Hit Lit: Cracking the Code of the Twentieth Century's Biggest Bestsellers

Hit Lit: Cracking the Code of the Twentieth Century's Biggest Bestsellers

by James W. Hall

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Hit Lit 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Cecilturtle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this critical but unpretentious look at popular fiction. Easy to read and to follow, Hall deconstructs some twelve books written in the last 70 years, choosing from different eras and genres to show the mechanics at work. The structure was somewhat repetitive, which made some passages lengthier than others, but a good dose of humour made up for the dreary parts and kept me interested.Lovers of literature will not learn much from the themes which are far from new, but the book is a great reminder of the elements at play.I particularly enjoyed the conclusion: writing is first and foremost an exercise of the heart and passion; formulas help, but do not a success make.
bell7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When I think of capital-L Literature, I usually think of what you read in high school and college: tomes or thematically difficult books that I analyzed to death as an English major. So it surprised me to discover in the foreword of Hit Lit, an exploration of bestsellers, that author James W. Hall had his start in academia with a specialization in postmodern literature. When he had this idea to teach bestsellers - and not just your run-of-the-mill gets on the list for a few weeks and then drops away, but multimillion copies selling still popular books - he discovered that these books had several things in common. He focuses on the following twelve titles:Gone with the WindThe GodfatherThe Dead ZoneValley of the DollsThe Hunt for Red OctoberThe ExorcistJawsPeyton PlaceTo Kill A MockingbirdBridges of Madison CountyThe FirmThe Da Vinci CodeI recommend that you read the books on the list that you intend to before tackling Hit Lit, unless you don't mind massive spoilers. If you haven't read some titles, or don't intend to, the Appendix has an overview of the plot of each. Hall explains why he chose each book, and then goes on to argue what they have in common and what the American public finds so appealing about them, including elements such as the pace and sympathetic charaters. Hall's points are thought-provoking, though his comments about each book did get a little repetitive; since I tended to read it in large chunks, I hadn't had time to forget the last time he mentioned some examples that get repeated when making a different point later. He is tongue-in-cheek at times, but generally is not snobby in his approach and truly seems to have respect for popular reading. An entertaining and sometimes thought-provoking read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First, this book is NOT a formula for how to write a best seller. It will likely help you improve your writing but, it is not a "how-to" book. This book is a thoughtful and fun analysis of why some books hold the attention of the collective consciousness in modern America. Like most good literary analysis, it says more about who we are as a society than about the process of the writer. However, since understanding society is a best selling witer's best skill, perhaps it does have some "how-to" value after all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have yet to read this book but there is a formula for major best sellers unlike the first commenter says... From Harry Potter to Star Wars to The Godfather they all are the same in one way or another, Harry goes against Voldemort. Luke goes against Vader. so and so fdrth. we read books that are alike.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is insulting to authors everywhere. There are no formulas - talent is what makes a book work.