stack of bestsellers image
Rave Reviews: Bestselling Fiction in America
University of Virginia Library
stack of bestsellers image
Introduction to the Exhibit
The Taylor Collection of Popular American Fiction
Making the Bestseller List
Types of Bestsellers
Beyond the Book
Current Bestsellers
Readers Tell Their Stories
More on the Bestseller Phenomenon

Reading Popular Fiction

Readers' Stories

Daphne du Maurier

A love story mixed with a murder mystery. When I read it for the first time I loved it so much that I told everybody in my High School English class that they had to read it. My teacher was so intrigued by my enthusiasm that she put it on the following summer's reading list! I reread it the following summer with the excitement of discussing it with my friends the following fall! An amazing book where you never get to know the main character's name. Hitchcock's film is good, but not nearly as wonderful as the book.

The Bridge of San Luis Rey
Thornton Wilder

I read The Bridge of San Luis Rey in high school. I can still see my English teacher, Mr. Frieson, slouched at his desk at front of the classroom, declaiming that the theme of Wilder’s book was that if we live by plan, then we die by plan (his palm slamming the top of the desk for emphasis). Not something this sixteen-year-old wanted to contemplate. When I saw the book on display in the McGregor Room, I thought of Mr. Frieson -- and the World Trade Center.
-- S.B.

Riders of the Purple Sage
Zane Grey

Seeing a Zane Grey work reminds me of my grandfather who always had a Zane Grey novel next to his armchair when I visited him in the 1950s. Although he only had three years of formal schooling, he was a voracious reader of the western genre.
-- L.F.

Catcher in the Rye
J.D. Salinger

I remember how much fun it was to read about a teenager when I was a teenager. All that angst! I seem to recall responding to some of Holden's gross physical descriptions with “Ick!” but generally judging the work a "neat read" as everything was "neat" then.
-- L.F.



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