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The Buzz (aka Word of Mouth)

NaNo update: words off (I'm bright red right now typing this) roughly 4,000
Goal: To catch up :)
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What makes something high concept? And is that the same as something that facilitates word of mouth success?

I'm reading a few books right now (which, yes, likely hinders my Nano progress). One of them is THE SHACK, which is very much a religious based novel. I don't typically read Christian lit (excluding C.S. Lewis and arguably Tolkien and L-Engle), but noticed this book when perusing the aisles of Target the other day. It has a gripping cover, wouldn't you say?


So I picked it up. First, let me say that this is not a new book. It was self-published in 2007. THE SHACK went on to become a USA Today Bestseller, a NYT #1 Bestseller, and has remained on the NYT Paperback bestseller list through 2010. So yeah, this book is for sure a breakout novel. It is a perfect example of the success of the "buzz." A book that makes people talk is so much more powerful than thousands of dollars on advertising. I am far more likely to by a book a friend of mine suggests than one advertised on the CW. But when I began reading THE SHACK my internal editor started shouting inside my head: "Hey wait, that's six similes in a row! Hey, this is so much backstory how am I ever going to get through it!" And etc.

I've discussed before how important it is to tell a story vs. following the rules but THE SHACK (and there are others, aka TWILIGHT) that go beyond breaking rules. In reading a few of these sort of books, I've discovered something. Each major breakout novel that is poorly written does something that may other well written books never come close to doing. They either A: speak to something missing in our lives or B: deeply touch our emotions. TWLIGHT definitely does this. What girl or women doesn't wish that a boy or man loved her so deeply that he continually puts himself in agony to be with her. It is indeed a very emotionally-charged book. Is there plot? Yeah, I'm not so sure. Story arc? I guess you could say so. :) But do you get chill bumps in the beginning of the book when Edward is mentioned? I bet you do.

The same goes for THE SHACK. It is a very interesting novel that has brought many to faith and pissed off just as many. (Don't you love when that happens?) I always feel that when a book inspires and angers it has done its job. This book is rich in detail and any parent can relate to the struggles of poor Mack. I enjoyed it and will likely read it again, but not due to the beautiful prose. I will read it again because it evoked emotion within me, and what else can we ask for in a great book.

M.B.


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