Learning Something New About Doris Lessing

Prisons We Choose to Live Inside By Doris LessingSometimes I think I should have a heading called “This is Why It Takes Me so Long to Get My Work Done.” When Doris Lessing passed away recently, marketing sent out a list of her best-selling titles. I should have just posted it but I found myself curious about exactly which books sold the very best.

I figured The Golden Notebook was a no brainer. When I ran a sales report, sure enough it sells head and shoulders among the rest of her canon. The surprise was finding a book I’d never even heard of high up at the top of the list, too. So that led to a little more digging to find out what exactly Prisons We Choose to Live Inside (9780060390778) is about. The book turns out to be a collection of five essays originally delivered in 1985 as part of the Canadian Massey Lecture Series. The cultural topic Lessing chose to address “how to think for ourselves, how to understand what we know, how to pick a path in a world deluged with opinions and information, how to look at our society and ourselves with fresh eyes.” Cool.

More noodling around looking for reviews…. Not so much out there. Some more Googling turns up a nice blog piece by the author Andrew Blackman offering a helpful evaluation with this keynote: “A clear-sighted, well-argued plea for individuality of thought in an age of mass emotions and social conditioning.” Hmm. Given my current black mood about crowd sourcing and the general glorification of the herd, I’m interested. More digging around only to find my local library has de-accessed it and Harper’s out. Guess I’ll have to wait for our 12/2/13 reprint.

It’s an hour later and….Oh yeah, here’s what I was supposed to be doing:  Below is list of Lessing’s greatest hits, should you want to check stock:

ISBN Title price
9780061582486 The Golden Notebook (deluxe ed.)     18.99
9780060931407 The Golden Notebook     16.95
9780061673740 The Grass Is Singing     13.99
9780060953461 The Grass Is Singing     13.95
9780060927967 Love Again     13.95
9780060937553 The Sweetest Dream     14.95
9780060834876 Cleft, The     13.95
9780060924331 African Laughter     15.00
9780060926649 Under My Skin     15.95
9780060924171 Real Thing, The     13.95
9780060530112 The Grandmothers     13.95
9780060930561 Mara and Dann     15.95
9780061672248 On Cats     16.99
9780062318961 Adore     12.99
9780060959692 Martha Quest     14.99

2 thoughts on “Learning Something New About Doris Lessing

  1. Thanks for linking to my blog, Kate. Glad you found it helpful. Prisons We Choose to Live Inside is a wonderful book, and it was good to be reminded of it. The glorification of the herd (great phrase!) has certainly reached heights that Lessing could not have imagined in the mid-80s, so it’s a very pertinent book to read today. I’m surprised it’s her best-selling title, though – like you, I’d have expected it to be The Golden Notebook.

    • Sure thing, Andrew–thank you! Your blog piece was so helpful. I think I better revise my piece, though. This wasn’t better selling than The Golden Notebook–just high up on the list. I expressed it a bit ambiguously because I didn’t want to give an exact ranking. Sales numbers and data sources can always be interpreted in a variety of ways. Still, every way I looked at it this book ranked above most of Lessing’s canon. Thanks again!

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