On World Book Night 2011 in the UK the BBC showed a program called The Books We Really Read presented by Sue Perkins. The BBC’s decision to focus their programming purely on the ‘literary fiction’ genre was in many people’s opinion flawed.
Science Fiction author Stephen Hunt (@SFCrowsnest) started the ball rolling with his vitriolic response to the coverage. Subsequently he has put together a petition of as many of the UK’s Science fiction authors as possible. Naturally the BBC is defending itself over the programme and subsequent discussion. There’s a good Guardian piece here with a bit more background.
So what do I think?
I reckon that Stephen Hunt is right to criticise the BBC. At present they are coming across as having a somewhat elitist view of what constitutes a good read without, it appears, having done any research. Hunt’s observation that the BBC was limited in outlook certainly stands. If there had been any evidence of joined-up thinking someone would have pointed out to the editors of The Books We Really Read and subsequent discussion programme that the BBC has a big SciFi output. Dr Who or Torchwood anyone?
In that case What Do People Really, Really Read?
I compile the Most Read list for FridayReads every week and there are always a few surprises but what always delights and amazes me is the sheer variety of books that people read. Only a small part of it fits in to that odd category of Literary Fiction. In fact I’d go so far as to say that Literary Fiction is the exception rather than the rule when readers make their choice.
Here is the most read list from FridayReads on 8th April 2011. I’ve added the Genre classifications, you can tell me if you disagree.
The top three are heavily promoted but do include real reading data so I’ve left them there for this list. If you have never joined in FridayReads before then you also need to know that the list changes every week. This is real reading data and is not based on sales data (eg Amazon).
The data is gathered from participants World Wide! It’s a global thing (thanks to @ibc4 for the prompt).
|Chickens Mules and Two Old Fools||Victoria Twead @VictoriaTwead||food, drink, humour, travel, animals|
|A Discovery of Witches||Deborah Harkness @DebHarkness||paranormal fiction|
|THE PALE KING||David Foster Wallace||fiction|
|Water for Elephants||Sara Gruen||historical fiction|
|The Kitchen Daughter||Jael McHenry||fiction|
|Catching fire||Suzanne Collins||ya fantasy, fiction|
|Freedom||Johnathan Franzen||fiction, family saga, humour|
|Unfamiliar Fishes||Sarah Vowell||history, offbeat|
|Game of Thrones||George R R Martin||fantasy, fiction|
|Wither||Lauren DeStefano||ya dystopian, fiction|
|Skippy Dies||Paul Murray||fiction, humour, mystery,|
|A Walk in the Snark||Rachel Thompson @RachelintheOC||humour, non-fiction|
|Just Kids||Patti Smith||autobiography|
|Revolution||Jennifer Donnelly||ya historical fiction|
|Started Early Took My Dog||Kate Atkinson||crime fiction|
|Say Hello to Zorro||Carter Goodrich||children's, picture, fiction, humour|
|City of Fallen Angels||Cassandra Clare||ya fantasy, fiction|
|A Visit from the Goon Squad||Jennifer Egan||contemporary fiction, post-modern|
|The Book Thief||Marcus Zusak||historical fiction, ya fiction|
|Gods War||Christopher Tyerman||history|
|Season of the Harvest||Michael R Hicks||action-adventure, fiction|
|The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks||Rebecca Skloot||creative non-fiction|
|Red Glove||Holly Black||ya science-fiction|
|The Name of the Wind||Patrick Rothfuss||fantasy fiction|
|The Bird Sisters||Rebecca Rasmussen||contemporary fiction|
|Guilt by Association||Susan R Sloan||crime fiction, suspense, thriller|
|Heads you lose||Christianna Brand||crime fiction, murder mystery|
|The Wise Mans Fear||Patrick Rothfuss||fantasy, fiction, epic|
|Say Her Name||Francisco Goldman||non-fiction, memoir|
|The Tigers Wife||Tea Obreht||fiction, magical realism, fantasy|
|Three Cups of Tea||Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin||biography, social,politics, philosophy|
|The Happiness Project||Gretchen Rubin||self-help|
|A Clash of Kings||George R R Martin||fantasy, fiction|
|Full Dark No Stars||Stephen King||horror, fiction|
|Where She Went||Gayle Forman||ya fiction, contemporary|
|Deathless||Catherynne M Valente||science-fiction, fantasy, historical fiction|
|THE NIGHT CIRCUS||Erin Morgenstern||ya fantasy, fiction|
|Eternal Rider||Larissa Lone||paranormal fiction, romance|
|Good Omens||Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman||comedy, fantasy|
|One Day||David Nicholls||fiction, romance|
|CLEOPATRA A LIFE||Stacy Schiff||biography, historical|
|Room||Emma Donoghue||contemporary fiction, crime, drama|
|The Information||James Gleick||non-fiction, popular science|
|American Gods||Neil Gaiman||horror,/fantasy fiction, crossover|
|Love Wins||Rob Bell||non-fiction, religion, faith|
|SWAMPLANDIA||Karen Russell||fantasy fiction, magical realism, contemporary|