Site: http://www.audiobooks.com/podcast | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome back to the Audiobooks.com Podcast! We’re so glad you’re joining us for this installment where we take a step back to check in on what we’re listening to and review a couple recently completed audiobooks. In addition to finally discussing Ready Player One, Addy also gives us a synopsis of and her reaction to Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone. Hopefully this will be a great segue into next week because we have the distinct privilege of speaking with the author of Every Last Word herself! We hope that you will join us for that interview.
Popular, But Bad?
Before jumping into our reviews of Ready Player One and Every Last Word, we explore a handful of books in popular culture that have been categorized as overhyped. Many books receive a lot of attention or a lot of praise either by the media or by a particular subset of people, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate a work of excellent fiction. In fact, in many circles, book lovers might classify these books as bad!
We fully acknowledge that judgments of this sort are highly subjective. Books on this list include the likes of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series, and Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, which all have enormous fan bases and have received critical acclaim in certain respects. It is interesting to see what people are reading, what is trending on the New York Times’ Best Seller List, and contrast that with the opinions and reviews of those books elsewhere.
We found a surprising number of classics that often fall under this banner as well. One such book is Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, originally published in the U.S. in 1958. Shortly following its release in the United States, a columnist for the New York Times wrote a rather harsh review of the book, not just highly critical of the book’s content, but also critical of the snobbish intellectuals who gave the book so much momentum following its release in Paris several years earlier. At one point, the reviewer wrote: “There are two equally serious reasons why it isn’t worth any adult reader’s attention. The first that it is dull… The second is that it’s repulsive.”
A contemporary of this reviewer for The Atlantic, had nearly the exact opposite reaction. He closes his review by stating: “It is one of the funniest serious novels I have ever read; and the vision of its abominable hero…brings into grotesque relief the cant, the vulgarity, and the hypocritical conventions that pervade the human comedy.” As Addy states on the podcast, it’s important to take each review and recommendation with a grain of salt, to understand the reviewer’s general interests and to understand the subtext of taste. For every person who raves about a novel, there will be someone else to cut it down.
Another classic that got its start with a bad review is Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, originally published in 1936. The reviewer found it riddled with convention—conventional dialogue, conventional characters—and yet states that Mitchell’s style is rather unconventional for an early 20th century female novelist. The reviewer leaves the reader with a notion of puzzlement, as he praises the efforts of the author but has no distinct praise for the story. Now, over 75 years later, the book is regarded often as one of the greatest books of all times. In 2011, for the 75th Anniversary of the book’s publication, TIME Magazine published an article that claimed Gone With the Wind has transcended criticism, along with Star Wars, in that it will never lose its relevance.
Shaping Our Time
Despite the critical or common reviews of books in popular culture, it is clear that these are the books shaping our times. Books like Ready Player One might not be literary masterpieces, but they are highly indicative of modern culture along the projected continuum of human history by presenting realistic peeks into possible futures. Given a certain set of scenarios, and a little imagination, we get a raw look at what could happen. Perhaps we won’t see a future exactly like the one Wade Watts experiences in The Oasis, but the internet has certainly connected us to a virtual reality that is quickly becoming more fibrous than the physical world.
The last century of books has brought with it an uptick in disturbingly possible dystopian future scenarios. Brave New World in 1932. 1984 in 1948. Fahrenheit 451 in 1953. A Clockwork Orange in 1962. The Giver in 1993. And then, more recently, cultural phenoms like The Hunger Games and Divergent. As much as our society can produce visionaries that seek to find solutions to the earth’s problems, we also have novelists to paint word pictures about unpleasant futures that seem to be a direct result of humanity left unchecked.
All of the dystopian novels listed above are currently available for your listening pleasure at Audiobooks.com! What is your favorite dystopian novel of the last century?
We’re just a few weeks away from Halloween, so we want you to be ready to freak yourself out! Check out one of our recommendations for seasonal listening: The Edgar Allen Poe audio collection, Dracula, and The Invisible Man. What are you listening to for the Halloween season? Let us know so we can pass along the tips!
Show us some love!
Tweet this episode: http://ctt.ec/3eLZ5
Subscribing, rating and reviewing the show: iTunes
Books & Resources Mentioned
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
The Edgar Allan Poe Audio Collection
The Invisible Man
Audiobooks.com App: iOS click here | Android click here