Must Read: Rediscovering American Bestsellers: From Charlotte Temple to The Da Vinci Code

Overview

What is it about certain books that makes them bestsellers? Why do some of these books remain popular for centuries, and others fade gently into obscurity? And why is it that when scholars do turn their attention to bestsellers, they seem only to be interested in the same handful of blockbusters, when so many books that were once immensely popular remain under-examined?

Addressing those and other equally pressing questions about popular literature, Must Read is the first ...

See more details below
Paperback
$29.22
BN.com price
(Save 16%)$34.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (17) from $8.25   
  • New (12) from $9.64   
  • Used (5) from $8.25   
Sending request ...

Overview

What is it about certain books that makes them bestsellers? Why do some of these books remain popular for centuries, and others fade gently into obscurity? And why is it that when scholars do turn their attention to bestsellers, they seem only to be interested in the same handful of blockbusters, when so many books that were once immensely popular remain under-examined?

Addressing those and other equally pressing questions about popular literature, Must Read is the first scholarly collection to offer both a survey of the evolution of American bestsellers as well as critical readings of some of the key texts that have shaped the American imagination since the nation's founding.

Focusing on a mix of enduring and forgotten bestsellers, the essays in this collection consider 18th and 19th century works, like Charlotte Temple or Ben-Hur, that were once considered epochal but are now virtually ignored; 20th century favorites such as The Sheik and Peyton Place; and 21st century blockbusters including the novels of Nicholas Sparks, The Kite Runner, and The Da Vinci Code.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Relentlessly suspicious of popular literature, particularly the best seller, literary scholars and cultural critics continue to grapple with understanding the allure of the "must read," its historical impact, and its enduring mass appeal. In this new collection of essays, Churchwell (American literature, Univ. of East Anglia, U.K.; The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe) and Smith (River of Dreams: Imagining the Mississippi Before Mark Twain; Southern Queen: New Orleans in the Nineteenth Century) focus on the "critically neglected but historically popular texts" spanning Colonial America (Charlotte Temple) to the 21st century (The Da Vinci Code). Uniformly dense chapters written by literary academics offer meticulous profiles of selected bestsellers that detail the book's production, distribution, and marketing influences, in addition to an analysis of its cultural impact and literary legacy. Notable chapters include, "Crimes and bestsellers: Mario Puzo's path to The Godfather"—a look into the novel's success when the publishing industry was on the edge of crucial change during the years following World War II; and "Ten Nights in a Bar-Room and the Visual Culture of Temperance"—an insightful essay on America's 1854 best-selling graphic novel that illustrates the country's "dark years." VERDICT Recommended for readers interested in publishing trends and the rise and fall of popular American literature, and for the literary extremist.—Annalisa Pesek, Library Journal
From the Publisher

"The volume is particularly strong in its trans-Atlantic, global focus for all historical periods it covers. It is uniformly sophisticated in its attention to gender and sexuality, race, religion, and national identity, but also written in terms easily accessible to undergraduates...Must Read succeeds both in its parts and as a whole. The essays are generally of high quality, but Churchwell and Smith have also created an unusual degree of unity and coherence among the essays. Must Read's thorough, clear introduction and careful selection and framing make it feel more like a monograph. Together, these essays make a coherent argument about popular literature as a site of struggle over meaning across history, a space where controversies over religion, race, nation, gender/sexuality, social and cultural value are negotiated." – Erin A. Smith, American Book Review

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781441162168
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 8/2/2012
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,226,438
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)