The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Has the Book World Caught Inauguration Fever?

Written by: Beth Woodward, CC2K Books Editor

ImageSince the beginning of January, I have been living and breathing Inauguration Fever.

Living in a suburb of Washington, DC, has given me a unique—and possibly skewed—perspective on tomorrow’s Presidential Inauguration.  To me, it seems like the whole world has caught Inauguration Fever.  Everywhere I turn, someone is talking about the Inauguration or selling Inauguration memorabilia or trying to figure out how they’re going to get into the city when half the roads and bridges are closed.  In downtown Washington, work crews had already set up bleachers for the Inaugural Parade along Pennsylvania Avenue by the time I returned to work after New Year.  My office has even been given a holiday on Tuesday to avoid having more people come into Washington that day.

And so, since my local Barnes & Noble has turned into Obama R’ Us, I assumed that the rest of the book world would follow suit.  But if the latest bestseller lists are any indication, Inauguration Fever is not as widespread as I thought.

The New York Times hardcover nonfiction bestseller list doesn’t have anything on Barack Obama or the Inauguration until #16, The American Journey of Barack Obama by the editors of Life magazine.  Obama’s own book, Dreams From My Father, doesn’t show up until #35.  On the other hand, Ann Coulter’s latest, Guilty, and Bill O’Reilly’s A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity appear at #2 and 10, respectively.

If the USA Today bestseller list was the only media you had absorbed in the past year, you might think Stephenie Meyer had been elected President.  The four Twilight novels take up the top spots, and The Host is #23.  In contrast, Dreams From My Father is #26 and The Audacity of Hope is #31.

Obama is doing a little bit better on Amazon’s bestseller list (which is updated hourly, so these numbers will probably change by the time this article is posted): Dreams From My Father doesn’t show up until #15, but at least it’s beating out Ann Coulter’s book (#17).

ImageSo what does all this mean?  Is it possible that my view from inside the Capital Beltway is a little different than the rest of the world?  Probably.  But maybe—aside from Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly’s inclusion on the lists—the lack of Obamamania on the bestseller lists isn’t so bad.  Books can provide us a form of a escape, a way to get away from the ubiquitous T.V. news channels (which have been Barack Obama central for the past several weeks).  It means that although Tuesday will be Barack Obama Day, on Wednesday I can start reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle or Tales of Beetle the Bard and not feel guilty about it.

Selected Book Releases, January 19-25

January 20

Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell—Historical fiction about the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.

We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land: A Plan That Will Work by Jimmy Carter—I’m curious about whether this book will benefit—or suffer—as a result of the current Israel/HAMAS conflict.

I’d Rather We Got Casinos: And Other Black Thoughts by Larry Wilmore—The Daily Show correspondent wrote this satirical book about his perspective on race in America.

Dancing to the Music in My Head: Memoirs of the People’s Idol by Sanjaya Malakar and Alan Goldsher—Sounds like Malakar hasn’t read my anti-memoir rant.  If he had, he would realize that, as a 19-year-old former American Idol contestant, he should not write a memoir.  Give it up, kid.  Your fifteen minutes were up two years ago.

The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama by Gwen Ifill—Ifill, who gained some notoriety when she moderated the vice-presidential debate, releases her now-infamous book on race and politics.

January 22

Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century by P.W. Singer—Military expert Singer talks about the science and technology of war.