Bestselling Books of 2011

According to Nielson Bookscan, here are the bestselling books of 2011, along with sales figures.  Nielson covers sales through ABA channels, which means that sales at Christian bookstores are not included.  My question isn’t so much whether you’ve read any of these, but instead what does this list say about America in 2011?

2011’s Top 15: Adult Nonfiction

1 HEAVEN IS FOR REAL*, Todd Burpo (Thomas Nelson; trade paperback; 9780849946158) 1,994,000

2 STEVE JOBS, Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster; hardcover; 9781451648539) 1,385,000

3 UNBROKEN*, Laura Hillenbrand (Random House; hardcover; 9781400064168) 913,000

4 KILLING LINCOLN, Bill O’Reilly (Holt; hardcover; 9780805093070) 777,000

5 BOSSYPANTS, Tina Fey (Reagan Arthur Books; hardcover; 9780316056861) 514,000

6 STRENGTHS FINDER 2.0*, Tom Rath (Gallup Press; hardcover; 9781595620156) 510,000

7 THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS, Rebecca Skloot (Broadway; trade paperback; 9781400052189) 502,000

8 A STOLEN LIFE, Jaycee Dugard (Simon & Schuster; hardcover; 9781451629187) 500,000

9 THE 17 DAY DIET, Mike Moreno (Free Press; hardcover; 9781451648652) 490,000

10 IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS, Erik Larson (Crown; hardcover; 9780307408846) 392,000

11 GO THE F*CK TO SLEEP, Adam Mansbach (Akashic Books; hardcover; 9781617750250) 359,000

12 INSIDE OF A DOG*, Alexandra Horowitz (Scribner; trade paperback; 9781416583431) 350,000

13 THE OFFICIAL SAT STUDY GUIDE* (College Board; trade paperback; 9780874478525) 321,000

14 THE 5 LOVE LANGUAGES*, Gary Chapman (Northfield Publishers; trade paperback; 9780802473158) 316,000

15 GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS (Guinness; hardcover; 9781904994671) 313,000

2011’s Top 15: Adult Fiction

1 THE HELP, Kathryn Stockett (Berkeley; trade paperback; 9780425232200) 1,832,000

2 THE HELP, Kathryn Stockett ((Berkeley; movie tie-in trade paperback; 9780425245132) 1,011,000

3 WATER FOR ELEPHANTS*, Sara Gruen (Algonquin; trade paperback; 9781565125605) 634,000

4 THE LITIGATORS, John Grisham (Doubleday; hardcover; 9780385535137) 535,00

5 THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO*, Stieg Larsson (Vintage; trade paperback; 9780307454546) 493,000

6 11/22/63, Stephen King (Scribner; hardcover; 9781451627282) 486,000

7 CUTTING FOR STONE*, Abraham Verghese (Vintage; trade paperback; 9780375714368) 485,000

8 THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST*, Stieg Larsson (Knopf; hardcover; 9780307269997) 447,000

9 A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, George R.R. Martin (Bantam; hardcover; 9780553801477) 444,000

10 THE BEST OF ME, Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central; hardcover; 9780446547659) 436,000

11 THE CONFESSION+, John Grisham (Dell; mass market paperback; 9780440245117) 420,000

12 THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN*, Garth Stein (Harper Perennial; trade paperback; 9780061537967) 373,000

13 ROOM, Emma Donoghue (Back Bay; trade paperback; 9780316098328) 369,000

14 THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE*, Stieg Larsson (Vintage; trade paperback; 9780307454553) 359,000

15 SONG OF ICE & FIRE: Four-Book Set, George R.R. Martin (Bantam; mass market paperback; 9780345529053) 348,000


2011’s Top 15: Juvenile Books

1 THE HUNGER GAMES*, Suzanne Collins (Scholastic; trade paperback; 9780439023528) 1,578,000

2 DIARY OF A WIMPY KID 6: CABIN FEVER, Jeff Kinney (Amulet; hardcover; 9781419702235) 1,563,000

3 CATCHING FIRE*, Suzanne Collins (Scholastic; hardcover; 9780439023498) 985,000

4 INHERITANCE, Christopher Paolini (Knopf Children’s; hardcover; 9780375856112) 900,000

5 MOCKINGJAY*, Suzanne Collins (Scholastic; hardcover; 9780439023511) 853,000

6 THE SON OF NEPTUNE, Rick Riordan (Hyperion; hardcover; 9781423140597) 699,000

7 THE THRONE OF FIRE, Rick Riordan (Hyperion; hardcover; 9781423140566) 535,000

8 DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE UGLY TRUTH*, Jeff Kinney (Amulet; hardcover; 9780810984912) KINNEY JEFF 524,000

9 ELF ON THE SHELF*, Carol Aebersold (CCA&B; hardcover; 9780976990703) 500,000

10 THE WIMPY KID DO-IT-YOURSELF BOOK*, Jeff Kinney (Amulet; 9780810989955; hardcover) 488,000

11 DIARY OF A WIMPY KID 2: RODRICK RULES*, Jeff Kinney (Amulet; hardcover; 9780810994737) 338,000

12 GOODNIGHT MOON*, Margaret Wise Brown (Harper Festival; 9780694003617) 329,000

13 DIARY OF A WIMPY KID*, Jeff Kinney (Amulet; hardcover; 9780810993136) 309,000

14 THE LOST HERO*, Rick Riordan (Hyperion; hardcover; 9781423113393) 294,000

15 DIARY OF A WIMPY KID 3: THE LAST STRAW*, Jeff Kinney (Amulet; hardcover; 9780810970687) 289,000


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  • First reaction: Injustice! Tina Fey should’ve sold more books than Bill O’Reilly.

    Second reaction: Injustice! Steve Jobs should’ve sold more books than Heaven Is For Real.

    Third reaction: Gary Chapman must be freaking rich.

    Fourth reaction: Since Tony didn’t give his Amazon referral link to buy any of these books, here’s mine (I’d appreciate the referral fees!): 😉

  • Dan Hauge

    It would appear that process eschatology has a bit of an uphill climb to win over popular American spirituality.
    Also, I had no idea 5 Love Languages was still so popular.
    Also, I really want to see the inevitable “Wimpy Kid fights in the Hunger Games” crossover.

  • Glad to see the soon-to-be-classic GO THE F*** TO SLEEP made this list…

    Seriously though, I wonder how ebook sales would skew the direction of these lists? I’ve liked that for the last few years the NYTIMES has compiled a list that combines print and ebook sales, though the list is weekly not annual:

    Chris Smith
    Englewood Review of Books

  • EricG

    Glad to see Tina Fey’s book so high on the list. Maybe more people have a sense of humor than I realized.

  • Pingback: My Pick for Best Book of 2011 | | the online home of Steve Knight()

  • I’d like to see a column by Tony on Heaven is for Real (the Theology was scary to me). To answer your question, I’ve read 9 of the Non fiction on the list and I don’t know what to think about what it says about America.

  • toddh

    I think the big shocker is the 5 love languages. Who knew it was a timeless classic and sales juggernaut.

  • 5 love languages got rebooted a couple years ago (I think at Walmart’s request).

    I used to work in christian publishing here in Canada. When Walmart puts in an order everyone knows their job is safe for the next while.