Bestsellsers, a gateway drug to literature

American literature professor and author James W. Hall recently wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal entitled “Beware Literary Snobbery: Why We Should Read Bestsellers.”  In it he discusses his decent into literary snobdom and how his idea for a class to show how little value popular novels have resulted in him reconnecting with his love of reading all types of books.

“In that semester the passion for reading I’d once had as a kid and lost in the years of academic study was rekindled, and suddenly I began to question many of my long-held assumptions about ‘literature,'” Hall said.  “While I’d been refining my palate, enjoying an ever smaller sampling of delicacies, millions of my fellow book lovers had been having a rollicking good time gulping down the comfort food of ‘Jaws,’ ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘Valley of the Dolls.'”

Hall as gone on to teach that course for the last 20 years as well as write a book called Hit Lit: Cracking the Code of the Twentieth Century’s Biggest Bestsellers.  His theory is that we should not look down on anything that gets people reading, and that when readers finish with the popular novels a spark will have been lit that will lead them to the classics.

Read the entire story written by James W. Hall.

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