Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Best Sellers

Patti Abbott asked about the top ten fiction sellers of 1959 a while back and whether our generation of writers is producing anything comparable. Here they are:
1. Exodus, Leon Uris

2. Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak

3. Hawaii, James Michener

4. Advise and Consent, Allen Drury

5. Lady Chatterley's Lover, D. H. Lawrence

6. The Ugly American, William J. Lederer and Eugene L. Burdick

7. Dear and Glorious Physician, Taylor Caldwell

8. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

9. Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris, Paul Gallico

10. Poor No More, Robert Ruark

I'm a little ashamed to say I've not read a single one of the books... Or a single title by any of the authors.

I go to thinking about her question. Hard to say if we've produced a Nabokov or Lawrence without the perspective of some time passing. So here is the list from 25 years ago...

The top hc fiction sellers for 1984 (courtesy of NY Times):

1. ''The Aquitaine Progression,'' by Robert Ludlum
2. ''The Talisman,'' by Stephen King and Peter Straub
3. ''. . . And Ladies of the Club,'' by Helen Hooven Santmyer
4. ''Lincoln,'' by Gore Vidal
5. ''The Butter Battle Book,'' by Dr. Seuss
6. ''The Fourth Protocol,'' by Frederick Forsyth
7. ''Love and War,'' by John Jakes
8. ''The Sicilian,'' by Mario Puzo
9. ''The Haj,'' by Leon Uris
10. ''Full Circle,'' by Danielle Steel

Interesting that Uris is on both lists. I've never read any of these titles either. My bad. But then, this does seem a little like a step down from the 1959 list.

Now try the 1999 list from Publisher's Weekly:

1. The Testament by John Grisham, Doubleday

2. Hannibal by Thomas Harris, Delacorte

3. Assassins by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim La Haye, Tyndale

4. Star Wars: Episode 1, The Phantom Menace by Terry Brooks, LucasBooks/DelRey

5. Timeline by Michael Crichton, HarperCollins

6. Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King, Scribner

7. Apollyon by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim La Haye, Tyndale

8. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King, Scribner

9. Irresistible Forces by Danielle Steel, Delacorte

10. Tara Road by Maeve Binchy, Delacorte

Again, I've not read a single title (geez, Steven, what do you read?) but I have seen several of the movies...Hearts in Atlantis, Timeline, Star Wars, ep. 1, and Hannibal. Don't know if anything else made it to the screen. So is Thomas Harris the Nabokov of our time? Is Grisham our Lawrence? Perhaps Steel is our Pasternak?

Does this comparison tell us anything about readers? Writers? The business?


Blogger pattinase (abbott) said...

As we move forward, I've read less and less. I wonder what that tells me.

October 20, 2009 1:57 PM  
Blogger Terrie Farley Moran said...

As I mentioned on Patti's blog post, I read everything on the 1959 list except Chatterly and Lolita. (Of course, I was 13 in 1959.)

I don't recall reading even one of the 1984 books but at that time I had a couple of kids and a more than full time job.

On the 1999 list I read The Testament and Tara Road.

Whatever I am reading, it's not coming from the top ten lists.


October 20, 2009 2:29 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home