This week there is a lot of new interest in politically rich historical novels, as well as Mystery, Suspense and Thriller books with a long history and bibliography behind them. Plus, books about life in America through out the decades of the Twentieth Century and the everyday and not so everyday mysteries that filled people’s lives, are hugely popular.
A Column of Fire, by Ken Follet, follows the life of a young spy as he works for Elizabeth the First of England. Romance is an important plot point, but the real focus of the book appears to be on the political intrigue and religious upheaval of the time. Also featuring a religious theme, is the book by Rachel Kadish, The Weight of Ink, which tells the story of a young woman who is the scribe to a blind Rabbi in the 1660s, and the life story of the woman in the modern era who is researching her. Both these books have a lot of religious themes in their stories, but it is unclear whether this is becoming a trend, or whether it is simply because the eras are interesting periods to write and read about. It’s a little bit of a chicken or egg conundrum.
Thrillers and Mysteries are both doing very well. They tend to be written from an American point of view, either they take place in the USA or they have Americans as their main characters. This can have a big effect on the plot and the characters, for example in Song of the Lion, by Anne Hillerman, the main cast are Native American and the story is shaped by the lives of the people involved. Interestingly, this book is also being effected by one of the other trends of the week, books at the tail end of long bibliographies. Anne Hillerman has taken over the characters and settings from her father, Tony Hillerman, which no doubt has given her a boost, though after three books all of which have won awards it is safe to say she is not coasting by on name recognition.
Also very popular this week are books in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. Many of these books are very well thought of in their own genres, but rarely make it to the top of the charts for Fiction in general. Books like American Gods, by Neil Gaiman, Harry Potter, by J. K. Rowling, and The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien, are hardly, however, going to surprise many by appearing in the charts. However, other books, like N. K. Jemison’s, The Fifth Season, might be less well known, though it has as many awards and accolades as any other on the list.
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