Bestselling Books of 2011

According to Nielson Bookscan, here are the bestselling books of 2011, along with sales figures. ┬áNielson covers sales through ABA channels, which means that sales at Christian bookstores are not included. ┬áMy 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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  • Steve K.

    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.

  • Chris Smith

    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.

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  • http://www.MaterialMedia.Net Elizabeth Cauthorn

    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.

  • David

    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.