They also divulged the five biggest-selling e-books on Amazon so far for 2011: Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly, Heaven Is for Real by Todd Burpo, and Saving Rachel by John Locke. I had only heard of two of them (don't know what that says about me!) Also from a Guardian slide show (on bookshelves), here's a cool approach to arranging books: make them into an art installation ("homage to OCD?")!
"If you read a lot of books you are considered well read. But if you watch a lot of TV, you're not considered well viewed."—Lily Tomlin
One kind of tv that doesn't get a bad rap for being a cultural wasteland is PBS, which recently ran a show called The Agatha Christie Code, an attempt to suss out what makes her, after Shakespeare, the world's bestselling author (2 billion books sold). One academic (who dressed like he moonlights either as a magician or rock star) used computer analysis to show that she used repetition of word forms to direct the reader's absorption of material. He was backed up by none other than the founder of neuro-linguistic programming! Characterized as part hypnotist and part dopamine pusher, Christie manipulates her prose and plots so that you race to the finish and then are compelled to start another one to get the same high. All of this is well and good, but it can hardly have been intentional. Let's just say she had a unique gift and honed it to perfection. Their textual analysis is somewhat gainsaid, moreover, by the popularity of stage and screen adaptations, which will probably run on until time immemorial. Witness the upcoming PBS remake of Murder on the Orient Express! Or consider another David Suchet gem, The Mystery of the Blue Train.
Update on Mona
The other day I was commenting on all of the visual riffs on La Gioconda, especially in this age of Photoshop. Opening The New Yorker of May 9, what should I find but this image. Part of an issue-wide graphic sendup of The Donald, it's the first time to my knowledge that these whimsical column breakers have been satirical instead of decorative.