An extract from Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test topped our books site chart for 2011. Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian
From non-fiction to Naipaul and psychopaths to Pottermore, here are the stories that brought readers to our books site this year.
By Richard Lea
Another year comes hurtling around the corner, another sinks gratefully back into its easy chair, and in the traditional spirit of openness and honesty it’s time to look back at the literary stories which have made 2011 – or at least the stories we’ve all been reading on the Guardian Books website. With only the briefest nod to the usual caveats, here they are: the most popular stories of 2011.
Except that, er, here they aren’t. I would love to share this year’s top story with you, but Jon Ronson’s witty, touching and illuminating account of Tony – who faked madness to avoid five to seven years for GBH and wound up spending over a decade in Broadmoor – was extracted from his latest book, and, so, as our page glumly announces, “has been removed as our copyright has expired”. Some of you are no doubt grinning smugly and turning to your paper archives, but for those who don’t have the relevant copy of Weekend magazine to hand, I suppose I could point you to Will Self’s excellent review of The Psychopath Test, or try to give you a flavour of how artfully Ronson flips between sympathy for Tony – who finds it’s “an awful lot harder … to convince people you’re sane than it is to convince them you’re crazy” – and the clarity provided by Robert Hare’s psychopathy checklist, but I guess I should really just apologise and move on.
Except, um, moving on is pretty hard when second on the list of 2011′s top books stories is a sorry page. Pottermore: Harry’s digital adventure was a specially-created page which lasted just one day to host one of the clues for the internet treasure hunt leading to JK Rowling’s online project, Pottermore. Maybe it’s only a marketing wheeze, as Sam Jordison suggests, but more than a decade after Harry Potter first found the Philosopher’s Stone, his popularity clearly remains undimmed. Our tech-folk had to wall off this page from our usual content in a custom-built silo to withstand the fierce attentions of Potter fans from around the world – my browser can’t even find the server that it was sitting on.