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The Mulberry St. Blog is a review and writing blog. I review mostly fiction/science fiction/fantasy sorts of books, with the exception of the occasional YA or nonfiction book. The blog is updated daily, excluding Mondays.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Life of a Book

I had another training meeting at my job today. Never mind the fact that I've been working there for a month, but I digress. During the training meeting, one of the managers offhandedly mentioned the life of a book. She described it as the process of a book travelling from featured table to the new fiction tables, to the hardcover features, to the paperback fiction shelves. She said a book's life is all about its chance to make it to the bestsellers list. It also only has about a month to make it to the bestsellers list. Some books are luckier than others. Most books leave the hardcover shelves and get close to a year before they are in paperback.

It got me thinking about books and the life of a book. I spend hours pouring over the stuff I write, making sure that my sentences are worded in a way that will convey the exact amount and type of emotion I want them to, keeping track of my "fall back words" like always, such, however, and so on. Writing is a process. I admit, I'm a bit of a perfectionist. Still, when it comes down to it, if we're offering our words to millions, we want them to be perfect. Or we risk being the subject of a joke. To think that those hours and weeks and months all amount to a month on a shelf; one month between publishing date and the time its deemed unfit to be on the shelves. It's a little bit depressing. Maybe the truth here is a little bit exaggerated, but it really isn't by much. Your life's work can be done with in a month just because it wasn't noticed by the right person at the right time.

That got me thinking again. How many really good books are out there that are underestimated, unknown, or forgotten? How many books didn't make it to the bestseller's list in the given month and were shelved away with the rest of them - good and bad - as a result? Everyone loves the underdog. Its why we cheer when the little team wins - even when we were rooting for the other side. The case with books is the same. Why do you think people are obsessed with bestsellers? They once were the underdog and they've found their place in the world. Most breakout successes - the ones that make it within it's original month lifetime - are books written by well-known authors or the second, third, fourth in a series. The really good ones are probably in paperback before they're noticed.

I want to commit to a book-a-week type of thing, where I post an underrated or unknown novel and leave it up to you to decide if it's truly underrated or if its unknown for a very good reason. Every week, a new book. It can't be well known, it cant be on the bestseller's list, and it certainly cannot be the subject of many a book reviewer's blogs. It can be old or new, fiction or nonfiction.I can't promise to have read it; I'm a busy person. I'll give a brief synopsis and my thoughts. If I have free time, I will read it and review it myself. No promises, though.

- - -

For this week, I'd like to mention The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor.

The Looking Glass Wars (The Looking Glass Wars, #1)

First published in September 2004, this book is still very largely unknown, although within the circles where its know, its a like it or hate it kind of book. The Looking Glass Wars is a re-imagining of Alice's Adventures In Wonderland/Through The Looking Glass where "Alice" is really "Alyss," a girl who had lost her way. In the story, the Alice's Adventures In Wonderland we know was Charles Dodgson's - Lewis Carroll's - interpretation of a wild and mad adventure of a young girl who was merely an orphan in a rough world. Alice purists tend to not be fans of this book, and it's not hard to see why. Everything about this book is a grand misinterpreted adventure of the original, except that within The Looking Glass Wars, the original book is a mad misinterpretation of the real story. I think its wonderfully clever. I love the original story, but I love this one, too. Here, imagination reigns. Here, there are yearly parades for inventors and if the inventors are lucky, their invention is sent through the looking glass to our world. Where did you think the idea of a hula hoop came from? Imagination is the most important thing a person owns, and the book is all about its dangers and gifts. As someone writing on a blog named after a book all about imagination, you know what my opinion is on that. I found it to be a fantastic book. Enjoy it on its own merit. Forget for a minute about the original story and all its merits and enjoy this one in its fantastic adventures with Queendoms and chessboard deserts. 

Now it's time for you to decide, underrated or better left unknown?


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