Archive for the ‘Bestsellers’ Category


Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

9781501145247_4fd79There have been several books about the Notorious RBG, also known as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The first book written by her, appropriately titled, My Own Words (Simon & Schuster; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample) debuts on this week’s hardcover NYT nonfiction best seller list.

She was the focus of the most recent edition of the NewsHour Bookshelf. Gwen Ifill interviews Ginsburg, opening with a question on how she became a cult icon.

Ginsburg says it has been “utterly amazing” and credits a second year law student at NYU who started the Notorious RBG Tumbler blog, posting Ginsburg’s dissent to the gutting of the Voting Rights Act (that post eventually led to a book, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik, HarperCollins/Dey Street Books, an unexpected hit last year).

Ifill says her reputation as a “folk hero” also has something to do with the way she writes and takes on her colleagues.

Ginsburg also says that until Jimmy Carter’s presidency it was unrealistic that a woman could ever be appointed to the Supreme Court. When she graduated there was not a single woman on any Federal bench. Carter, although he never got to appoint a Supreme Court Justice, changed that by appointing women to the Federal bench, paving the way for Ginsburg.

As we noted earlier, Ginsburg wears a special collar when she is on the dissenting side. The end of the PBS piece reveals she wears a gold lace one when she is with the majority opinion.

Holds to copies are not huge, but some systems are showing spikes of 5:1 ratios.


Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

9781101875322_3da0eThe book version of the most popular class at Stanford tops the latest NYT‘s Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous list.

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans (PRH/Knopf; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample) applies the principles of design thinking to the career planning/self-help movement, teaching readers how to solve problems in creative ways and craft a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

The book has received media attention including coverage in the NYT, WSJ, [subscription maybe required], and Forbes. Fast Company offers the most exhaustive report, highlighting the point of view and processes of Burnett (the executive director of Stanford’s design program) and Evans (who has worked at Apple and is a co-founded Electronic Arts).

The magazine reports the goal is to change higher education, as Evans puts it, of “forming you into the person that will go out into the world, effect change, and be a leader. … [inviting ] people to live intentionally, in a generative, thoughtful way, and we give them a bunch of tools.”

Burnett says that class fits the anxiety of our current times very well, “The thing that’s true about design problems is that you don’t know what the solution is going to look like … You can’t know the future, but you can know what’s available and you can prototype different versions of the you that you might become.”

The class is so difficult to get into and so transformational that Evans says “We’ve had students literally teach the class on the side to their friends who weren’t enrolled.”

The same approach seems to be fueling library demand where holds have skyrocketed in some systems, topping 6:1 ratios.

Below is the book trailer:

But the following discussion gives more insight into the authors’ process and thinking:

Catches a New Wave

Thursday, September 29th, 2016


Fall books have replaced most of the summer titles on best seller lists, but one is still going strong. Months after its publication on July 19, Ruth Ware’s second novel,  The Woman in Cabin 10 (S&S; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample), continues at #17 on USA Today’s list released today, and is therefore declared “a sleeper hit.”

According to the book’s publicist, quoted by USA Today, the success is due in part to word of mouth and the April release in paperback of Ware’s debut, In a Dark, Dark Wood, which “set the table for Cabin.”

Although it was listed on multiple summer reading lists, it received few reviews in the consumer press, other than a glowing mention in a thriller roundup from the Washington Post comparing it aptly to Alfred Hitchcock’s films.

Librarians were early advocates. Both her novels have been Library Reads picks as well as Galleychat favorites.

Library holds queues are long are growing.

More is coming from Ware. She signed a deal with her British publisher for two more books, to be released in the summers of 2017 and 2018 and Reese Witherspoon acquired the film rights to her first book, In a Dark, Dark Wood.

Best Sellers: Patchett Hits New Highs

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

9780062491794_46ce0Ann Patchett lands at #4 on the USA Today Best-Selling Books list, making Commonwealth (Harper; HarperAudio) her highest ever debut.

According to the paper, Bel Canto reached #8 in 2003 but debuted at #70 and State of Wonder hit, and peaked, at #12.

Commonwealth is #1 on the PW Fiction list, making it likely to land on the NYT‘s list at #1 as well when the Oct 2 list comes out later this afternoon.

Library patrons are echoing the sales figures. Holds are strong on all formats at libraries we checked.

It looks like Jonathan Burnham, publisher of HarperCollins’s Harper imprint, was correct when he told The Wall Street Journal “It’s probably the most commercial novel Ann has written yet.”

As we noted earlier, it is a darling of critics. It made most, if not all the fall reading previews. It is also the Indie Next #1 pick for September; Entertainment Weekly gave it a solid A review; The Guardian says it is “outstanding;” and Jennifer Senior reviewed it early for the daily NYT, calling it “exquisite.

Towles Rises; HIDDEN FIGURES Soars

Monday, September 19th, 2016

9780670026197_2f9f39780062363596_b2357On the NYT Hardcover Fiction Best Seller list, half the titles are new this week. J.D. Robb’s Apprentice in Death (PRH/Penguin; OverDrive Sample) lands at #1, followed by Carl Hiaasen’s Razor Girl (PRH/Knopf; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

The number 7, 8, and 10 spots are new as well, filled by Here I Am, Jonathan Safran Foer (Macmillan/FSG; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample), A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles (PRH/Viking; Penguin Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample), and Downfall: A Brady Novel of Suspense, J. A. Jance (HC/William Morrow; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample).

All but Towles are to be expected and that is a significant rise for him. His debut, Rules of Civility, never broke the top ten, rising only as high as #16 and holding that position for just one week. It is also both an Indie Next pick and a Fall Reading favorite. Holds are strong in most libraries we checked.

On the nonfiction side, four new titles appear, including the #1 seller this week, Oprah’s pick Love Warrior: A Memoir, Glennon Doyle Melton (Macmillan/Flatiron Books; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample).

New at #7, is Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, Margot Lee Shetterly (HarperCollins/Morrow; HarperLuxe; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample). As we have written, it is the basis for a forthcoming movie starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe. A tie-in arrives this December.

The paper spotlights the title in “The Story Behind This Week’s Best Sellers” quoting Shetterly on her experience growing up: “I knew so many African-Americans working in science, math and engineering that I thought that’s just what black folks did.”

Dave Barry’s Best. State. Ever.: A Florida Man Defends His Homeland (PRH/G.P. Putnam; OverDrive Sample) debuts at #8 and The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life (PRH/Viking; Penguin Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample) rounds out the new books in the top ten, landing at #10.

Oddly, the J.K. Rowling titles that appeared in the top ten on the USA Today list don’t appear on either the Middle Grade or the YA eBook lists.

Best Sellers: E-Only Debuts

Friday, September 16th, 2016

Cursed ChildAfter holding the #1 spot on the USA Today Best-Selling Book list for six straight weeks Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two falls to #5 this week, ending, says the paper, “the longest run of any book this year.”

Right behind it are three new e-book only shorts  by J.K. Rowling as part of the “Pottermore Presents” series:


Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies, J.K. Rowling (Pottermore, September 2016; ISBN 9781781106280)

Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide, J.K. Rowling (Pottermore, September 2016; ISBN 9781781106273)

Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists, J.K. Rowling (Pottermore, September 2016; ISBN 9781781106297).

They are ranked numbers 6, 7, and 8 respectively. Unfortunately, it appears these titles are unavailable to libraries.

61ae8165-1593-4b88-b616-4f066a22a725img400Another e-only title debuting on the list is Blue on Black by Michael Connelly (Hachette/Little, Brown/Mulholland; OverDrive Sample) at #31. It is part of the Strand Originals series, a partnership between Mulholland Books and Strand Magazine to reprint the “best and most popular” short stories from the magazine as e-book and audio digital downloads.

Titles in the series, which are available to libraries, are published in quarterly groups. The first. published last April, included works by Jeffery Deaver, Ian Rankin, Linwood Barclay, Faye Kellerman, and Olen Steinhauer. Click through for the full list for 2016.

More Fall Reading

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

The Wall Street Journal adds to the fall previews with their picks of 32 books to fill the fall with reading. The list mixes fiction and nonfiction and highlights new books tracing the legacy of the Holocaust [subscription may be required].

9781250088277_caef4One of the titles certain to interest librarians, that has not yet appeared on any other preview, is The Bestseller Code: Anatomy of the Blockbuster Novel, Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press). It asks if an algorithm can identify the elements of a blockbuster novel and provides answers based on a five-year study.

This approach is not new. FiveThirtyEight data mined blockbuster films to see what they could find as defining features and found 11 commonalities and for years researchers have been looking into what makes a hit song.

WSJ profiles the authors, who studied over 5,000 novels and claim their method can “pick out a future New York Times-list best seller with 80% accuracy.”

Their process focuses on “2,800 features including points of theme, style, vocabulary and punctuation … [and has found] subject, not genre, has a much greater impact on driving a best seller.”

Archer and Jockers have also found less is more, “Bestselling novels tend to have one or two topics which often feed off each other such as ‘children and guns’ or ‘love and vampires’ that together make up nearly a third of the novel whereas novels that fail to hit often try to cram too many topics in.” John Grisham and Danielle Steel have proven that fact, they say, staying on point within their individual niches.

The book has touched a nerve with some acquisitions editors, making them wonder if their jobs are on the line. We suspect plenty of readers and authors will also read the book with a wary, if interested, eye.

Riding High

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

9780345544803_79f84Elizabeth Letts’s The Perfect Horse: The Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis (Random House/Ballantine; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample) has landed at #17 on the NYT extended hardcover nonfiction list.

The NYT highlights Lett’s in the “Inside the List” feature, noting that while WWII is a perennially popular subject, recently it seems books on the “quirky corners of the war” are particularly gaining ground. Like The Monuments Men before it, Lett’s book recounts a little-known mission during the waning days of the war, to save prized Lipizzaner stallions. The Nazis had abducted the horses, stockpiling them as part of a plan to create a super breed. With the war ending, supplies short, and the Russian army closing in, the horses were in danger of being slaughtered for food. No less a figure than General Patton ordered the rescue.

Letts is the author of a previous best seller about a horse, The Eighty-Dollar Champion (2011).

Check your holds. Several libraries show spikes on modest ordering.

More Backman On The Way

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

The author of the long-running trade paperback best seller, A Man Called Ove, and two LibraryReads picksBritt-Marie Was Here and My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, (also currently a best seller in trade paperback), Fredrik Backman, has signed a deal to publish three new novels and a novella with S&S/Atria. Significantly, the news is reported by Deadline Hollywood, indicating the author has caught the attention of the U.S. movie business.

9781501160486_26853Coming first, on Nov. 1, is the novella,  And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer And Longer (S&S/Atria; ISBN 9781501160486). Deadline says, like Ove, it “centers on an elderly man, who struggles to hold on to his memories, face his regrets and help his son and grandson prepare for his death.” It will be issued in a “small-format hardcover,” with illustrations.

The first of the three novels will be titled Beartown (S&S/Atria, May 2, 2017; ISBN 9781501160769). Deadline says “It concerns a depressed town whose hopes for a brighter future rest on its junior ice hockey team as it goes after the national title.”

MV5BMjE0NDUyOTc2MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODk2NzU3OTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,679,1000_AL_Meanwhile, the Swedish-language film adaptation of A Man Called Ove will open in limited release on Sept. 30 (some sources list it for release at the end of this month, but Sept. 30 now seems to be official).

Variety reviewed it when it was shown at the Goteborg Film Festival in February, calling the subtitled film “irresistible” and “A touching comic crowdpleaser,” commenting on the “terrific” cast and cinematography that makes it “a pleasure to watch.”

Cinema Scandinavia reports that in Sweden, where it was released late last year, Ove was a hit, topping the box office there and winning awards, including Best Actor for lead Rolf Lassgård.

Variety notes that Music Box Films won US distribution rights. They have previously brought to the U.S. such Swedish imports as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.

A Best-Seller

Friday, August 5th, 2016

Truly Madly GuiltyLiane Moriarty’s latest Truly Madly Guilty (Macmillan/Flatiron; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample), which, as we reported, has been showing large holds lists, hits the USA Today‘s best seller list at #2, the highest debut Morality has ever achieved reports the paper, right behind Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The buzz has also powered her 2012 novel The Hypnotist’s Love Story onto the list at No. 47.

Her publisher is delighted, telling USA Today, “We are thrilled that Liane has debuted the highest she ever has … And if we can’t be No. 1, I can’t think of anyone we’d rather be behind than the boy wizard.”

According to USA Today, Moriarty first made their best-seller list in “2013 with The Husband’s Secret, entering the list at 32 and rising as high as No. 3. She followed that up the next year with a No. 3 debut for Big Little Lies in 2014. This year, her earlier books The Last Anniversary rose to No. 15 and What Alice Forgot peaked at No. 27.”

Reviews for Truly Madly, however, have been uneven. USA Today gave it 2.5 stars out of a possible 4, calling it “a summer bummer” and The New York Times gave it a less than stellar early review. Entertainment Weekly gives it a B, saying “it begins to feel like a very special, very frustrating episode of CSI: BBQ … [but] what sets Moriarty’s writing apart in the genre generally dismissed as chick lit has as much to do with her canny insights into human nature as her clever plotting … for Moriarty’s many fans, that should be truly, madly good enough.” The Washington Post has the most positive take.

BURR is a Best Seller

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

9780375708732_c1231This week was the 212th anniversary of the duel in which Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton.

Could that be the reason that Gore Vidal’s novel Burr (PRH/Vingate) hits the new USA Today best seller list 43 years after it was originally published?

Probably not. More likely, the sudden was sparked by a certain play, the same one that brought Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton (PRH/Penguin) back to best seller lists.

Hamilton’s ghost can take comfort in the fact that his bio is currently at #18 at USA Today‘s list, while the novel Burr is much further down, at #124.

Several publications have given attention to Vidal’s book recently, including,

The Smithsonian, “Before There Was Hamilton There Was Burr”, 6/6/16

The Washington Post,Hamilton is a smash. Why so few other stories about the American Revolution?“, 7/6/16

In addition, there’s been stories about Brandon Victor Dixon who recently replaced Leslie Odom Jr. in the role of Burr.

On The Move: THE GIRLS

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

9780812998603_dba8fWhether it’s word of mouth, or the multiple picks from various mid-year best books roundups, The Girls by Emma Cline (PRH/Random House; RH Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample), is moving up best seller lists.

It jumped four spots on the USA Today list (which combines all books in all formats and for all ages), rising to #8, its highest ranking to date and has moved up the NYT Combined Fiction list to #5, also its highest spot on that list. Several libraries have increased their orders to meet holds, which remain well above a 3:1 ratio at many libraries across the country.

The novel is still getting attention, yesterday BuzzFeed selected it as one of “4 Great Books to Read in July,” saying that it “will terrify you, shock you, haunt you — in all the right ways.”

Sherman Alexie on Diversity
in Kids Books

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

PBS Newshour is in the midst of a special summer reading series, featuring interviews with authors from last month’s Book Expo.

Yesterday, Sherman Alexie talked about his first picture book Thunder Boy Jr.,  illus. by Yuyi Morales (Hachette/Little, Brown), which was on the New York Times Children’s Picture Books best seller list for 3 weeks, and on the need for diversity in children’s book.

On Tuesday, Emma Cline was interviewed about her debut novel The Girls  (PRH/Random House; RH Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample),, which landed on the most recent NYT Hardcover Fiction list at #3.

Bestseller: THE GIRLS

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Driven by heavy media attention, 9780812998603_dba8f The Girls by Emma Cline (PRH/Random House; RH Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample),

debuts on the new USA Today best seller list, landing at the #9 spot. Since that list ranks all categories and formats of books together, we can expect to see it debut much higher on the upcoming NYT Hardcover Fiction list [UPDATE: Soon after we posted this, the new NYT list was released and The Girls is #3. That list shows sales through June 18, four days after the book was published. We’ll see in coming weeks if word of mouth works in its favor].

In libraries holds continue to be very strong, running at 5:1 ratios and higher. Many libraries have ordered additional copies  to keep up with demand.

As You Like It

Monday, June 20th, 2016

9781101983300_c5d77Add comics to the recent flurry of successful Shakespeare re-vamps. Ryan North’s 1,100 page “chooseable-path” graphic novel  Romeo And/Or Juliet (PRH/Riverhead), is based on the famous romance and debuts on the NYT Best Sellers Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous list, landing at #7. He celebrates with a collage image on his homepage, labeled “AWESOME AND/OR WHAAAAAT.”

North’s wildly imaginative adaptation of the bard (in one adventure readers can choose to become the character of a glove) caught the attention of the media. He tells NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday that he thinks this way of encountering Shakespeare makes the play fun again, bringing the old story back to life, and providing a deeper understanding in the process:

“You know what these characters are supposed to be like, and when you kind of push them off the rails a little bit, there’s a sense of breaking the rules that’s a lot of fun.”

He tags his books “Plays weren’t meant to be read. They were meant… to be played.”

New York magazine’s site Vulture offers an illustrated interview that includes North commenting on the 100+ artists contributing to the book (including Noelle Stevenson, Randall Munroe, and Kate Beaton), how the book relates to video games (he mentions on his website that he has created an unlockable character), and the process of reading a work with so many endings. About the latter he says: “just because you give the reader a choice doesn’t mean it’s an easier book.”

Paste offers a gallery of images, showing the range of styles included.

9780982853740North’s first chooseable-path adventure was the Kickstarter-funded project To Be or Not to Be (Perseus/PGW/Legato/Breadpig, 2013), based on HamletAccording to North, it was the most funded publishing project in the history of Kickstarter.

North also creates Dinosaur Comics and writes for The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl comics.