What Readers Want

The last entertainment book I’ve found worth the time was Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Of course, it’s poorly plotted, badly written, and makes no sense at all but I find the very phenomenon of its insane popularity to be curious.

In case you don’t know, this is the most popular novel the mystery / suspense / thriller genre has produced in the past two years. Everybody has read it, and many people read it more than once. The whole point of the novel (and I hope nobody considers this a spoiler) is that you spend the first 70% of the book believing that the female protagonist is a pathetic, needy, clingy victim and then discover she’s none of these things.

So if there is anybody here who wants to write fiction, here is a free pointer: there is an enormous audience eager for books about non-pathetic women. The readers of novels are women. And while many still want Shades of Grey, there is a very strong need for the opposite.

Strictly for Entertainment

I just read a great article on Slate about YA literature and discovered that 28% of those who buy these books are people between the ages of 30 and 44. I’m not in the least surprised because this is precisely the age bracket when most people stop developing intellectually.

In a related development, it seems I have lost all capacity to read books in the entertainment category. I decided to take a break from serious reading and picked up two “strictly for fun” books. I’m now struggling with the first one of them, called Defending Jacob, a huge best seller. I, however, find it exasperating in its complete shallowness. Nothing makes sense, the characters are all robotic and stupid.

There is one more “strictly to pass time” book I bought, and that’s my last hope of getting some mindless, stupefied fun this summer.

A Russian Joke

A new joke that has become popular in Russia: “After they die, Russians who behaved badly will be sent back to Russia for their sins.”

There is also the true story about a Russian guy whose corpse was brought back in a coffin from Ukraine. When his parents were asked why on Earth he’d chosen to go kill Ukrainians, they said he had credit cards that needed to be paid and this was the only way.