herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

here's five best-sellers you must read

I've had it with best-seller lists. Seeing The Da Vinci Code and Fifty Shades of Grey feature on a new list of the top 20 best-selling books of the last decade (compiled by Nielsen Bookscan) shows that a new kind of list is needed.

A list of books that definitely ought to be best (or better) sellers, if passionate readers could just be persuaded to get behind them.

So I'm starting with five titles, all books that should be on everybody's permanent bestseller list.

It's easy to sniff at lists of bestsellers, but it's a mistake.

Buying a book that is on some bestseller list provides a kind of guarantee that the book, whether it is a literary classic or not, is at the very least unlikely to bore the reader.

It was the stripe across the cover designating Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl as a bestseller that caused me to buy the book, and the reward was enormous: a novel with a deadly plot and a seriously nasty heroine.

Similarly, while the best-seller label makes you more likely to pick up a book by Jodi Picoult, it's a best-seller because it deserves reading. Picoult writes big fat complex books that drag the reader in and won't let them go.

In one of her novels, the central character falls in love with the idea of living with wild animals.

In the one I'd put in my five favourites of recent years - Ninety Minutes - she examines the horrors visited on an ordinary family when their son becomes a spree killer, mowing down fellow students at a high school.

killers

The non-fiction book I'd love to have seen sell more copies than it has so far is Jeff Guinn's Go Down Together, the true story of gangsters Bonnie and Clyde, which is a country mile from the glamourised viciousness of the portrayal that started with the movie starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.

In fact, the two killers murdered mostly by accident and had a shared life that was angry, brutish and short. It was also painful.

For the year before she died, Bonnie effectively had one leg, having had the other burned almost to extinction in a car crash caused by Clyde's reckless driving.

The other great thing about best-sellers, apart from their anti-boredom guarantee, is that they stick around for longer than other books do, like The Time Travellers' Wife.

How this book ever got published is a mystery, because it has the most improbable plot, but it's a riveting joy from start to finish.

Finally, Let the Great World Spin, by Irish writer Colum McCann, cannot be left out.

It's one of those books where you feel you know the characters personally and can't wait to find out what happens to them on the day a man walked on a wire strung between the Twin Towers.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News