Best books of 2020

From The Guardian:

Fiction

As the first lockdown descended in March, sales of Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year and Camus’s La Peste soared, but there were uncanny echoes of Covid-19 to be found in this year’s novels too.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Maggie O’Farrell’s tender, heartbreaking Hamnet (Tinder), which went on to win the Women’s prize, illuminates life and love in the shadow of death four centuries ago. Focused on Anne Hathaway rather than her playwright husband , it channels the family’s grief for son Hamnet, lost to the plague, with a timeless power. From public information slogans to individual fears, Emma Donoghue’s The Pull of the Stars (Picador), set in a Dublin maternity hospital during the 1918 flu pandemic, shows how little our responses have changed. Don DeLillo completed The Silence (Picador) just before the coronavirus hit; but this slim, austere vision of what it’s like to be in a room as screens go dark and disaster unfolds outside chimes with current fears.

Unfolding disaster was the theme of novels that spoke explicitly to the present moment, too: Jenny Offill’s Weather (Granta) assembles shards of anecdote and aphorism into a glittering mosaic that faces up to Trump’s America and climate collapse with wit, heart and moments of sheer terror. Naomi Booth’s Exit Management (Dead Ink) expertly dramatises the crisis in housing, jobs and community. Sarah Moss’s menacing Summerwater (Picador) is set over one rainy day in a Scottish holiday park: catastrophe lurks in the near future as we dip into the minds of various daydreaming, dissatisfied holidaymakers, in a sharp investigation into the meaning of community and otherness. Also deeply attuned to the anxieties of both Brexit and our long, slow post-industrial collapse is M John Harrison’s masterly The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again (Gollancz). An unsettling and multilayered narrative foregrounding two lost souls in a haunted, unheimlich England who don’t know how lost they are, it took the Goldsmiths prize for innovative fiction.

. . . .

In translated fiction, Elena Ferrante returned to her emotional heartland, the psyche of the teenage girl, in The Lying Life of Adults (Europa, translated by Ann Goldstein). As Giovanna tackles parental hypocrisy, self-disgust and the disconnect between upper- and lower-class Naples, the novel builds into what feels like a portrait of the artist as a young woman. Originally conceived as a true crime story, Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor (Fitzcarraldo, translated by Sophie Hughes) is a savage, unstoppable chronicle of misogyny and murder in a small Mexican village. Another rawly compelling novel won the International Booker: young Dutch writer Marieke Lucas Rijneveld’s The Discomfort of Evening (Faber, translated by Michele Hutchison) focuses on a girl in a deeply religious family that is falling apart in the wake of her brother’s death.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

Amazon Releases List of The Best Books of 2020

From BookRiot:

It’s that time of year for everyone to start releasing their “Best Of” lists. Here at Book Riot, we love seeing what other publications choose for the best books of the year.

Yesterday, Amazon released their picks for the best books of 2020. The list, selected by Amazon editors, includes a total of 100 titles from a wide range of genres, including biography and memoir, literature and fiction, mystery and thriller, children’s, science, and more.

. . . .

According to an insider peek from the Amazon Book Review, the majority of the year’s Best Of picks come from Amazon’s Best of the Month series. Editors collect these selections in October and consider any upcoming titles before voting on the best of the year. Many of the books selected are bestsellers, but editors try to include lesser-known titles as well.

Link to the rest at BookRiot

The Top 100 Print Books

The Top 100 Kindle Books

Best Books of 2020 by Category

The Best Books of the Month

The Most Popular Horror Reads Of The Past Year

From HuffPost:

It’s the spookiest season of all — when we’re all on the lookout for full moons, things that go bump in the night, tricks and treats.

You might be ready to take a trip to the dark side right about now — whether that means taking out your tasteful Halloween home decor, finding Halloween decorations that you don’t have to put away on Oct. 31 or putting your cat in her own Halloween costume.

If you’re looking to take a break from a marathon of creepy flicks or a slew of spooky shows, you could turn to spine-chilling, hair-raising and blood-curdling books for frights that’ll feel oh so real.

That’s why we asked the folks at Goodreads for the top horror books that have been popular with their book-loving members throughout this year.

. . . .

“As we all learned to navigate the uncertainty and loss of normalcy that this year has brought us, we saw readers flock to horror novels, propelling tales of terror to the top of our most popular lists,” said Cybil Wallace, a senior editor at Goodreads. “And the genre was ready for the extra attention, with some very compelling and terrifying reads.”

. . . .

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

After receiving a mysterious letter from her newlywed cousin, debutante Noemí Taboada goes to visit her and her new husband, who might not be who he seems. And the house itself, called High Place, holds lots of secrets about the family her cousin married into.

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Set in the ’90s, this book has been described as “‘Steel Magnolias’ meets ‘Dracula.'” It’s centered around Patricia Campbell, who always looks forward to her book club since her family life isn’t as fulfilling as she thought it would be. When a stranger moves next door, Patricia initially likes him but starts to suspect that he might be involved in the disappearance of a few local children.

Link to the rest at HuffPost

The Vanishing Half Finds an Audience in Turbulent Times

From The Wall Street Journal:

The Vanishing Half,” a critically acclaimed novel about identity and race, is on track to become not just one of the bestselling books of the year, but a 352-page cultural phenomenon.

Initial print sales of the book by Brit Bennett suggest it is becoming a blockbuster with staying power. More than 164,700 print copies have sold since the novel came out in early June, nearly three times the sales of Delia Owens’s “Where the Crawdads Sing” after its first 11 weeks on the market in 2018 and roughly 17,000 more copies than Celeste Ng’s “Little Fires Everywhere” in the same period after its launch in 2017, according to NPD BookScan.

“It’s the kind of sales pattern you would expect to see from a major brand-name author,” said Jaci Updike, president of sales at Penguin Random House, whose imprint Riverhead Books published the novel. She added that If the book were in paperback right now she probably would be putting it at the checkout line in supermarkets.

Walmart and Target have sold the book online from the start. Both just picked it up to sell in stores, and Costco and Sam’s Club will soon—notable moves by mass-market retailers whose limited shelf space often goes to writers who are already famous.

. . . .

“The Vanishing Half” opens in a 1950s Louisiana town that has cultivated a population of light-skinned Black children. Twin sisters flee for New Orleans and see their paths diverge as adults, one holding onto her African-American identity and returning to the town with a dark-skinned baby, the other passing as white and marrying a rich man who thinks her family is dead. Their daughters, strangers to each other, land in southern California, where they are joined by a cast of characters with split identities, including a drag queen and a trans man.

The book about race and the complexities of identity is cinematic in its storytelling, a work of literary fiction that has made multiple “best of” lists, attracted celebrity fans and become a book-club favorite. It arrived as the pandemic was fueling sales of fiction. And it emerged as a touchstone during a national reckoning with racism and white privilege, when people were putting books front and center as a source of greater understanding.

Ms. Bennett has yet to see her novel in a bookstore—she hasn’t set foot in one since the coronavirus lockdowns began. Given the pandemic, the 30-year-old author who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., at first worried no one would notice the book. Then the Black Lives Matter protests hit—her book was released on June 2, the same day people posted black squares on Instagram in solidarity against racial injustice and police brutality—and the thought of promoting it felt grotesque to her.

At the same time, readers were hungering for a voice like Ms. Bennett’s. The novel, her second, debuted at the top of the New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller list, one of the few works of adult fiction by a Black woman to do so in recent years. HBO paid seven figures for the screen rights in a 17-bidder auction, with Ms. Bennett signed on to executive produce a limited series.

. . . .

In his review for The Wall Street Journal, critic Sam Sacks wrote: “My hope is that the warranted praise Ms. Bennett receives for this novel will have less to do with her efficient handling of timely, or ‘relevant,’ subject matter than for her insights into the mysterious compound of what we call truth: a mixture of the identities we’re born with and those we create.”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Sorry if you encounter a paywall)

Trade-Published Romance Sees a Coronavirus Boost in the States

From Publishing Perspectives:

Since 2012, traditionally published romance has been in “a steady decline.” Much of this, of course, parallels the rise of self-publishers’ entry into the velvet-roped arena.

If there’s a category in which self-publishing can claim to have walked away with the goods, it’s in low-priced romance ebooks, consumed by enviably loyal readers often at a rate of several titles per week.

The COVID-19 lockdown stage in the United States, however, “helped to lift the category’s ebook sales,” McLean’s report says.

“Unit sales for romance ebooks,” she writes, “increased 17 percentage points from January through May 2020. In all, 16.2 million romance ebooks and print books were sold during this time period.”

Total romance book sales in the trade–which had declined 11 percent in January 2020 over January 2019–began trending upward in March.

The category showed strong growth through the acute COVID-19 shutdown period, with print and ebook sales closing slightly higher–0.1 percent–in May, because of an impressive rebound in ebook unit sales.

Those unit ebook sales rose 17.4 points from January through May 2020. This meant that ebooks made up 60 percent of romance category sales, and romance ebook unit sales increased 10 percent between January and May 2020.

. . . .

In breaking out growth subjects, McLean sees historical romance in the lead on a unit basis, both in print and ebook formats, “but top-selling ebook titles differed from print sales leaders.”

  • Golden in Death by JD Robb (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press, February) led ebook sales in the overall romance category, followed by Hideaway by the dependable Nora Roberts (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press, May) and Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas (HarperCollins/Avon, February).
  • Print sales were led by Window on the Bay by Debbie Macomber (Penguin Random House/Ballantine, February), followed by Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks (Hachette Book Group/Sphere, October 2018), and Country Strong by Linda Lael Miller (Harlequin, January).

In her comments, McLean says, “With brick-and-mortar retail bookstores closed in the States this past spring, ebook sales–which have always been stronger for romance than in other categories–really took off.

. . . .

“Print romance also rose slightly, as newly housebound readers looked for fun and immersive germ-free reads while waiting out the pandemic.”

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

‘Twilight’ Companion Novel ‘Midnight Sun’ Sells 1M Copies in First Week of Publication

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Though it’s been 15 years since author Stephenie Meyer debuted her novel, Twilight, the love for the franchise continues as Midnight Sun, the much-anticipated companion novel to the franchise, has sold a million copies across all formats in its first week of sales in North America, publisher Hachete Book Group and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers announced Thursday. 

The combined sales figure for Midnight Sun, whichwas released on Aug. 4, includes pre-orders, sales of print books, ebooks and audiobooks. Additional incoming orders from consumers also applies to sales figure.The book also currently tops the New York Times‘ Children’s Series list. 

Midnight Sun is also an international bestseller with the No. 1 spots in the United Kingdom, Brazil, Holland, and Germany. It is the No. 2 bestselling book in France.

Link to the rest at The Hollywood Reporter

Emma Cline’s Brilliant, Dark Mind

From The Wall Street Journal:

In the winter of 2018, the novelist Emma Cline flew from New York City to Los Angeles to see a friend for what was supposed to be a three-day trip. A few months earlier, a judge had thrown out a plagiarism lawsuit against her. She kept putting off returning to New York, moving her plane ticket until, she says, “it was just like, oh, I think I’m here, and I rented a place.” She’s been living in L.A. ever since.

“I like that it has no context, really,” Cline says of the city, via a Zoom call from her home in L.A.’s Silver Lake neighborhood. “I think New York is all about context. L.A. doesn’t have that cohesion, which can be freeing in its way.”

New York had been a lot for Cline. Now 31, she achieved literary fame at a breakneck pace. Five years after graduating from Middlebury College, she became one of the highest-paid debut authors in history when she sold The Girls, a novel about a Manson-style cult, to Random House in a three-book deal, reportedly for $2 million. (Hulu is currently adapting it as a limited series; originally snapped up by Scott Rudin before the manuscript was submitted to publishers, it’s now being produced by Cline and Helen Estabrook.) Upon the book’s publication in 2016, critic James Wood noted that Cline had been “apparently fast-tracked by the Muses.” The bestselling novel went on to win a Shirley Jackson Award and is now available in over 40 countries.

. . . .

In hindsight, although Cline seemed in many ways cut out for literary stardom—she’s young, photogenic and disarmingly charming—she says she wasn’t entirely prepared for the spotlight. “I understood wanting to write a book,” she says. “I didn’t understand what that would mean in the broader sense.” Her success was complicated by a lawsuit filed in 2017, in which a former boyfriend accused her of plagiarism. Although the judge dismissed the case a little less than a year later, the episode took a toll on her. “It was obviously immensely painful,” Cline says, choosing her words carefully. “I felt like I wouldn’t be able to write again because it was so difficult.”

Cline’s fiction is full of binaries pressing up against one another: youthful promise and life’s realities; success and failure; darkness and humor; external beauty and internal rot. A typical way she begins a story is to describe a place that seems initially perfect, until a character quickly, sometimes shockingly, realizes otherwise.

. . . .

As one of seven children growing up in Sonoma, California, in what she calls a “hothouse environment,” Cline stood out from her siblings by becoming a professional child actress, appearing in a short film called Flashcards and a TV movie, When Billie Beat Bobby. On one of her yearbook pages, she declared her life goal: to become a movie star.

When she was 13, she met Rodney Bingenheimer, a then-55-year-old deejay, with whom she says she maintained a yearlong correspondence. “I wrote down my mailing address, vibrating with pleasure. Some girls, even at thirteen, probably knew not to do things like that. I wasn’t one of them,” Cline wrote in a first-person essay for The Paris Review Daily in 2014. “When I was offered any attention, I took it, eagerly. I look at pictures of myself at that age and wonder how plainly it was encoded in my face, the flash of a message: see me.”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Sorry if you encounter a paywall)

US Ebook Market: NPD Sees a 31-Percent Jump in Unit Sales in April

From Publishing Perspectives:

On the heels of its second-quarter report on the American book market, which we covered here on Monday, the NPD Group today (July 21) has released new data showing that ebook unit sales in April rose by nearly a third over the previous month: a new indication of how consumers reached for digital retail under the constraints of COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Year over year through April, NPD PubTrack Digital saw trade ebook sales decline by 6 percent, a total 55 million units sold. But Kristen McLean, who leads book industry analysis for NPD, says that when she looks only at April—in many parts of the States the first full month of stay-at-home measures—ebooks made that 31-percent jump in unit sales over March, selling an additional 4.2 million units.

“With brick-and-mortar retail bookstores shut down in the United States this spring,” she says, “the ebook format became more popular during the COVID-19 crisis. Ebooks are easy to purchase, can be read instantly after being downloaded, and eliminate any concerns over infection or availability.”

. . . .

Sales growth for adult ebooks was led by general fiction, which rose 23 percent in April compared to March according to data from NPD BookScan.

The leading general fiction title in April was Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere. . . The film tie-in was released in March, the same month that Liz Tigelaar’s Hulu series adaptation with Reese Witherspoon premiered.

The romance category posted 22-percent growth in April compared to March, led by First Comes Scandal by Julia Quinn . . . .

Adult nonfiction title unit sales grew 37 percent in April compared to March 2020.

Categories with the highest ebook unit growth included biography and memoir, which rose 40 percent in April, led by the April 2020 Oprah Book Club selection, Robert Kolker’s Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family . . . .

Cooking ebooks posted the second-highest unit growth, rising 96 percent in unit sales in April compared to previous month.

. . . .

Children’s ebooks declined 12 percent over the first half of the year, with 5.1 million units sold, McLean points out.

But in April, children’s ebook fiction grew 78 percent in April over March, while children’s nonfiction grew 39 percent.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

PG expects Amazon had a good month for ebook sales in April.

Book sales surge as self-isolating readers stock up on ‘bucket list’ novels

From The Guardian:

Book sales have leapt across the country as readers find they have extra time on their hands, with bookshops reporting a significant increase in sales of longer novels and classic fiction.

In the week the UK’s biggest book chain, Waterstones, finally shut its stores after staff complained that they felt at risk from the coronavirus, its online sales were up by 400% week on week. It reported a “significant uplift” on classic – and often timely – titles including Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar.

Waterstones also reported a boost for lengthy modern novels, headed by the new bestseller Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light, but also including Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and The Secret History, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest and A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Dystopian tales are also selling well, particularly Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

Nielsen BookScan, the UK’s official book sales monitor, also reported nationwide increases in sales for War and Peace, The Lord of the Rings and the first instalment of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time.

“Our bestseller is Hilary Mantel – those 900 pages aren’t going to seem daunting any more and it’s doing really well,” said Waterstones’ Bea Carvalho. “And we’ve seen really good sales for the classics – those bucket list books, the ‘I’ve always wanted to read it’ type things such as Infinite Jest.”

Total physical book sales in the UK jumped 6% in the week to Saturday 21 March, according to Nielsen, noting a 212% growth in volume sales for “home learning” titles, a 77% boost for school textbooks and study guides, and a 35% week-on-week boost for paperback fiction, driven by supermarket shoppers. Arts and crafts book sales were also up by 38% week on week.

Adult non-fiction, however, was down by 13%, as readers sought solace in imaginary worlds.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

PG notes this is from the March 25 edition of The Guardian.

Would You Pay to Turn the First Page of this Bestseller?

From Writer Unboxed:

Trained by reading hundreds of submissions, editors and agents often make their read/not-read decision on the first page. In a customarily formatted book manuscript with chapters starting about 1/3 of the way down the page (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type), there are 16 or 17 lines on the first page.

Here’s the question:
Would you pay good money to read the rest of the chapter? With 50 chapters in a book that costs $15, each chapter would be “worth” 30 cents.

So, before you read the excerpt, take 30 cents from your pocket or purse. When you’re done, decide what to do with those three dimes or the quarter and a nickel. It’s not much, but think of paying 30 cents for the rest of the chapter every time you sample a book’s first page. In a sense, time is money for a literary agent working her way through a raft of submissions, and she is spending that resource whenever she turns a page.

Please judge by storytelling quality, not by genre or content—some reject an opening page immediately because of genre, but that’s not a good enough reason when the point is to analyze for storytelling strength.

This novel was number one on the New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller list for March 21, 2020. How strong are the openings—would either of these narratives, all on its own, hook an agent if it came in from an unpublished writer? There are two polls.

Following are what would be the first 17 manuscript lines of the first chapter.

There was a wolf at the gallery door.

Which meant it must be Thursday, which meant Bryce had to be really gods-damned tired if she relied on Danika’s comings and goings to figure out what day it was.

The heavy metal door to Griffin Antiquities thudded with the impact of the wolf’s fist—a fist that Bryce knew ended in metallic-purple painted nails in dire need of a manicure. A heartbeat later, a female voice barked, half-muffled through the steel, “Open the Hel up, B. It’s hot as shit out here!”

Seated at the desk in the modest gallery showroom, Bryce smirked and pulled up the front door’s video feed. Tucking a strand of her wine-red hair behind a pointed ear, she asked into the intercom, “Why are you covered in dirt? You look like you’ve been rootling through the garbage.”

“What the fuck does rootling mean?” Danika hopped from foot to foot, sweat gleaming on her brow. She wiped at it with a filthy hand, smearing the black liquid splattered there.

“You’d know if you ever picked up a book, Danika.” Glad for the break in what had been a morning of tedious research, Bryce smiled as she rose from the desk. With no exterior windows, the gallery’s extensive surveillance equipment served as her only warning of who stood beyond its thick walls. Even with her sharp half-Fae hearing, she couldn’t make out much (snip)

You can turn the page and read more here.

Was the opening page of House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas compelling?

Link to the rest at Writer Unboxed

My favourite Mantel

From The Guardian:

From Wolf Hall to Beyond Black and Giving Up The Ghost, cultural figures pick their highlights from a remarkable career

Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies

Margaret Atwood
The Tudors! Who can resist them? Gossip! Rumour! Scandal! Ruffs! Backstabbing! Madrigals! Farthingales! Witchcraft! Lace-on velvet sleeves! Cut-off body parts! More!

We know the plot, or at least its bare outlines, but we seem compelled to relive it in books, films, plays, operas, and television series: and all the more so when viewed through the shrewd, calculating, vengeful, cautious, Machiavellian eyes of master game-player Thomas Cromwell, fixer and hitman to Henry VIII, as rendered in sumptuous, riveting detail by Hilary Mantel in Wolf Hall. If Cromwell had had a phone Mantel could hack, you’d scarcely be brought closer to the inner wheels and cogs of his bloody-minded and bloody-handed machinations.

Bring Up the Bodies picks up from Wolf Hall. Things are not going well for Anne Boleyn, who has beguiled her way into the queendom over the cast-off though not yet dead body of Katherine of Aragon, but has failed to produce a male heir. Nor is she playing her cards adroitly: she’s too smart, too argumentative, too intent on influencing policy, too secretly Protestant, and too prone to miscarriages. It’s clear that Henry now wants to be rid of her, having spotted a more docile girl in Jane Seymour; and once he’s made this wish explicit, Cromwell goes to work. It’s always a dicey job, being henchman to an absolutist tyrant, especially one who’s becoming increasingly paranoid and petulant. There was that fall from the horse and the concussion, and then the weeping sore on his leg: what exactly was wrong with Henry? Doctors are still pondering; but whatever it was, it did not improve his temper.

We’re the silent sharers of Cromwell’s deliberations as he weaves his way to his goal – the removal of Anne, and, not incidentally, payback for the courtiers who had humiliated his old master, Cardinal Wolsey – through secret dealing, blackmailing, hectoring, torturing, and the stage-managing of a bogus show trial worthy of Stalin. We know the story won’t end well for him – henchmen often capsize – but we watch with horror and admiration as he achieves his gruesome ends.

Mantel’s triumph is to make us understand – and even like, in a grudging sort of way – this historically unattractive figure. Her meticulous research is lightly worn, unlike the carefully considered fabrics and textures of the courtiers, and her depiction of the many flawed human instruments on which Cromwell plays is sadly convincing.

I await the forthcoming third volume, The Mirror & the Light, with great anticipation. There’s an axe in it somewhere, I’m guessing. No spoilers though.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

Mary Higgins Clark: Bestselling author dies aged 92

From The Washington Post:

Mary Higgins Clark, who as a widowed mother of five in her 40s began a long reign as one of the most successful crime writers of all time, pouring out novel after novel about resilient women befallen by unnatural deaths, disappearances and wicked criminal deeds, died Jan. 31 in Naples, Fla. She was 92.

Her death was announced on her website and by her publisher, Simon and Schuster. The cause was not immediately available.

Known to her legions of fans as the “queen of suspense,” Ms. Higgins Clark was an almost instant sensation with the publication in 1975 of her first thriller, “Where Are the Children?” The story centered on a mother who, not for the first time, must prove her innocence when her children go missing.

Ms. Higgins Clark, who until then had struggled to support her family on her own, described herself in that moment as a “prospector stumbling on a vein of gold.”

Her output included dozens of novels that sold tens of millions of copies in hardcover, in paperback and in translation. Few, if any, critics placed her writing in the category of high literature. But Ms. Higgins Clark had discovered a crowd-pleasing — and profitable — formula for crime fiction.

After selling her first book for $3,000, she collected $1.5 million, including paperback rights, for her second novel, “A Stranger Is Watching” (1977), about a kidnapping in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal.

In 2000, after increasingly generous advances over the years, Simon and Schuster awarded Ms. Higgins Clark a $64 million contract for five books. The deal made her, per volume, the highest-paid female writer in the world, the New York Times reported.

Link to the rest at The Washington Post

A Ray of Japanese Sunlight on China’s Bestseller List

From Publishing Perspectives:

Once again, we see a words-to-screen connection behind a major hit in our China bestsellers, but this time it’s words-and-pictures-t0-screen.

Makato Shinkai, the Japanese manga artist and filmmaker behind the 2016 film hit Your Name, has landed on Beijing Openbook’s November bestseller charts at an impressive No. 13, with his new title Weathering With You, published by Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House. Expect to see this one climb up the list next month.

Like Your Name, this work is both a film and a book. And the film in China is doing what our OpenBook associates call “breathtaking box office.”

In the book and the film, a boy named Hodaka runs away to Tokyo during his first high-school summer and meets Hina. Her superpower is the ability to make rain stop and sunshine take over with a single prayer. Of course, “her power comes at a price,” as the blurb will tell you, and we won’t spoil things for you here.

. . . .

Of course, it’s no surprise to Publishing Perspectives readers to learn that a work of Japanese fiction is gaining fast traction in the Chinese market. You’ll find author Higashino Keigo on the OpenBook overall fiction list six times this month and seven times on the foreign-author bestsellers. And Shinkai’s work has the added draw of anime and of carefully timed film releases.

. . . .

The new Weathering With You is said to have been written concurrently with the creation of its anime film. That show was released in July in Japan, and in mainland China on November 1. According to our information, that first weekend gross in China alone was the equivalent of US$22.1 million. Boom. The book is on the November bestseller list, having been published in September so that it would be readily available when the fans walked out of the cinemas.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

 

Amazon Announces the Best Books of 2019

From The Amazon Press Center:

Today, Amazon announced its selections for the Best Books of 2019, naming Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments – the sequel to her dystopian masterpiece The Handmaid’s Tale – the Best Book of 2019. The annual list features the Top 100 books of the year plus Top 20 lists across various categories ranging from literary fiction, mystery and thriller, biography, children’s and young adult, making it the go-to list for holiday reading and gift giving. All lists are hand-selected by Amazon’s team of editors – first by choosing the best books of every month, and then, finally, the best books of the year.

. . . .

“The Books Editorial team reads thousands of new releases every year, all with the goal of recommending the very best to our customers,” said Sarah Gelman, Editorial Director, Amazon Books. “This year there were so many great books from various genres. Our top 100 Best Books list includes books with clever satire, heartwarming memoirs and psychological thrillers. But as soon as we read it, it was clear that Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments was the book of the year. The sequel to the modern classic The Handmaid’s Tale enraptured our editorial team and readers across the globe with a dramatic continuation of goings-on in the dystopian Republic of Gilead. It’s so exciting to witness literary history being made, and Atwood has done just that with this deeply moving book.”

“I’m Canadian, where modesty is a requirement. So I’m mildly embarrassed, though absolutely delighted, to hear that the Amazon editorial team has chosen The Testaments as their book of the year,” said Margaret Atwood, author of The Testaments. “While I’m no prophet, we seem doomed to live in stressful times. A tale of hope and courage narrated by three strong female voices appears to have connected to this crucial 2019 moment.”

. . . .

8 . They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker: George Takei’s vivid graphic memoir reveals the story of his family’s incarceration during the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, beginning when Takei was only five years old. Even as the memories depicted range from unsettling to infuriating, They Called Us Enemy inspires readers to insist that our country treats fellow human beings with fairness and dignity.

9. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides: In this psychological thriller, a couple seems to have it all until the wife is convicted of shooting her husband in the face. But she will say nothing about the crime—or anything else, for that matter. After a criminal psychologist obsessed with the case comes on the scene, dark twists and delightful turns follow, secrets (and a diary) are revealed, and you will likely find yourself racing to the end of this year’s must-read thriller.

10. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb: What happens when a celebrated psychotherapist finds herself on the other side of the couch? Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is an entertaining, relatable, moving homage to therapy—and just being human.

The top pick in the children’s category is the middle grade novel:

  1. Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy: Bestselling author Julie Murphy makes her middle-grade debut with a smart, funny novel that tween readers will quickly embrace. Patricia “Sweet Pea” DiMarco is a seventh grader dealing with a wide range of emotions and change, including recently divorced parents and friendships in transition. Dear Sweet Pea is a warmhearted read that is at once reassuring, wise, and utterly relatable.

During 2019, the Amazon Books editorial team read thousands of pages to help customers discover their next great read. Here are some interesting facts about this year’s Best Books of the Year list:

  • Most highlighted quote from Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, our number one pick, is: “You don’t believe the sky is falling until a chunk of it falls on you.”
  • Customers’ Most Wished For titles in our top 100: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb, and Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Top three best of the year selections that readers have used both Audible and Kindle interchangeably throughout are: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, and Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner.
  • Alex Michaelides’s The Silent Patient, our ninth pick, is the number one most popular book on Goodreads this year, added to Goodreads shelves by more than 380K members; especially impressive since it’s a debut novel!
  • Lori Gottlieb’s Maybe You Should Talk to Someone (#10 on our list) is the number one most popular nonfiction book on Goodreads this year, followed closely by Three Women (#19).

Link to the rest at The Amazon Press Center

And here’s a link to all the best books

‘NYT’ Shifts Its Lists Again

From Publishers Weekly:

After cutting the mass market paperback and graphic novel/manga lists in 2017, the Times‘ Best Sellers team will again track mass market paperback sales, as well as debut a combined list for graphic books, which will include fiction, nonfiction, children’s, adults, and manga. Two new monthly children’s lists, middle grade paperback and young adult paperback, will debut as well. (The Times retired its middle grade e-book and young adult e-book lists in 2017.) In addition, the Times will cut its science and sports lists, explaining that “the titles on those lists are frequently represented on current nonfiction lists.” The changes are effective October 2 online and October 20 in print.

The Times has already cut back its print lists on the combined print/e-book and print hardcover lists to 10 titles, from 15, although the online lists will continue to show 15 titles. A representative of the paper said that the change “was made for design reasons, specifically to improve the readability of the lists in print.”

. . . .

The return of the mass market and a new graphic books lists will likely be of great relief to Times readers and publishers. The decision to cut the lists two years ago caused consternation among the comics industry in particular. The Times said that reader interest was central to its calculus for bringing back the lists.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Physical books still outsell e-books — and here’s why

From CNBC:

Do you prefer reading an e-book or a physical version? It might be a surprise, but for most people, old school print on paper still wins.

Publishers of books in all formats made almost $26 billion in revenue last year in the U.S., with print making up $22.6 billion and e-books taking $2.04 billion, according to the Association of American Publishers’ annual report 2019. Those figures include trade and educational books, as well as fiction.

While digital media has disrupted other industries such as news publishing and the music business, people still love to own physical books, according to Meryl Halls, managing director of the Booksellers’ Association in the U.K.

“I think the e-book bubble has burst somewhat, sales are flattening off, I think the physical object is very appealing. Publishers are producing incredibly gorgeous books, so the cover designs are often gorgeous, they’re beautiful objects,” she told CNBC.

People love to display what they’ve read, she added. “The book lover loves to have a record of what they’ve read, and it’s about signaling to the rest of the world. It’s about decorating your home, it’s about collecting, I guess, because people are completists aren’t they, they want to have that to indicate about themselves.”

. . . .

It’s more than a decade since Amazon launched the Kindle, and for Halls, there is also a hunger for information and a desire to escape the screen. “It’s partly the political landscape, people are looking for escape, but they are also looking for information. So, they are coming to print for a whole, quite a complex mess of reasons and I think … it’s harder to have an emotional relationship with what you’re reading if it’s on an e-reader.”

. . . .

Sixty-three percent of physical book sales in the U.K. are to people under the age of 44, while 52% of e-book sales are to those over 45, according to Nielsen.

It’s a similar picture in the U.S., where 75% of people aged 18 to 29 claimed to have read a physical book in 2017, higher than the average of 67%, according to Pew Research.

Link to the rest at CNBC

With data from the Association of American Publishers and the Booksellers Association in the UK, PG notes a distinct lack of information in the OP regarding how many ebooks Amazon sells in the US and UK. Unless he is much mistaken, the statistics quoted in the OP don’t include sales of ebooks by Amazon Publishing and indie ebooks via KDP.

When PG last checked, in addition to not collecting ebook sales information, Nielsen (now NPD) Bookscan figures didn’t include printed or POD books that weren’t registered with Ingram.

 

Edward Snowden on How Getting Sued by the Government Resulted in a Best-Selling Book

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Following the release of his tell-all book Permanent Record, Edward Snowden appeared Thursday night via video feed as a guest on The Daily Show, where he talked with host Trevor Noah about the memoir and getting sued by the government.

After the former CIA employee leaked classified documents from the National Security Agency about government surveillance operations in 2013, Snowden sought asylum in Moscow. The preface of his book states, “The reason you’re reading this book is that I did a dangerous thing for a man in my position: I decided to tell the truth,” Snowden writes. “I collected internal documents that gave evidence of the U.S. government’s lawbreaking and turned them over to a journalist, who vetted and published them to a scandalized world. This book is about what led up to that decision, the moral and ethical principles that informed it, and how they came to be — which means that it’s also about my life.”

Snowden is now being sued by the Department of Justice, which filed a complaint this week in Virginia federal court, alleging that he “violated his non-disclosure obligations to the United States” by not having the book reviewed before it was published.

During the show, Snowden explained his reaction to the lawsuit. “The nice thing about [getting sued] is, the book was not getting that much attention, it was like [number] 25 on the charts. And then the government said, ‘We don’t want you to read this book. Sue Snowden as fast as you can, do anything to stop it, stop it, stop it,’ and now we’re number 1, basically everywhere.” Snowden then calls out the Attorney General, to whom he attributes the book’s success.

Link to the rest at The Hollywood Reporter

Diet Book Pinch of Nom Is Fastest Selling Non-Fiction Title in History

From The Irish Times:

A book of diet recipes written by two British chefs, Kay Featherstone and Kate Allinson, has become the fastest selling non-fiction book since records began. Pinch of Nom, based on the authors’ food blog of the same name, has sold 210,506 copies, in sales worth more than £2 million, since it was released on Thursday of last week.

The collection of slimming recipes has notched up the biggest single weekly sale for any non-fiction title in the UK, displacing Peter Kay’s The Sound of Laughter, which was released in 2006. Only books by JK Rowling, EL James and Dan Brown have sold more copies in a single week, according to British industry publication, The Bookseller. Pinch of Nom knocked Mary Berry’s latest, Quick Cooking, from the hardback non-fiction number one spot.

. . . .

Featherstone and Allinson previously owned a restaurant in The Wirral, near Liverpool. They started writing their blog in 2016, when they began to follow a Slimming World weight loss programme and identified what they saw as a need for tried and tested diet recipes. “We started Pinch of Nom to provide some helpful information for fellow dieters, to show just how easy diet food is to make,” the authors say.

Their blog quickly earned a strong following, based on a community of regular users and contributors, 20 of which road-tested each of the 100 recipes in Pinch of Nom. It now has 1.5 million followers, and almost half a million Instagram followers, and has been described by their publisher as “the UK’s most-visited food blog”.

Link to the rest at The Irish Times

Romance Bestsellers and Hot New Releases

Kindle Romance Bestsellers

Here are Amazon’s Hot New Romance Releases Print/Kindle Combined), Updated Hourly:

Romance

Kindle Romance

Kindle Romance Bestsellers