The Best Sellers of 2016

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As 2016 draws to a close, we take a moment to review the year and draw conclusions on what it has brought us, and indeed, taught us. Perhaps one of the most telling and personal reviews that can take place is of the books we bought and read this year – what we chose to read on the commute to work and what to curl up with last thing at night.

Global bookseller Amazon recently released its top ten, bestselling books of 2016, with number one a script for J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and notably, the first time a play has made the top 20 best-sellers list.

The full list below:

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2, Special Rehearsal Edition Script by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

The Whistler by John Grisham

The Last Mile (Amos Decker series) by David Baldacci

Killing the Rising Sun: How America Vanquished World War II Japan by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Night School: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child

The Black Widow: Book 16 of Gabriel Allon Series by Daniel Silva

Diary of a Wimpy Kid # 11: Double Down by Jeff Kinney

 

They are a heady mix of political and social commentary, an examination of human interaction and relationships with a healthy dose of fantasy, because everyone needs a little of J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard in their lives.

Interesting then, to see that the top ten, best-selling downloadable books on Kindle this year were:

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2- J.K. Rowling, The Girl on a Train – Paula Hawkins, The Girl in the Ice – Robert Bryndza, The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah, Me before You – Jojo Moyes , Walk into Silence – Susan McBride, A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman, Follow You Home – Mark Edwards, War Brides – Helen Bryan, The Whistler – John Grisham

What is most notable about the Amazon Kindle’s list is that it is mainly adult fiction dealing with crime, love and loss. There are five cross-over titles in the top 20: The Whistler, The Last Mile, Truly Madly Guilty, Night School: A Jack Reacher Novel and, yes you’ve guessed it, more from J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard.

This brings us to the next thing of note, the crossovers from fiction to screen this year brought pleasure to millions as the Harry Potter chronicles so wonderfully demonstrate. The Girl on a Train and J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them are other fine examples of bestsellers that found their way to the box office this year.

So what is to be concluded from the list, beyond Harry Potter’s enduring popularity, is that in a year that has been more tumultuous than most, people still turn to fiction to make sense of things, to find comfort or historical precedent or even just to escape into a world of fantasy.  Both print and eBooks fulfilled that very human need particularly well this year.