May 16, 2005

BOOKS: The Litblog Co-op's first "Read This!" pick

The Litblog Co-op is a group of 20 bloggers who focus on books. A month or so ago, they announced their "Read This!" project: Four times a year, the group would choose a book that they thought hadn't received the attention it deserved, and promote it on the group's blogs and those of the group's members. Back in April, this is what one of the group said:
We don't intend to consider the already-hyped books published by the most prominent members of the "book business," and we won't become an organ for promoting and aggrandizing the big publishers....What this venture ultimately amounts to is a group of book lovers who, because they've managed to establish a platform for discussing the books they love, have joined together to call attention to a few (four times a year) that might otherwise be buried in the deluge of the newly-published.

So it's something of a surprise, and quite a disappointment, to see that the Co-op's first choice is Kate Atkinson's Case Histories, a novel that's won rave reviews in most of the major newspapers and review journals, was on many year-end "best of" lists in 2004, and while not a monster best-seller, has hardly been "buried in the deluge."

I'd been looking forward to the Co-op's selection, hoping it would be something genuinely off the beaten path, an author who would really benefit from the publicity and the recognition. Instead, we're given a mainstream, successful midlist author, winner of major awards for her earlier work; indeed, her Behind the Scenes at the Museum has been popular with book groups for a few years now. (And it is a most entertaining book.)

Here's hoping the Litblog Co-op's future choices will be as exciting as their earlier manifestos seemed to promise; we really don't need another Oprah.

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