Do best-seller book lists help us?
'A reader confined to best sellers would be impoverished, just as marooned as a listener stuck permanently on a Top-40 play list. It can be fun to see where the herd grazes, but the nourishment is bound to be thin. Tanenhaus (NY Times book review editor) noted that when critics dislike the best sellers, we tend to discount their significance. Still, there is no getting away from the existentialism of the list interpreting us--a running commentary on society's tastes. Exactly a century ago, the best seller was Edith Wharton's "The House of Mirth." The stunning 1905 novel about Gilded Age New York made Wharton famous, and Lily Bart entered the canon of American fiction. Those who enjoy shouting that the end is near need point no further than the No. 1 position on today's nonfiction roster. "Author" Anne Bird is the half-sister of Scott Peterson, cashing in on the sordid, over-exposed murder of Laci Peterson. Amber Frey, "the other woman" in this matter, resides a bit farther down the list.' Yes, further proof we're fucked, fucked, totally fucked. More here.