19 April 2014


I've never hidden my love of the written word from anyone and I've certainly promoted it here in the Den. I unashamedly love books. The thought of a world without books does not sit well with me. I was an English major who focused on literature, after all! Books tell so much about us - who we are, what drives us, what scares us, what inspires us. This is why a review of the best-selling books since the year I was born is utterly disturbing.

As the three of you who have held on and been reading the Den for more than ten seconds may recall, I put together a couple of posts about the music and movies that have made it to #1 atop their respective best-selling lists since the year I was born. I've made a couple of attempts to do the same for books but as the font of all things true on the Interwebs, Wikipedia, has pointed out, that is a nearly impossible task. So I took a look at the list of best-selling books from the New York Times and Publishers's Weekly and it revealed it's not been pretty on us for a long, long time. I'll spare you the year-by-year blowback, but I'll give you some lowhighlights:

  • 1966 - "Valley of the Dolls" Jacqueline Susann - Arguably, a roman a clef about the treatment of women in the celebrity industry. What is not arguable? That it's an awful book. Not an auspicious best-seller for the year I made my debut.
  • 1970 - "Love Story" Erich Segal - Love means never, ever, ever making anyone read this or see the movie version
  • 1972/73 - "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" Richard Bach - A seagull seeking a happy life. Seriously. How messed up was our culture when this became an inspiration?
  • The rest of the 70's were historical fiction best-sellers, offering a modicum of redemption for 1970, 72, and 73
  • The 80's - Well, two of the best-sellers were spawned by movies, not the reverse (1982 - "E.T" / 1983 - "Return of the Jedi Storybook") which is never a good sign. The 80's also thrust three Stephen King books upon us. The decade closed out, in 1988 and 1989, with two books from Tom Clancy, causing airport booksellers all manner of joy and countless numbers of aircraft cleaners learned to read English as a result of the number of his books left in the seat back pocket in front of you.
  • 1991 - "Scarlett: A Sequel to Gone With The Wind" Alexandra Ripley - An homage to a gentler (ha!) time when a nation sought to unite itself after a horrific civil war and a region struggled to figure out how to go on without slavery. Seriously? This chapter in our nation's history needed to be romanticized even further?
  • 1993 - "The Bridges of Madison County" Robert James Waller - Because adultery is OK when set against the pastoral covered bridges of the midwestern United States
  • The 90's - Just call it the Decade of Grisham. Six years in a row on the best-seller list with six different novels. He essentially printed money. Once again, airport booksellers hit the jackpot.
  • The 00's - Two years of Dan Brown and his "Da Vinci Code" and two years of the horror that is Stephanie Meyer and her "Twilight" series book-ended the best-seller lists. See what I told you? Utterly disturbing.
  • 2012 - "50 Shades of Grey" E.L. James - Making sadomasochism safe for commuter reading! How was this not one of the seven signs of the Apocalypse?
  • 2013 - "Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck" Jeff Kinney - Was this some kind of curative balm to repel the 2012 best seller? What is wrong with us, people?
There you have it. In a thousand years or two, when, if 1968's "Planet of the Apes" taught us anything, the apes are condemning our train-wreck society, these lists will be key evidence against us. This is why I read non-fiction. I'm reading four books right now, Sous Chef, Young Money, The Hour of Peril, and The Bully Pulpit. Books like these make me excited to read more. I'm delighted to report that the Baby Awesome, my grandson, appears to have caught the reading bug as well.
He's reading!

Our Lady of Awesome was forced to hide one of his favorite books from him and now that he's mobile, he figured out where it was. Once found, he started reading it right where it was hidden. Like I said, awesome.

Turn off the TV. Go read a book, my friends.

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