Christmas '97: What the cool are reading this winter: guide to a stress-free lifestyle dominates the book-sales league
A founder member of The Independent David Lister joined the paper in 1986 as Assistant Home Editor. He became the paper's arts correspondent in 1988 and is now Arts Editor and writes a column each Saturday. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Wednesday 24 December 1997
Stress levels must be high this year. The most popular book this Christmas is The Little Book Of Calm, Paul Wilson's guide to stress-free living.
Wilson is an Australian advertising executive, and his book, measuring 3in by 4in, contains fewer than 1,000 words of advice. It ranges from breathing tips for bad sleepers to advising the "rediscovery of milk" for its relaxing powers.
The book has sold nearly 33,000 copies in the past week, making it one of the most popular Christmas presents and also one of the cheapest, retailing at pounds 1.99.
Over the year it has sold 230,000 copies in high-street bookshops and is almost certain to be the best-selling book of the year.
The nearest challenger in the pre-Christmas sales was Bridget Jones's Diary: A Novel, by Helen Fielding.
The love and career traumas of a thirtysomething singleton, which first appeared in The Independent, sold just under 29,000 copies over the week.
The popularity of travel writing with a twist of humour is underlined by the next three entries, Michael Palin's journey in the Pacific and two books by Bill Bryson.
The American writer and former Independent journalist's book on Britain, Notes From a Small Island, which is number four this year, topped the pre-Christmas charts a year ago.
Fiction doesn't seem to be too high on most people's gift lists. Terry Pratchett, Louis De Bernieres and Helen Fielding were among the best sellers; but these were the only three fiction entries in the top 10.
The death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Andrew Morton's updated biography assured him of a top-10 place.
Frank McCourt's popular reminiscence of an Irish childhood and the autobiography of the cricket umpire Dickie Bird are the other biographies in the list.
The survey of book sales was carried out by Whitaker Book Track, which monitors sales in 2,000 high-street bookshops.
Richard Knight, managing director of Whitaker Book Track, said: "There were strong last-minute challenges from Bridget Jones's Diary and Michael Palin's Full Circle, but when all the figures were counted there was no doubt that Paul Wilson is the nation's favourite author this Christmas.
"The record charts may have the glamour of show business, but plenty of people who never buy a record will be giving or receiving a book this Christmas. High-street bookshops sold some 3.5 million copies of 108,000 different titles in the week ending Saturday 20 December, representing sales of pounds 30.8m - almost a 20 per cent increase over the equivalent week last year."
THE TOP SELLERS
1 Little Book of Calm, Paul Wilson
2 Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
3 Full Circle: A Pacific Journey with Michael Palin, Michael Palin
4 Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson
5 Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson
6 Dickie Bird: My Autobiography, Dickie Bird
7 Diana: Her True Story - In Her Own Words, Andrew Morton
8 Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
9 Hogfather, Terry Pratchett
10 Angela's Ashes: A Memoir of Childhood, Frank McCourt
11 Nation's Favourite Poems
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 2 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 3 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 4 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 5 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...
£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...
£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...
£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...