Day 8 – Most underrated book

Are some of the biggest books of all time, also some of the most underrated?

When I first saw this post title books like The Da Vinci Code and Twilight immediately sprang to mind – I wouldn’t necessarily say they are always underrated, but I feel that they are sometimes just…dismissed. Dismissed because of hype, dismissed because of publicity, dismissed for being popular…?  Also, I wondered if it naturally followed that a book people enjoyed reading and that found itself being ‘popular’ would have to well rated too?

If I compare the books I’ve read from the list below, there are several I read and enjoyed, but know others regularly dismiss them. There are others I am guilty of dismissing myself (I didn’t rate the preview of Fifty Shades so never even bothered reading further), but others will rave about.

How many Pulitzer and Nobel prize winners do you see on the list below? Of the ones I’ve read myself that are well-rated among literary circles, I probably wouldn’t list them among my favourite books and I certainly don’t see many here.

I don’t think a book should be dismissed for being popular, but perhaps that sometimes makes it easier to do so. Why does that particular book warrant that level of attention? I think it begins to make people look for things to take away from it, to try and show it shouldn’t hold the position it does.

Who’s to say that The Da Vinci Code shouldn’t hold a top spot? I’ve read it and enjoyed the twists and turns, bringing together a range of familiar things in a way that was new and unusual for me. Did I cringe at some of the cheese-ball dialogue? Absolutely! Didn’t stop me enjoying it though – and by the looks of it, a few other million people thought the same thing.

Aside from Harry Potter, which is its own world in every way, the first books on this list I would really see having literary chops are probably The Lovely Bones and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime – both voiced by unusual narrators, giving new twists to what could be considered otherwise straight-forward murder mystery books. Do these get underrated? Goodreads says 3.81 for the ‘Dog’ and 3.7 for ‘Bones’ (Da Vinci gets 3.7 too at the moment).

Of the books in this list, the Potter books all come in the mid-to-high 4s on Goodreads – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is one of the only others in top twenty to get over 4. Perhaps the mid-ground is the key? Not the most perfect, amazing book ever, but something that a wide range of people will generally read and enjoy?

Hmmmm. I have no answer to this now, just more questions. Although, I do think people underestimate the little brown mouse in The Gruffalo – he is one smart critter 😉

Top 100 best selling books of all time

UK sales only. Click heading to sort table (taken from The Guardian’s recent list – here)

Volume Sales
1 Da Vinci Code,The Brown, Dan 5,094,805 Transworld Crime, Thriller & Adventure
2 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Rowling, J.K. 4,475,152 Bloomsbury Children’s Fiction
3 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Rowling, J.K. 4,200,654 Bloomsbury Children’s Fiction
4 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Rowling, J.K. 4,179,479 Bloomsbury Children’s Fiction
5 Fifty Shades of Grey James, E. L. 3,758,936 Random House Romance & Sagas
6 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Rowling, J.K. 3,583,215 Bloomsbury Children’s Fiction
7 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Rowling, J.K. 3,484,047 Bloomsbury Children’s Fiction
8 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Rowling, J.K. 3,377,906 Bloomsbury Children’s Fiction
9 Angels and Demons Brown, Dan 3,193,946 Transworld Crime, Thriller & Adventure
10 Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince:Children’s Edition Rowling, J.K. 2,950,264 Bloomsbury Children’s Fiction
11 Fifty Shades Darker James, E. L. 2,479,784 Random House Romance & Sagas
12 Twilight Meyer, Stephenie 2,315,405 Little, Brown Book Young Adult Fiction
13 Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,The:Millennium Trilogy Larsson, Stieg 2,233,570 Quercus Crime, Thriller & Adventure
14 Fifty Shades Freed James, E. L. 2,193,928 Random House Romance & Sagas
15 Lost Symbol,The Brown, Dan 2,183,031 Transworld Crime, Thriller & Adventure
16 New Moon Meyer, Stephenie 2,152,737 Little, Brown Book Young Adult Fiction
17 Deception Point Brown, Dan 2,062,145 Transworld Crime, Thriller & Adventure
18 Eclipse Meyer, Stephenie 2,052,876 Little, Brown Book Young Adult Fiction
19 Lovely Bones,The Sebold, Alice 2,005,598 Pan Macmillan General & Literary Fiction
20 Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time,The Haddon, Mark 1,979,552 Random House General & Literary Fiction
21 Digital Fortress Brown, Dan 1,928,900 Transworld Crime, Thriller & Adventure
22 Short History of Nearly Everything,A Bryson, Bill 1,852,919 Transworld Popular Science
23 Girl Who Played with Fire,The:Millennium Trilogy Larsson, Stieg 1,814,784 Quercus Crime, Thriller & Adventure
24 Breaking Dawn Meyer, Stephenie 1,787,118 Little, Brown Book Young Adult Fiction
25 Very Hungry Caterpillar,The:The Very Hungry Caterpillar Carle, Eric 1,783,535 Penguin Picture Books
26 Gruffalo,The Donaldson, Julia 1,781,269 Pan Macmillan Picture Books
27 Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals Oliver, Jamie 1,743,266 Penguin Food & Drink: General
28 Kite Runner,The Hosseini, Khaled 1,629,119 Bloomsbury General & Literary Fiction
29 One Day Nicholls, David 1,616,068 Hodder & Stoughton General & Literary Fiction
30 Thousand Splendid Suns,A Hosseini, Khaled 1,583,992 Bloomsbury General & Literary Fiction
31 Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest,The:Millennium Trilogy Larsson, Stieg 1,555,135 Quercus Crime, Thriller & Adventure
32 Time Traveler’s Wife,The Niffenegger, Audrey 1,546,886 Random House General & Literary Fiction
33 Atonement McEwan, Ian 1,539,428 Random House General & Literary Fiction
34 Bridget Jones’s Diary:A Novel Fielding, Helen 1,508,205 Pan Macmillan General & Literary Fiction
35 World According to Clarkson,The Clarkson, Jeremy 1,489,403 Penguin Humour: Collections & General

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