Fun stuff: July 2008 Archives

What Chicago's buying

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The people of Chicago have spoken — with their book-buying dollars. This week's Crain's Chicago Business is chock-full of charts and graphs and information in its Market Facts 2008 feature.

Among the findings under "Media & Culture," the mag lists the top five best-sellers in Chicago since Jan. 1, 2008. It's a curious little all-nonfiction list. Not surprising is that the No. 1 spot is an Oprah's Book Club selection.

A New Earth The Last Lecture Three Cups of Tea Strengths Finder Eat This Not That

1. A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle (paperback)

2. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow

3. Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (paperback)

4. Strengths Finder 2.0: A New and Upgraded Edition of the Online Test from Gallup's 'Now, Discover Your Strengths' by Tom Rath

5. Eat This Not That: Thousands of Simple Food Swaps That Can Save You 10, 20, 30 Pounds — or More! by David Zinczenko (paperback)

The Top 100, according to EW

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Do you think The Road by Cormac McCarthy is the best book of the last 25 years? Where do you think Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes ranks? Or The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown? According to Entertainment Weekly magazine, they rank No. 1, 36 and 96, respectively.

For the magazine's 1000th issue, the folks at EW came out with a bunch of lists they're calling "The New Classics," broken down into the 100 best movies, TV shows, albums and books, among other things.

I would argue that the books list would have been the most difficult to compile as many, many more new books come out in a given month than movies, TV shows and albums. And given that such lists are heavily subject to the tastes of those making the list, don't be surprised if your favorite from the last quarter-century didn't make it. That said, it's fun to read.

This is what EW's had to say about its No. 1 selection, the barely 2-year-old The Road: "We don't need writers of Cormac McCarthy's caliber to inform us of looming planetary catastrophes; we can read the newspaper for that. We need McCarthy to imaging the fate of the human sould if the worst really does come to pass."

The Road America
No. 1: The Road by Cormac McCarthy.
No. 100: America (The Book) presented by The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Interspersed throughout the list are little breakouts, such as "The 10 Longest Books," "Oprah Blessed Titles" and "Five Memoir Shockers," to name a few.'s poll to elicit readers' favorite authors of the last 25 years ended up with:

1. (surprise!) J.K. Rowling (46 percent)
2. Stephen King (30 percent)
3. John Grisham (10 percent)
4. Cormac McCarthy (8 percent)
5. Toni Morrison (6 percent)

Here is my own Top 5 culled from EW's Top 100 (EW's ranking in parentheses):

1. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (No. 73)
2. Cathedral by Raymond Carver (No. 75)
3. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (No. 15)
4. Possession by A.S. Byatt (No. 27)
5. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (No. 11)

Read the entire list of 100 Best Books of the Last 25 Years.