28 December 2013

Best-selling books of the year 2013


And so we find ourselves at the rear-end of the year, being forced to consume the half-digested summaries of news, culture, sport and trivia from 2013, where editors hope the next 72 hours don't bring anything horrific like the Boxing Day tsunami to mess up our feel-good somnambulance into 2014.

The Guardian is as guilty of this as any of the lesser newspapers, with the Weekend magazine featuring "Lists of the Year" including a list of lists, and features on viral videos, beards and cheese. The Review section holds a special kind of hell, and an opportunity for me to feel smug(ger than usual) in the form of the Best-selling Books Of The Year.

This year I have read precisely one of them, which is one more than usual, and yet I am not disheartened as the one book is Tolkien's The Hobbit, which I first read 35 years ago at the tender age of 8, little imagining that it would be made into a 40-hour epic series of films by a man who looks almost but not entirely like Stephen Poliakoff.

Of the other 99, I am only planning to read Morrissey's Autobiography, mainly because of his chutzpah in getting Penguin to issue it under their Classics imprint. Gone Girl I am aware of because I read the ending in the bookshop to see if it made sense (it didn't), and the new Bridget Jones would have been interesting if I was still the 25-year-old Independent reader in which I first encountered Helen Fielding's columns (I'm not).

My numerical analysis: there are 31 books for children (3 by David Walliams), encouraging in that it shows some children still read books. There are 8 cookery books and 4 diet books, a pair of genres that nowadays overlap in a worrying way (Hairy Dieters, anyone?). There are 25 novels, 20 thrillers, and 2 sex books by Sylvia Day that show that copycat publishing really works (hang your head in shame, Penguin Books). 5 autobiographies, and only 2 other non-fiction books: one about a cat and one self-help book on thinking. Unclassifiable, but definitely bottom of my list, is Mrs Brown's Family Handbook.

So roll on 2014 - may I never be troubled by the detritus piled high on the "3 for 2" tables, and I thank the stars for my friends and followers who recommend books that may not be bought by 640,000 people, but enrich our lives and those of future generations.
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