Is popular the same as good?


I accidentally know something about the author of my latest BIB – Gerald Seymour. (I haven’t read the link so if it goes to a model railway enthusiast and not the author apologies, but I am trying to remain true to the cause of being blissfully ignorant).   I know he has been around for long time and is very popular.  I couldn’t help but notice his books in airport and train station book shops.   This has unearthed a prejudice in me which I have been wrestling with and observing myself for some time.  If things are popular I tend to dislike them, and am surprised when I do like them or have to make myself find out what the fuss is about.  I did that with “The Da Vinci Code” several years after it had hit the shops and loved it (Sorry but it’s a good story).  I did that with 80’s bands like U2 and Genesis.

I think this comes from a strongly held belief of mine, best captured from a great song

You get what you give
And only then just enough
To make you happy no more no less
Too much is too absurd
WhispersFairground Attraction

So in this way, and having an appreciation of the size of the world, the millions of people who can make things popular, how can anything merit that much attention?  I know this is unreasonable on my part, but it does feel unfair.  There are many better books than The Da Vinci Code that never get any attention, many bands better than U2 (I feel like I’ve just blasphemed there) but they won’t reach 1% of the record sales.

I know I hold this prejudice, and like all prejudices, it’s what you do with it that counts.  I recognise it in myself and find out what all the fuss is about. There are several U2 songs I love.  I even took my children to Disneyland and loved it to the point that I said we could go back (and we didn’t have to take the kids, I wouldn’t mind!).  So I will concede that sometimes things are popular because they are popular and sometimes they are because they’re great.

So given one of the rules;  reading good books, don’t let popularity put you off because chances are they are good!

I am really enjoying the BIB, by the way, even if everyone’s heard of the author.

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