Readersforum's Blog

June 27, 2013

Boys to Men

Nouns in Book Titles1 | By Philip Stone

Earlier this week I began a light-hearted look at the most common nouns that appear in the titles of bestselling novels—but my research turned into something a little more unsettling.

While I can reveal that “secret”, “day”, “time”, and “house” are among the nouns that have become your biggest bankers, it saddens me to report that, where novels are concerned at least, men are “men” but women are “girls”.

Fact One: Of the top 1,000 bestselling adult novels of 2013 with titles that contain male gender terms (and by this I mean specifically “man” or “men” and “boy” or “boys”) 93% contain “man” or “men” with just 7% containing “boy(s)”. Whereas, of the bestselling novels with titles that contain female gender terms, we see just 19% containing the adult “woman”/”women” but an overwhelming 81% containing “girl(s)”.

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March 28, 2013

Gone Girl: what makes Gillian Flynn’s psychological thriller so popular?

GoneA tale of marital meltdown has Hollywood hot under the collar and is up for its first literary award – and deservedly so.

By Alex Clark

It’s a pretty impressive comeback: less than five years after the financial crisis brought Gillian Flynn’s decade-long career at Entertainment Weekly to a close, she has hit the jackpot. Gone Girl, published in the US in June 2012 and out in paperback in the UK at the beginning of this year, has now sold more than 2m copies throughout the world – 300,000 of them over here. It stormed the New York Times bestseller list and the film version is set to be produced by Reese Witherspoon; it will feature in this spring’s Richard & Judy Book Club and, less predictably, last week saw its inclusion on the Women’s prize for fiction longlist, where Flynn is keeping Hilary Mantel, Zadie Smith and AM Homes company. As she might tell her former employers, that’s entertainment.

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December 19, 2012

‘Fifty Shades Freed’ Amazon’s best-selling book in 2012, see top 10 list

50+shades+freedThe third Fifty Shades novel and its trilogy boxed set took two of Amazon.com’s top three places among books first published in 2012, with Gillian Flynn’s dark and complex thriller Gone Girl wedged in second place.

E.L. James wasn’t the only writer to profit from 2012’s erotic fiction fad, with Sylvia Day also prominent on Amazon’s list; Jennifer Probst’s The Marriage Bargain also made the most of a rich, eligible bachelor as its romantic lead.

That’s not to say established mainstream writers were cast by the wayside: three lawyers-turned-authors in John Grisham, David Baldacci and William Landay also featured in the combined Kindle and print top ten, as did a controversial insider account of the raid on Bin Laden’s compound.

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September 20, 2012

The Street Is Hers: Quality Over Gender In Noir

  By Keith Rawson

Sexism and the arts (hell, sexism and anything really) is an unfortunate reality. Particularly for us critic-y types, who’ve had it drummed into our heads that we need to marvel in wonder at any piece of film, literature, sculpture, canvas, photography, etc., created by anyone nonwhite and not in possession of a penis. We’re taught that we need to mention, in fact, glorify that the piece of art was made by someone who’s Mexican or black or a woman, and that this is the sole thing we need to judge the art on.

But I really don’t want to harp on sex or race, because to put it bluntly, the entire subject has become a bit of a pet peeve of mine (which means I’m going to harp on it, kids). The thing about art is that it is supposed to be the great leveler, and gender and race roles aren’t supposed to be a factor in its creation; a great book is simply a great book, a great film is a great film. At least this is how it’s supposed to work in theory. But let’s face it, these identifiers aren’t going away anytime soon, even in my beloved crime fiction, where female author’s dominance tends to be the rule as opposed to the exception.

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