Thursday, January 17, 2013

Best Books of 2012 - Readers' Picks

We know what the critics liked in 2012 (see my previous post) but what about us readers?  Are we as discriminating as the critics? Based on the top three best-sellers on Amazon for 2012, apparently not.  I don’t know what the the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon says about American (women’s) reading preferences, but the erotic trilogy has made its author and publisher a fortune, and continues to dominate the best-seller lists of eBooks and paperbacks.  Gone Girl was Amazon’s fourth best-selling 2012 title, and J. K. Rowling’s fame landed her first adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, in the fifth spot.

Amazon’s Best-selling Books of 2012

(1-3) Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, Fifty Shades Freed, all by E. L. James
Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
The Casual Vacancy, by J. K. Rowling
The Racketeer, by John Grisham
Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy, by Ken Follett

Amazon’s top-selling 2012 nonfiction included titles seen nowhere among the critics’ notables:

No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden, by Mark Owen with Kevin Mauer
Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot, by Bill O’Reilly
Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife, by Eben Alexander
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain, a popular readers’ website, invites its members to pick the People’s Choice awards for the year. Goodreads readers chose these fiction titles:

The Casual Vacancy, by J. K. Rowling
Where We Belong, by Emily Giffen
Home Front, by Kristin Hannah
The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker
This Is How You Lose Her, by Junot Diaz

And these general nonfiction titles:

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, by Katherine Boo
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg
Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative, by Austin Kleon
How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, by Paul Tough

(Memoirs, history, and biography appear in separate lists.)

What about RPL readers?  We compiled a list of 2012 hardcover titles ranked in order of popularity based on the number of checkouts. According to this list, our patrons like crime fiction (thrillers and mysteries) and urban fiction.  The top ten most-circulated titles of 2012 were:

The Innocent, by David Baldacci
Private Games, by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan
11th Hour, by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Murderville, “from the minds of” Ashley and Ja (What does that mean???)
Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
Low Down and Dirty, by Vicki M. Stringer
Home, by Toni Morrison
Guilty Wives, by James Patterson and David Ellis
An Accidental Affair, by Eric Jerome Dickey
Black and Ugly As Ever, by T Styles

Of the top 50 or so titles that circulated more than 100 times, urban fiction was the most popular genre, with 19 titles. Crime fiction was next with 11. Commercial, or popular, fiction included 11 titles, and literary fiction 5. Only 1 nonfiction title circulated more than 100 times: Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild, From Lost To Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.  And where on the list was Fifty Shades of Grey (in a classification all its own)?  16th.  

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