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It is an admittedly subjective list.|
How was the list compiled?
The list is compiled by the editors at the New York Times, which is known in America as an elitist type of nespaper, but the quality of their writing and their research is undisputed, with a few exceptions of course.
What were the sales volumes of these books?
My expectation is that most of them are top sellers, which is what caused them to be considered. I know of a book that made last year's top 100 that was never #1 on the New York Times Best Sellers List. So there is some subjectivity to it.
What are the sales volumes now, after the list?
I ask because I would think for any of these books to be even close to being representative of the 300 million people in the States, then they would all need to be selling in the multi-million copy range and throughout all market segments.
I don't know in economic terms, like making into the Notable Books of 2006 translates into an additional 1 million copies sold. However, the New York Times's view of what is important reading should be influential if you're interested in what educated Americans are reading. Obviously, there are books that sell tons of copies that are not considered, like romance novels, true crime books, and Opra's picks. These types of books sell well and are part of the cultural landscape, but they aren't considered important works by the top people in publishing (except possibly for their economic value).
Also curious...have you read any of these "Notable" books your own self?
I haven't read ANY of the books on this year's list, but I didn't recommend buying or reading any of them either. If you read the summaries, read a few reviews, and read a few chapters from any of them, then that is making important progress. If you read one or several or all, then that is certainly an education in American culture that you cannot get anywhere else for the same price.
Mostly, these books don't conform to my tastes because they are polite and socialble books. For example, even the book on the Dust Bowl has a man-screws-with-mother-nature-and-pays-hell-for-it theme, which I see to be an evironmentally-politicized history. But they are good, mainstream books that educated Americans are reading and that Chinese people who are interested in America should know about. It is not my purpose to turn Chinese readers into clones of my own world view. The reading list from the New York Times editors will not land them in hot water socially.
There are links to the last decade's list of notable books on the page that connects also. If you knew the titles and summaries of all 1000 of the past decade's 100 notable books, imagine how tuned in you would be to American culture. And if you read some of some of them, you'ld be much better off than reading many books that aren't as culturally important.
One caveat though -- the books are written for American readers of English and are not necessarily easy reads. But bad writing is also hard to read. Books that are poorly written are not included on the list.
[ Last edited by matt605 at 2006-11-24 02:27 AM ]