Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Paulo Coelho

Bestsellers, Major Literacy Project, The World Hasn’t Completely Fallen Apart, and FREE BOOKS :-)

This is my first “Kitchen Sink” post of the New Year—I’ve secured my new apartment in my old city; I’m increasing my health tweaks; I’m a bit less “fractured”; and, I can “breathe” a bit better… 

Free Books

Image Courtesy of Judith P. Abrahamsen ~

First topic—Meet the Writers Who Still Sell Millions of Books. Actually, Hundreds of Millions.

Commented on are the authors Paulo Coelho, Stephen King, Dan Brown, John Grisham, Ken Follett, Nora Roberts, James Patterson, Stephenie Meyer, Nicholas Sparks, Danielle Steele, Debbie Macomber, R.L. Stine, J.K. Rowling, Dean Koontz, Jeffrey Archer, David Baldacci and Mary Higgins Clark.

One of the more interesting statements is:

“How do you get to be a blockbuster author? Typing is not enough, though some of these novels certainly read that way. The writing quality and storytelling vary tremendously, but there are some similarities among hit writers.

“Chiefly, they’re extraordinarily productive. They publish with Swiss-clock regularity…”

And, for the starving authors out there who still have dreams of being just like those mega-selling writers, I must point you toward what I consider the most import post on this blog—What About All The Authors Whose Books Don’t Sell Very Many Copies?

Here’s an excerpt from that post:

“If failures becomes invisible, then naturally you will pay more attention to successes. Not only do you fail to recognize that what is missing might have held important information, you fail to recognize that there is missing information at all.

“You must remind yourself that when you start to pick apart winners and losers, successes and failures, the living and dead, that by paying attention to one side of that equation you are always neglecting the other.”

“Are you catching the drift yet?

“Perhaps, no matter what an author does (or, a publishing company), most books will still sell not so many copies?”

Again, if you’re trying to sell your soul to become a bestselling author, read the Facts in that post

Now, onto the Top Books That Made People Readers In 2016.

That article is about the Major Literacy Organization, WorldReader; and, it lists the best-loved books of folks who (before WorldReader got to them) had very few books, if any at all

Perusing these lists would be enlightening for any reader:


Top Books among parents and caregivers in India (Read to Kids Program)

Title Author Publisher Category
1 The Talkative Tortoise / बातूनी कछुआ Jeeva Raghunath Tulika Publishers Storybooks
2 नन्ही उँगलियाँ/Little Fingers शीला धीर/Sheila Dhir Tulika Publishers Storybooks
3 The Musical Donkey / सुरीला गधा Namrata Rai Tulika Publishers Storybooks
4 रंगबिरंग/Rang Birang Madhav Chavan Pratham Books Storybooks
5 सोना बड़ी सयानी/Sona badi Sayani Vinita Krishna Pratham Books Storybooks
6 Hawa ped / हवा-पेड़ ज्योत्सना िमलन/Jyotsna Imln Katha Children’s poetry
7 बूडाबिम/Boodabim (it’s a name) अलंकृता जैन/Alnkrita Jair Tulika Publishers Storybooks
8 भीमा गधा/Bhima’s Donkey Kiran Kasturia Pratham Books Storybooks
9 My Best Friend / मेरी सहेली Anupa Lal Pratham Books Storybooks
10 Red Umbrella / लाल छतरी Nandini Nayar Tulika Publishers Children’s poetry


Top books in school and library projects in sub-Saharan Africa

Title Author Publisher Category
1 Magozwe Lesley Koyi African Storybook Project Beginning readers
2 A Tiny Seed: The Story of Wangari Maathai Nicola Rijsdijk African Storybook Project Beginning readers
3 The Girl With the Magic Hands Nnedi Okorafor Worldreader Young Adult Fantasy
4 Ready? Set. Raymond! (Step into Reading) Vaunda Nelson Random House Children’s Books (Penguin Random House) Beginning readers
5 Disability is Not Inability Wairimu Mwangi The Jomo Kenyatta Foundation Beginning readers
6 Old Mother West Wind Thornton Burgess Public Domain Children’s classics
7 I Am An African Wayne Visser Self Published Poetry
8 Boastful Sui and Grandmother Goes to the Pictures Marg Reynolds Self Beginning readers
9 The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson Public Domain Children’s classics
10 The Adventures of Robin Hood Howard Pyle Public Domain Classics


Top Books among teens and adults reading on the Worldreader app

Title Author Publisher Category
1 Broken Promises Ros Haden Cover2Cover YA romance
2 The Holy Bible: King James Version Various Public Domain religion
3 First Love: Thinking of Him A.V. Frost Beaten Track Publishing romance
4 Sugar Daddy Ros Haden Cover2Cover YA romance
5 There’s Something about Him Lauri Kubuitsile Worldreader romance
6 Forever My Love Heather Graham Open Road Integrated Media romance
7 The Girl with the Magic Hands Nnedi Okorafor Worldreader fantasy
8 A Quest for Heroes (Arabic) Morgan Rice Lukeman Literary fantasy
9 Damaged Souls Stine Arnulf Self published Romance/Fanfiction
10 Le Roman de la momie Théophile Gautier ILIVRI romance

So, if you’re still with me but having a rough time feeling positive about this new year, this article should help:

It may have seemed like the world fell apart in 2016. Steven Pinker is here to tell you it didn’t.

And, for the imperturbable, constant readers: Free Books in your Inbox…


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World-Loved Author Donates to WorldReader

No Re-Blog today—I got an important e-mail… Paulo Coelho - WorldReader

I’ve blogged here before about the organization WorldReader.

You can read more about the good WorldReader does but here’s just a taste:

Creating a Literate World

Literacy is transformative: it increases earning potential, decreases inequality, improves health outcomes and breaks the cycle of poverty (UNESCO). Yet there are 740 million illiterate people in this world and 250 million children of primary school age who lack basic reading and writing skills (UNESCO). Books are necessary for the development of these skills, and still 50% of schools in Africa have few or no books at all (SACMEQ II).

Worldreader is on a mission to bring digital books to every child and her family, so that they can improve their lives.

And, here’s what the e-mail I got this morning said:

Dear Alexander,

In the words of Paulo Coelho, life is an education. It is a journey of continuous learning that allows us to find love and happiness in our daily lives. The wise words of Paulo Coelho have inspired millions around the world and thanks to Paulo’s generosity, his books will inspire millions more in Africa. I’m ecstatic to share with you that Paulo Coelho has donated three titles to the Worldreader digital library: The Supreme Gift, Christmas Stories, Stories for Parents, Children and Grandchildren.

Now, all of our readers in Africa, whether they are reading on e-readers or mobile devices, can open their minds and hearts to Paulo Coelho’s beautiful and transformative lessons.

Read more about Paulo Coelho’s support and be sure to share the exciting news with your family and friends!


Danielle Zacarias
Director of Content & Publisher Relations

If you’re able, do think about supporting the worthy efforts of WorldReader
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Have You Read Any #VisionaryFiction ?

Yesterday, I wrote about Visionary Fiction; but, mostly, from the perspective of the writer. Visionary Fiction Alliance Book Store

Today, I’ll look at it from the reader’s perspective.

Let’s look again at the qualities of Visionary Fiction:

  • Growth of consciousness is the central theme of the story and drives the protagonist, and/or other important characters.
  • The story oftentimes uses reincarnation, dreams, visions, paranormal events, psychic abilities, and other metaphysical plot devices.
  • The plot [or story] is universal in its worldview and scope.

Have you ever read a book that does those things?

Was it classified as some particular genre?

Margaret Duarte, one of the Editors with the Visionary Fiction Alliance, has a compelling argument in her post, What Is Visionary Fiction?, that makes VF a Sub-genre of Speculative Fiction (and, there’s a really cool genre-graphic).

The VFA website says this:

“Visionary is a tone as well as a genre. The ‘visionary’ element can technically be present in any genre and set in any time.”

I’ve written a number of posts about genre—a fairly slippery topic

So, with no intention of setting up a controversy (since questions of genre can be highly colored by many personal factors), I’ll make the bold statement that Visionary Fiction is a “Supra-genre”

Let’s look at some examples of VF, from the VFA site, and ask ourselves what other genres they also belong to:

The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

The Celestine Prophecy – James Redfield

Chocolate and The Girl with No Shadow  – Joanne Harris

From the Corner of His Eye – Dean Koontz

The Illuminatus Trilogy  – Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea

Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah – Robert Bach

Javid Nama –  Muhammad Iqbal

Jonathen Livingston Seagull – Robert Bach

The Journeys of Socrates – Dan Millman

Keeping Faith  – Jodi Picoult

Life of Pi – Yann Martel

The Mists of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley

Odd Thomas series – Dean Koontz

No Retreat, No Surrender – Corey Yuen

The Stand – Stephen King

Twelfth Insight, Thet: The Hour of Decision – James Redfield

Valis – Philip K. Dick

Way of the Peaceful Warrior – Dan Millman

What Dreams May Come – Richard Matheson

So, are those books Visionary Fiction first, then some other genre?

Some other genre, then VF?

Both at the same time?

See how slippery genre can be? :-)

Still, I think Visionary Fiction is a valuable Quality to consider when a reader’s tastes crave Universal Themes, Growth of Consciousness, and Metaphysical Plot Devices.

So, if you’re one of those readers, check out the Visionary Fiction Alliance’s Bookstore.
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One Top Rank Author Who Isn’t Fighting Amazon . . .

Ever been to the Frankfurt Book Fair?Amazon Hachette

I’m sure there were many comments, on stage and off, about how Amazon is ruining the literary world.

I’ll bet there were any number of arguments about the worth or threat of Amazon.

There was an article in Publishers Weekly that led with this sentence:

“At a standing room only session at the Frankfurt Book Fair, bestselling Brazilian author Paulo Coelho had a message for publishers: Embrace change. And, lower your e-book prices.”

This is quite a different perspective from other famous authors—like John Grisham and Stephen King—who are battling against Amazon and supporting the big publishers.

If you haven’t been keeping up with all this, checkout my past post, Almost Against My Will ~ Yet Another Look At The Amazon–Hachette Dispute…

Here are two other things Mr. Coelho said in that Publishers Weekly article:

“I’m not saying the war is lost. I’m saying we humans are still here because of our capacity of adapting ourselves. The war is not lost. It is the opposite. The war is won. Culture is now available all over the world. People can read.”

“There is a golden rule. Don’t be greedy.”

I was so impressed that a man who has sold more than 150 million books in over 150 countries worldwide could be so sane about where the literary business is heading that I went and found a video of him.

I think it speaks to everyone in the world…

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Are These The Most Difficult Books to Read?

It appears Paulo Coelho has said (according to The Guardian) that James Joyce’s Ulysses has no content worth reading“One of the books that caused great harm was…Ulysses, which is pure style. There is nothing there. Stripped down, Ulysses is a twit.”

Some folks would also rank Ulysses as a difficult book to read.

Two folks at the site The Millions (“an online magazine offering coverage on books, arts, and culture since 2003”) have, since 2009, been working to produce a Most Difficult To Read list

In their 2009 article, Introducing Difficult Books, A Descriptive List (which has their first list), I found these clarifying excerpts:

“There will, doubtless, be those readers who look scornfully on our choices (“Psh. These aren’t that hard, you’re just not smart enough to read them“).”

“This list is for the mere mortals among us—who have found themselves reading and rereading the same paragraph of James Joyce’s Ulysses to no avail…”

“But this is also a list for those who, after breaking the spine, picked up the wounded volume, taped it back together, and finished that infuriating chapter, and another, and another… until, triumph!, it was finished at last. And, perhaps, now that we think on it again, having finished, could it be that it was worth the struggle? Could it be that in the pain of it was a tinge of pleasure, of value (not to mention pride)?”

Publishers Weekly recently posted an updated list of the 10 Most Difficult from the curators at The Millions:

Nightwood by Djuna Barnes, A Tale of A Tub by Jonathan Swift, The Phenomenology of the Spirit by G.F. Hegel, To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, Clarissa, Or the History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson, Finnegans Wake by James Joyce, Being & Time by Martin Heidegger, The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser, The Making of Americans by Gertrude Stein, and Women & Men by Joseph McElroy.

If you go to that Publishers Weekly link you can read their reasons for listing these books as “Most Difficult”

Have you read any of these books?

Did you think them exceedingly difficult?

Are there other books you think are extremely difficult to read?
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