The new literary tastemakers: can they be trusted?
Last week, Barack Obama released his annual summer reading list, receiving 250,000 Facebook reactions and 26,000 comments. The ex-president is certainly not the first public personality to tout their literary nous; everyone from Emma Watson to Kim Kardashian West has opened their bookshelves to the world. But how are these celebrity tastemakers transforming what we read, and what does it mean for professional literary criticism?
To answer this, we need to understand why these public personalities choose to share what they’re reading. While all profess some form of altruistic mission, epitomised by Oprah Winfrey’s desire to “get the whole country reading again”, there are secondary benefits to having a successful book club.
Trade Sales Rose 3.8% in First Six Months
Sales of trade books rose 3.8% in the first six months of 2019 over the comparable period in 2018, according to figures compiled by the AAP as part of its StatShot program.
AAP includes sales of adult books, children/young adult titles as well as religious presses in its trade group, and the religion segment had the biggest gain in the period with sales up 11.4%. Sales in the children/YA segment rose 7.4% in the first half of 2019 over 2018, while adult book sales increased 1.4%.