Nine imperfect strangers
I’m a self-proclaimed public library book display expert. I can maintain a quick-pick display that keeps me busy restocking all day
One of my secrets to making popular adult fiction displays is to be reader-centric. I look at what works and replicate it, with a bit of experimentation added to help keep it fresh and interesting. A key to this strategy is that the displays aren’t about what I think people should or should not be reading. I’m not being judgemental about the standard of writing contained in the books I put on display.
I’ve never read James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Jeffrey Archer, Danielle Steel, David Baldacci or Jodi Picoult. I’m not a fiction snob, I just don’t read much in the way of novels. I find that it helps not to have an opinion about the content of the fiction display books, because it’s a reader-centric selection and not about me.
However, I do listen to the occasional talking book when I’m driving with my wife in her car. We’ve enjoyed listening to Agatha Christie and M.C. Beaton and I sat through a fair bit of the Fifty Shades trilogy. I was ready for the E. L. James books to be awful and I was screaming inside whenever Anastasia Steele blushed and bit her lip; does the writing have to be a tortuous as the sex? Apparently, but it was popular, so I had no problem popping it on display (once the zillions of reserves were done). Whom am i to judge other people’s literary erotocisms?
But what’s got me a little unsettled is that we’ve got Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers playing in the car. I know Liane Moriarty is a popular fiction author, a best-seller whose titles get lots of reservations and I’ve even heard her sympathetically interviewed on Radio National. She’s an automatic for the quick picks display (eventually, once the all the holds are done with). Maybe I’ve had raised expectations or I’m responding in part to Caroline Lee’s audio narration; am I being a snob when her “nasal Australian” is granting? It’s probably those things that I’m responding to, but strip them away and I’m finding the dialogue is often stilted and the writing frequently bloated, lacking the tight editing I expect from what I (perhaps ignorantly) recognise as good writing.
Of course, once the reservations are over, I’m going to pop copies of this book on the quick pick display and it will have a high rotation. And I’ll probably be happy with that, because I’m giving my library members what they want. But I’ll now do it aware of it’s perceived shortcomings, rather than being blissfully ignorant and simply relying on the judgement of the populous.
I’ll just need to get over myself.