Sunday, September 27, 2020

Bestsellers Around the World: South Africa and Australia

I am excited to welcome South African book blogger Mareli from Elza Reads this month as I look at bestsellers around the world. This month, I am comparing the bestsellers lists from Australia and South Africa to see what is similar and what is different. My husband is originally from South Africa and my parents in law, my sister in law and her family still live there, so this is a particularly interesting month for me.

My thoughts are in purple and Mareli's are in black

Here are the two lists

 Australian Top 10  (

  1. Ottolenghi Flavour - Yotam Ottolenghi
  2. Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer
  3. The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku
  4. Dog Man #9 Grime and Punishment - Dav Pilkey (children’s book)
  5. The Space Between by Zara McDonald and Michelle Andrews
  6. The Golden Maze:A Biography of Prague by Richard Fidler
  7. Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty
  8. The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante
  9. Bluey : Grannies (children’s book)
  10. Sam Bloom: Heartache and Birdsong

South African Top Ten

  1. Think like a monk - Jay Shetty
  2. All Rise - Dikgang Mosaneke (Former Deputy Chief Justice)
  3. What’s your move - Nicolette Mashile (Personal Finance Manager)
  4. The 5 AM Club - Robin Sharma
  5. The Gift: 12 Lessons to save your life - Edith Eger
  6. Midnight Sun - Stephanie Meyer
  7. Hans gee Herklaas Horings - Rudie van Rensburg (Afrikaans titlle)
  8. 7 Ways - Jamie Olivier
  9. Man’s search for meaning - Victor Frankl
  10. 12 Rules for Life - Jordan Peterson

So lets start by looking at the similarities. The books that are on both lists include Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty and Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer. I guess it is no surprise to see a book about lessening anxiety and living a more meaningful life rising high in the book charts. Jay Shetty is British, Stephanie Meyer is American and there are also a couple of Canadian books as well, my question is how are the South African best sellers list influenced by other countries. Is there a robust publishing industry in South Africa?

Books are very expensive in South Africa, especially if it’s from a South African publishing house. We do have a few indie publishers. Afrikaans books are the most expensive. It’s a small market for a small percentage of the country’s inhabitants. But they always make the top ten list. Afrikaans people love to read!

When you sent the list through you mentioned that the author of All Rise was a former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Mosaneke. Given South Africa’s turbulent political history, do political books still dominate the book market there?

I won’t say it dominates, but it does always draw attention. Politics are a bit of a circus in our country and you need to be very, very careful what you say. The wrong statement on a social platform, can get you in some serious trouble.

We have had our own political dramas over the years, although not really comparable to the South African experience and yes, the inevitable books by the main players do tend to hit the heights on the bestsellers list. Recently our former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had a book out and he was definitely out publicising it a lot. My reading habits have me stuck in fiction world so they are not something that I would normally read!

You mentioned that there was one Afrikaans book in this list. I am also curious as to what impact does the fact that there are 11 official languages in South Africa have on the publishing landscape, especially seeing as it is highly unlikely that we would ever see a non English book on our bestsellers list?

English dominates the publishing landscape. International authors too. It’s not very often that a South African book and author will be number 1 on the top ten. The review that I posted last week for Grensgeval (on the border war), was on the number 1 list for a few weeks. Afrikaans books are randomly available, but like I say, to buy a new one is expensive! E-books as well! I normally wait for the book sales. You can buy 6 English books for the price of 1 Afrikaans book in some shops. I kid you not. I love reading Afrikaans and South African authors, but I mostly read international books as I can get them so much cheaper on Amazon Kindle or at second Bookshops. I read way too much for my budget!

You will get a few books here and there published in one of the other official languages, but most of those will be indie publishers. How many of your books are proudly Australian?

Having a look at the list for this week, we are at about 50/50 for Australian versus international authors. There are some big name Australian author who have books coming out very soon so I think that next time I look at the fiction list I expect to see different books but possibly around the same ratio

Was there any book on the South African top ten list that it surprised you was there, or perhaps that there is one that is not there that surprises you?

The fact that there are so many self-help books are surprising to me! Like I’ve said, I think it reflects where we are in South Africa at the moment….I’m not one for self-help books at all. My favorite was The art of not giving a f#ck. But I have read a few posts from Jay Shetty.

Was there any book on the Australian list that caught your interest?

You’ve got children’s books on your Top Ten!!! How awesome!! If I remember, Diary of a Wimpy Kid wrecking ball was on our list for a while, can’t remember if any other ones made it recently. Do children’s books regularly make it onto your top 10 lists.

To be honest I am not sure. If I look at the topsellers list it is generally just for this feature, and I generally only look at the fiction lists. Given that there are two in this week’’s list, I guess they must! If any of our readers have the answer then please let us know in the comments!

Thanks again Mareli for joining me this month! It's been fun! 

Be sure to visit Elza Reads to see her post.

Do any of the books on either list catch your attention? Do you know the answer to the question about children's books? Let us know in the comments.


  1. Hi there Marg! It's just past 21:00 here with us, we are on holiday in the bushes with no wifi and bad cellphone reception. But I managed to post my Booksellers around the world. Yea!!!!

    Thank you again for this opportunity. I had so much fun and would gladly do it again. Anything else you feel like doing together, let me know!

    Hope you will have a good week and I will chat if ever I manage to get on line.

    Here's my link! Bestsellers around the world

    1. I will definitely keep an eye out for opportunities to do something together

      Enjoy your break!

  2. This was fascinating to read - thanks for the post!

  3. I'm pleased to be able to recommend to you a rather funny book from SA, it's called The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso (born in Nigeria but lives in SA and the story is set in Cape Town). It's about two cranky old women forced into close combat by a series of accidents. You can read more about it here:
    It was published by Penguin Random House UK so it should be a reasonable price, it was only $21 here in Australia.

  4. I am completely fascinated with the discussion between you and Mareli on books in Australia and South Africa. Interesting that there are so many self-help books on the lists now. I find myself reading books that help ease my anxiety so I think it makes sense.

    It makes sense that books in Afrikaans are very expensive. That's too bad, though. I don't like anything that limits people's access to books.

    Thanks for sharing this interesting post.

    1. Books can be expensive here too Deb, but yes, it does make sense that books are expensive in Afrikaans.

  5. I think it is pretty unusual for children's books to make a general best seller list any where. I know here that there is a separate list for children's books but occasionally they will appear on the general fiction list as well. I to see what differnt countries are reading. I'm going through the blogs at The Sunday Salon and so far I've been to Scotland, Canada, South Africa, and Australia. I love how books bring us all together.

    1. It's one of the great things about blogging and books!

  6. Thank you for sharing, I’ve visited Mareli too, it’s fascinating to learn about all the differences and similarities.

    I suppose in the UK we have David Williams and he is sitting on top of the bestsellers list with his latest children’s book.

    1. I think that David Walliams has been known to make it onto the lists here too Heather.

  7. I'm about half-way through Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. Truly a fascinating read.

    1. Interesting that you are reading it now, especially seeing as Anne mentioned below it's been out years ago.

  8. I wonder why Man's Search for Meaning is in the Top Ten in S.A. It has been published for decades (1946). My Sunday Salon post

  9. Very interesting! Loved both posts. Why are books so expensive in Afrikaans? Wow.

    1. Probably something to do with the size of the market I think Heather!

  10. I hadn't thought about it but having so many official languages would make publishing difficult. ow do you choose which language to go with. It's a shame that books in Afrikaans (and I assume other languages) are so expensive.

    I also find it interesting that so many books on both lists are international. I would be surprised if many international books, even those originally written in English, consistently make it onto our lists in the US.

    I love this idea for posts!