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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What We Read

In The Uncommon Reader, the Queen dubs Norman Seakins, who works in the palace kitchens, her “amanuensis” or “literary assistant” as he steers her toward books that feed her new-found passion for reading.

While many of us have our own literary mentors – friends, colleagues, book discussion members and others who offer reading suggestions, another source is best seller lists. The New York Times Best Seller List and The Washington Post Best Seller List are among the most well-known.

The Times list appears each Sunday in the “New York Times Book Review,” but is actually prepared by the editors of the News Survey department rather than the Book Review staff. The list is based on the weekly sales record of selected independent, chain book stores and retailers, but the specific methodology is considered a classified trade secret. One study found that making it to the Times best seller list actually helps the sales of lesser known writers more than the stars, who are on it regularly.

Last Sunday’s Times included bestselling authors Sandra Brown (Smoke Screen), Eric Van Lustbader (The Bourne Sanction) and Daniel Silva (Moscow Rules) among the top five on the hardback fiction list. Lesser known authors in the top five included Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Sherrilyn Kenyon for Acheron. Last Sunday’s Post includes Brown, Van Lustbader and Silva among the top five, but adds The Turnaround by local writer George Pelacanos and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski.

Do the bestseller lists influence your reading choices? What are your sources for good reading? Let us know.

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