As some of you now know, and even fewer of you care, each January I save time by reviewing the year in books before anything has actually happened. My resulting summary of things which haven’t yet occurred has often been mistaken for prediction. This is of course ridiculous, because predictions can be held up to scrutiny and either proven or disproven, which I would NEVER tolerate on this blog. The very thought of it, in fact, is punishable by extreme sarcasm.
Anyhoo, let’s have a look at what I said in January. I will then beat the critics to the punch by reviewing my review in light of what did actually happen this year, thus preventing them from making fools of themselves by trying to say I was wrong.
I know, I know. You just can’t argue with this logic.
The Mind, Body & Spirit industry was deemed to have finally eaten itself when Unhelping Your Self: A Detox Guide hit the #1 spot in the bestseller lists. This self-help book for self-help addicts promised readers it could wean them from self-help in six weeks.
Well, did you spot it? This was in fact a trick, because the MBS industry cannot eat itself, because it is a concept, rather than a biological entity which ingests other biological entities in order to metabolise energy. Well done to everyone who wasn’t fooled!
Big Publishers declared that they were no longer accepting Instagram streams as subject matter for books after February 2017, causing a mass stampede as Instagrammers trampled each other to death in a bid to get their photographs into hastily-captioned coffee table books before the deadline.
This is sort of true. 2017 saw a rash of books from and about YouTube stars, but rather than Instagram feeds, these books tended more towards really meaningful advice such as how to be more like them, how to live like them, how to look like them, and how being bullied for 3 minutes when they were 12 made them the spectacular success they are today.
The spate of celebrity deaths in 2016 led to intense surveillance of all surviving celebrities over the age of 62. Elton John became the most hacked man in the world after 35 million people hacked in to his fitness bracelet, hoping to be first to break the news on social media at the first sign of any fluctuation in his vital signs.
I’m calling this one true, because you can’t prove it isn’t. Elton John is still alive, as are loads of other ageing celebrities who didn’t die in 2017, but the media is ready and waiting nonetheless.
Fiction made a brief rebound when This Is Not A Story won the Pulitzer Prize. This no-frills account of a man who buys a newspaper and reads it cover to cover while eating a sausage roll was declared “the only truth capable of healing the post-truth society” by the Observer; “a masterful deconstruction of the self” by the Times Literary Supplement and “the vanguard of Non-Fiction Fiction, a new genre for our age,” by the New York Times. A small cohort of book bloggers called it “a bit boring”.
You know, every year when I’m writing these predictions – sorry – reviews – one of them will jump out at me and say ‘you’re going to have a devil of a job trying to develop this into a new gag come December’. Just sayin’.
Plagiarism was the word of the month, when 67 mass market paperbacks were published in May with covers featuring a woman in a red coat walking away down a road through a forest holding an umbrella.
And then sometimes you’ll crack a joke which is only marginally funny at the time because it’s so ubiquitously true it’s almost pointless to draw attention to the subject in the first place. Still, you can’t blame a girl for trying (see my forthcoming novel, Girl Who Tried To Appeal To A Mass Market).
Film/book tie-ins were turned on their heads when several paperback fiction titles were released in June based on blockbuster films and TV series which were not originally based on a book.
I really haven’t a bloody clue why this isn’t true. It SHOULD be true. It should be so true that people are writing articles in the Times about how cheesed off they are with all the books based on films and TV and how none of them are any good because the shows weren’t that good in the first place anyway except for ones written by jaded white American males in their 50s.
Seriously. I even work in business analysis. People always want more of whatever when it comes to pop culture. How long do I have to shout before someone in publishing starts listening to me?
Fans were devastated when The Biyble, Kanye West’s ghost-written book featuring 66 pages of short fiction, turned out to have been written by West himself.
What was I thinking? I must have been desperate. I am now making a mental note to only mention in my jokes pop culture icons whom I actually like.
September heralded the rise of what became known as the ‘Spoilers’ craze, when authors rushed to create trustworthy and believable voices in fiction (soon nicknamed the “Reliable Narrators”), all of whom revealed their secrets to readers at the very beginning of the book, thus rendering endings unnecessary.
I just realised that there’s another name for stories which reveal everything at the beginning: Literary Fiction. Sometimes (albeit rarely) this is because they’re too clever by half. More often it’s simply an excuse for fundamentally boring books beloved only by those who contribute to seasonal newspaper round-ups of fiction titles.
The race to find the defining 2017 lifestyle trend was declared over with the simultaneous release of 23 titles from major publishing houses with the word “granny” in the title. Top of the list were Granny’s Recipes For Happiness; How To Be Happy, or A Year With My Grandmother; If Your Granny Wouldn’t Recognise It Don’t Eat It; Happiness Is A Warm Granny, and the runaway smash, Your Life Is Shit And Granny Knows It.
Again, I feel like I came up with a masterful business idea which could rescue publishing, and nobody listened. And for anyone who wonders why I didn’t just go and write the damn books I reckon would sell so beautifully, I say: Shut the hell up.
Non-fiction sales outnumbered fiction sales 4:1 for the first time since the 19th century. The Guardian was first to name the trend in an article called “Books For People Who Don’t Read Books”. Topping the charts were the hardback-bound shopping lists of reality TV stars, which outstripped sales of Devoida Talent’s surprise hit You Too Can Have My Fabulous Life (If You Claim You Suffer From Depression Sometimes But Feel Better After A Walk Or Maybe Doing Some Cute Crafts).
Another year, another raft of autobiographies from stars in their 20s. Most of the Goodreads Non-Fiction books of the year were books from YouTubers and bloggers who wow their audiences with tales of how they overcame discrimination/bullies/marginalisation/obscurity with endorsement deals, search engine optimisation, and powerful thighs. It’s a new world out there, ladies and gentlemen, and we don’t even know we’re in it.
Nobody was more surprised than Tark and Mara when they landed the biggest book deal of 2017 following a bidding war for their memoir, Read Us And Weep. They dismissed rumours of a seven-figure advance, with Mara reported as saying, “As if we’d settle for such a pittance.” They promptly fired Tara Sparling from her position as Slave Scribe on Christmas Eve, stating “We tolerated this pitiful woman for long enough, but including us in her yearly predictions is an utterly vile example of self-serving nonsense, even by our standards.”
Ha, ha, ha! The meta-jocularity of it! How did I know that the super-rich and mega-entitled would spend 2017 lining their pockets even further and then urinating into other peoples’ for good measure! And then I brought back Tark and Mara to substitute while I was away on my extended break! It’s almost like I planned it! Ha, ha!
And that’s it from me when it comes to 2017 round-ups. Unless, of course, I do another one before the end of the year focusing entirely upon myself in what is in no way a self-aggrandising piece of narcissistic drivel.
Now there’s an idea……..
Over to you. Any trends you’d like to mention from 2017 which cause you to shake your head and/or perhaps even throw up a little bit?