Filling the NFL Void: Lessons From the New York Times Best Seller List

You Don't Need John Nash to Find The Pattern.

You Don’t Need John Nash to Find The Pattern.

I mentioned this in my post-Super Bowl comment, but it seems like a predominate theme of the last few days has been, “Life ends the day after the Super Bowl.”  It makes some sense from a sports fans’ perspective.  February can feel like a black hole.  Unless you like regular season action in the LESSER sports, we’re months away from some real drama.  I don’t really subscribe to this theory.  Am I less of an NFL fan than others?  Less of a man?  Maybe, but after that 4.5 hour game on Sunday, I’m OK with the NFL heading into its off-season.  But it is a long time until April, when we’ll get the Masters, the Final Four, and the start of baseball season.  What to do in the meantime?

One of my thoughts is that I could actually spend less time glued to the television.  I won’t, but I also could read a few more books.  My problem?  Where do you find a good book to read these days?  Is there a website that rates books for people who actually read?  There should be an “APP” where you type in twenty books you like and it spits out another twenty that you probably would enjoy.  Would that be so hard person who invented Pandora?

In the absence of book Pandora, at least until someone kindly tells me that it does exist, I thought I would check out the New York Times Bestseller List.  Surely there are some good books to found there, right?  RIGHT?  Let’s see:

#1: Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

My Initial Reaction:  Oh god, NO.  I knew people bought these books, especially when they are turned into movies, but number one?  In moments of weakness I can understand watching a Nicholas Sparks movie, but I don’t understand reading the books.

Key Line From the Amazon Summary:  “In the darkest hour, love is the only true safe haven.”

Chances I’ll read this book:  0%

The Best Selling Formula at Work:  Love stories about pretty people.  The masses love to read about people who are good looking, are rich, live in exotic locales, etc.  Want to write a book about an ugly person with some issues?  Better make it a memoir.

#3: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

My Initial Reaction:  I was expecting Gone Girl to be #1.  It’s hot.  I was given the book as a hand me down and its a boilerplate best seller.  Perfect plane reading.

Key Line From the Amazon Summary:  “One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong.”  Unputdownable?

Chances I’ll read this book:  100%.  Already read it.

The Best Selling Formula at Work:  Create a question.  In this case, the question is, did this guy murder his wife?  Reading the book then becomes an exercise is answering this question.  In addition to that, this type of book provides you with a chance to be “right.”  Something everyone loves.  Very satisfying to read a book and be able to say, “I knew it!”

#s 5, 8, 9: Various Fifty Shades of Awful Grey by E.L. James.  

My Initial Reaction:  Of course this is a trilogy.  And, is E.L. James some type of hat tip to J.K. Rowling.  Do initials sell more books?

Key Line From the Amazon Summary:  “Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.”  Also, 4-EVA.

Chances I’ll read this book: 1%

The Best Selling Formula at Work:  Make pants tingle.  Never underestimate the naughtiness of the masses.  These books are the Snackwells cookie phenomenon.  At first glance it’s like, look at that monster eating all those cookies…then you realize, OH, THEY’RE SNACKWELLS–CARRY ON.  Poorly written erotica?  All good if it’s on the best seller list.

#6: Suspect by Robert Crais.

My Initial Reaction:  Sometimes I think about titling a piece of work and I have no idea what I would call it, it can be agonizing.  You want to be so damn creative.  Then, you see something like Suspect and realize that after you crank out a few bestsellers you can call a book whatever you want.  Book #4.  People won’t care.

Key Line From Amazon Summary:  “Maggie is not doing so well, either. A German shepherd who survived three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan sniffing explosives before losing her handler to an IED, her PTSD is as bad as Scott’s.”

Chances I’ll read this book:  14%

Best Selling Formula at Work:  Add a dog.  Dog lovers can sustain your career.  Adding a dog is always smart, making the dog the narrator is even smarter.  Cat narrator:  Poison.

#11 The Racketeer by John Grisham.  

My Initial Reaction:  Someone tell John Grisham it’s OK to stop writing.  His next book is going to be called The Noun.  Shouldn’t he have gotten the hint when they stopped turning his books into movies?

Key Line From the Amazon Summary:  “Who is the Racketeer? And what does he have to do with the judge’s untimely demise? His name, for the moment, is Malcolm Bannister. Job status? Former attorney. Current residence? The Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland.”  Does any of this seem familiar?  YES.

Chances I’ll read this book:  3% (airport emergency?)

Best Selling Formula at Work:  Name recognition.  If my legal name was John Grisham, would it be legal for me to publish books under that name?


19 thoughts on “Filling the NFL Void: Lessons From the New York Times Best Seller List

  1. haha….John Grisham, what a solid mail bag question, you got there…
    haven’t we discussed this site? h-cizzle loves it:

    and re: Gone Girl, I am working on my 8th theory for the book. page 27. i need to know. gotta know. now. i am contemplating an all nighter.

    and…i just had my first cadbury egg of the year. i tried to say no “off dessert” since the super bowl…but it was forced upon me. i may have to eat one more, now.


      • OH, WOW…dumb endings crush me. I liked Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (book, not the hollywoodized movie) then started screaming at the end. That was last book w/ ending that blew me apart.

        OH, GOSH, re: Gone Girl, I’m at like suspect 5. Page 54. I imagine – right now – either the guy’s dad did it or she up and left her “Amazing Amy” identity behind, took a life boat to a deserted island (ie, Nantucket). Roughed it. GOSH. now you kinda make me wanna read til the end stat.

        thanks for warning, though.


  2. Well, that’s an interesting site. I did not know about it.

    It’s not quite what I was hoping for, but it’s something, I guess. I rated 70 books, which seems like a pretty good sample size.

    But the reco’s leave a little to be desired. Just because I like Great Gatsby doesn’t mean I want to read the entirety of american literature.

    But I found 1 author I want to check out (Jess Walter) so maybe I can go from there.

  3. I’m reading Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (three names is the best selling formula at work here). Decent enough. Good premise. Quick read.

  4. I’ve been thinking of starting a blog that would essentially be a book-recommendation group among a handful of friends. Everyone would have their own login and could just post about a book if they wanted to, say whatever they want, read it, don’t read it, whatever. My thought is I’d rather have book recommendations from friends than from NY Times or whatever. You interested?

      • ooohhh. goodness, careful what you ask for.

        but of course:)

        DC, i set up my Good Reads account last night…overwhelmed, i started with Chick Lit and my list looks awful. disproportionately beach reads. do you have an account? it is addictive. i’d like to follow you reads.


      • Yeah I want to exchange lists with you too. I’ve tried to use goodreads twice and both times I kind of bounced out–my thought with the blog was that it would be essentially like a private little goodreads site. But if you think goodreads is sufficient we could try just all using that?

      • I think the blog might work better, of course, people will have to participate regardless, but if everyone was subscribed to the blog we’d just get an email anytime someone posted and then you could check it out…

        I’m not sold on goodreads yet. Putting Ramona and Beezus in my top-5 suggestions because I said I liked Charlotte’s Web isn’t THAT helpful.

  5. Yeah, I would add to the book blog. One of the worst parts of Chester County Book Company closing down is the loss of their reco section. The staff section at Barnes and Noble is a disgrace.

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