Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!, (who I interviewed last February) is having a very good year. She has a spot on the NYT list of the 10 Best Books of 2011, and last month HBO optioned the novel for what they describe as a “half hour comedy series.”
“It is hard to see why anyone would abandon the generous Pearce Sectional Sofa, so we must assume that whomever was under that cozy throw was taken by force. More signs of abduction: reading glasses left atop a rare antique encyclopedia, a half-finished glass of wine, and a decorative conch shell that has tumbled to the floor, not to mention the wide-open French doors.” Pottery Barn catalogue descriptions written by an aspiring crime novelist.
In the spring of 2006, John Unsworth taught a graduate seminar on "Twentieth-Century American Bestsellers." It led to one of history's finest class projects--a browsable database of bestsellers, 337 in all. As with any bestseller lists, you'll find a range of titles, everything from Thomas Wolfe to Tom Clancy, but click through and find that each entry includes an extremely detailed description of the book's history (these were compiled by graduate students, after all); a mini-essay on its reception; images of covers, page layouts, and even some ads; and more. It is, in short, bibliophilic crack. (Thanks Craig)