What drives humans to take wood, transform it into paper,
and then proceed to make books out of it?
The desire to communicate through the written word appears to be one of our most interesting traits, so when I heard Borders bookstore filed for bankruptcy last month I felt a little cringe inside. Borders was my first place of refuge after college. I spent hours perusing the shelves and introducing myself to authors that were not on my professor's reading lists. Borders was my first mentor.
Nevertheless, I like many other people have abandoned Borders for Amazon, libraries, and Powells, our delightful Portland used bookstore. So I guess I shouldn't be shocked over Borders demise, but it did make me realize how fast things are changing from paper to digital media.
All of this thinking about books made me remember how I wanted to share something I discovered last summer on Wikipedia -- a list of best selling books. Last summer the list of best selling books had religious and political doctrines topping the charts, but when I looked today, I see that have revised their list.
Here is a sampling, but I hope you'll go and check this site out because I'd love to hear your reaction to some of the titles on the list:
More Then a 100 Million Copies
Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
Lord of the Rings, J. R. R Tolkien
The Hobbit, J. R. R Tolkien
Dream of the Red Chamber, Cao Xueqin
And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie
Last summer I had grand plans to read every one of these books that had sold over a hundred million copies, because I thought "wow, wouldn't it be great to be in a book club with 100 million people!" Haha!! Well, I ended up renting the movie And Then There Were None, abandoning the Dream of the Red Chamber after the first couple pages, and then of course remembering how I quit on Tale of Two Cities and Lord of the Rings when I was in my 20s, I threw my project out the window.
I guess what fascinates me about this particular list is how heavy these books are on language. They are all wonderful stories, but just like a religious text most of them are coded in a way that you spend much of your time trying to decipher its real meaning. Perhaps that is the allure. What do you think?
I did a little bit better on the next list with about 40% already in the bag:
Between 50 and 100 Million Copies Sold
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
Le Petite Prince
The Da Vinci Code
Think and Grow Rich
The Catcher in the Rye
Steps to Christ
Heidi's Years of Wandering and Learning
The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care
Anne of Green Gables
The Name of the Rose
The list goes on and is extremely fascinating for like artifacts in a museum it's a wonderful cultural history of what stories intrigue human beings. What surprised you about these lists? What book didn't you see on the list that you thought would be there? Do you find yourself wanting to join the biggest book club ever or are you content to read what you most desire?