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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Monday, March 14, 2011

The books people really read?

Speaking of kerfuffles, there's currently a lively one prompted by a BBC program called The Books We Really Read: a Culture Show Special, as opposed to literary novels that garner critical acclaim. You might think that a large chunk of the program would be devoted to fantasy, horror, and science fiction, given the immense popularity of these genres among general readers ... but apparently they didn't even rate a mention. So what were the program's creators thinking?

Stephen Hunt has a good long (seemingly justified) rant about this (more strength to his arm!), and there's a post by David Barnett on The Guardian's site.


Rieux said...

Indeed not a bad rant, but the petition attached to the foot of the post might have cut itself off at the knees.

Surely one doesn't want to give BBC snobs exactly the evidence of unworthiness they're looking for by misspelling "principle" in the very petition one sends them.

GraemeL said...

The current Amazon UK bestsellers list would seem to give the lie to the rants of the authors.

Genre fiction seems to be as popular as cooking and astronomy, with cometmpoary fiction dominating the list.

Russell Blackford said...

I think you'll find that JK Rowling, for one, has outsold just about any "mainstream" author, whatever the current best-seller list in the UK says. There are frequently genre books in the NY Times top ten, and it would seem surprising if things were different in the UK.

But it would be interesting to have some break-downs of course.

And I fear you may have meant "astrology" ... I hope not, but you'd probably be right.

GraemeL said...

And I fear you may have meant "astrology" ... I hope not, but you'd probably be right.

The Wonders of the Solar System and The wonders of the Universe, both from BBC documentary series, are in the top 20. They are probably picture heavy and text light, but it's still heartening to see them there.

Russell Blackford said...

Phew! Well,thank Zeus for that ... considering how many astrology books do actually seem to sell well.

Svlad Cjelli said...

Easy. They were thinking that the eldritch knowledge of what the Folk really read would destroy non-academical minds across the world if uttered publicly. Better to lie.

Darrick Lim said...

Speaking of astrology...