Snapshot of a Year in the Land of Best Sellers

Snapshot of a Year in the Land of Best Sellers

This year, eight noncelebrity debut novelists made it onto the hardcover fiction list, but five of them got a boost from a major book club. Ana Reyes and Nina Simon each had help from Reese Witherspoon (for “House in the Pines” and “Mother-Daughter Murder Night”); the Read With Jenna Book Club lent a hand to “Maame,” by Jessica George, and “Amazing Grace Adams,” by Fran Littlewood; and the Good Morning America Book Club gave a lift to “Pineapple Street,” by Jenny Jackson.

The remaining three are “The Writing Retreat,” by Julia Bartz, “Weyward,” by Emilia Hart, and “The Hurricane Wars,” by Thea Guanzon. The first two were Book of the Month Club picks and came out in March (publishers, take note). And even though early trade reviews for “The Hurricane Wars” were middling, this novel, the first in a trilogy, took the romantasy world by storm when it landed in October.

Plenty of authors alight on the list for a single week, but a scrappy few hang in there for months at a time. For instance, Peter Attia has more than lived up to the exhortation of his title, “Outlive,” remaining on the nonfiction list for a whopping 35 weeks and counting. And, on the fiction side, Shelby Van Pelt made a splash with her debut novel, “Remarkably Bright Creatures,” which has bounced on and off the hardcover list since May of 2022, now appearing 28 times. Other staunch presences include “Lessons in Chemistry,” by Bonnie Garmus — chugging along at 81 weeks — and Jennette McCurdy’s memoir, “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” which racked up an impressive 60 weeks before exiting the hardcover nonfiction list on Oct. 15.

The best-seller list continues to be a reliable launching pad to the screen. “Daisy Jones and the Six,” “Lessons in Chemistry,” “Black Cake,” “All the Light We Cannot See,” “The Other Black Girl,” “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” “Leave the World Behind” and “A Man Called Ove” (adapted as “A Man Called Otto”) are among the titles that got their start on the fiction list before becoming shows or movies in 2023. Nonfiction stars include “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “The Boys in the Boat,” “American Prometheus” (reincarnated as “Oppenheimer”) and “Elvis and Me” (which inspired “Priscilla”).

In 1995, the authors of a book on successful business practices were accused of purchasing tens of thousands of copies of their own book to manipulate their way onto best-seller lists. That’s when The Times started printing a small dagger after certain titles, indicating that bookstores reported bulk orders of these books.

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