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2012 Bestsellers

Even occasional readers of this slog … er, blog … will hardly have failed to notice that I am fond of lists. And the sillier the list the better. So what could possibly be goofier than a list of what books Americans bought most often in the year 2012? I’m not sure much could, frankly, and when you see the list you might concur.

As reported by BookScan, about half of the top 20 bestselling books last year were either — drum roll, please — Fifty Shades of Gray titles or Hunger Games titles. Meaning, I think, that Americans are totally absorbed with softly sadomasochistic, post-apocalyptic worlds. And did anyone mention vampires?

This revelation undoubtedly says something about this country, but I think I’m afraid to ask exactly what that might be. But on the theory that reading something is better than reading nothing, I’ll let it drop.

While neither Suzanne Collins nor E.L. James, both of whom seem to be quite pleasant people, is going to enter the pantheon of great writers on the basis of their books so far, it is instructive and almost amusing to look at the other half of the top 20 list of bestselling books, none of whose authors would particularly seem destined for greatness either.

Bill O’Reilly, the TV commentator, is represented with two books, “Killing Lincoln” and “Killing Kennedy,” of which there are a lot of jakes to be made. Feel free to make up your own. I haven’t read either since I defer to real historians when it comes to reading history, but I’m clearly in the minority. John Grisham’s “The Racketeer” is on the list, and so is J.K. Rowling’s post-Harry Potter grown-up novel, “The Casual Vacancy.”

The rest of the list that isn’t Fifty Shades of Gray or Hunger Games includes, in no particular order, “No Easy Day” by Mark Owen, “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young, “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn and Diary of a Wimpy Kid” by Jeff Kinney. I wonder if there’s someone out there who has actually read all of those books? If so, I’d be delighted to award you the gift of Bill O’Reilly’s next book, ‘Killing Fillmore.”

But we’re in a new year filled with new hope, so whatever your reading desires, may you find and devour whatever tastes good.

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