Friday, September 17, 2010

Books That Get Too Much Attention and Books That Deserve More

Did Jonathan Franzen sell his soul to the devil? You gotta admit it, the guy has gotten his share of breaks, including an Oprah blessing TWICE. And this after he dissed her back in 2001. I read Kitty Kelly’s book on Oprah and if that biography is accurate, she is a woman who does not take kindly to dissing.

It’s not as if Franzen needs a big “O” endorsement.* He captured the number one spot on the NY Times list this week AND you can’t walk into a bookstore without stumbling over a towering display of Freedom. I can’t help but wish Oprah would have picked someone a little less obvious. (Like Emma Donoghue’s Room for starters. Writing an entire novel from the point-of-view of a five year old is no puny feat.)

Which leads me to this week’s topic: Certain books seem to get more attention than they need (or possibly deserve), while other very fine books slip silently into the night. For instance, did you know the “Great Gatsby” was initially declared not-so-great by critics and that many copies went unsold? It wasn’t until after Fitzgerald’s death that the novel really took off when 150,000 copies of the novel were given to US serviceman.

Or were you aware that the  Red Tent experienced tepid sales until the author sent remainder copies to hundreds of rabbis?

Can you think of a book that deserved more attention than it got? This week I’m giving away a copy of the recently released “Love in Midair” by Kim Wright because I FLIPPED over it and while it did well, I think it deserved far more love than it got. Leave a comment and this fab book could be yours. Here’s some more info:

A chance encounter with a stranger on an airplane sends Elyse Bearden into an emotional tailspin. Suddenly Elyse is willing to risk everything: her safe but stale marriage, her seemingly perfect life in an affluent Southern suburb, and her position in the community. She finds herself cutting through all the instincts that say "no" and instead lets "yes" happen. As Elyse embarks on a risky affair, her longtime friend Kelly and the other women in their book club begin to question their own decisions about love, sex, marriage, and freedom.

PW gave it a starred review and said, “Wright hits it out of the park in her debut, an engaging account of a woman contemplating divorce.”

Even cranky Kirkus gave it the love saying, “Sharply written and emotionally accessible.”

I’ll announce a winner after 6 p.m. EST on Sunday.


P.S. Last week’s winner: Debra S. Email me at kgillespie@knology and I’ll send you the signed Dot Frank book.

(On a completely different note, I wonder why Oprah’s audiences continue to blindly support her endorsements. Lately, she doesn’t seem in touch with her female followers when she makes book recs. The magazine, however, seems to understand its readership and picks books accordingly.


  1. Gee, so many books that didn't live up to the hype. One that I was particularly disappointed in was Evanovich's Fearless Fifteen. She's phoning them in now, I'm afraid, yet each of her books is more successful than the last.

    On the other hand, Amy Tan's Saving Fish from Drowning was an amazing book, and I barely saw anything about it.

  2. I'm pretty tired of hearing about freedom and agree that throwing oprah into the mix was a bit mind-blowing. I actually think Room is getting good buzz. I loved it and hope it gets even more attention. I have heard great things about Love in Mid Air and would love to win it!

  3. One of the last books I read was a huge NYT-bestseller, but I just couldn't get into it.

    I'm definitely going to have to check out Room and Love in Mid Air!

  4. Karen, I hear lots of complaints about Evanovich's books last few books. Can't comment because I don't read her. Did you know she switched publishers recently? Room is getting the good buzz, Melissa. I think it's the lead review in this Sunday's NY Times.
    Wonder what that book was, Tootie? When that happens to me I always go to Amazon or Good Reads to see if others agree.

  5. Two books that instantly come to mind as 'should have but didn't' are THE GLASS CASTLE by Jeannette Walls and Jennifer McMahon's PROMISE NOT TO TELL. THE GLASS CASTLE was hauntingly gritty and my daughters and I are still talking about the Potato Girl from PROMISE NOT TO TELL, years after reading it.

  6. I read "Promise Not to Tell," Jill and really loved it. I think she's written two more since then.

  7. I'm adding Room and Love in Mid Air to my fall reading list...they sound awesome! Glad I found this blog via Brenda. Lots of good stuff happening here!

  8. The book that immediately comes to mind that didn't get the attention it deserved is ROXANNA SLADE by Reynolds Price. Price is a masterful storyteller, and it's downright mind-blowing that he wrote this wonderful novel in the voice of a woman.

  9. I'll definitely check out that book, Beth. Price is so prolific. I think I heard he taught Anne Tyler.

  10. Thanks for your recommendations, I'm looking to start a new book!

    Kim Kiehl

  11. Wow! Adding both of these to my list!!

    Kamela, I'm so glad you found us- glad you are enjoying!!

  12. I LOVED Love in Mid Air.... don't enter me because I have a copy, but agree that it would be wonderful if O could let a lesser-known author shine!

  13. I have yet to read a Franzen book. I'm curious because I grew up in the Midwest, but not enough to buy his book(s).

    I did just order Room from Amazon yesterday as well as Stormchasers by Jenna Blum.

  14. The winner of Love In Mid-Air is Melissa Sarno. Please email me with your address at

  15. Hi Karin! Chiming in a little late but Love in Mid Air sounds awesome and I added it to my to-buy list. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Thanks for the recommendations, Karin!