The stories behind the world’s favourite books

We’ve had it for years, but I only just discovered the book ‘Behind the Bestsellers this week. It’s a fascinating collection of the stories behind the stories – anecdotes and experiences that led to the creation of some of literature’s most famous places, characters and books.

Did you know that the tales that good friend Bertram Russel told Arthur Conan Doyle about ghostly demon dogs that roamed Dartmoor, were the basis for the creative return of Conan Doyle’s most famous character? Sherlock Holmes had been killed off in The Final Problem  eight years earlier, but returned in The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Orwell’s 1984was a culmination of his life’s political beliefs and experiences. His work with the Indian Imperial police in Burma, his involvement with the Spanish Worker’s Party during their Civil War and producing BBC wartime propaganda moulded his hatred of ‘the man’ with it’s bureaucratic secrecy and hypocrisy.

Dan Brown’s father was a mathematician, creating codes, puzzles and cryptic clues as elaborate treasure hunts for his children on their birthdays and at Christmas. His college years in New England, surrounded by Masonic Lodges and ‘Founding Father’ clubs, piqued an interest in secret societies, and an incident at school when Secret Service agents arrived to detain a student culminated in his fascination of  government agencies.  All three put together form the basis of The Da Vinci Code.

I could go on all day, there’s the background to 50 books listed!

Spotlight on: Dan Brown

Dan brownWith the release of Dan Brown’s latest novel The Lost Symbol,he continues to cement his position as one of the world’s most popular fiction writers. Dan Brown rocketed to fame in 2003 when his novel The Da Vinci Code was released to both worldwide acclaim and criticism. In hindsight, in what can be considered very clever marketing, he alluded that much of his story was factual based, resulting in the ire of religious groups around the world.

Dan’s first novel was Digital Fortress, released in 1998 and sold relatively poorly for an American fiction novel. The next two, Deception Point and Angels and Demons did marginally better (Angels and Demonswas the first to feature symbologist Robert Langdon), but when Da Vinci Code was published, Brown’s previous novels were rereleased and became bestsellers!

The Lost Symbol  is the third book to feature Robert Langdon (incidentally selling a million copies on its first day) competing against time and another secret society to solve a series of puzzles in order to save a friend’s life. It also features the notion that science can explain some aspects of the supernatural.

The library has several copies of all of Dan Brown’s books, and if it’s not on the shelf you can certainly place a hold!