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 😉
SOURCE: NIELSEN BOOK SCAN
|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|