THE HELP Gets Its Due

[UPDATE: We wrote this before USA Today named The Help THE book of the year]

Amazingly, given the enormous number of best books lists, one title hasn’t appeared on any of them, despite strong reviews and word of mouth; The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

Both People and Entertainment Weekly have remedied the oversight. People lists The Help at #2 on its Top Ten Books list (after Open by Andre Agassi) and Entertainment Weekly lists it at #2 on their Best Fiction list (after NBA nominee, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders).

[The lists are not available online, link here for the titles on a downloable spreadsheet.]

Our friends over at The Book Reporter named The Help THE Book of the Year (if you want your voice heard, they invite you to nominate your favorite titles of the year).

Entertainment Weely selected ten fiction titles, but they managed to include two more that haven’t appeared on other lists:

#8 Fiction

Sing Them Home
Stephanie Kallos
Retail Price: $14.95
Paperback: 560 pages
Publisher: Grove Press – (2009-08-25)
ISBN / EAN: 0802144136 / 9780802144133

Blackstone Audio:

  • Cassette; 1433203350; $65.95
  • CD; 1433203367; $90.00

Audio downloadale from OverDrive

Entertainment Weekly‘s annotation doesn’t explain why they consider this one of the ten best fiction of the year —  “This fantastical story of three grieving siblings in windblown Nebraska might fly off into the heavens were it not for Kallos’ muscular prose.”

Kallos’ hometown newspaper, the Seattle Times makes a far better case for the book in their review.

PW gave it a starred review and called it an “enthralling second novel” (after the author’s debut Broken for You, which became a bestseller after it was selected for the Today Show Book Club).


#9 Fiction

A Monster’s Notes
Laurie Sheck
Retail Price: $30.00
Hardcover: 544 pages
Publisher: Knopf – (2009-06-23)
ISBN / EAN: 0307271056 / 9780307271051

Entertainment Weekly says, “Sheck’s novel, burrowing into the mind of the creature from Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, is no monstrous mash of brainy bits and hot air, but an electrifying literary triumph.”

That’s not so convincing, either. When you look for other reviews, it doesn’t get much better. Ron Charles at the Washington Post began his with this observation,

The rallying cry against big publishers is that new artists can’t be nourished by an industry obsessed with bestsellers. But before grabbing our pitchforks and torching the House of Bertelsmann, consider the inexplicable appearance of A Monster’s Notes by a poet named Laurie Sheck. Gorgeously printed by New York’s premier publishing house, here is a baffling 500-page book about Frankenstein’s creation that defies description and shreds any expectations you might have for a novel.

Then he delivers the coup de grâce,

I’m sure somewhere there’s a reader smart enough (or dishonest enough) to enjoy this novel in all its rich allusiveness, but I spent the entire ordeal lurching along about 50 IQ points behind.

If Ron Charles had trouble with the book, there’s not much hope for the rest of us.

We should note that prepub reviews were generally better; Booklist starred it and the “famously grumpy” Kirkus called it “Utterly astonishing and not to be missed.”

Well, you can’t say the People list is totally focused on popular titles.

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