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What are Americans really reading?

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To celebrate 15 years of bestseller tracking, last week USA Today published a list of the 150 books that have appeared most often on the top of its bestselling book list. (USA Today ran its bestseller list for the first time on Oct. 28, 1993.)

USA Today bases its list on sales at 4,700 chain, independent, discount, and online booksellers. Different from most other national bestseller lists, the USA Today ranking combines together fiction, nonfiction, hardcover, paperback, and other categories.

The result is a fairly realistic snapshot of what people are really reading. For those who worry that Americans don't read anymore – or only read junk – the results might be somewhat reassuring.

Yes, there are 11 diet books in the top 150 and 19 self-help books. (And that's not to trash all self-help books – some of these are good, too.)

But more interesting to me was the fact that 88 of the top 150 are fiction (actually even more if you count children's fiction together with adult fiction). And while J. K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, John Grisham, and Dan Brown do collectively account for a pretty huge chunk of that fiction sector, they are not alone.


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