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'Steve Jobs' and 'The Help' dominate reading lists in many American cities

Data gathered by Nielsen BookScan for The Daily Beast show many of the same titles are popular in American cities – but exceptions include 'Heaven Is For Real' and 'The Great Gatsby.'

By / April 30, 2012

'The Help' by Kathryn Stockett occupied both the No. 1 and No. 2 fiction slots in several cities, thanks to the movie tie-in edition.


Data gathered by Nielsen BookScan for The Daily Beast showed that while cities in America may be divided by politics or geography, many of their residents are enjoying the same books – namely “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson and “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett.

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The data was compiled using information from various bookstores in 10 of America’s largest cities, including New York, Chicago, Boston, and Dallas, and examined which nonfiction and fiction titles were the most popular.

“Steve Jobs” topped the nonfiction list in every city listed except Dallas and Houston, where the book “Heaven Is For Real” by Todd Burpo took the top spot. Stockett’s novel about maids in 1960s Mississippi took the top fiction spot in every city, in many securing the top two with “The Help (Movie Tie-In Edition)” coming in at the second spot.

In non-fiction, books that often showed up in the top five of the list were Burpo’s book, “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand, and “Killing Lincoln” by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. “Bossypants” by Tina Fey showed up in spots No. 3 and 4 in several cities, including New York and Los Angeles, but were much further down in cities such as Dallas, Detroit and Houston.

While “The Help” swept the fiction list, another popular novel was “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen, which came in at No. 3 in many cities. Also often coming in the top five were “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larssen and “11/22/63” by Stephen King. In Dallas, Detroit, and Houston, the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee made the fiction list of most popular novels, although it did not appear on the list at all in any other city. The same went for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby,” which made the list in Los Angeles and Houston, but didn’t rank in any other city. (Maybe residents are re-reading to get ready for Baz Luhrmann’s big-screen adaptation due in December.)

Molly Driscoll is a Monitor contributor.


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