C.'s Reviews > Behind the Bestsellers: The Stories Behind the World's Favourite Books

Behind the Bestsellers by Jenny   Bond
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's review
Jul 18, 2009

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bookshelves: non-fiction, own-or-access, 2009
Read in July, 2009

This book takes fifty of the world's best known and most widely read books and gives a short biography of the author and their life for each book. It is quite interesting, but I've always had this thing about judging a book as a book rather than as some sort of document whose context must always be taken into account. For this reason I often have difficulty appreciating books that were written a long time ago because I have difficulty empathising with the authors.

This is something I am working on, but it's a struggle. This book is helping a little, though I'm only reading the chapters on books I've already read so that I don't alter my experience of the books that may come in the future. Nonetheless I feel much more tolerant of Jane Eyre now.

I'm learning some interesting things: for instance, that Nabokov was trilingual in Russian, French and English. I always assumed that he had learned English at a later age. This makes Lolita slightly less impressive.

It is, though, so depressing. Because for every Charlotte Bronte there must have been millions of women whose voices were silenced, for every Stephen King there are billions who never escape grinding poverty, for every Dostoevsky there were thousands who never escaped the firing squad. And for every one of these authors there must be millions who, no matter how original and stunning their voice, never got the big break they wanted.
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