Safe Haven: A NYT Best Selling Experiment

safe havenIt’s long past due for another NYT Best Selling review!

The reason they’re taking so long is because the books have a long wait list at my local library.

Go figure.

Okay, so let me recap how this works.

I choose a book from the NYT best sellers list and commit to reading the first fifty pages, after which, I vlog two reviews–a review for readers, and a review for writers.

The reader review is your standard review.

The writer review, however, is different. This is where I attempt to figure out how the book landed on the coveted NYT best seller’s list.

Let’s get started, shall we?

A Review for Readers:

Video Cliffs Notes:

  • This was my first attempt to read a Nicholas Sparks novel.
  • When Katie, a mysterious newcomer shows up in Southport, North Carolina, she catches the attention of a widower named Alex, who’s raising two young ones on his own. A romance ensues and secrets about Katie’s not-so-happy past are revealed.
  • I wasn’t enthralled, but the book did help me pass the time during some long flights home from Africa.
  • At page 150-something, I convinced my husband to watch the movie.
  • I wasn’t a fan of the movie, so I lost momentum with the book too.

A Review for Writers:

Video Cliffs Notes:

  • Craft books tell us to start our stories with a sense that all is not well. Sparks does this well.
  • Curiosity is an author’s best friend. Curious readers keep turning pages. –> Click to Tweet
  • Sparks gives us a sympathetic male lead.
  • Just when the story might start to lag, Sparks throws in an action scene that grabs our attention.
  • Know thy audience. Romance readers tend to like those small, southern town settings.


thumbs sideways

Okay, so I didn’t technically finish this book. But to be fair, it wasn’t Nicholas Sparks fault that I didn’t like the movie. I bet if I would have waited to watch it, I would have stuck this book out.

Next book in the NYT best-selling experiment?

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Which also happens to be a movie.

Let’s Talk: Do movies influence whether or not you read a book?

13 thoughts on “Safe Haven: A NYT Best Selling Experiment

  1. […] dive into the world of vlogging, all the while sitting back thinking “Meh.” But when I watched Katie Ganshert’s vlog last week, something […]

  2. I try to read the book before I see the movie, but in the case of Twilight, I saw the movie first, realized it was based off a book and then proceeded to read them all before the other movies came out.

    I haven’t seen this movie yet or read the book. Sparks books make me sad. I don’t like feeling sad. 🙂

  3. Katie, hard to believe it’s your first (and maybe last?) foray into Sparksy territory! I’m a fan of Sparks the person and admire the way he overcame so much personal tragedy, but his books do start to feel like the same paint-by-numbers procedural each time out. I’ve read Safe Haven and seen the movie and was not a huge fan of either. I did, however, appreciate the tint of suspense and danger in Safe Haven, which is kind of a new wrinkle for him. The movie was a really flat adaptation. I didn’t think it was cast very well–Julianne Hough didn’t bring the magic from Rock of Ages. Sparks is such a super stud because people like me who are not in his target demo continue to buy his stuff. I usually fall asleep reading his books, yet I’ve bought and read like seven of them! On a serious note, this book exposes a scary picture of domestic violence that everyday folks like me don’t usually think about. I hope it raises some awareness out there… Thanks! Ryan

  4. I think you are brave to read a book with this cover…hee hee. But then, I’ve never claimed to be a fan of (blatant) romance.

    This is an interesting/intriguing experiement. Thanks for sharing and I’m looking forward to more.

  5. Enjoyed this. I am SO not a fan of Nicholas Sparks. I should be because I love a good romance, but his books lack…something…for me. I actually liked the movie version of The Notebook far better than the book.

  6. Normally I don’t read the books if I’ve seen the movie. Because when I read books, I like to be surprised. If I’ve seen the movie, I already know what happens. Also, if I’ve seen the movie, then my imagination isn’t working in the same way…like the way I might picture the setting or the hero/heroine, etc. So I’m much more of a fan of reading the book first, then watching the movie. Of course I usually find that the movie changes stuff that didn’t need to be changed, etc.

  7. What a great idea to review it for readers and writers! Thanks, Katie. I enjoyed the movie . . . but I always hold my breath to see who is going to die in a N. Sparks book or movie.

  8. Shirley

    I’m a huge Nicholas Sparks fan. Had the opportunity to have breakfast with him a couple of years ago. (Along with a couple hundred other women) Later that day, I heard him speak again. I was not happy with him about some of his books until I heard the stories behind them…and his story. The story behind The Notebook is extremely touching–based on his wife’s grandparents. That said, I haven’t read all his books, and I think the movie turned out to be a weak representation of the book. As for the book itself…not a fan of it. WAY too much filler. Quite disappointing. I found myself skipping over much of it because it was too much filler, and some things in the book just didn’t seem to have a reason for being there–except to fill the pages.

  9. i can think of few fates worse than being trapped with nothing to read but a nicholas sparks book and nothing to watch but a nicholas sparks film (Says the girl who walked outta the Notebook)

    i read a few— the notebook, a walk to remember and the last song — and EWW! ICK! BAH!

    just not my thing. i’d rather read your books ANY day of the week, katie 🙂

  10. Sometimes they do. If I see a movie trailer that looks intriguing, and it’s based on a book, I’ll hurry up and read that book (or try to) before I see the movie. Every now and then I’ll miss the fact that a movie was based on a book, but if I liked the movie and it’s clear in the credits it’s based on a novel, THEN I’ll read the book. There are rare occasions when I think the movie is better. Usually I prefer the book.

  11. I really enjoy this series of vlogs, Katie! (Melissa and Ganise, I am NOT a Nicholas Sparks fan either. Sorry, I have my reasons…)

    I like how you break it down for readers then for writers. It’s smart to think about these things. I just started a book by NYT bestseller Susan Mallory, and I have a “readers” and “writers” list on that one in my head. 🙂

  12. Ganise

    The only book by Nicholas Sparks that I read: The Notebook. And I thought the ending was just too sad and apparently that’s the ‘happiest’ story he wrote or something. I’m not sure what I read about it again. Not a fan, either, joining you Melissa.

    HA! : ‘Please, nobody throw anything!’. That made me laugh.

    To answer your question Katie, I don’t really watch a lot of movies (even though a part of me wishes that this would change!) Other factor influence whether I pick up a book or not: word of mouth, cover, blurb. And I definitely read books by authors I know.


  13. I’m not actually much of a Nicholas Sparks fan (please, nobody throw anything!), so I haven’t read this one. Or seen the movie…

    BUT movies have influenced whether or not I read a book before. I saw the first Lord of the Rings movie on dvd before ever reading the books. Loved it so much that I went and read all three books before the second LOTR movie came out a month later. LOVE!


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