Sunday, March 09, 2008



The Times of London has an amusing little story this week on the respective Amazon bestsellers in different countries:
The British prefer celebrity chefs, TV presenters and trivia, with a light sprinkling of literary fiction.... There are only three novels in the list, the fewest of any country... There are seven works of fiction in’s Top Ten, most of them spectacularly French-sounding novels. They include: L’élégance du hérisson, about a suicidal girl and her apartment building’s philosophy-loving caretaker; Chagrin d’école, about a miserable student; and Un secret, set in the aftermath of the Nazi occupation and is the story of a sickly boy who invents an imaginary brother only to find out that such a brother did exist....

The American list is dominated by self-improvement . . . [while] Germans like books about travel and the outdoors.... Where the Germans really excel though is in the search for the driest bestseller. Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, in eighth place, is the country’s civil code.

The Japanese list is all over the place, with books on health and beauty, a comedian's memoir, a book on viruses, the Tokyo Michelin guide, and -- of course -- three manga titles.

The best line of the piece, though, comes from the reader responses. The rather unfortunate headline "We Are, Literally, Stereotypical" brings this priceless comment: We aren't *literally* stereotypical or else we would look like printing blocks.

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