Simply the best – our top 25 non-fiction books

Ever wondered what other Boomerang fans are reading? Wonder no more. I recently got my hands on the data of the Boomerang books top sales for 2011, an impressively massive spreadsheet of what people have been buying with their hard-earned cash. It’s an excellent snap-shot of what Australians, and specifically Boomerang readers (Boomers? Boomies?), were browsing in 2010.

The big winner is, of course, Eat Pray Love. I’ve heard it described as Eat, Pray, Vom, or Barf, Barf, Barf (with an amazingly funny movie review here) but with three of the places in the top 100 held by various editions of her book, Elizabeth Gilbert probably isn’t losing any sleep over what her various detractors have to say.

In fact, self-absorption seems to be the order of the year. Looking through the first four books, it’s all biographies or memoirs. If you want the Australian audience hanging on your every word, you should play hard, party hard, get into politics or be a bit of a comedian. (Doing all the above but completely forgetting what you got up to due to the truly vast level of drugs taken at the time only works if you are Keith Richards.)

Talented but troubled AFL star, Ben Cousins:, released the most read Australian biography of the year. Coming after him was John Howard’s Lazarus Rising. Love him, hate him or just want to find out what goes on in that shiny bald head of his, his biography was the third best selling of the year, followed by Anh Do’s excellent The Happiest Refugee.

Just after that came an awful lot of cookbooks and Keith (who, going on his cadaverous appearance, could probably do with buying a few). Want to see the list?

Boomerang Books Non-Fiction Top 25

  1. Eat, Pray, Love Gilbert, Elizabeth
  2. Ben Cousins: My Life Story Cousins, Ben
  3. Lazarus Rising Howard, John
  4. Happiest Refugee, The: A Memoir    Do, Anh
  5. MasterChef Australia: The Cookbook Volume 2
  6. Life: Keith Richards Richards, Keith
  7. 4 Ingredients: Fast, Fresh and Healthy
  8. Fast Fresh Simple    Hay, Donna
  9. MasterChef Australia: The Cookbook Volume 1
  10. Committed: A Sceptic Makes Peace with Marriage     Gilbert, Elizabeth
  11. True Spirit: The Aussie Girl Who Took on the World     Watson, Jessica
  12. Dukan Diet, The     Dukan, Pierre
  13. Brain That Changes Itself, The     Doidge, Norman
  14. Underbelly: The Golden Mile    Silvester, John & Rule, Andrew
  15. Food of India, The: A Journey for Food Lovers
  16. Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Enter If You Dare!: Bk. 7
  17. AWW Slow Cooking Australian,     Women’s Weekly
  18. Fry Chronicles, The: A Memoir        Fry, Stephen
  19. Standing My Ground      Hayden, Matthew
  20. Simpler Time, A: A Memoir of Love, Laughter, Loss and Billycarts     FitzSimons, Peter
  21. How to Make Gravy     Kelly, Paul
  22. Jamie’s 30-minute Meals     Oliver, Jamie
  23. Crunch Time Cookbook: 100 Knockout Recipes for Rapid Weight Loss     Bridges, Michelle
  24. Margaret Fulton’s Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery     Fulton, Margaret
  25. Slow Cooker:Easy and Delicious Recipes for All Seasons  Sally Wise

So that’s the top non-fiction top reads of last year, but here’s a few other fun facts on Boomerang books sold in 2010.

  • The only astrology book to appear in the top thousand is Dadhichi Toth’s Pisces 2011. So, even if beleaguered astrologists are being lambasted as charlatans by scientists everywhere, at least they can point at one bit of verifiable data – that people born under the sign of Pisces are more likely to buy astrology books.
  • Most popular places to travel, going on the volume of guide books sold, are Europe, Vietnam, the USA and Bali.
  • The most popular phrasebook is French.
  • The most popular places to read travelogues about, on the other hand, are Tuscany, Australia, with three of the top 4 (From Here to There: A Father and Son Roadtrip from Melbourne to London, Is That Thing Diesel?: One Man, One Bike and the First Lap Around Australia and Bill Bryson’s Down Under) taking the honours for the lucky country.
  • Richard Dawkins and Dr Karl dominate the popular science field, making skeptics the order of the day. Superfreakonomics in all it’s various forms, is vastly more popular than every other type of economics and lots of people are willing to pay quite a lot of cash to find out what Rhonda Byrne’s Secret and Power are. (They should ask Dr Karl and Richard Dawkins. The answers would be amusing.)

Anything else you would like to know?

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Sadhbh Warren

Sadhbh Warren is a freelance writer and proud booklover. Her name is pronounced Sive - like five – an Irish name, easier to say than spell! She lives in Sydney, writing travel and humour articles, and is always on the lookout for a great new book.