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December 2004

Page Turners

The latest news from the world of books

Around 250,000 people in Germany took part in “Das Grosse Lesen,” a national poll taken by TV station ZDF to find the country’s best-loved books and to raise the profile of reading in the run up to the 2004 Frankfurt Book Fair. J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings came in at the top, closely followed by the Bible, then The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. The results show that Germans embrace international publications and, in the current economic slump, favor escapist, moralistic or fantasy literature. It is interesting to compare the results of “Das Grosse Lesen” to those of the BBC’s “The Big Read” survey, in which Tolkien’s classic also took first place. The rest of the list, however, looked very different.

• If you’re searching for the ultimate gift, Taschen has published a book that is epic in scale and as vibrant as the man it honors—Muhammed Ali. GOAT: Greatest of All Time comprises 800 pages of photographs, works of art, articles and essays, many of them previously unpublished, and weighs in at a respectable 34 kg. It comes in two versions—The “Champ’s Edition,” limited to 1,000 copies, and the “Collector’s Edition,” limited to 9,000 copies. Starting at € 3,000, the books do not come cheap, but they are all signed by the boxer himself and artist Jeff Koons and are destined to become highly sought-after collectors’ items.

• Worldwide bestseller The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown has spawned a mini-industry in European travel, with curious readers tracing locations mentioned in the book. In Paris the demand for Da Vinci tours was so high that tour companies were rubbing their hands in delight. But not everyone was so happy. The pastor at Saint-Sulpice church, which features repeatedly in the novel, was so fed up with answering questions from visitors that he posted a sign at the church that begins: “Contrary to the fantastical allegations in a recent best seller…”

• Fancy boosting your knowledge of German literature? Then visit —a Website aimed at promoting the country’s authors among foreign readers. The site is in English, German and a third language, which changes from year to year, and features fiction, non-fiction and children’s titles, with sample texts and simple translations for readers to download. The site, which is sponsored by the Goethe Institute, also offers an e-mail book-ordering service.

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