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No Matter How You Slice It, 'Fifty Shades' Topped the Charts in 2012

Whether readers got it from the book store, online or at Elmhurst Public Library, nothing says "Can't put it down" like the erotic trilogy.

If you're looking to take the pulse of America, one way is to look at what America reads.

Here in Elmhurst, library patrons' reading choices don't exactly follow the national trends seen on the New York Times Best Seller list and that of Amazon.com. Some titles do stand out on all three lists, however, namely the books in the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.

Cheryl Moore, public information coordinator for Elmhurst Public Library, put together these lists of fiction and nonfiction books checked out most often during 2012.

In the fiction category:

  1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
  3. Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James
  4. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
  5. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
  6. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
  7. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
  8. The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
  9. The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks
  10. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James

In the non-fiction category:

  1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  2. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
  3. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  4. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
  5. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
  6. Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
  7. The Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard
  8. Seriously—I'm Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres
  9. Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen
  10. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Gone Girl shared the No. 1 spot on the New York Times Best Seller list, and Fifty Shades of Grey was prominent there, as well. But that's where the similarities end.

In the New York Times fiction category:

  1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  2. The Racketeer by John Grisham
  3. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
  4. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
  5. The Forgotten by David Baldacci
  6. Merry Christmas, Alex Cross by James Patterson
  7. Threat Vector by Tom Clancy
  8. Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich
  9. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  10. The Black Box by Michael Connelly

Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed came in 12th and 13th, respectively.

On the nonfiction list, only two titles were shared between Elmhurst and the New York Times: Killing Lincoln and Unbroken.

In the New York Times nonfiction category:

  1. Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander
  2. Killing Kennedy by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
  3. Thomas Jefferson by Jon Meacham
  4. Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
  5. No Easy Day by Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer
  6. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns
  7. America Again by Stephen Colbert
  8. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  9. The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver
  10. Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

Amazon's list is a little harder to decifer, as it is not broken down into categories. But one thing is pretty clear: 2012 was the year of erotic literature. If you remove the Hunger Games series (which was found in the children's category on the New York Times book lists), Amazon's adult fiction list looks something like this:

  1. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
  2. Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James
  3. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James
  4. The Fifty Shades Trilogy
  5. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  6. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
  7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  8. The Racketeer by John Grisham
  9. Winter of the World by Ken Follett
  10. A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin

Here is Amazon's nonfiction best-seller list. (Some of these might seem surprising.)

  1. Strengths Finder by Tom Rath
  2. No Easy Day by Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer
  3. The Official SAT Study Guide by The College Board
  4. Killing Kennedy by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
  5. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association
  6. Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
  7. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  8. Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander
  9. The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
  10. Barefoot Contessa Foolproof by Ina Garten

What did you read last year? Tell us in the comments.

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