By Dean Goranites
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — 2012 was one of the most notable years for new book releases in recent memory, largely fueled by the release of one of the most controversial works to hit bookshelves in years.
“The 50 Shades Trilogy,” and specifically “50 Shades of Grey,” the first book in the series, blew away the competition for overall sales this year. While technically published by a small independent press in 2011, the first and second books in the trilogy sky rocketed up the sales charts with a mass publication earlier this year, taking both the No.1 and No. 2 spots, respectively, on Amazon.com’s sales charts.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” still ranks at No. 5 on The New York Times Best Sellers List, for the week ending Dec. 30.
Even if one wanted to disqualify the first two entries in the “50 Shades” series due to the original publication date technicality, “Fifty Shades Freed,” the third and final installment in the series, would take the cake for best seller of 2012. The three-volume boxed set ranked No. 6 in Amazon sales.
“The Hunger Games,” already immensely popular for years, also did tremendously well with the release of its movie adaptation this past spring.
Goodreads.com, a social media website revolving around books and the sharing of favorite titles with friends, held its annual “Goodreads Choice Awards” this year, with more than one million votes tallied from the site’s users.
Even amid mixed reviews, J.K Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy,” won the award for Best Fiction on the site, receiving more than 3,000 more votes than its closest competitor, Emily Griffin’s “Where We Belong.”
“The Casual Vacancy,” the author’s first work intended for adult readers, tells the tale of what happens to the seemingly quiet town of Pagford when councilman Barry Fairbrother passes away and leaves a vacant seat up for grabs. Dubbed a tragicomedy, “The Casual Vacancy” has been described as both thought-provoking and darkly comedic.
Dorinda Darden, library director at the Town of Tonawanda’s public library, notes that Mitch Albom’s most recent release, “The Time Keeper,” saw significant interest this year at her branch.
“The Time Keeper” tells the story of Father Time, who after being punished for trying to measure God’s greatest gift, is sent down to Earth with a chance to redeem himself by teaching two humans the true meaning of time. Albom has been a long-time reader’s favorite after his two highly touted works “Five People You Meet in Heaven” and “Tuesdays With Morrie.”
In perhaps a sign of our changing times, John Green, most widely known for hosting the wildly popular YouTube channel “The VlogBrothers,” found amazing success with the January release of his young adult novel, “The Fault in Our Stars.” Using the power of YouTube to stir up anticipation for his novel, along with signing every first edition copy published, Green’s novel was also highly praised by critics, with Time Magazine calling it “damn near genius.”
Bill O’Reilly, best known for his Fox News television show “The O’Reilly Factor,” did tremendously well this year as well. Releasing “Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever” in late 2011, the host/author published “Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot” in October of this year. According to Darden, both are still seeing heavy demand and circulation at her library, and “Killing Kennedy” ended up at No. 16 on Amazon’s Best Sellers list.
Overwhelmingly popular author James Patterson cranked out two highly successful novels in 2012. “11th Hour,” detailing Lindsay Boxer’s attempt to solve one of the most mind boggling murder mysteries of her career was released early this year. This November, “Merry Christmas, Alex Cross” was published, telling the tale of detective Alex Cross’ unwelcome Christmas phone call of a high stakes hostage situation requiring his expert talents.
While no one can predict what 2013 has in store for us in the world of books, it certainly will have a tough time topping this year’s list of successful stories. If you are interested in catching up with some of the hottest books of 2012, make sure to pay a visit to your local public library — most branches have now published their “Most Popular” lists of 2012, and librarians always love sharing their favorite reads of the past year.