Day 21: Reading – What’s the last book you read?
There was a time that I happily spend my lunchtime in a bookstore, walking between the racks, sampling several books.
When I received a Kindle for Christmas, I switched to electronic reading. Reluctantly at first, because I prefer a real book over an ebook, but gradually real books disappeared and I used my Kindle full-time.
While I enjoy holding a book and turning pages, the kind of books I prefer (over 500 pages) are rather heavy to carry and expensive. In comparison, a Kindle weighs hardly anything and the ebooks are cheaper than real books.
With ebooks I did have a problem though ... what would I read next? If I knew what I wanted to read the solution was simple ... I would go on Amazon and read the synopsis of the book along with the first few pages. But if I didn’t have a clue what to read next, what did I do then?
A friend recommended that I subscribe to book recommendations. In the beginning, I poured over this email list every day, but day after day I didn’t see anything of interest. Soon I stopped looking and just deleted the email.
For some reason, I opened the email last Wednesday and on top of the list I found ‘The Alchemist’.
I remembered all the hype that was made around this book, so I headed over to Amazon. The reviews were contradicting, some readers gave the book a raving 5-star review, other gave it 1 star and called it rambling and drawn out rubbish.
What I liked about the author Paulo Coelho is that he dared to admit in his forward that when ‘The Alchemist’ was first published in Brazil it was a flop. Only a handful of copies were sold and his publisher canceled his contract.
What happened next was sheer coincidence. An American bought the book in Brazil and took it to an American publisher who accepted it. But what if the American buying the book in Brazil wasn’t a coincidence but a rather carefully orchestrated set-up?
Every author, literally agent and publisher knows that to get readers to buy a book one must create a buzz. What if Paulo Coelho did just that?
Being a man of considerable means (even back then), what if he arranged with his publisher that he would invest several million in a publicity campaign? He certainly had the money and the political and showbiz connections to do so.
After that, the tale of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ comes to mind. The critics raved about the book, reader’s curiosity was tickled and they bought the book. If the critics gave it a thumbs up then it must be good, right?
What if but a small minority actually dared to voice that the book was in actual fact rubbish, but nobody believed it because everyone else loved it?
I fell for it too. My curiosity got the better of me and I bought the book. In my opinion, it was not the best book I’ve ever read but I finished it and found it inspirational with a surprise ending.
I would give 'The Alchemist' a 3-star rating.