Best Sellers List: August Edition ~or~ What Everyone Is Reading to Avoid the Heat

NYT: Best Sellers – Combined Print & E-Book Fiction

  1. ORIGIN by Dan Brown

Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and the precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock the discovery’s secrets.

  1. THE OTHER WOMAN by Daniel Silva
  2. CRAZY RICH ASIANS by Kevin Kwan
  3. SHARP OBJECTS by Gillian Flynn
  4. THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
  5. THRAWN: ALLIANCES by Timothy Zahn (NEW)
  6. THE ROOSTER BAR by John Grisham
  7. THE NAKED TRUTH by Vi Keeland (NEW)
  8. THE OUTSIDER by Stephen King
  9. COTTAGE BY THE SEA by Debbie Macomber
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Amazon’s Curious Case of the $2,630.52 Used Paperback

After seeing the price on the left for “One Snowy Knight” on Amazon, the author asked: “How many really sell at that price? Are they just hoping to snooker some poor soul?”

SAN FRANCISCO — Many booksellers on Amazon strive to sell their wares as cheaply as possible. That, after all, is usually how you make a sale in a competitive marketplace.

Other merchants favor a counterintuitive approach: Mark the price up to the moon.

“Zowie,” the romance author Deborah Macgillivray wrote on Twitter last month after she discovered copies of her 2009 novel, “One Snowy Knight,” being offered for four figures. One was going for “$2,630.52 & FREE Shipping,” she noted. Since other copies of the paperback were being sold elsewhere on Amazon for as little as 99 cents, she was perplexed.

“How many really sell at that price? Are they just hoping to snooker some poor soul?” Ms. Macgillivray wrote in an email. She noted that her blog had gotten an explosion in traffic from Russia. “Maybe Russian hackers do this in their spare time, making money on the side,” she said.

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Amazon is by far the largest marketplace for both new and used books the world has ever seen, and is also one of the most inscrutable. The retailer directly sells some books, while others are sold by third parties. The wild pricing happens with the latter.

Books were Amazon’s first product. They made the company’s reputation and powered Jeff Bezos’ ascent to his perch as the world’s richest person. Amazon sold books so cheaply that land-based shops could not compete. It controls about half the market for new books, more than any bookseller in the history of the United States.

Prices of $600 or more are popular among booksellers looking for big spenders. “If I’m selling a $10 book for $610, all I need to do is get one person to buy it and I’ve made $600,” said Peter Andrews of One Click Retail, a consulting firm.

But books are now a minuscule part of the company’s revenue. Amazon is expanding into seemingly every field and geography, rattling competitors along the way. Prime Day is a promotion that draws enormous media attention to discounted tech, gaming and other products. Meanwhile, the original bookstore is looking a little neglected, as if it were operated by algorithms with little sensible human input.

“Amazon is driving us insane with its willingness to allow third-party vendors to sell authors’ books with zero oversight,” said Vida Engstrand, director of communications for Kensington, which published “One Snowy Knight.” “It’s maddening and just plain wrong.”

The wild book prices were in the remote corners of the Amazon bookstore that the retailer does not pay much attention to, said Guru Hariharan, chief executive of Boomerang Commerce, which develops artificial intelligence technology for retailers and brands.

Third-party sellers, he said, come in all shapes and sizes — from well-respected national brands that are trying to maintain some independence from Amazon to entrepreneurial individuals who use Amazon’s marketplace as an arbitrage opportunity. These sellers list products they have access to, adjusting price and inventory to drive profits.

Then there are the wild pricing specialists, who sell both new and secondhand copies.

“By making these books appear scarce, they are trying to justify the exorbitant price that they have set,” said Mr. Hariharan, who led a team responsible for 15,000 online sellers when he worked at Amazon a decade ago.

Amazon said in a statement that “we actively monitor and remove” offers that violate its policies and that examples shown it by The Times — including the hardcover version of the scholarly study “William T. Vollmann: A Critical Companion,” which was featured for $3,204, more than 32 times the going price — were “in error, and have since been removed.” It declined to detail what its policies were.

A decade ago, Elisabeth Petry wrote a tribute to her mother, the renowned novelist Ann Petry. “At Home Inside,” published by the University of Mississippi Press, is now out of print, but late last week secondhand copies were  for sale on Amazon. A discarded library copy was $1,900. One seller offered two copies, each for $1,967, although only one was described as “Nice!” All these were a bargain compared with the copy that cost $2,464.

“I wish I had some of that money,” Ms. Petry said.

Buying books on Amazon can be confusing, because sometimes the exact same book can have more than one listing. For instance, a search for the Petry book turned up another listing. This time, there was just one copy for sale, which cost a mere $691. Whether a customer paid that price or three times that sum apparently depended on what listing he or she found.

“Let’s be honest,” said Peter Andrews, a former Amazon brand specialist who is manager of international client services at One Click Retail, a consulting firm. “If I’m selling a $10 book for $610, all I need to do is get one person to buy it and I’ve made $600. It’s just a matter of setting prices and wishful thinking.”

One of the sellers of Ms. Macgillivray’s book is named Red Rhino, which says it is based in North Carolina. The bookseller’s storefront on Amazon is curiously consistent. One of the first books on the store’s first page was Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential.” It was priced at $607, a hundred times what it cost elsewhere on Amazon.

All the books on the first few pages of the storefront — including such popular standbys as “Fahrenheit 451,” “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “1984” — also go for $600.

That appears to be a popular price point for booksellers taking the high road. Acme Books, which was selling the $691 Petry book, used that exact price for “101 Blessings for the Best Mom in the World” and quite a few other books.

Supersonic Truck recently marketed copies of “Kitchen Confidential” for $614, which is $608 more than what Amazon itself is asking. According to Amazon, Supersonic Truck has 100 percent positive ratings.

Supersonic Truck recently marketed copies of “Kitchen Confidential” for $614, which is $608 more than what Amazon itself is asking. According to Amazon, Supersonic Truck has 100 percent positive ratings.

Red Rhino got nearly 1,400 customer-service reviews over the last year — an impressive number, considering many customers do not bother posting reviews. The reviews are 91 percent positive, although some of the reviewers appeared uncertain just what a book is. “The book is intact, and it is not broken,” wrote one. Commented another: “Very nice. Flexibility noted in many venues.”

Neither Acme nor Red Rhino returned emails for comment sent through their Amazon pages. As with many Amazon booksellers, it is hard to determine what, if any, existence they have outside the retailer.

Even a casual browse through the virtual corridors of Amazon reveals an increasingly bizarre bazaar where the quaint policies of physical bookstores — the stuff no one wants is piled on a cart outside for a buck a volume — are upended. John Sladek, who wrote perceptive science fiction about robotics and artificial intelligence, predicted in a 1975 story that computers might start making compelling but false connections:

“If you’re trying to reserve a seat on the plane to Seville, you’d get a seat at the opera instead. While the person who wants the opera seat is really just making an appointment with a barber, whose customer is just then talking to the box-office of “Hair,” or maybe making a hairline reservation …”

Mr. Sladek, who died in 2000, is little read now, which naturally means his books are often marketed for inordinate sums on Amazon. One of his mystery novels, “Invisible Green,” has a Red Rhino “buy box” — Amazon’s preferred deal — offering it for $664.

That is a real bargain compared with what a bookseller with the improbable name Supersonic Truck is asking: $1,942. (Copies from other booksellers are as little as $30.) Supersonic Truck, which Amazon says has 100 percent positive ratings, did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Ms. Macgillivray, who has published eight novels, said she had been poking around Amazon’s bookstore and was more perplexed than ever by the pricing.

“There’s nothing illegal about someone listing an item for sale at whatever the market will bear, even if they don’t have the book but plan to buy it when someone orders it,” she said. “At the same time, I would think Amazon wouldn’t want their platform used for less than honorable practices.”

Since Ms. Macgillivray tweeted about “One Snowy Knight,” the price on Amazon has not stood still. The most expensive copy just jumped again, to $2,800.

By David Streitfeld, July 15, 2018, first appearing on NYT > Books

Guides for Better Living From Around the World

Nishant Choksi

Right now, I’m a bit embarrassed to be an American. Not usually. But now. If I see a tourist on the street looking lost, it’s all I can do not to blurt, “I’m sorry about what our president said today and will say tomorrow,” along with directions to the No. 6 train.

I must have a lot of company. How else to explain the staggering pile of self-help books where Americans are offered the path to a better life via the rituals and outlook of other countries? Last year there were lessons in happiness and well-being, via hygge from Denmark. And this year? Japan is teaching us to seize the day (humbly). Sweden is showing us how to find balance and simplify our lives. And France is showing us, well, everything else. Naturellement. Just because they invented Camembert and guilt-free sex, they think they’re soooo perfect.

A FRENCHWOMAN’S GUIDE TO SEX AFTER SIXTY, by the psychotherapist Marie de Hennezel, immediately catches your attention because the cover shows a woman of a certain age glancing coquettishly over the bedsheets. But that age isn’t 40. It’s perhaps 75. So this isn’t the American version of old; it’s the French version, which is to say: old. And that’s what makes this volume uniquely French: It’s deeply un-American in its realism. Aches and pains, medications that reduce libido, a diminution of hormones that mean friction is tougher on our naughty bits and of course the occasional urge to cover all the mirrors in the house: Aging ain’t pretty, Hennezel admits. Yet for many of us, Eros lives, and Eros wants its due. What’s called for, then, is a revolution in the way we look at sexuality: a de-emphasis on orgasms in favor of kissing and caressing, more solo play to connect with our erotic selves and “making affection” as an alternative to making love. Feeling good through exercise and a healthy diet is paramount; looking younger through plastic surgery is mentioned not at all. Reading the stories of septuagenarians and octogenarians who are finding love or intimacy or sometimes just sex, one is reminded that the very French concept of joie de vivre — a sense of joy that comes from curiosity and playfulness, from looking outward instead of inward — is its own form of Botox.

This joie is very much at the heart of Jamie Cat Callan’s lively PARISIAN CHARM SCHOOL: French Secrets for Cultivating Love, Joy and That Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi. Maybe “Parisian Charm School” seems so thorough because Callan, who has written several previous books on various aspects of French life, is an American; she approaches her subject with anthropological rigor. Here that subject is French charm, which is some combination of intellectual curiosity, spontaneity, style and a soupçon of reserve. Charm, she points out, can’t be Googled; it must be cultivated. Yet, at its heart, it’s a tangle of contradictions. As a fashion consultant Callan interviewed put it, “Never be too feminine, too girlie. Never be too complicated. Too obvious. Never look like you’re trying. But you must try!” Being French seems kind of exhausting. Still, we clumsy Americans can worship at this shrine and maybe pick up a few tricks. Who, after all, doesn’t want to be like the woman in this line Callan quotes from Colette: “When she raises her eyelids, it’s as if she were taking off all her clothes.”

Perhaps Sweden was a little jealous of all the lifestyle-giving attention its Danish neighbor received, so this year brings us Linnea Dunne’s LAGOM: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living. Loosely translated, lagom means “not too little, not too much, but just enough,” making Sweden the Goldilocks of nations, one that earned an article on the website of the World Economic Forum called “Why Sweden Beats Other Countries at Just About Everything.” The reason, it seems, is that Sweden makes the concept of “the greater good” practically into a religion. You start with free education and universal health care and end with great pastry (and the regular coffee breaks — fika — to enjoy it). Fairness and moderation are basic cultural values: “Lagom is accepting an invitation to spend the weekend at a friend’s house, but bringing your own bedsheets because it’s fair to share the burden of laundry. … It’s wearing bright-red lipstick, but leaving the rest of your makeup perfectly understated.” There’s a reason Gianni Versace founded his luxury fashion empire in Italy and H & M was born in Sweden: “There’s this inherent celebrating of frugality in Sweden. We like affordable clothes because it’s a bit vulgar to splash out.”

If anything sums up the gestalt of this book — and Sweden — it’s this: Swedes are rated among the world’s top 10 happiest people, but not the happiest. That would be excessive. The aim isn’t ecstasy but “sustainable happiness,” the sort of equilibrium that’s achieved through small moments of calm and bliss in your everyday routine. So, to live the lagom way, invite your friends round for fika, spend time in nature, give away items that don’t add to your pleasure in life — and, most important, help a neighbor.

The primacy of the common good extends to everything in Sweden, including shuffling off this mortal coil. Reading THE GENTLE ART OF SWEDISH DEATH CLEANING: How to Free Yourself and Your Family From a Lifetime of Clutter, I couldn’t help thinking of my own parents, who were mild hoarders. When they were in their 80s and I meekly suggested that maybe they should get their home in order, my father’s response was: “Why? Soon it’ll be your problem.”

Margareta Magnusson is writing for people with families like mine — and maybe yours. Americans are just too much, she gently suggests. Swedes embrace consideration and minimalism, and the practice of “death cleaning” (which can start in your 30s — why wait?) embodies those values. “Let me help make your loved ones’ memories of you nice — instead of awful,” she says, and proceeds to do just that in this short, practical guide to getting rid of stuff. You categorize, normally going from large objects to small; you give things away or sell them, particularly if you have a family you know is going to bicker. And you never, ever start with photos or other items of great sentiment because you’re likely to get stuck. And oh, how right Magnusson is. After my parents passed away, my own death cleaning consisted of looking at old photos, then immediately giving up — taking everything they owned and putting it into a massive storage unit that has sucked up money for seven years. I may have to reread her book.

In Japanese, iki means “to live” and gai means “reason” — in other words, the reason to live and how you define it. Ken Mogi begins AWAKENING YOUR IKIGAI: How the Japanese Wake Up to Joy and Purpose Every Day with a story meant to illustrate the importance of this concept to the Japanese. He describes a famed sushi chef whose Tokyo restaurant is visited by President Barack Obama during a state visit and who is told by the president that his sushi was the best he had ever eaten. No big deal. “Ikigai resides in the realm of small things,” Mogi explains. “The morning air, the cup of coffee, the ray of sunshine, the massaging of octopus meat and the American president’s praise are on equal footing.”

Not really! Can I skip No. 4?

Mogi, a celebrity neuroscientist and broadcaster who has written more than 100 books, describes the five pillars of the ikigai way of life: “starting small,” “releasing yourself,” “harmony and sustainability,” “the joy of small things” and “being in the here and now” (what we might call “mindfulness”). And he demonstrates how some of the rituals most important to Japanese culture, from the tea ceremony to sumo wrestling, are based on these tenets. I admit that certain principles he espouses utterly baffled this Westerner, particularly the notion that in Japan finding purpose and joy in work, even work that requires great individuality and creativity, comes from a sublimation of the ego. He cites the example of the great anime artist Hayao Miyazaki, whose work is so repetitive and painstaking. Wait, if we all know who he is, how is he subsuming his ego? In work, Mochi explains, you have to be like a child, because “a child has no definite idea of the past or the future.” Seriously? Tell that to a 5-year-old screaming, “When will we get there?” in the back seat of a car because “there” involves ice cream.

I’m not sure if I could live in Japan for more than a week, what with all the appreciating of teeny porcelain objects and self-abnegation, but “Awakening Your Ikigai” is really quite a delightful look at sometimes mystifying Japanese traditions. (Spoiler alert: There’s a lot more to sumo wrestling than chubby dudes with man buns and diapers.) I can’t resist noting that in 2009, Mogi was charged with violation of Japanese tax laws for failing to report several million dollars in income. See? I guess America does have something to teach the citizens of other nations.

By Judith Newman, Jan. 23, 2018, first appearing in NYT > Books

Editor’s Note:

Judith Newman’s “To Siri With Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son and the Kindness of Machines” was published in August. Her column appears every eight weeks.

All Good Magazines Go to Heaven

The Hyman Archive in London, the world’s largest private magazine collection according to Guinness, contains more than 120,000 titles. Its founder, James Hyman, began collecting magazines as a teenager. Credit:Lauren Fleishman for The New York Times

LONDON — When James Hyman was a scriptwriter at MTV Europe, in the 1990s, before the rise of the internet, there was a practical — as well as compulsive — reason he amassed an enormous collection of magazines. “If you’re interviewing David Bowie, you don’t want to be like, ‘O.K., mate, what’s your favorite color?’,” he said. “You want to go through all the magazines and be able to say, ‘Talk about when you did the Nazi salute at Paddington Station in 1976.’ You want to be like a lawyer when he preps his case.”

Whenever possible, Mr. Hyman tried to keep two copies of each magazine he acquired. One pristine copy was for his nascent magazine collection and another was for general circulation among his colleagues, marked with his name to ensure it found its way back to him. The magazines he used to research features on musicians and bands formed the early core of what became the Hyman Archive, which now contains approximately 160,000 magazines, most of which are not digitally archived or anywhere on the internet.

It was frigid inside the archive during a recent visit — a good 10 degrees colder than the chilly air outside — and the staff were bundled up. Space heaters illuminated a nest that Tory Turk (the creative lead), Alexia Marmara (the editorial lead) and Mr. Hyman had made for themselves amid boxes of donations to the collection. It lines more than 3,000 feet of shelving in a former cannon foundry in the 18th-century Royal Arsenal complex in Woolwich, a suburban neighborhood abutting the Thames in southeast London.

The Hyman Archive was confirmed as the largest collection of magazines in 2012 by Guinness World Records; then, it had just 50,953 magazines, 2,312 of them unique titles. Now, a year and a half after Mr. Hyman was interviewed by BBC Radio 4, donations are pouring in, and amid them Mr. Hyman and his staff have carved out space for an armchair and a snack-laden desk. (The rest of the foundry is a storage facility used mostly by media companies to house their film archives and the obsolete technology with which they were made.)

Stacks of British Vogue in the archive. Credit:Lauren Fleishman for The New York Times

At a moment when the old titans like Condé Nast and Time Inc. are contracting, shape-shifting and anxiously hashtagging, herein lies a museum of real magazine making, testament to the old glossy solidity. The price of admission, however, is stiff: visitors can do research with a staffer’s aid for 75 pounds per hour (about $100), with negotiable day rates (and a student discount of 20 percent), or gingerly borrow a magazine for three working days for £50.

“I always knew it was a cultural resource and that there was value in it,” Mr. Hyman said of the archive. But having the collection verified by Guinness was about validation, he said, “because then people might take it more seriously than just thinking: ‘Some lunatic’s got a warehouse full of magazines.’”

Ms. Turk has a knack for repackaging Mr. Hyman’s animated monologues into what in the trade are called sound bites. “I maintain that James always had the foresight that this was going to be something else, more than just a sort of collector’s dream,” she said. “The archive is all about preserving and documenting the history of print.”

Go here for the rest of the article…

By David Shaftel, Jan. 24, 2018, first appearing in NYT > Books

Best Sellers: June Update – DELUXE SUMMER READING EDITION

The New York Times Best Sellers List

Combined Print & E-Book Fiction

  1. THE OUTSIDER by Stephen King (NEW)

36000789An eleven-year-old boy is found in a town park, hideously assaulted and murdered. The fingerprints (and later DNA) are unmistakably those of the town’s most popular baseball coach, Terry Maitland, a man of impeccable reputation, with a wife and two daughters. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland coached, orders an immediate and public arrest. Maitland is taken to jail, his claim to innocence scorned. Maitland has a foolproof alibi, with footage to prove that he was in another city when the crime was committed. But that doesn’t save him either.

  1. THE 17TH SUSPECT by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

The latest installment in the Women’s Murder Club series. Detective Lindsay Boxer searches for a killer in San Francisco.

  1. THE FALLEN by David Baldacci

Amos Decker, known as the Memory Man, puts his talents toward solving a string of murders in a Rust Belt town.

  1. BEACH HOUSE REUNION by Mary Alice Monroe (NEW)

Three generations of a family gather one summer in South Carolina.

  1. THE CAST by Danielle Steel

A magazine columnist meets an array of Hollywood professionals when a producer turns a story about her grandmother into a TV series.

  1. REBEL HEART by Penelope Ward and Vi Keeland (NEW)

A sequel to “Rebel Heir.” The summer fling between Rush and Gia continues.

  1. THE MIDNIGHT LINE by Lee Child

Jack Reacher tracks down the owner of a pawned West Point class ring and stumbles upon a large criminal enterprise.

  1. LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by Celeste Ng

An artist upends a quiet town outside Cleveland.

  1. ROGUE ROYALTY by Meghan March (NEW)

The final book in the Savage trilogy.

  1. BEFORE WE WERE YOURS by Lisa Wingate

A South Carolina lawyer learns about the questionable practices of a Tennessee orphanage.

  1. TWISTED PREY by John Sandford

The 28th book in the Prey series. A federal marshal looks into the actions of a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

  1. THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR by Shari Lapena

A couple’s secrets emerge after their baby disappears.

  1. THE GREAT ALONE by Kristin Hannah

A former prisoner of war returns from Vietnam and moves his family to Alaska, where they face tough conditions.

  1. BY INVITATION ONLY by Dorothea Benton Frank

Two families are brought together when the daughter of a Chicago power broker and the son of a Southern peach farmer decide to wed.

  1. THE HIGH TIDE CLUB by Mary Kay Andrews

An eccentric millionaire enlists the attorney Brooke Trappnell to fix old wrongs, which sets up a potential scandal and murder.

 

Combined Print & E-Book Nonfiction

  1. THE RESTLESS WAVE by John McCain and Mark Salter (NEW)

36254351“I don’t know how much longer I’ll be here. Maybe I’ll have another five years. Maybe, with the advances in oncology, they’ll find new treatments for my cancer that will extend my life. Maybe I’ll be gone before you read this. My predicament is, well, rather unpredictable. But I’m prepared for either contingency, or at least I’m getting prepared. I have some things I’d like to take care of first, some work that needs finishing, and some people I need to see. And I want to talk to my fellow Americans a little more if I may.” So writes John McCain in this inspiring, moving, frank, and deeply personal memoir. 

  1. FACTS AND FEARS by James R. Clapper with Trey Brown (NEW)

The former director of national intelligence describes events that challenged the intelligence community and considers some ethical questions around its efforts.

  1. THE SOUL OF AMERICA by Jon Meacham

The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer contextualizes the present political climate through the lens of difficult moments in American history.

  1. HOW TO CHANGE YOUR MIND by Michael Pollan

A personal account of how psychedelics might help the mentally ill and people dealing with everyday challenges.

  1. BARRACOON by Zora Neale Hurston

A previously unpublished, first-person account of Cudjo Lewis, a man who was transported and enslaved 50 years after the slave trade was banned.

  1. BAD BLOOD by John Carreyrou (NEW)

The rise and fall of Theranos, the biotech startup that failed to deliver on its promise to make blood testing more efficient.

  1. A HIGHER LOYALTY by James Comey

The former F.B.I. director recounts cases and personal events that shaped his outlook on justice, and analyzes the leadership styles of three presidents.

  1. KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON by David Grann

The story of a murder spree in 1920s Oklahoma that targeted Osage Indians, whose lands contained oil.

  1. SAPIENS by Yuval Noah Harari

How Homo sapiens became Earth’s dominant species.

  1. EDUCATED by Tara Westover

The daughter of survivalists, who is kept out of school, educates herself enough to leave home for university.

  1. HILLBILLY ELEGY by J.D. Vance

A Yale Law School graduate looks at the struggles of the white working class through the story of his own childhood.

  1. I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK by Michelle McNamara

The late true-crime journalist’s search for the serial murderer and rapist known as “the Golden State Killer.”

  1. THREE DAYS IN MOSCOW by Bret Baier and Catherine Whitney

The Fox News anchor describes Ronald Reagan’s 1988 visit to the Soviet capital.

  1. FACTFULNESS by Hans Rosling with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund

A look at our biases and the argument for why the world is in a better state than we might think.

  1. ROBIN by Dave Itzkoff

A New York Times journalist details the career and struggles of the actor and comedian Robin Williams.

Best Sellers: May Update

NYT Combined Print & E-Book Fiction

  1. THE FALLEN by David Baldacci (NEW)

Amos Decker and his journalist friend Alex Jamison are visiting the home of Alex’s sister in Barronville, a small town in western Pennsylvania that has been hit hard economically. When Decker is out on the rear deck of the house talking with Alex’s niece, a precocious eight-year-old, he notices flickering lights and then a spark of flame in the window of the house across the way. When he goes to investigate he finds two dead bodies inside and it’s not clear how either man died. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. There’s something going on in Barronville that might be the canary in the coal mine for the rest of the country.

  1. READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline
  2. AFTER ANNA by Lisa Scottoline
  3. CAMINO ISLAND by John Grisham
  4. THE GREAT ALONE by Kristin Hannah
  5. THE FAMILY GATHERING by Robyn Carr (NEW)

Having left the military, Dakota Jones is at a crossroads in his life. But, like every visitor to Sullivan’s Crossing, he’s immediately drawn to the down-to-earth people and the seemingly simple way of life. Dakota is unprepared for how quickly things get complicated. As a newcomer, he is on everyone’s radar—especially the single women in town. While he enjoys the attention at first, he’s really only attracted to the one woman who isn’t interested. And spending quality time with his siblings is eye-opening. As he gets to know them, he also gets to know himself and what he truly wants.

  1. LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by Celeste Ng
  2. BEFORE WE WERE YOURS by Lisa Wingate
  3. I’VE GOT MY EYES ON YOU by Mary Higgins Clark
  4. NOIR by Christopher Moore (NEW)

It’s not every afternoon that an enigmatic, comely blonde named Stilton (like the cheese) walks into the scruffy gin joint where Sammy “Two Toes” Tiffin tends bar. It’s love at first sight, but before Sammy can make his move, an Air Force general named Remy arrives with some urgent business. ’Cause when you need something done, Sammy is the guy to go to; he’s got the connections on the street. But, when one of Sammy’s schemes go south and the Cheese mysteriously vanishes, Sammy is forced to contend with his own dark secrets—and more than a few strange goings on—if he wants to find his girl.

Whenever, Wherever

Can’t find time to read? Some illustrated solutions.

Grant Snider is a cartoonist and illustrator, and the author, most recently, of “The Shape of Ideas.”