BOOKS

Anna Burnside: Potter and the philosopher's endless drone - Sunday Times - Times Online
So it came as something of a surprise to discover that readers of The Book Magazine have voted J K Rowling as the greatest living writer in Britain. How can this be? ... She had one good idea that became a formula that she has now worked into the ground.

I agree with her assessment of Harry Potter but I always find these lists interesting for another reason. The people who voted Rowling the best whatever didn't do so because they actually thought she was the best writer. Most likely the majority of people who voted for her haven't read almost any other books than the Harry Potter books so they have little to compare her to. They voted for her because they know her name and they "liked" the books. I quote "liked" because that's how most people think of books, they either like them or they don't. There's no critical thought behind it, no comparison even really. "I liked Harry Potter and the kids read them so I'll vote for whats-her-name". This doesn't invalidate the ranking, but the ranking isn't for Best Living Author, it's for Most Popular Author. Those 2 things are different in every way except some authors might appear on both lists and it's disingenuous for the magazine involved to label the list the way they did.