Monday, April 23, 2007

Comparative Literature

Here are a couple of nice things to amuse you this Monday morning.

There are all kinds of wacky facts about books in this PDF downloadable from the New York Times. (Or you can just click on the pic left if you're lazy.)

What are the best selling books internationally at the moment? Dan Brown and J.K. Rowling, yes, you'd expect their works on the list. But Paul Auster's Brooklyn Follies is in there too, and I'm also fascinated to learn that while Auster's book sold 70,000 copies in the US in 2006, it sold 165,00 copies in France!

There are also a couple of internationally best selling authors I'd never heard of (and I bet you haven't either) - Ildefonso Falcones de Sierra and Carlos Ruiz Zafon, who both of course write in Spanish.

And the titles of some of the Harry Potter rip-offs around the world made me smile: my favourite is Harry Potter and Leopard-Walk-up-to-Dragon (China)!

Statistic after statistic on the page shows just how much work in translation is one way traffic, with far more American titles being translated into foreign languages than the other way round.

You might also like to take a look at the list of 100 top favourite books compiled by British bookchain, Waterstones and reproduced in the Telegraph. The company asked its 5,000 staff to name their favourite five books written since 1982, the date Waterstones opened its first store.

(And yes, unbelievable as it sounds, the kind of people who work in bookshops in the UK do read, unlike too many of their counterparts here!)

The number of male authors on the list outweighs the number of female authors - this could be because (as my own small scale research bore out too) while women tend to read books by both men and women, men tend to read mostly books by men. (I'd love to know how many of those employees are blokes.)

Still, we do love to compare ourselves against lists and this one provides a very useful starting point for anyone who isn't too sure about what they might like to read.

Anyway, Happy World Book Day! Don't forget to stop off at a bookshop to buy yourself (and your loved one) a gift.


Jane Sunshine said...

A toast to you on World Book day- for bringing lots of us together in book lovedom.

Carlos Ruis Zafon wrote the best seller Shadow of the Wind which has been widely popular in the UK thanks to Richard and Judy. It has a very seductive premise for all book lovers.

*It's still Sunday out here*

bibliobibuli said...

maybe it's richard and judy who are partly responsible for the book's sales ... it sounds very interesting

animah said...

And Oprah. So what's missing here? Where is our Malaysian talk show host promoting books?
Let's get our books out with an embossed "anita sarawak/chef wan book of the month" lable on them.

Chet said...

Hmm ... I think a book with a sticker that says "Ms Bookaholic Recommends" has more weight.

bibliobibuli said...

no lah. i'm a stuff litfiction reader. even my book club don't always love my choices.

Argus Lou said...

I refuse to buy any book with Oprah's endorsement - has the opposite effect on me, a rebellious book buyer who wants to make independent (sometimes really bad!) choices.

Bib, will you run a competition for the best invented rip-off Harry Potter titles? So funny, the one you mentioned.

The Chinese are hilarious imitators - they have their own Foton Saga, apparently.

Here's my HP rip-off title:
'Hairy Swotter and the Dismembered Cadaver'
(It's dedicated to M'sian med students in Cambridge, especially the long-eyelashed Angry Medic.)

bibliobibuli said...

great idea, argus lou

what should i give as a prize?

Argus Lou said...

You'll think of something, I'm sure, Bib.

A cake or a book, for starters...

Ah, how about a Book Chair?

They're really useful to those who like to eat while reading. Or read while eating.

Anonymous said...

I know what you can give as a prize, one of the books you'll never get around to reading :D