Bestseller lists are so misleading. There’s a much better way to find books worth reading.

Learn how to find worthwhile ‘reads’ by avoiding bestseller lists.


The book synopsis:

Lydia is dead.

But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins this debut novel about a mixed-race family living in 1970s Ohio and the tragedy that will either be their undoing or their salvation. Lydia is the favourite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfil the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter becomes a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart.

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Bestseller lists are useless to those readers who know their true reading persona. Big sales of books do not guarantee or ensure that the popularly sold book is going to be a worthwhile read. The bestseller lists merely mean that many people bought the book. They did not necessarily enjoy reading it; they did not necessarily find the book engaging or entertaining. It simply means that they were persuaded into buying the book because they saw many others bought it. Ergo, the book must be good.

Baloney! After years of reading, many years, many of which I used the ‘bestseller list’ as my tool of selection, I have been disappointed too often, too many times to count. One of my biggest disappointments by a writer named Donna Tartt is a perfect example of what I am explaining. The Secret History was on numerous bestseller lists, remaining highly ranked for many weeks. The author spent ten years writing the book. The book is a heavy tome of more than 500 pages. For me, the book was unappealing [to be politically correct].

This is not a review of The Secret History (reviewed elsewhere, search it out) on the site. Everything I Never Told You will be shelved on the same shelf as Tartt’s book. Ng’s debut book is a laudable first effort. It is polished and engaging on many pages, but not always. It develops a story about a mixed race family but confuses the reader at times. It focuses on one stream, the trials and tribulations of the members of the story’s family, but digresses with distractions of secondary characters intruding into the main story detracting from its attraction and engagement.

If you enjoy reading soap operatic material, this is your book. If you enjoy reading mundane examples of a family’s tribulations, read this book. If you enjoy psychoanalysis of troubled lives, of people constantly in conflict with others, get this book. If you a parent with children, this book may have a worthy message for you. If you belong to an ethnic minority, you may find some valuable points in this book about racism and self-defending against it.

This book was unappealing to my tastes. It was base, mundane and pedantic. At times, it was confusing leaving me in a quandary as to what the author is trying to get across. Finally, the book drags or bores too often making me wish that I was finished. This was not a book where I relished page after page of suspenseful or engaging prose. Simply put, this is not my kind of book.

I no longer use bestseller lists as my tool of selection of good reads. Instead, I talk to friends who are readers whose tastes I know, whose opinions I value. I belong to a book club, listening to their discussions to learn how they evaluate what they read and then learn what they consider worthwhile reads. I also depend on my own exposure and experience with authors I have read. My favourite writers are John Grisham, David Baldacci and Lee Child whose books are very appealing, not just because I like their genre but also because I like their writing style. But I go beyond suspense and legal dramas enjoying some outstanding Canadian writers. Terry Fallis, Linwood Barclay, Will Ferguson to name a few. I like the books these writers create. So do many others, as confirmed by the bestseller list listing of books written by these authors.

So, use bestseller lists as an AID to helping you select books to read but not solely. Listen to your family, your friends, your book reading acquaintances in your quest to find enjoyable books.

Enjoy your choices!

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