5 Books That I Would Have Media-Blitzed

On Monday I talked a bit about how books ended up on everyone's radar. If you missed it, you can read it here, but basically I was talking about how publishers decide to dump a ton of advertising money on a given book which is how it ends up being one of the "it" books of the year. Which kind of depressed me a little because it's not a merit-based system. I'm one of those readers who likes to think the best book will always win. But the reality is that for whatever reason, the books that everyone buzzes about throughout the year are almost always the books that the publishers choose to spend a crapload of money media-blitzing. 

Not that the books that they blitz (hey, now that sounds like a good jingle right there) are bad books. As I mentioned last time, most of the books the big publishers push on us are well-written and hold their own. But if you look close enough, those books didn't just become best-sellers and IT-books because they were decent reads. We were told they were awesome, amazing, super-wow books. By the publisher's ad campaigns. Ahem.

Anyway. The whole thing got me to thinking about some of the really, really good books I read this year that obviously didn't have big publisher media blitzes behind them. I'd love to ask the publishers why they chose to bypass these books and blitz others, but I doubt I'd get a satisfactory answer. Odds are, it was just some editor somewhere who liked a book enough and had the power to bestow the money.

If I were to play super-powerful editor for a day, though, here are a few of the books I would have media-blitzed the hell out of in 2014:


An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine. Described as a love letter to literature, Alameddine's novel about a reclusive aging woman in Beirut is brilliant, sad, and written for everyone who has ever loved books. 


Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson. A debut novel set in rural Montana with a downtrodden social worker doing his best but fighting an uphill battle, Henderson hits all the right notes. And then some. Wow.


Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz. The author's second foray into the world of Sherlock Holmes secures him a place in the canon. No one writes Holmes this well. Except Doyle. Maybe.


Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican. A debut novel set in a Catholic school where student hazing and bullying spiral out of control. A tight, beautifully wrought novel that left me thinking about it long after it was over.



A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel (non-fiction). A brilliant narrative non-fiction that explores the effects of technology on our attention and the sometimes deadly results that can occur, Richtel may well be on track for another Pulitzer with this effort even if it wasn't heavily advertised by William Morrow.


So there you have it. What books did you run across in 2014 that slid under the radar? 

10 comments:

  1. I love this post idea! I haven't read any of these books, but I've heard some great things about all them from other bloggers. And I loved Anthony Horowitz's YA "Alex Rider" series as a teen, so I'm really curious about Moriarty!

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    1. Now I need to read his YA stuff....because I hear people rave about it. I think my son would love it, too. So we need to read them together, right? We love a good series.

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  2. I feel like I would love An Unnecessary Woman and probably need to read it yesterday. Totally agree on Fourth of July Creek...that book was really great.

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    1. Yeah, you would love that novel. Save it for a quiet moment, though.

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  3. A couple of things I know for sure:
    Best sellers are not the best books out there.
    Books that get media blitz are not the best books out there.
    Word of mouth is the best way to get a good read.
    4/5 of these books are on my list. I'm not sure about Moriarty.I just don't think it'd be my thing.

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    1. I gotta admit, I was so skeptical on the Horowitz books. I *hated* the Monogram Murders (Agatha Christie) novel. I'm just not a modern-writer-as-classic-author kind of gal. Then I accidentally got stuck with the first Horowitz novel with nothing else to read and it blew me away. Go figure. So he's my only author that I'll let get away with this...it's like reading Doyle. I promise.

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  4. More for my wishlist, Michele! Fourth of July Creek is already HIGH on the want.

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  5. There are several books I would have loved to see media-blitzed, too. Thanks for the list - I just put An Unnecessary Woman on hold, and added 4th of July Creek and Brutal Youth to my to-read list.

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  6. These look great! I am adding An Unnecessary Woman and Fourth of July Creek to my list.

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  7. I haven't heard of most of these, which I guess proves your point! FOURTH OF JULY CREEK is one I've heard about and want to read. BRUTAL YOUTH also sounds intriguing.

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Fire away!