April 1, 2012

The Hollywood Effect

Each year, Dymocks Bookstores in Australia asks its customers to vote for their favourite books of all time. The top 101 is then compiled into a list, and prominently placed in each store across the country.

The “Dymocks Booklovers’ Best” contains everything from the classics – To Kill a Mockingbird, Catch-22 and Nineteen Eighty-Four – to new releases.

Browsing through the titles, I can’t help but notice how books with recent film adaptations dominate the list… The bookstore shelves are brimming with paperbacks with movie tie-ins glowing from the paperback covers.

Films obviously have a profound impact on what people are reading… A popular book might make a movie option possible, but it is the film that really sends the book flying off the shelves.

Taking out the top spot on the 2012 list – which was released in April – is, you guessed it, The Hunger Games Trilogy.

Suzanne Collins’ books were also popular in 2011 (position 5 of the list), but its status as the latest Hollywood craze has allowed it to skip past the prior top 4: The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, The Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling, The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, and Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen.

In 2012, P&P and Harry Potter have held steady at positions 2 and 3, but the hype of The Millennium Trilogy has died off somewhat – Larsson now rests at 26. It will be interesting to see how The Book Thief fares, once its film adaptation makes it to the big screen.

Other notables include The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (one of my all time favourites) in 9th place, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R Tolkien in 10th.

The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer was always going to be on the list somewhere – in 2011 it sat in 15th position, and in 2012 it has climbed a few rungs of the ladder to 12.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is also a list regular – in 2011 it took out the 25th position, but the immensely popular Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska-fronted film of 2011 has allowed it step up this year to number 7.

When the film adaptation of The Help by Kathryn Stockett was released in 2011, the book was added to the Top 101 for the first time. It debuted at 83 and has now climbed to 8th position.

Also new to the list in 2011 – thanks in large part to the popularity of their film adaptations – were Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (30), Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (55), and The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (72).

The Notebook has disappeared from the list in 2012 (which is not surprising, since the film is much better than the book!), Water for Elephants is lagging a little at 84, and Extremely Loud (which has only recently reached Australian cinemas) is doing well at 42.

In 2012, there are also some notable first-timers: Red Dog by Louis de Bernieres at 24 (due to the charming Australian film of last year), Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy at 34 (perhaps in anticipation of Keira Knightley’s coming adaptation), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carre at 53 (despite the film’s mixed reception), One Day by David Nicholls at 71 (another favourite of mine), The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd at 73 (rather late, considering the film was released in 2008), and The Woman in Black by Susan Hill at 82.

Other books-with-adaptations that feature on the Top 101 include Cloudstreet  by Tim Winton (14), The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (19), Atonement by Ian McEwan (20), The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (33), We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (37), The Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris (40), The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (44), Marley and Me by John Grogan (52), Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin (83), The Road by Cormac McCarthy (88), My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult (92) and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (97). Phew!

Next year is anyone’s guess… but I think it’s fair to say that Hollywood will have some influence.


  1. This is such a great post Danielle. It really makes you think whether these books would even be in the list had it not been for the successful movie adaptations of them. Most of them I love in their own right though so I'm glad they're still included.

    Megan @ Storybook Love Affair

  2. Thanks Megan, I found it very interesting and just had to share... It could be the case that the publicity from the films just keep the books front of mind. When you think about it, the first Harry Potter book was published 15 years ago! I doubt it would still be on the list, for the merits of the book alone, without the movies to consistently remind everyone.

  3. I think Anna Karenina may have had a TV influence - it was on the ABC First Tuesday Book Club last year. We also had a big spike in sales after this show with folks coming in saying they had always wanted to read the book, and the mention by Jennifer Byrne had reminded them of it.
    PS I notice that you are using the new(ish) dynamic page view. How is this working for you? I was concerned about losing followers and the sidebar where I showed off favourite sites etc.

  4. That's great feedback, thanks - I wasn't aware of the mention of the Book Club! I have Anna Karenina sitting on my "to read" shelf.. I've heard good things, but haven't gotten around to reading it myself yet.

    Yes, I really like the look of the Dynamic Page View... I like that it has newsy, magazine style feel. I haven't noticed any impact on followers or page views - although my blog is still relatively new, so I don't have tonnes of traffic yet anyway.

    I was concerned that the posts would take longer to load, and that viewers are now unable to browse through a monthly blog archive... Like you, I also used to have a list of my favourite blogs, and a amazon wiki on the side. But I guess that's the trade-off for getting the desired look/feel...

    I'd be interested to hear your feedback on my new layout... As a reader, does it work well for you?