I guess I'm a literary snob

It bothers me that the majority of the authors in Amazon's top 25 authors aren't "authors" as I define them. I'm sorry, but diet books and "Who Moved My Cheese" just do not count! It's great that "Harry Potter" is so popular, but where's the real literature - not the so-called Classics, but the thought-provoking books that weren't written to make their authors a ton of money (like the "Left Behind" series)? Where's A.S. Byatt? Robertson Davies? Hey, I'd even settle for "The Secret Life of Bees"!

1 J.K. Rowling The 'Harry Potter' series
2 Spencer Johnson 'Who Moved My Cheese?'
3 Nora Roberts 'Black Rose,' 'Blue Dahlia,' 'Portrait in Death' (as J.D. Robb)
4 Dan Brown 'The Da Vinci Code'
5 Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel) 'Cat In The Hat,' 'Green Eggs and Ham'
6 John Grisham 'A Time to Kill,' 'The Runaway Jury'
7 Stephen King 'Carrie,' 'The Stand'
8 J.R.R. Tolkien 'The Hobbit,' 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy
9 Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins The 'Left Behind' series
10 Jim Collins 'Built to Last,' 'Good to Great'
11 Phil McGraw 'The Ultimate Weight Solution,' 'Life Strategies'
12 Robert Atkins 'Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution'
13 C.S. Lewis 'The Chronicles of Narnia,' including 'The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe'
14 Mitch Albom 'Tuesdays With Morrie'
15 Ken Blanchard 'Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager,' 'The Leadership Pill'
16 James Patterson 'Kiss the Girls,' 'The Big Bad Wolf'
17 Stephen R. Covey 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People'
18 Mary Pope Osborne The 'Magic Tree House' series
19 Marcus Buckingham 'First, Break All the Rules,' 'The One Thing You Need to Know'
20 Lemony Snicket The 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' series
21 John C. Maxwell 'Make Yours a Winning Team,' 'The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership'
22 Janet Evanovich The 'Full' series, 'One for the Money'
23 Robert T. Kiyosaki 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad'
24 Arthur Agatson 'The South Beach Diet'
25 Tom Clancy 'The Hunt for Red October,' 'Red Storm Rising'"


Murphy Jacobs said...

You've got a point there (I really liked "The Secret Life of Bees" although I felt it was more Young Adult than mainstream, but then, I'm old and jaded now).

I think we see in Amazon (and other lists) the operation of our culture, where having wide appeal is the most important factor. So many people now write (or try to) and so many more DO publish. There are many more reviewers and critics and setters of opinion. I think the idea that great literature is challenging isn't out of place, but it doesn't make for a large market share. Ye Average Readre does not, in general, like to be challenged. They like to tread the same pathways they've walked before (thus the popularity of serial books and genre books -- and I can get into a whole discussion about how many "mainstream" novels really consitute genres that haven't been publicly named but that's another thing...)

Happily, I am content to make my own lists, based on recommendations of friends, reviews I've read, authors I've heard read, etc. In fact, I am always vaguely suspicious when something in my pile shows up on any "best seller" list, because just that title smacks of literary mediocrity.

Tosy And Cosh said...

The list isn't a list of the best-selling novelists, so why shouldn't all sorts of non-fiction appear on it? The complaint seems odd; as if the general public should only be reading novels. As for the novelists that are there, I'd still say most were not written "to make money." Rowling certainly had no inkling before she began that the Potter series would be what it has become. For all she knew that first book might never have found a publisher.

Lazygal said...

While I might agree that JK Rowling didn't write the first Potter book for money, the latter books certainly were. And many of the books on this list are not even non-fiction, they're self-help or outright frauds (Dr. Phil is not a medical doctor) - written with the sole purpose of enriching the author.

It's just sad that those are the books we gravitate toward, not books that provoke thought and possible change how we view the world by exposing us to another possible existance.

Others (like you) clearly disagree with that, but I think fiction lovers are dismayed by the lack of sales and "importance" these books have in the public's mind.