I realize that this infographic is not new, but I found it a little staggering. Granted, an infographic is only as accurate as the data from which it was created, but even taken with a generous grain of salt, the “top ten most-read books of the past 50 years,” are surprising. It’s interesting to note that a good number feature magical thinking; Hobbits, Harry Potter, teenage vampires, an Alchemist, and in a slightly different vein, Think and Grow Rich. Funny to see Margaret Mitchell and Mao Tse Tsung occupying the same shelf, or Anne Frank and Napoleon Hill. Trying to draw conclusions about the era in which we live based on the primacy of these ten books is probably an exercise in absurdity or despair, better left to philosophers, practitioners of literary mash-up, or the list-makers at Buzzfeed. And yet.
A year or so ago the BBC and the British Museum did a fascinating book and accompanying radio series called A History of the World in One Hundred Objects available here—I wonder if a similar project—the history of the past 50 years–could be undertaken in ten carefully selected books. What’s omitted would be as important as what’s included, but I’d be curious to see the upshot!
For another, slightly longer list, you can check http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/arts/literature/21-best-sellers.htm#page=22