It’s Never Too Late to Read a Good Book
John Hutchinson, VJ Books
November 2, 2015
Like most avid readers, I have probably read hundreds of books, trying to make sure that I have conquered most of the bestsellers, and at the same time kept abreast with those new authors that emerge every season. I have been doing this for many years, and during my time in the book industry thousands of books have passed through our doors.
It seems that when a highly acclaimed book gets overlooked, it’s like that Oscar winning movie you never got around to seeing. I didn’t see Schindler’s List until it had been out on video for several years, and I never saw Titanic – but do know how it ends. So, those books missed seldom get much consideration.
I have, however, had a change of heart. A couple of weeks ago I was listening to a blog interview with bestselling author, Alan Jacobson. When asked if any particular book inspired him in his writing, Jacobson sited THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW by Allan Folsom.
After the interview was over, I went to our inventory and picked up a copy of The Day After Tomorrow, went to my desk and browsed the web to see what I could learn about it. As it turns out, this book received the highest advance ever paid for a book up to that time, two million dollars, and it opened #3 on the New York Times list. At the time, I must have known about it, as we do have it in our inventory, and the author signed it and subsequent titles – but I never read it.
I have now read it, and understand why it received so much attention back in 1993. Over twenty years have elapsed, but the story is as crisp and exciting as any of the recently released mystery thrillers. It is loaded with superb characters, exciting locales, emerging science, political intrigue, romance, and even modern day Nazis. What more could you ask for? I was going to share my recent discovery with Folsom, but learned that he had died about a year ago.
For those of you who have followed us all these years, I am sorry that I missed telling you about The Day After Tomorrow. You have to wonder – what else did I miss? Let me think, what high advance, NY Times breakout novels did I overlook?
Did I tell you about THE ART OF FIELDING by Chad Harbach, COLD MOUNTAIN by Charles Frazier, THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini, or S. J. Watson’s BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP?
Mystery/Suspense authors continue to be the top money makers, so when Janet Evanovich left St. Martin’s for greener pastures when they wouldn’t pay her $50 million for her next four books, we weren’t too surprised. I know I told you about her books.
As I continue to browse our shelves I am suddenly aware that some of the top mystery writers often get overlooked: Alexander McCall Smith, Lawrence Block, Caleb Carr, Dennis Lehane, Elmore Leonard, Jo Nesbø, John Gregory Dunne, John Le Carre, Lyndsay Faye, Michael Chabon, P.D. James, Tana French, Umberto Eco, and one of my favorites, Walter Mosley.
There is a lesson here, a lesson for all readers. It is never too late to read a good book. Don’t be caught up in the high gloss imaging of the newest book on the shelf. Give it some thought. Explore the past for those overlooked treasures, those books that you can find on the cheap at flea markets, thrift stores, or garage sales.
I am a believer, and am now allotting a big part of my time pleasure reading to those titles that never made it to my side table . . . but right now; I am going to watch Pearl Harbor!