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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 3, 2009 @ 6:21 pm

    Amazon’s Top 100

    Fiona McCann

    No surprise to see Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol topping the list of Amazon.co.uk’s 100 Bestselling New Releases for 2009, but what’s this? Grow Your Own Drugs at number three? Not the recreational kind, mind, but still, it’s a turn-up for the books (shocking pun intended) to find an ethnobotanist on the list, just pipping Antony Beevor no less for the bronze. According to the site, they’re the bestselling new releases based on shipments up to October 28th, and they’re quite an eclectic bunch, all told. It’s a fascinating snap shot of – well, of what exactly? Can anything be deduced from these examples (and remember, Irish Amazon shoppers get redirected to the .co.uk site too) about the state of reading in Britain and Ireland, particularly given the heartening presence of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Beever’s D-Day: The Battle for Normandy in the top ten? Or are we to deduce that the demographic that buys online is of a Beever-buying disposition? Stieg Larsson features twice in the top ten, with this baking book coming in at number ten. Which reminds me: Can we stop calling them cupcakes over here? They’re BUNS for crying out loud! And what I want to know is: has anybody out there read this James Wong book? What’s so great about it, or better-stated, why are so many people buying it? As for the Irish contribution to the top 100, we’ve got Coleen Nolan’s autobiography and the Guinness Book of World Records. Who says we aren’t a literary nation, then?

    • Rosemary says:

      As far as I know there is actually a difference between buns and cupcakes, something about unsalted butter, or vinegar, or size, or icing, ask on Twitter gli Americani will surely know. Anyway I overdosed on cupcakes in New York, got two from Magnolia and scoffed them in about three minutes flat and since then I can’t look that swirly icing in the face. Ugh.

    • Fiona says:

      Rosemary: Ooh, fascinating. I didn’t know that – may have to take back my rant, will go investigate, and then find a new moan. Also, Magnolia icing v. hardcore for bun-lovers. Seems to be a lot of it, which is good but also bit sickly. I sympathise. You were fierce ambitious with two, mind – they’re ginormous!

    • kynos says:

      Have to say I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far of Beevor’s “Berlin-The Downfall 1945″. life of mine never less than ten books on the go easy starting trying to finish is the thing when you’ve a four hour daily commute and kidz at the weekend might add I’ve bought a few interesting ones on Amazon in the line you mention. As I look at my shelves espy Howard Marks -two volumes of Howard (Book of Dope Stories” and ” Mr Nice”) and Mel Franks estimable Marijuana Grower’s Guide and Jason King’s The Cannabible.

    • Steve K says:

      I like Beevor – Berlin was fun (is that okay to say?).

      I am going to buy my Mum “Wolf Hall” for Christmas. Is it women that drive the sales of these period dramas? Every middle-aged woman has a copy of “Wild Swans”, and that is a good novel.

      So Beevor for the lads, Wolf Hall for the ladies. Christmas done.

    • Fiona says:

      Kynos: Haven’t actually read Beevor though Shane Hegarty did a fascinating interview with him in this paper quite recently http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/weekend/2009/0606/1224248154938.html. Again, not THOSE kinds of drugs. Sheesh.

      Steve K: I’m reading Wolf Hall. Does that make me middle-aged? Or worse still, a lady? Yikes! Better get beefed up on Beevor quickly!

    • mise says:

      In our house they were fairy cakes if they were iced (real butter icing, not that piped airy American stuff cupcakes have) and queen cakes if they had raisins in. Butterfly cakes if the tops were cut off and stuck back on as wings. Never buns. Buns were for burgers. Sorry, I’m lowering the literary tone here.

    • Eleanor says:

      4. Steve K, Wild Swans was indeed excellent but not a novel – rather an intergenerational exploration of the transition of China from feudal society to communist state exploring the cultural revolution and its effects along the way. As such it fits nicely into the same genre as Beevor’s works and perhaps demonstrates that the genders do not differ so very much in their choice of reading material.

    • Fiona says:

      Mise: We had fairy cakes, and queen cakes, and butterfly cakes too, but the collective was always buns, for some reason. Is not lowering the tone at all, by the by, is an important discussion on meaning and language, surely!

      Eleanor: Haven’t read Wild Swans, but like your point about genders and reading material – I always think too much is made of our allegedly differing literary tastes.

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