What does an analysis of PW
's and USA Today
's bestsellers lists tell us about the values, desires and fears of the American reading public? “[R]eaders are increasingly attracted to simple, univocal reinforcements of hunches rather than complex... answers,” say the authors. Heath (coauthor, Who Killed Homer?
) and first-time author Adams go on to analyze book after book to show its superficiality and failure to challenge readers' assumptions; they pick in particular on Dan Brown. The low-carb craze was about simplistic answers to psychological and physiological issues. J.K. Rowling and John Grisham reduce the world to good vs. evil, eliminating the need to understand conflicting points of view; Laura Schlessinger's and John Gray's success reveal an American public longing for traditional male-female roles. Disaster books, even literary titles like Into Thin Air
, demonstrate an American appetite for redemptive stories of survival in the face of tragedy, and the red-hot Da Vinci Code
scored by manipulating our lust for controversy and conspiracy and our need to feel (without actually being) educated. This effort is larded with data that will be obvious to publishing professionals and of little interest to general readers. (Sept.)