Da Vinci Code's last secret: how did it succeed?

An Anonymous Patron writes "Da Vinci Code's last secret: how did it succeed? It may be the last mystery left about "The Da Vinci Code" -- how did a work by a near unknown author and sneered at by some of literature's leading lights become one of the best-selling novels of all time?
  "The book challenges the familiar story of Jesus's life but it is also challenges ideas that for a vast number of Americans are a familiar part of their faith and people enjoy toying with things that are subversive.""

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Oh screw the critics

Anyone who bases their judgement of anything singularly upon what critics say are missing out on a whole world of good stuff. Critics panned The Da Vinci Code. Heck, many refused to even read Mankind: Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks by professional wrestling legend Mick Foley. Why? Because it was written by a professional wrestler. How prejudicial can you get? And that was just the critics.

Meanwhile both books spent a lot of time at the top of the bestseller lists, including the gold standard NYT Bestseller List. Why again? Because they're damn good books. They speak to people on some level. You don't have to be Catholic to like the Code. You don't even have to be Christian to dig it. You don't have to like pro wrestling to get a real kick out of Foley's book. You can actually hate pro wrestling and still really enjoy Have a Nice Day. I think a lot of critics forget that some books, in spite of their opinions, don't have a target market. Brown seemed to aim at everyone by writing a mystery story that happened to involve a controversial bent. Foley intentionally aimed his book at everyone. Indeed, his book is one of the few autobiographies in the WWE book series that was actually written without a secondary author or ghostwriter.

And what happened? Brown's popularity exploded. People picked up on Angels and Demons and all his other books and discovered someone they'd never heard of, probably because critics didn't care for those books. Foley went on to have himself an honest to god writing career, penning a second autobiography, a few kids books, and a YA book which have all met with decent reviews, but more importantly decent sales.

So all you selectors out there, take heed. There's far more to life than critics; because in the end all a critic does is give you their own opinion. An opinion that's just as worthwhile as anyone else who doesn't bother to come to your library.

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