Explore best-seller lists and see why they sell

Good ReadsBy John Hoover
© 2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

There are many best-seller lists — the New York Times, USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly to name a few. At Misty Valley Books we post the American Booksellers Association’s Indie Best-seller lists for hardbound and paperbacks. I asked the staff here to pick a best-seller to review for this month’s column and, as always, the books they chose are an eclectic mix.

TidyingLynne’s selection was The Life-changing Magic of Tidying up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing ($16.99) by Marie Kondo. “Wondering why this book has been on the best-seller list for months, I picked it up and read a few chapters. I started with folding clothes (Chapter 3) as my drawers are always a mess. It changed my life – something as simple as folding clothes so they stand up vertically. And for discarding (Chapter 2), ‘Does the item bring you joy? If not, thank it and say goodbye.’ As a bookseller, I thought I’d never get rid of some of my books, but it was easier than I thought! Kondo has wonderfully quirky tips, like storing your socks unfolded so they can “relax after being trapped between your foot and your shoe.” I actually do this — and you will, too, if you read this book. And there’s much more.

No PicturesBill went back to our children’s room to find his best-seller.  B.J. Novak’s The Book With No Pictures ($17.99) is just what it claims to be – picture-less and preposterous – and has been on the New York Times bestseller list for 65 weeks (in the Picture Book category, ironically).  It is impossible to read this book aloud to a 4-to-8 year old without everyone cracking up.  Novak was writer-actor-director for NBC’s The Office. Predictably, there is no author photo in the book.

Separate PeaceNot content to pick a current best-seller, Amanda looked a tad further afield. “Everyone seems to have a best seller list these days, including Bill Gates (www.gatesnotes.com).  His list is beautifully presented and easy to navigate (surprised, anyone?) and he is clearly a voracious reader.  Many books on his list concern politics, economics and world health, but John Knowles’ A Separate Peace ($12.99) is a book we both recommend.  Having read the book in high school, I remember relating to the themes of adolescent friendship and betrayal, with World War II looming in the background.  If you’ve never read A Separate Piece, or haven’t read it for years, now’s the time to read it.”

RevenantKim’s choice of a best-sellers is The Revenant ($16) by Michael Punke (currently No. 3 on the Indiebound paperback list and No. 9 on the NYT list.)  “I first heard this incredible (true) story in a Frontier America history class in college. After being mauled by a bear and left for dead by his compatriots, fur trapper Hugh Glass managed to crawl his way through the wilderness and recover from his near fatal wounds. While The Revenant is a fictionalized version of this story, it does provide an all too vivid depiction of the rugged lives of the mountain men who lived on the frontier in the early 19th century. I was a bit disappointed with the ending, but overall, a good page turner.”

Notorious RBGSylvan chose Notorious RBG: Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg ($19.99) by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik, a book that has been on the Indie list for 12 weeks. “This biography is a fairly light take on an extremely fierce and fascinating crusader for justice: Supreme Court Justice Ginsberg. It’s also a unique presentation of several tumultuous decades, from the perspective of one woman who shaped history with the power of her words. The authors’ presentation makes this a book you can either devour from cover to cover or pick up from your coffee table to digest a few minutes at a time.”

All the lightFor my best-seller selection I’m going to pick a book that’s been in this column before. In July 2014, Lynne reviewed All the Light We Cannot See ($27) by Anthony Doerr. I’m reviewing it again because I finally read it and found it to be amazing. That may be why it’s No. 1 on the Indie Best-seller list and No. 4 on the NYT list, (even after 89 weeks.) Set against the backdrop of WWII, it tells two stories — one involving a blind French girl and the other a young electronics whiz in Germany — that move inexorably toward each other. While not what I would call “happy,” the ending is satisfying and Doerr’s deft prose makes this book a joy to read.

Misty Valley Books gives a 20 percent discount hardbound books on the Indie Best-seller list.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeGood Reads

About the Author: After a 35-year career as a high school social studies teacher, John Hoover and his wife, Sally, retired to Vermont. He lives in Windham where he serves as a Justice of the Peace and Library Trustee. He works part time as a book-seller at Misty Valley Books, is active at St. Luke's Episcopal Church and sings in several choral groups.

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