Monday, December 29, 2008

Top Ten 11 Books By Bloggers

One of the things that struck me about the Top 100 bestselling books of 2008 (which I saw in the G2 yesterday and now can't find a link to, annoyingly) was that there were no books by bloggers on the list.

This was a bit of a surprise to me because I'd got it into my head that *all* books these days are drawn from the blogosphere, what with it being a heaving pool of writerly talent and brilliance and whatnot. And even more so now that all the non-writerly bloggers have buggered off to Twitter and Facebook, leaving the 'sphere to ponderous, erudite types who like to think carefully before putting one word in front of another.

But despite the fact that the blogosphere is an enormous vat of literary greatness, and that not a week goes by without another blogger securing a fabulous publishing deal, it seems the bloggers have comprehensively failed to storm the ranks of the authorial élite.

In a way, this is how it should be: bloggers are misfits, outsiders, niche-dwellers, tiny, creeping denizens of publishing's long, scaly tail, not bright, gaudy jewels studding its small, glittering head. Bloggers, by their very nature, are destined to have small, loyal audiences whom they know by name and chat with in their comments boxes, not great big mass audiences that they don't know at all.

So how *do* the bloggers fare, away from the glistening cocoon of the Richard and Judy book club and the halogen-lit dais of the Waterstone's bestsellers table?

I will tell you.

Via the extremely comprehensive and scientific method of 'thinking of some books by bloggers and looking up their respective sales ranks on Amazon', I hereby bring you the DEFINITIVE TOP TEN ELEVEN books by bloggers. Or at least, the books by bloggers that I can think of, off the top of my head (not least because some of them are on my blogroll, related to me, the father of my child, or a combination of the foregoing).

Anyway, without further ado:

The Top 11 Books by Bloggers (That I Can Think Of):

11. Scarecrow Dizzy by James Henry
Amazon Sales Rank: 1,035,630
'Dizzy has the important job of guarding some wet cement, but it's not as easy as it sounds. Squawk, the crow, is determined to land on it. Will Dizzy manage to keep the naughty crow out of mischief?'

10.French Leaves by Christopher Campbell-Howes
Amazon Sales Rank: 943,125
'In this book of short autobiographical vignettes, the author provides a series of funny, touching, bizarre and decidely down-to-earth glimpses of what life is like in the rural southwest of France once the ex-pat's rose-tinted glasses come off.'

9. How To Worry Friends and Inconvenience People by Leila Johnston
Amazon Sales Rank: 251,239
'I bought this book as a gift, but found it such fun that I decided to keep it and buy another copy. The writer has an impish sense of humour, coupled with wry observations. It is not a challenging book but great fun and an excellent present.'

8. Welcome to the Machine by Tim Footman
Amazon Sales Rank: 81,198
'Radiohead have been the subject of many, many books, and it might have seemed difficult to develop a new angle. But by focusing on one album, and looking at the music, movies, books, politics and other factors that influenced its creation, Footman has come up with a really good read. '

7. The Gap Year for Grown-Ups by Annie Sanders*
Amazon Sales Rank: 75,066
'The novel addresses gritty issues of marital boredom, empty nest, teenage angst and middle-aged blundering all with empathy, insight and gentle wit. Clever twists in the story line draw the reader to enagage with each character in turn only to be surprised and intruiged as the plot thickens.'

6. Over You by Lucy Diamond
Amazon Sales Rank: 19,027
'This is Lucy's second book, which once again deals with infidelity, but from a very different angle. A subject that could be difficult to write about, Lucy keeps the tone just right...the events and issues are described in a realistic and believable way, and there's a lightness and humour in there too.'

5. Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips
Amazon Sales Rank: 12,022
'This book was a joy to read. You don't need much knowledge of Greek mythology to follow along and the story is utterly engaging right from the start. The premise is incredibly clever and well thought out and has been executed beautifully. It'd make a fantastic book to take on holiday because it's short and snappy. I read it from cover to cover in a couple of days.'

4. Blood, Sweat and Tea by Tom Reynolds
Amazon Sales Rank: 7,812
'Tom is an Emergency Medical Technician who works for the London Ambulance Service in East London. He has kept a blog of his daily working life since 2003 and his award-winning writing is, by turn, moving, cynical, funny, heart-rending and compassionate. It is never less than compelling. '

3. Venn That Tune by Andrew Viner
Amazon Sales Rank: 7,071
'A highly witty, clever book to exercise those little grey cells and stimulate them. Venn That Tune is a wonderful fusion of pop and maths in the shape of charts and diagrams. Somewhat taxing to work them out but highly satisfying and rewarding when one does. The book will make a very good present, whether at Christmas or at any other time of the year.'

2. Girl With A One Track Mind by 'Abby Lee'
Amazon Sales Rank: 2,721
'Girl with One-Track Mind is different. It's the blog of a very liberated, very experimental girl in search of an indefinable sexual something that she's always wanted. Upbeat and chick-litty, but with the thoughtful introspection needed to be interesting.'

1. Wife in the North by Judith O'Reilly
Amazon Sales Rank: 958
'This is a really great read. There is so much to relate to, to laugh at and to sympathise with. Judith writes brilliantly, her style is totally addictive and she has a really poignant way of expressing things, especially her feelings for her children.'

Who have I missed? Maybe together we can compile a Top 100 Books by Bloggers, to rival the Top 100 bestsellers list.

* Ms Sanders may like to identify herself in the comments...


Billy said...

Read 2 of those books liked them very much.

This gives me an idea for a post... 10 ten imaginary books by bloggers.

Maus said...

I think you missed one.

Tim Footman said...

What about a condensed version of the whole lot? Bored, ambulance-driving wife unwillingly relocates to France where she has multiple orgasms from being unfaithful in wet cement with Greek deities while listening to Radiohead. Include free Venn diagram.

Simes said...

You should definitely pitch that one as a movie. It's got "feelgood summer hit" all over it.

Fat Roland said...

Does Stephen Fry count? I think he has a blog, and he has his America book - although it is probably being lit by halogen as we type.

Dave said...

My books aren't sold by Amazon, being a tiny bit specialist.

I'm not bitter.

Christopher Campbell-Howes said...

Great post, great company, proud to be included...

(Incidentally (as it's all about money, really) French Leaves has been out of print for almost a year. Originally it sold for £8.49, but I see second-hand copies are (or were, some weeks ago) going for £47 (UK) and $82 (USA). Why, oh why didn't I hang on to a few copies?)

...could we have a party together?

Dave said...

I have a copy of French Leaves, signed by the author. I shall look on it as investment.

Vicus Scurra said...

In reply to an earlier commentator, Stephen Fry does not have a blog, he has a web diary which he uses to recycle material he has published elsewhere (like Boris) and is looking for ways to make money out of it. Towheaded shitbird.
I have no idea what that last phrase means, but I was captivated when I read it at Former Frontier Editor, and was determined to use it at the first opportunity, never mind whether it is appropriate. Plagiarism lives.

patroclus said...

Billy: Let me guess - it's Welcome to the Machine and, er, Girl with a One-Track Mind?

Maus: My apologies, I have now updated the list. Only another 89 to go till we have a top 100!

Tim: I would totally read that.

Simes: Well, apart from the Radiohead soundtrack; that might put a bit of a dampener on it.

FR: Vicus begs to differ. Although Fry *is* all over Twitter. (Another sentence that would have meant nothing five years ago.)

Dave: What with you and the people from Lulu, I'm starting to think I might have to tweak my criteria a bit.

Dad: I have a few spare copies. This time next year we could be millionaires!

Vicus: Surely it's Boris who's tow-headed, rather than Fry?

Maus said...

Oh no! Now I feel bad!

But thank you Patroclus, that is very kind indeed.

patroclus said...

Not at all; it's my pleasure.

rivergirlie said...

i love you even more now
wv - holha!
(exclamation mark added by me)

GreatSheElephant said...

You missed my magnum opus but as it doesn't even seem to have an Amazon Sales ranking I suspect everyone else did too.

Mind you, I bet mine's the only one where a second hand copy is on offer for over £1400.

However Citizen of Woking (see my blog roll) is currently at rankings 385,891 and 2,425,690

The Bureauista said...

Read two of those books, one of which I deliberately left on top of a cupboard in a hotel room north of the Arctic Circle.

Nibus said...

Doesn't Samuel Pepys count?

patroclus said...

RG: Holha, mysterious anonymous commenter!

GSE: I thought your magnum opus was still in the process of being written - do you have another one?

Bureauista: Let me guess: was it Girl with a One-Track Mind?

Nibus: Pepys weighs in with an Amazon sales rank of 15,257, placing him somewhere between Lucy Diamond and Marie Phillips.

Jayne said...

I've read a couple of these. Hated one, was meh about the other. Neither were written by people you are related to, have created a kitten with or are on your blogroll but I'm still being discreet. Because I'm nice. Ahem.

Mill Millington's another earlyish example of blogger turned publisher. I think his first did well.

Chris said...

Re: slow blogging.

So - writing long posts about things which are as un-topical as possible is now fashionable?

How annoying.

Fat Roland said...

Vicus - "Towheaded shitbird" is the best thing I have ever read ever in the history of me reading things.

GreatSheElephant said...

Yeah, it's another one. My first ISBN number was in the early 90s for a charity booklet*. The one on Amazon however dates from 2001 and is about smart cards. I think they only sold about 10 in total.

*There was a horrible irony to this - it was for Alzheimers Scotland. Years later, having forgotten all about it, I rang Alzheimers Scotland for help when Mum was diagnosed and they sent me the booklet I'd written.

Lisa Later said...

47 squid for a remaindered book eh?

dh found his book remaindered in a supermarket selling for 50p a copy and bought the whole box

cashier clearly thought he was nuts

(and the books then sat in our garage for six years before we moved house so they're now in the attic and we'll be lobbing them into the woodburning stove when russia cuts off our gas supply)

ta da!

janey33 said...

Oh, oh, I actually own one of these books, and I've read it! Sadly, it's the one written by James Henry (who he?).

rivergirlie said...

hey, i think christopher's onto something - we should totally have a party x
vw - catolap
honest, patroclus, your wv is the best i've ever seen! how do you do that. xx

pleite said...

Have thought of another one: by (and sorry for the wrong linking).

patroclus said...

Jayne: I think I can guess, but I'd better be discreet too.

Chris: Microblogging, slowblogging, extreme blogging - it all seems to be fashionable these days. The only thing that isn't fashionable is Second Life. I'd suggest starting a Second Life revival, but the only time I went in there I got stuck behind a sign and couldn't get out and it was horribly embarrassing, like one of those anxiety dreams where you've gone to school in your pyjamas. Only real. Ish.

FR: And you a bookshop man as well! Praise indeed for the towheaded shitbird.

GSE: That must have been awful. I didn't know you'd written a book about smartcards though, that's impressive.

Lisa: Ooh, what is DH's book?

Janey: It's a masterwork of literature, I'm sure you'll agree. I read it to the Blue Kitten quite often. I'm not sure if she takes in all of its narrative subtleties but she does like to chew the corners.

RG: Ooh yes, a party, like some kind of fancy literary salon. I've always wanted to have one of those.

Pleite: Ooh, good work - My Boyfriend Is A Twat goes in somewhere between no. 6 and no. 5. I see that Petite Anglaise is a book these days too - sales rank 95,078 at time of writing.

Lucy Diamond said...

Yay, number 6, what a result!
Hope you, the kitten and cat all had a lovely Christmas. xx