Harper Lee has Died

An American icon died today. And even though today is video day and I have a new video for y’all, I felt that I should write one more post about Harper Lee.

I’ve written extensively over the last year about the Pulitzer Prize winning author. Mostly because she popped up in the news for the first time in years and I finally got around to reading To Kill a Mockingbird. But you know what my first thought was when I learned of her death? Some of you will know it. It was that she wouldn’t be taken advantage of anymore.

I’m not upset or critical of her for only writing one book during her lifetime (I still don’t consider Go Set a Watchman anything more than a draft that was never meant to see the light of day). I don’t fault her for not relishing in the media attention she received as a result of her book. And I don’t blame her for her second book coming out.

Harper Lee did in one book what so many people fail to do in a lifetime. She changed lives. Imagine what it would have been like reading her book for the first time in 1960. Depending on your personal ideology and mindset the book would have been eye-opening or repulsive. But when we read it now it gives a glimpse into the ugly history of the southern United States. We all know that not everyone living during the period was racist or experienced racism in their day-to-day lives, which is why her book is so important. It shows the bad in people during the period, but it also shows how good people really were. There were millions of Atticus Finch’s all over the country, but not everyone was fortunate enough to know one.

I won’t thank Harper Lee for writing a masterpiece. Instead I’ll thank her for doing her part to ensure that a terrible time period in the history of this country is never forgotten. So thank you, Ms. Lee. May you rest in peace.

I’ll leave you with my To Kill a Mockingbird video from last year.

And the Bestselling Book on Amazon This Year is…

First, you have to guess. Of course. So go ahead.

*waits*

Before I saw the top 20 list I’d have said *gulp* Go Set a Watchman. I have been very open about being against just about everything this book stands for. But in the back of my mind I’m still thinking of those million books sold the first week. Not too many books doing that. So even with all my reservations about ever reading the book, I’d still have guessed that.

But it was only #3. Here’s the top 20:

1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
2. Grey by E.L. James
3. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
4. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
5. Memory Man by David Baldacci
6. Make Me by Lee Child
7. Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham
8. The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz
9. Dead Wake by Erik Larson
10. Silent Scream by Angela Marsons
11. 14th Deadly Sin by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
12. Old School by Jeff Kinney
13. Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford
14. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
15. Adult Coloring Book: Street Relieving Patterns by Blue Star Coloring
16. The Liar by Nora Roberts
17. Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
18. The Crossing by Michael Connelly
19. The Stranger by Harlan Coben
20. A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

When I read through the list I see no surprises. This may be because I’ve been working in a bookstore for four months, but even I hadn’t I’d still not be surprised by any of these. There are some books that we cannot keep in stock at the store. We’ll get a copy or two of something and they’ll be gone in a day or two. Sometimes this happens with older books, but most often I’ve seen it with newer releases. Which is understandable.

Did the bestselling book of the year on Amazon surprise you at all? Or any others from the top 20?

Goodreads Named THIS Book the Top Fiction Novel of the Year?

Every year Goodreads has its annual Goodreads Choice Awards. They’re voted on by users of the site in a number of categories. There are several rounds of voting to come up with the eventual winners.

I have a Goodreads account, but I don’t use it. The site serves no purpose because I track all my reading on my own, and I don’t care what others are reading or about their recommendations. But I saw the top fiction book and had to talk about it.

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.

Uh, what?

What a joke. The book has a rating of 3.34 on Goodreads. 3.4 on Amazon. 3.8 on Barnes and Noble’s website. So I’m struggling to see how this book has been named as the top fiction book of the year. The math doesn’t really add up. I don’t think there’s a conspiracy going on, but I’m just not seeing where all these people who voted for it have been. Or if they read the same book as everyone else.

Am I the only person who thinks this is a little odd?

No, This is not a Book Collector’s Dream

I’ve been very outspoken about a particular book that was released just a few months ago. You know it. Go Set a Watchman. I have no desire whatsoever to open the book. None. Now I have more to say about it.

Recently the second largest bookstore chain in the US (Books-a-Million) made available some signed, collectible editions of the book. They look fairly nice. Only 500 were printed. I think most of you all didn’t plan on reading the book, but obviously many people have. So now it all comes down to price. Because some will buy Harper Lee anything, no matter the circumstances.

This collector’s edition of the book costs $1500. I can get the original hardcover for like $7 at work, and I think those seven dollars would be money well wasted. Why someone would pay $1500 for THAT book is beyond me. I have doubts as to whether or not she even really signed them herself.

Tell me you wouldn’t consider ever buying this thing.

The Most Popular Books at US Public Libraries are:

First off, sorry for the late post. I’d had every intention to have it publish at my usual time, but today I’ve been a bit distracted by something unexpected. And I decided that my attention was needed elsewhere. But now I’m here with you, as always, just a little late today.

Recently Quartz was given data from some of the top public libraries around the country regarding their most popular books. The data isn’t all from the same time period, but we’re only talking a difference of about a month at the most, so it’s pretty accurate. If I had to guess with no information about any of the libraries, I’d of course think that Go Set a Watchman would likely be at or near the top of some of the lists. I’d also think of To Kill a Mockingbird. Besides those two I’m not sure I’d have any other books come to mind. Here’s the list in no particular order.

Seattle – Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.

San Francisco – Fairyland by Alysia Abbott.

Los Angeles – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

San JoseThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

San Diego – The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Denver – Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf.

Phoenix – Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.

Dallas The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Houston – Truth or Die by James Patterson.

Memphis To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Jacksonville – The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Washington D.C. – The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Baltimore – Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.

New York – The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Indianapolis – Wicked Charms by Janet Evanovich.

I really can’t say I’m surprised by any of these, though I will admit that I’ve never heard of the titles from Denver and San Francisco. The others seem pretty understandable. They’re pretty much mega bestsellers that people are reading all over the country. Maybe just a little surprised that Paper Towns didn’t make it to the top of at least one list. Even though I know the movie isn’t nearly as popular as the first of the John Green adaptations, the book was popular enough to nab a movie deal.

Are you surprised by any of the titles that are the most popular books at some of the public libraries in the US? Maybe you think some titles should be right near the top that aren’t listed?

One Bookstore Got the Harper Lee Situation Absolutely Right

I wrote about everything surrounding the release of Go Set a Watchman last month, but recently I read about a bookstore that handled it as well as I think anyone could have. Brilliant Books in Michigan is offering customers who pre-ordered the book a refund. Yep.

The owner of the store felt that refunds were the right route to take because those customers pre-ordered the book based on the incorrect assumption that it was a sequel. And everyone and their mom now knows that isn’t the case.

This is just one bookstore. I’m a little surprised that more stores haven’t already figured out how to do something about their customers who believed this to a “new” book. Because this is not a case of readers just not liking the book. This is the case of a new book not being a new book. It isn’t a sequel. It isn’t a prequel. It isn’t anything new. It amounts to a draft that was not meant for publication.

Let me just stop before I start rambling. What do you think about this store offering customers a refund?


On this day in 2014 I published Need Some Motivation to get back to Writing?.

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Another Dr. Seuss Book is out Today

Dr. Seuss died in 1991. Seven new books have been published under his name since his death. The difference between this situation and what’s going on with Harper Lee is there is no controversy surrounding the release of his books after his death. It probably helps that he’s probably more popular now than he was during his lifetime.

What Pet Should I Get? is his newest book to be released posthumously. If you’re questioning my above statement about his popularity, then let me tell you a fun fact. This new book is currently the top selling book on Amazon. That’s right. It’s outselling Go Set a Watchman.

The main reason I’m writing this today is to talk about his popularity rather than his new book. Is there anyone in America who doesn’t at least know his name? I’ve stated on here several times that I’ve never actually read one of his books, but I could probably name 5+ just off the top of my head. And I’m not the only one. I read from a reputable source that he’s sold more than 450 million books since his death. I mean, holy shit. Wow. That number is simply ridiculous. I’m not sure there’s another author out there who could sell that many books in the first 25 years after his or her death. And there will be even more books forthcoming.

What I want to ask y’all is why you think he’s managed to remain so popular in the two and a half decades since his death. Sure there are some authors who will always sell books no matter how long it’s been since their death, but he’s basically outselling all living authors right now besides the handful of mega bestsellers! How? Someone enlighten me because I’m really curious.

You can view the Amazon product page for the new book here.


On this day in 2014 I published United Way’s Reading Together Program.

 

Readers Only Care About What Harper Lee has Written Rather Than Harper Lee Herself

I’ve written about Harper Lee multiple times in recent weeks, and today will likely be the last time I do. Go Set a Watchman sold 1.1 million copies in its first six days of release. Even though there’s been controversy surrounding the book since the day it was announced.

Am I surprised by this? No. But it is somewhat depressing to realize. Harper Lee is a literary icon. She’s supposed to be beloved and respected and all these great things by her fans and peers alike, right? But it’s clear to me that her readers only care about what she has or has not written rather than the person doing the writing. I fully understand that people will buy any book with her name on it, but one would think that some people would just not buy it because it may or may not have been published almost entirely without her permission.

People can think of the entire situation however they like, but this is what I think of it. I have a real issue with supporting the exploitation of an elderly woman for money. Because that’s what I truly believe has happened here. And sure you can say that your $15 or whatever it cost you to get the book isn’t even a drop in the bucket when it comes to what this book will earn, but that’s just offering a justification for your actions. A justification that I have no interest in.

Harper Lee has no one Looking out for her

Ugh.

I know y’all have likely read all about the mysteriousness of Go Set a Watchman. No, I’m not talking about the book itself. I’m talking about how it came to be found and published. There are plenty of details that just make you raise your eyebrows. But there’s more to it than what you’ve read.

Yesterday I was reading some articles in my CNN app and I came across one about Harper Lee. The title of the article was something about her being a four book author. Before I start criticizing everyone involved, let me just say that I know this happens with prominent writers. Short stories, poems, and books always seem to be popping up once they’re dead. I get that. Once they’re gone there’s someone else in control of everything and money motivates people to do just about anything. I get it.

But what’s happening now is blatantly disrespectful to Harper Lee. I’ve read numerous times now that when Go Set a Watchman was allegedly found, there was another unpublished manuscript. AND that there may be another manuscript floating around out there and only a few people know about. I don’t even doubt that these things may be true. Because Harper Lee likely didn’t just stop writing once she became an award-winning author. I’m sure there are unpublished stories out there. But right now she has no control over what people are doing around her and that’s just sad.

I realize that there are worse things happening to people all the time, but how would you feel if you had people going through all of your affairs and being able to do very little about it? You wouldn’t like it, and my guess is that Harper Lee is no different if she understands what’s happened. I don’t care if she has 15 books out there and the true next great American novel, Harper Lee deserves some respect just like we all do. And right now she’s just not getting it from those around her.

What do you think about unpublished manuscripts suddenly being “found” only after Lee’s sister (and lawyer) has died?


On this day in 2014 I published Kindle Unlimited Hmm….

 

Go Set a Watchman is Finally Here

I remember the day earlier this year when it was announced that a new book would be forthcoming from Harper Lee. I remember because I basically broke the news to my readers. I saw a tweet that morning and posted on here shortly thereafter. But I also remember there being controversy surrounding this new book immediately.

How was it ACTUALLY discovered? Could Harper Lee even sign off on its publication at her age and mental state? How does this book relate to To Kill a Mockingbird? All these questions and so many more that have not really been answered in the months since that day.

Y’all know I don’t read book reviews. I don’t like them. I’m not interested in them. And I don’t typically care what any other person thinks about particular books. But I’ve made an exception to my own rule several times in recent days. I’ve wanted to see what professional reviewers were thinking of Lee’s new book. I imagine many of you have done the same. I’ll share all of my thoughts with y’all once I read the book because I don’t want to alter your thoughts or expectations about it before you even get a chance to read it.

What are your expectations for Go Set a Watchman?


On this day in 2014 I published Take me to the Library.