Books: Best-sellers

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Not many surprise hits ever penetrate the thick pall of tinsel and gift-wrap that hangs over the charts at this time of year. Perhaps the latest lubricious romp from laddette-in-chief Kathy Lette counts as a treat for its purchasers rather than for a favourite auntie. Otherwise, the stocking-bound big beasts from the autumn stampede dominate the fiction list with a slightly depressing uniformity. Frantic Christmas discounting - which will cut the cost of a pounds 16.99 book by up to 50 per cent in many retail outlets - can only reinforce their stranglehold. In non-fiction, the winner-takes-all effect looks even more pronounced. Queen Delia and King David prove in spades just how much BBC books benefit from all that free (and deeply anti-competitive) on-screen advertising. Still, it's good to see Nigel Slater's achievable meals trouncing the more lah-di- dah celebrity chefs. And, while Raymond Briggs's Ethel & Ernest might look like a perfect present for that Aged Parent, it is also a delightful work of art.

Compiled by Bookwatch from sales over seven days ending 6 December.

c Copyright Bookwatch Ltd, 1998



1 (1) Carpe Jugulum Terry Pratchett (Doubleday) 9,824 pounds 16.99

2 (2) Tara Road Maeve Binchy (Orion) 7,382 pounds 16.99

3 (4) Field of Thirteen Dick Francis (M Joseph) 5,374 pounds 16.99

4 (3) Point of Origin Patricia D Cornwell (Little, Brown) 5,320 pounds 16.99

5 (5) Rainbow Six Tom Clancy (M Joseph) 5,151 pounds 16.99

6 (7) Archangel Robert Harris (Hutchinson) 4,962 pounds 16.99

7 (6) Charlotte Gray Sebastian Faulks (Hutchinson) 4,416 pounds 16.99

8 (11) Altar Ego Kathy Lette (Picador) 2,800 pounds 12.99

9 (9) The Blind Years Catherine Cookson (Bantam) 2,670 pounds 9.99

10 (8) Bag of Bones Stephen King (Hodder) 2,599 pounds 16.99



1(1) Delia's How to Cook, Book 1 Delia Smith (BBC) 61,584 pounds 16.99

2(3) The Life of Birds David Attenborough (BBC) 18,857 pounds 18.99

3(2) Notes from a Big Country Bill Bryson (Doubleday) 17,238 pounds 16.99

4(4) Blackadder: the whole

damned dynasty Richard Curtis et al (M Joseph) 9,376 pounds 15.99

5(12) The Private Eye Annual 1998 Ian Hislop, editor (Private Eye) 7,733 pounds 7.99

6(7) The Little Book of Calm Paul Wilson (Penguin) 7,651 pounds 1.99

7(8) Little Book of Feng Shui Lillian Too (Element) 7,613 pounds 1.99

8(6) Addicted Tony Adams/ Ian Ridley (Collins Willow) 7,458 pounds 16.99

9(9) Ethel & Ernest Raymond Briggs (Cape) 6,235 pounds 14.99

10(13) Real Food Nigel Slater (Fourth Estate) 6,153 pounds 18.99