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Thursday, March 25, 2010

PW's List of the Top Selling Hardcover Books in 2009: Like Fast Food, A Million Sold Doesn't Make It Great.

In 2007, an AP poll found that, in the prior year, one in four adults had read no books at all.  Of those that did read, the typical person claimed to have read four.  When a relative of mine, who I'll allow to remain anonymous, found out I had a book blog, he said, 'books? no one is interested in books'.  Needless to say, we don't see eye-to-eye on some things.  I do read.  A lot. 

Looking back on the last year, it's difficult to put together a hard number on just how many books I've read since I read multiple books as once and am willing to abandon books that lose my attention.  However, my guess is that I complete about two books a week.

Despite being a relatively big reader, when looking over Publishers Weekly's list of the top selling hardcover books in 2009, I noted that I had read just one (1) of the 30 best selling fiction books.  That one book was, frankly, read by accident and in desperation:  It was the lesser of evils available on the library's new book cart late on a Friday afternoon.

Popularity is not always a useful means of selecting a book.  In fact, if someone who reads very few books asked me to recommend something, I wouldn't recommend any of those 30 top selling books.  And I suspect  that of the folks only marginally interested in reading who did dive into one of those titles, the book did nothing to convert that person into a dedicated reader, searching out the next great book.  A great book does what singer/songwriter Tom Russell once said a great song does:  “It draws you into it and stops time.”

A great book, one that draws you in and stops time, is one of life's joys.  Last summer a woman who was reading a book I recommended told me that she wished the book would never end.  That is exactly the reading experience that this blog is all about.  To achieve that goal, I'll likely continue to pass by the book world's equivalents of fast food and keep looking instead for something really great. 


  1. The "relative"who said no one is interested in books is not the one who is married to Amy Dixon. This I know.

  2. You are correct, Anonymous. It was not my husband. Like me, he is interested in good books, great writing, and interesting authors.