Every year, a tiny number of books become bestsellers. They are attractively displayed in the windows of Barnes & Noble. Their authors are interviewed on NPR. Everyone seems to have heard about them, and half the people you know have a copy. Their success might come from good writing, but it’s just as likely to come from good PR or good luck.
Meanwhile, scores of wonderful books slip under the radar. Some do pretty well in the marketplace, others languish altogether. Some get a few ecstatic reviews or develop a small faithful audience. Others are overlooked entirely.
For writers, this means that we have a nearly-impossible goal dangling in front of us. It’s easy to believe that you’ll have the next best-selling novel or memoir if you just work hard enough, largely because we see bestselling books and their authors in front of us all the time. What we don’t see are all the writers—and there are thousands and thousands of them—who have written beautiful works that never got the national attention they deserved.
But there’s a negative side to this for readers as well. With only a handful of books getting all the attention, book-lovers are missing out on a wide range of excellent selections just because they aren’t hearing about them. Imagine all the exciting works of literature you’ve never read simply because no one ever told you they existed.
With that in mind, I’m starting a new feature on the Writing as a Sacred Path Blog, designed to do my tiny little part to bring lesser-known books to the attention of readers. Books You Probably Haven’t Read is kind of like Oprah’s Book Club except without, you know, Oprah. All Her Oprahship did, after all, is find books she liked and bring them to the attention of her audience. That’s exactly what I’m going to do, too, except with a few million fewer readers. I have no illusions that this blog will jumpstart these authors' careers or even get them a gig at a local bookstore. I just want to let people know about their books.
Every book I review will be a non-best-seller that I have come across and feel is particularly noteworthy. For the sake of full disclosure, some of the books will be by people I know, not because I want to use this blog as a forum for promoting my friends’ work (although that wouldn’t be such a bad idea anyway) but because I happen to know a lot of good writers with wonderful books published. Quite simply, if I’ve read and liked a book that hasn’t gotten national recognition, I’ll recommend it. I’m not doing negative reviews here. Believe me, I’ve read plenty of lesser-known books that I think should remain as lesser-known as possible, and I will make a small contribution to their obscurity by not mentioning them.
So, tune in next Wednesday, when I’ll launch Books You Probably Haven’t Read by reviewing Christine Bell’s first novel, Saint. And, I'm open to suggestions, so please suggest books that haven't received national attention but should have.
Causes Jill Jepson Supports
Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife, Interational Society for the Protection of Burros and Mustangs, National Wildlife Federation,...