The Millions Top Ten: May 2011

June 1, 2011 | 15 books mentioned 1 2 min read

We spend plenty of time here on The Millions telling all of you what we’ve been reading, but we are also quite interested in hearing about what you’ve been reading. By looking at our Amazon stats, we can see what books Millions readers have been buying, and we decided it would be fun to use those stats to find out what books have been most popular with our readers in recent months. Below you’ll find our Millions Top Ten list for May.

Title On List
1. 1. cover The Pale King 3 months
2. 2. cover The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books 4 months
3. 3. cover The Imperfectionists 5 months
4. cover The Enemy 1 month
5. 4. cover Atlas of Remote Islands 6 months
6. 9. cover Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric 2 months
7. 5. cover Skippy Dies 5 months
8. cover The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry 1 month
9. 7. cover Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption 6 months
10. cover The Hunger Games
3 months

David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King retains our top spot, but that’s not where the real action was this month. In May, a pair of new titles debuted and a third returned to our list after previously slipping off. The biggest news story of May was the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces, and that event was the catalyst for the first appearance of a “Kindle Single” (or any e-book original, for that matter) on our list. Clearly, many readers wanted Christopher Hitchens’ take on this event, and Amazon managed to lock down the 17-page essay he produced. The Enemy would have appeared as a magazine piece not too long ago and would likely have therefore been pretty ephemeral. It will be interesting to see if this essay’s status as a Kindle Single affords it any staying power.

Also debuting was The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry, which our staffer Janet Potter reviewed this month. Returning to our list after a one-month hiatus is YA bestseller The Hunger Games, whose return was perhaps spurred by headlines surrounding the casting of the upcoming film version of the book. The other big mover was Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric, climbing three spots. As I wrote last month, Only Millions readers would make a book of rhetoric a bestseller.

Departing from our list were The Finkler Question, Cardinal Numbers, and Unfamiliar Fishes. Finkler’s Booker glory has faded; Cardinal Numbers was touted in these pages by Sam Lipsyte, but that was back in December; and Unfamiliar Fishes, with its somewhat obscure topic, lost some steam after the book’s initial publicity push waned.

Other Near Misses: A Moment in the Sun, The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

See Also: Last month’s list

created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.

One comment:

  1. I was so disappointed by Klara and the Sun. I love Ishiguro so much, but this book felt hollow, and was quite boring. If it was half as long, it would have been MUCH better. I also found Saunders’s book to be almost unreadable. And he’s also a favorite of mine! I love listening to him talking about writing on podcasts, but this book… the structure pained me. The way he kept interrupting the stories to teach the writing of the story… It made for a very unpleasant reading experience.

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