Barnes & Noble had a sale over the weekend in which its 1000 top e-books were 50% off. I was excited by the sale because it helped slake (somewhat) my ever-present acquisition instinct and because the fact that these are the top selling books gave me a chance to compare my reading interests to what other people are evidently voraciously devouring.
So here goes. Some books on the top 1000 books are very much books that I want to read. These are the books I gleefully snapped up right away. They include Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, and, eh only slightly less high-brow than those two, Justin Halpern’s Shit my Dad Says*. For these books, I congratulated my fellow readers for having the good taste to read books that I want to read — ha! –and thus successfully pushed the books into the top 1000 and on the sale list.
Then there are books that I did not personally buy but could see myself very much buying if only I a) do not own them already, b) have not read them already, or c) had slightly different reading tastes. They include a lot of literary fiction like Umberto Eco’s The Prague Cemetery, Lois Dowry’s The Giver, or Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. They also include a lot of children’s book, e.g. Tennant Redbank’s Brave, Eric Litwin’s Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes, or Disney’s Cars, since my inner child is happy to watch television instead of read. (I did buy a couple of literary fiction tomes as gifts. Boy, won’t people like my presents when I tell them that not only did I pick out for them quality readings like Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom but also that I got the books for a bargain price of under $4?)
In the third category are books that I did not buy but would’ve if their prices were lower. These are books that make me grumpy for my greed knows no bounds. More books! Cheaper!
And then there are books that are well represented by the snap shot of the top 1000 books seen above. They are books that make me grumpy because I would never want to read them and their presence on the list crowded out books that I do want to read. These are books that the rational, civilized me knows to say, “remember, freedom of choice and diversity of preferences are a good thing”, but the grumpy me is left, well, grumpy. These books remind me what a snob I am.
What about you? What thoughts do you have when you check out bestselling book lists?
*: You may notice that the links I used were to Amazon and not Barnes & Noble page. This is because I actually bought these books from Amazon when it price-matched its rival’s sale prices. The fact that not all of of B&N books were matched and I missed out on getting a bargain for some books — like Tina Fey’s Bossypants — is a topic for another day. Note that Bossypants is linked to B&N’s site. Hmph, take that, Amazon!
Also, I wrote Shit my Dad Says instead of Sh*t My Dad says. I did this under the presumption that none of your minds is at the slightest risk of being irrecoverably soiled by this usage. If this assumption is incorrect, then I really am terribly sorry. You’re going to have a hard time in the world, and Sh*t wouldn’t have helped you any.