Who’s Reading What in Mexico?

question mark with books  o    o    o  question mark with books

CNNMexicoMedia writers know they can count on Top Ten lists to attract readers, so it wasn’t surprising to see one show up on CNNMéxico the day after Christmas, one of the slowest news days of the year. The editorial team came up with plenty of variety in, “2013, A Year Seen in Our 10 Favorite Books.” Some of it will look familiar to American readers, but much of it may not.

  1. Los años de peregrinación del chico sin color / Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (Japan)
  2. Nada / Nothing by Jane Teller (Denmark)
  3. Inferno by Dan Brown (USA)
  4. El heroé discreto / The Discreet Hero by Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru)
  5. Muerte Súbita / Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue (Mexico)
  6. Crónica de un sexenio fallido / Chronicle of a Failed Sexenio by Ernesto Núñez (Mexico)
  7. Narcoleaks: La alianza México-Estados Unidos contra el crimen organizado / Narcoleaks: The Alliance BetweenUS and Mexico Against Organized Crime by Wilbert Torre (Mexico/USA)
  8. Medianoche en México / Midnight in Mexico by Alfredo Corchado (USA/Mexico)
  9. El increíble caso de Barnaby Brocke / The Terrible Thing that Happened to Barnaby Brocke by John Boyne (Ireland)
  10. Yo soy Malala / I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (Pakistan)

Yo soy MalalaNo surprises with Inferno and I Am Malala, which also topped U.S, 2013 bestseller lists. Midnight in Mexico, an impressive and fast-paced true story, may have made the list because the CNN editors, like author Alfredo Corchado, work in the news business in Mexico. (For more information, see “The Other Side of the Peso” December 16 post.) No surprise, either, that 2010 Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa made the list for his hot-off-the-press novel, released in November.

It’s interesting that no American writers made the Young Readers’ list, a strong-selling genre in the U.S. Instead, Nothing is by a Danish woman, and The Terrible Thing that Happened to Barnaby Brocke is by an Irishman.

In the middle of the list are the Mexican writers. Sudden Death, released last spring, should be one to watch. Last month it won Spain’s Herralde Novel Prize. No word on English translations at this time. Chronicle of a Failed Sexenio, published in December, 2012 was expected–not so much this particular book–but one critiquing Felipe Calderón’s presidency.  “Sexenio refers to the six-year term a Mexican president serves, and Calderón’s ended just as the book came out. Narcoleaks isn’t totally surprising either. It’s based on Wikileaks’ stories which, along with tales of America’s eavesdropping on world leaders, have outraged people all over the globe.  

Los anos deperegrinacionThe one remaining book on the list, the mouthful Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, is another for American readers to note. While some Americans read Haruki Murakami’s works, U.S. sales don’t begin to compare with those elsewhere. During the week after this novel’s May release, one million copies sold in Murakami’s native Japan. The Spanish translation came soon after since Marakami is very popular in Latin America. The English translation is slated for sometime in 2014.  

Arguably, CNNMéxico editors are a pretty narrow subgroup of readers. For another perspective from the same day the CNN list came out, here’s the December 26th Top Ten Best Selling Books from the bookstore chain, Librería Gandhi.  

  1. El francotirador paciente / The Patient Sniper by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (Spain)
  2. Los años de peregrinación del chico sin color / Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (Japan)
  3. El heroé discreto / The Discreet Hero by Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru)
  4. Las ventajas de ser invisible / The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (USA)
  5. Disciplina con amor: Como poner límites sin ahogarse en la culpa / Discipline with Love: How to Set Limits without Drowning in Guilt by Rosa Barocio (Mexico)
  6. Divergente / Divergent by Veronica Roth (USA)  
  7. Y colorín colorado este cuento aun no se ha acabado / And This Story Has Not Yet Ended by Odin Dupeyron (Mexico)
  8. Bajo la misma estrella / The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (USA)
  9. Nada / Nothing by Jane Teller (Denmark)
  10. Yo soy Malala / I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (Pakistan)

Libreria Gandhi MonterreyNotice that four books appear on both lists. Three American books, all hits in the U.S., made the Gandhi list. The Patient Sniper, released in November, will no doubt be translated since Pérez-Reverte’s action-packed novels sell well in the U.S. Discipline with Love, published in 2005, will probably not make it into English since there’s no shortage of parenting books by English-language authors. Colorín Colorado is a self-help book by Odin Dupeyron, a multimedia industry unto himself in Mexico. First published in 2001, the book has sold over 200,000 copies according to Dupeyron’s website.

las ventajas de ser invisiblePerhaps the most interesting aspect for American readers to note is the national diversity with eight countries represented between the two lists. In contrast, on The New York Times Best Sellers list for the week of December 28th, every Top Ten author is American.  Whatever your nationality, maybe a book by a foreign author would make a good start for your 2014 reading list.


  1. A very good analysis. Never thought to make a comparison on reading tendencies of both sides of the border. Food for thought.

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