This one caught my eye in the library catalog, when I was looking for a copy of Gone with the Wind. It’s casual info essays on fifty popular books: the backstory to why they were written, mostly as very short bios on the authors. I was curious about what made these popular titles so lasting, and it conclusively seems to be: they were based on life. Not necessarily autobiographical in nature, but that the crux of the novel was drawn from something very personal the author experienced, especially if it involved suffering. Surprising, how many of the writerrs weren’t actually studious, or failed to thrive in structured educational environments. Also a bit surprising the selection here. There’s classic writers including Charles Dickens, William Golding, Harper Lee, Steinbeck, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Tolkien, Mark Twain . . . but also those who penned thrillers and bestselling romances: Peter Benchley, Jackie Collins, Dan Brown, etc. I read through the chapters about works I’d heard of but never read (or tried and couldn’t) such as The Great Gatsby and Lolita, curious if it would give me some insight into why others liked them. What made them great that I couldn’t appreciate. I admit that I skimmed a few chapters that were about books I’d never even heard of. Interestingly, there was a shorter section at the end on popular non-fiction titles which included In Cold Blood, Alex Haley’s Roots, The Origin of Species (I hope to get through this one someday), the English Dictionary (! explaining the origins of dictionaries alone would take a whole book by itself I think !) and Guinness World Records. That last one was interesting, I didn’t know of its origins before. For the books I was already familiar with in here, I didn’t learn much new. For the ones I hadn’t read, it caught my attention. I noted two titles to add to my TBR. Nice to breeze through.
Borrowed from the public library.