February 06, 2015

Bookfinder annual most-searched-for list

I'm always curious about the how-and-why of any list relating to books, so when I saw this from Bookfinder I had to investigate it.

At first glance, No. 1 choice On the Psychology of Military Incompetence seems rather bizarre but then thinking about it, the world is so chock full of incompetent leaders of all persuasions these days it's maybe not that surprising really that readers want the reassurance that we have always had idiots in charge!

Madonna's famous Sex title hardly needs explanation, as do vintage children's books, books on which movies are based, on knitting or touring, those on the meaning of life, existence of God and philosophical musings. War and weapons are going to pull a lot of punters. Fly fishing is supposedly one of the world's top ways to relax and perhaps Stephen King's back-list and ditto Nora Roberts can be easily justified as they are two of the world's most popular authors. But that still leaves a lot of titles that are baffling.

Some books are ludicrously expensive for no apparent reason than they are probably rare. Are some of them suggested reading in certain university or other courses? Why would numerous people be interested in a 1959 teen book called The Pink Dress – a sudden infectious burst of nostalgia in middle-aged women perhaps? The review comments on Goodreads might bear that out.

What's the fascination with South African botanical art? There are a number of deceased Australian authors listed like Evan Green and Arthur W. Upfield, also why is Janet Woods' Beyond the Plough  searched for so much? A fairly recent standard historical romance without much fanfare on Goodreads or Amazon, so a mystery.

Then I spotted No. 73 is Anybody can do Anything which I remember having on the shelf at home when I was a girl – in fact my mother read all the books written by this woman, thought her wonderful and was very sad when she died quite young. She was Betty MacDonald, author of other famous works like The Egg and I, The Plague and I and Onions in the Stew, and was mega-famous in the 1950s although her name is unlikely to mean much to the present generation of readers.

Ah nostalgia indeed! I've now got a sudden hankering to revisit her books and see if they stand up to the passage of time, whether they can still raise a laugh today. Maybe my searches for copies will help boost her ratings in next year's Bookfinder list? I guess that is how it works.

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