I'm as anxious as the next person to lay my hands on the latest, hottest title from the New York Times Best Seller list. But with a queue of close to 400 holds on Malcolm Gladwell's latest, The Outliers, over 300 people waiting for the Austen/ Grahame-Smith mash-up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ( now with ultraviolent zombie mayhem!) and over 170 people anxious to read the highly acclaimed 2666 by Robert Bolaño, are we forced to go bookless?
Here's one trick for finding a good book that isn't also in high demand. Take a look at what was hot, say, a couple of decades ago. July 7th, 1991 saw Amy Tan's The Kitchen God's Wife on the New York Times Best Seller list. Publishers Weekly said, "it is a triumph, a solid indication of a mature talent for magically involving storytelling, beguiling use of language and deeply textured and nuanced character development." In 1955, MacKinlay Kantor's Andersonville was top of the pops, and was called "the greatest of our Civil War novels." For more acclaimed but long forgotten bestsellers, you can peruse this list from Cader Books.
There are plenty of other sources for good reads. Though you may have already resigned yourself to waiting a while for the newest Pulitzer prize winner Olive Kitteridge, in the meantime take a look at Abe Books' "Most Forgotten Pulitzers" where you'll notice Advise and Consent by Allen Drury, a book that tackled the topic of Communism and generated so much interest that it stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for close to two years.