In 1907, it was quite a surprise to see a woman at the top of the bestseller list. Now, women routinely write top-selling books, with Delia Owens‘s Where the Crawdad Sings and Tara Westover’s Educated currently ruling the fiction and nonfiction lists. Over at the New York Times, Tina Jordan unearths an old article marveling over the new phenomenon of the “lit’ry lady,” which at the time, seemed to be led by the record-breaking sales of Edith Wharton’s The Fruit of the Tree. “The really striking thing,” the article goes on to say, “about the encroachments of women on the preserves of man in book writing is not to be found on the purely literary side, but on the business side of the situation. Women are writing more and more best-sellers.”
Recommended Reading: For the writers who make coffee for their day jobs, Lucy Schiller discusses the burden of being happy all the time as a San Francisco barista in “Service with a Smile.” The essay is the first in a weekly series by The Riveter, a magazine spotlighting original longform journalism by women. Pair with Jason Diamond’s essay on being mistaken for a professional barista.
At the Ploughshares blog, Erinrose Mager interviews Year in Reading alum Rick Moody, who talks about his classes at NYU and why he prefers “the mentorship model” of teaching writing over the workshop model. (Related: our founder C. Max Magee reviewed Moody’s book The Diviners back in 2006).
Many writing guides feature long explainers that detial how to craft a great plot. They’ve turned the phrase “rising action” into a buzzword in many classes. At Page-Turner, a short comic illustrating major plots that don’t work, including one in which the protagonist “ignores the problem until it goes away.”
Believe it or not, Fifty Shades of Grey was still the bestselling book of 2015. For a fascinating, in-depth look at what sold and what didn’t, head over to The Guardian. The disconnect between the retail top ten and the myriad year-end lists alone is worth the look.