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Yellowdog's avatar

In your opinion, are today's Best Seller books, especially the fiction, really that good?

Asked by Yellowdog (12216points) March 13th, 2019

I was waiting to get my tires rotated yesterday at SAM’S CLUB, and was looking at the best seller books—20–30 were displayed—as I waited.

Maybe its just me, but I didn’t see ANY fiction books which spawned the slightest bit of interest in me.

I recognized a few famous authors who have been writing best sellers for decades. But the books were over 1,000 pages and mostly dabbled in miscellaneous, rambling details that were not all that out of the ordinary. There was no colourful or original language. In four hours of reading two books, the plots / stories went nowhere.

I know I’m cynical and critical of things which may be perfectly fine. But I cannot imagine that these best sellers are representative of the best writing, the best minds, the best fiction out there.

Every now and then, an R.K. Rowling, Stephen King, John Grisham or Garrison Keillor emerges.

But even some of the well known authors who have been successful for decades seem to be producing some rather dull material. There must be better authors out there, waiting to be discovered.

What’s your opinion on today’s best sellers?

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21 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Remember “The Martian”?
That book was sooooooo hyped up.
I thought it was terrible.

canidmajor's avatar

Remember, “Best Seller” does not equal “Well Written”. Fifty Shades Of Grey was a best seller. Pretty much every Danielle Steele was a best seller.

There a lot of very well written books out there that are not necessarily best sellers.

The New York Times Book Review will give you a better idea, as will Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Not lately and this link explains How some authors get that status!

elbanditoroso's avatar

Some are, some aren’t.

I can say the editing (and editors) have gone WAY DOWNHILL recently. You can find a couple of typos and editing errors (to say nothing of plot holes) in every fiction book you read.

But “good” is a subjective judgment.

ragingloli's avatar


Zaku's avatar

Really what good? Sales do not equal quality.

I have assumed that almost all best sellers are not something I’ve want to read for pretty much all of my life. With the increasing megacorporatizaton of new books, I’m confident the few new offerings and touted best books are mostly even worse than they have been in past decades.

If I want a good book, I will look to known great authors, recommendations from friends, non-corporate bookstore recommendations, and other actual indications of quality.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, they have to have SOME hard criteria for it getting on the best seller list, and sales is probably the only real thing they have. Other yardsticks would be opinions.

Demosthenes's avatar

My opinion of best sellers is…fairly low. All it means is that they have a wide appeal, but books with a wide appeal aren’t necessarily of any literary merit (or even that good). Not to sound like an elitist, but what the “masses” buy isn’t going to be what gets me interested in a book. In some cases, especially with fiction, it may have the exact opposite effect. Right now on the NYT best seller list I see “Bad Blood”, which I am interested in, but not much else appeals to me. I tend to look to critical reviews, recommendations from friends, and award-winners/nominees to give me ideas of what to read next. Life’s too short to waste time reading schlock. And you’ll find plenty of that on best seller lists.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Sometimes they’re spot on. Seabiscuit was a New York Times Bestseller, and in my top 3 favorite books of all time.

Zaku's avatar

It’s not even “appeal” that generates best-sellers, so much as marketing and other things that have someone know about a book and become intrigued by it without reading it. Most people buying books have not read them yet.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why would I buy a book I’ve already read?

John Grisham is the only author whose books I’ll buy without even reading they synopsis. If it’s on the shelf, and I don’t have it I’ll buy it! Did you know he wrote “Christmas with the Kranks?” only the name of the book was “Skipping Christmas.”

And for some damn reason I’m not able to get the movie “The Client” through Amazon, unless I buy the DVD. It won’t let me buy it to add to my digital library.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Isn’t basically every book released these days a “bestseller” on one list or another?

jca2's avatar

Many best selling books are not good literature, just like much of the popular music is not good music, but obviously there are people that like the best selling books and the popular music, because of sales.

I remember a long time ago, the very popular “Bridges of Madison County” was so popular, and when I read it, I was very disappointed because it was pure crap.

One of the best selling authors, I forget which one, maybe John Grisham, was in a New York Times interview a few years ago and admitted that he doesn’t write all of the books himself. He writes the plot and he has assistants that fill in a lot of the rest. That’s how he pumps out a lot of work.

canidmajor's avatar

@jca2, do you mean James Patterson? I know that’s what he does.

Darth_Algar's avatar

It’s Patterson. That’s why he’s able to have like a billion new novels a year with his name slapped on them. He’s basically like a new version of the old Stratemeyer Syndicate.

jca2's avatar

@canidmajor: Yes probably. I remember it was one of the big best seller authors. You’re probably correct. I’ll search for the article later.

jca2's avatar

Here’s the article about James Patterson and his writing machine:

I don’t believe I’ve ever read one of his books. They’re not really the kind of books that interest me.

Dutchess_III's avatar

And now I know why I’ve always been allergic to James Patterson. I tried to read one of his books once. I didn’t get through the 2nd chapter. It was horrible. I always found his premises to be interesting, but the writing was so insipid.

Zaku's avatar

“but the sales…”

Dutchess_III's avatar

LOL! That’s the start of a poem!

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