The Husband tops sales chart
Satirical Ladybird books prove surprise Xmas hit
A series of satirical books designed in the style of the Ladybird educational booklets of the 1960s have become a surprise hit in this year’s Christmas bestseller lists.
The tongue-in-cheek How it Works guidebooks take a look at modern phenomena such as dating, the shed and mindfulness.
Dating is described as “a fun way of meeting someone who is as terrified as dying alone as you are”, while the Book of Mindfulness sends up the ideology of finding fulfilment and achieving self-realisation. In one passage it says: “Alison has been staring at this beautiful tree for five hours. She was meant to be in the office. Tomorrow she will be fired. In this way, mindfulness will have solved her work related stress.”
The most popular, according to data from Nielsen BookScan, is The Husband which is selling more than last year’s chart topper, the Guinness World Records.
It tells us that the husband can remember football scores, all his old car number plates and most of Withnail & I – but “cannot remember what his wife asked him to bring back from the shops”.
The Wife, it says, likes planning ahead: “She measures out her life in meals. Even at breakfast, she is only three mealtimes from her first glass of wine.”
The books are written by comedy writers Joel Morris and Jason Hazeley and are based on originals which taught children how such thing as a car or a camera works.
Morris and Hazeley, who have worked on Charlie Brooker’s Screen Wipe, That Mitchell & Webb Look, The Armstrong & Miller Show and last year’s Paddington film, said they wanted to create a collection of books that would help adults make sense of the world.
Penguin, which owns Ladybird, originally printed 15,000 copies of each title but the books have proved a surprise hit and more than 600,000 of the mini-hardbacks have sold in less than two months and some shops have run out of stock.
The husband has sold 170,660 copies, making it the 31st bestselling book of the year.
The originals are highly sought-after collectors’ items. Once sold for two shillings and sixpence (12.5p), pristine first editions now sell for as much as £300.