Readersforum's Blog

March 12, 2013

The novelty value of Publishers Weekly’s novel list

Philip Roth and John Grisham: both authors made the Publishers Weekly list of the 20th century's annual bestsellers – but Roth just once, with Portnoy's Complaint

Philip Roth and John Grisham: both authors made the Publishers Weekly list of the 20th century’s annual bestsellers – but Roth just once, with Portnoy’s Complaint

This compilation of 100 years of No 1 bestsellers is oddly melancholy. Who knew literary immortality was so transient?

By Emma Brockes

The number of books and blogposts written around the premise of Doing an Arbitrary Thing Over the Course of a Year is long enough, now, that you could probably greenlight a meta-project to Do Everything Arbitrary You Can Do in a Year, in a Year. (AJ Jacobs is to blame for the Year of Living Biblically, followed by Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia, Gretchen Rubins’ The Happiness Project and all those books in which a lady with love troubles learns to do three things, the last of which is “and make spaghetti”.)

Anyway. The latest loose addition to the genre is 100 Years, 94 Books, a fun-sounding plan by Matt Zahn, a creative writing student at California State, to plough through the Top 100 books of the last 100 years, one a week, because why not?

The data comes from Publishers Weekly and lists the No 1-selling book of each year from 1913 – Winston Churchill’s The Inside of the Cup – to EL James in 2012.

Click here to read the rest of this story

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