Another book list surfaces, this time USA Today‘s list of the top 150 best-selling books between Oct. 28, 1993 and Oct. 23, 2008. (The start date coincides with beginning of McPaper starting its own best-selling list.) Rather than bore you with what I’ve read and what I haven’t, I was intrigued by some of the items that appear on the list.
Not surprisingly, the Harry Potter series dominates the top 10. But the following books kind of caught me by surprise, considering we’re talking best-sellers after October 1993. They’re listed by their rank in the 150 with the original publication date in parentheses:
- 22 — To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) **
- 29 — The Catcher in the Rye (1951) **
- 38 — Night (1955 in Yiddish, 1960 in English)
- 65 — The Great Gatsby (1925) **
- 69 — Green Eggs and Ham (1960)
- 79 — The Hobbit (1937)
- 81 — Goodnight Moon (1947)
- 98 — Lord of the Flies (1955 in USA) **
- 125 — The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)
- 139 — 1984 (1949) **
- 140 — The Chronicles of Narnia (1950-56) **
- 148 — Fahrenheit 451 (1953) **
While the presence of a number of these is probably due to literature courses and reading groups, it’s interesting nearly 10 percent of the total are books nearly 50 years old or older. I strikes me as somewhat a consensus on works that might make up part of a 20th Century literary canon. (I don’t know if I’d accept a canon that didn’t have Green Eggs and Ham and Goodnight Moon in it.)
But there’s something else. I’ve placed asterisks after more than half the books listed above. They indicate the book has been challenged or banned in various schools and libraries. While that is frightening, maybe their presence on a best-selling list shows most Americans reject the concept of banning books.
The great drawback in new books is that they prevent our reading older ones.
Joseph Joubert, Pensées of Joubert