Must Read: Rediscovering American Bestsellers (Paperback)

Must Read: Rediscovering American Bestsellers By Sarah Churchwell (Editor) Cover Image

Must Read: Rediscovering American Bestsellers (Paperback)

By Sarah Churchwell (Editor)


Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
What is it about certain books that makes them bestsellers? Why do some of these books remain popular for centuries, and others fade gently into obscurity? And why is it that when scholars do turn their attention to bestsellers, they seem only to be interested in the same handful of blockbusters, when so many books that were once immensely popular remain under-examined?

Addressing those and other equally pressing questions about popular literature, Must Read is the first scholarly collection to offer both a survey of the evolution of American bestsellers as well as critical readings of some of the key texts that have shaped the American imagination since the nation's founding.

Focusing on a mix of enduring and forgotten bestsellers, the essays in this collection consider 18th and 19th century works, like Charlotte Temple or Ben-Hur, that were once considered epochal but are now virtually ignored; 20th century favorites such as The Sheik and Peyton Place; and 21st century blockbusters including the novels of Nicholas Sparks, The Kite Runner, and The Da Vinci Code.
Sarah Churchwell is Professor of American Literature and Public Understanding of the Humanities at the University of East Anglia, UK. She is the author of The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe (Granta 2004), and has published numerous scholarly articles and introductions. Her new book, Careless People, about F Scott Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby will be published by Virago (UK) and Penguin (US) in early 2013. She has a monthly column on cultural criticism for the New Statesman, and writes regularly for newspapers and magazines, including the Guardian, the Independent, the Observer, the TLS, the New York Times Book Review, the Times, and the Telegraph. She frequently appears on television and radio, including as a regular panelist on The Review Show (BBC2). Thomas Ruys Smith is a Lecturer in American Literature and Culture in the School of American Studies at the University of East Anglia, UK. He is the author of Southern Queen: New Orleans in the Nineteenth Century (Continuum, 2011), River of Dreams: Imagining the Mississippi Before Mark Twain (Louisiana State University Press, 2007) and the editor of Blacklegs, Card Sharps and Confidence Men: Nineteenth-Century Mississippi River Gambling Stories (Louisiana State University Press, 2010). He is currently at work on an exploration of Mark Twain's relationship with the Mississippi River.
Product Details ISBN: 9781441162168
ISBN-10: 144116216X
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2012
Pages: 384
Language: English

"The volume is particularly strong in its trans-Atlantic, global focus for all historical periods it covers. It is uniformly sophisticated in its attention to gender and sexuality, race, religion, and national identity, but also written in terms easily accessible to undergraduates...Must Read succeeds both in its parts and as a whole. The essays are generally of high quality, but Churchwell and Smith have also created an unusual degree of unity and coherence among the essays. Must Read's thorough, clear introduction and careful selection and framing make it feel more like a monograph. Together, these essays make a coherent argument about popular literature as a site of struggle over meaning across history, a space where controversies over religion, race, nation, gender/sexuality, social and cultural value are negotiated." – Erin A. Smith, American Book Review