Who won the top Christmas Book?

First things first, and because I know the anticipation is killing you, Dan “Da Vinci” Brown squeaked into the UK top spot with The lost symbol  squeezing out the Guinness World Records 2010. Dan also triumphed in the US christmas fiction list beating James Patterson’s I, Alex Cross into second place.

We’ll have to wait until January 14th before Booksellers NZ releases New Zealand’s bestsellers for the period between December 19th 2009 and January 9th 2010 but it isn’t too great a stretch to imagine Dan recreating his triumph here. Love him or loathe him, the first print run for Dan’s latest “masterpiece” was 6.5 million copies and this tinsel triumph is his second UK festive number one, The Da Vinci code  climbed to the top of the christmas tree in 2004.

The  frenzied book-war for the UK’s Christmas title of 2009 began early this year with 800 new releases hitting the shelves on a single day, 1 October, or “Super Thursday” as journo-types have coined it. Book sales this year have been globally drab so the festive season run-up has been seen by many as pivotal to keeping the book industry afloat. Early hopefuls for the top bunk  included the second installment of the Peter Kay story Saturday Night Peter and memoirs from comedians Jo Brand, Jack Dee and Justin Lee Collins. New novels by Audrey Niffenegger, Kate Mosse, Martina Cole and  Cecelia Ahern kept the fiction flag flying. And of course there was the traditional turkey tussle between the chefs with Delia Smith and Jamie Oliver going head-to-head.

But more importantly what can we look forward to in 2010?

Committed : A sceptic makes peace with marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert.

The Swan Thieves by  Elizabeth Kostova.

Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian

The Pregnant widow by Martin Amis

Blood men by Paul Cleave

Ape house by Sara Gruen

The unnamed by Johua Ferris

Message from an unknown Chinese mother : Stories of loss and love by Xinran

And many, many more ……yippeee

The Christmas Top 10 Uk books:

New Zealand’s Top Five Christmas sellers from Nielsen BookScan:

  • The lost symbol by Dan Brown
  • Ali’s book of tall tales by Ali Williams
  • The story of Danny Dunn by Bryce Courtenay
  • Guinness world records 2010
  • A song in the daylight by Paullina Simons

Blockbuster read

I immersed myself in Dan Brown’s latest doorstopper The Lost Symbol over the weekend. It was perfect weather on Sunday to hunker down and read, read, read.

The Lost Symbol has all the hallmarks of a classic Dan Brown blockbuster – murder, family secrets, conspiracy theories, religous theories, scientific explanations for the unknown, maps, ciphers. You name it, it’s in there.

Robert Langdon reprises the role of Harvard scholar from Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, and in The Lost Symbol, it’s a 12 hour countdown to figure out the answers to the myriad of puzzles and stop the almighty calamity from happening. The tension builds, the minutes tick away, the plot twists and turns, and you do get to a point where you just can’t put it down because you’ve got to get to the end. For me, it was the events of Chapter 104 that made me not put it down until I had finished it.

Having finished it, I will admit that I love this kind of blockbuster fiction. It’s true, it isn’t rocket science and it certainly isn’t highbrow literature, but it’s a damn good rollicking read, it grips you, it surprises you, it intrigues you. It has all the classic features of a blockbuster movie – and yes, I think it will be a great movie, parts of the book will be fantastic when realised on the big screen, especially the baddie!

So put aside your prejudices of formulaic fiction and delve into the world of Washington D.C., the Freemasons, Noetics, the Smithsonian Museum, alchemy, magic squares and the importance of numbers.