning giving me the opportunity to burrow in for twenty-four hours with editorials, essays, obituaries, travel, society news, the state I live in and the usual suspects at work in government. Amongst the density of paper and magazine is the Book Review, the real reason I pay four dollars and twenty cents a week for hand delivery. The reason I dash outside in rain or sleet, the reason I leave a warm bed on a snowy day. The Book Review is about thumbs up or down, it is all about what is being read and critiqued. The Book Review is biblical. My fantasy being, as I skim the current A-list, is to see my name and novel listed there.

Someday I tell myself, someday.

Thankfully I had Saturday’s supplements and my precious book review. There was a blurb on page twenty-two next to the best seller list with a cameo photo of Michael Choban, it read: 2007 was not a bad year for literary fiction on the best-seller lists. The number one novel of the year that remained a best seller is “For One More Day” a mini-hard cover by Mitch Albom. It is currently in the number five position. Following Mitch Albom’s book was “Cross” by James Patterson. His latest in that series “Double Cross” is currently number one on the hard cover list, while the mass-market version of “Cross” is number four.

I find this kind of minutiae intriguing. Books come and go by the hundreds on this coveted list but the one that plucks a chord and remains a constant relates to a life lesson. Mr. Albom has cornered the market on words of wisdom.
In the end it seems immaterial that the book is thin paged, that the writing is less than scholarly and that the plot is almost corny. None of that amounts to a pack of gum because the message Mr. Albom has sent to his readers is what sells books.
Is there a formula here? Or is the answer so simple that it can only be seen when we crunch the numbers at the end of the year.

Writers take heed.

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