The Millions Top Ten: June 2013

July 2, 2013 | 15 books mentioned 1 3 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 June.

This
Month
Last
Month
Title On List
1. 1. cover Epic Fail: Bad Art, Viral Fame, and the History of the Worst Thing Ever 6 months
2. 2. cover Tenth of December 6 months
3. cover Taipei 1 month
4. 4. cover Stand on Zanzibar 4 months
5. 5. cover The Middlesteins 4 months
6. 6. cover Building Stories 6 months
7. 9. cover The Orphan Master’s Son 2 months
8. 7. cover Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk 4 months
9. 8. cover Vampires in the Lemon Grove 3 months
10. 10. cover Arcadia 6 months

 

We had one debut on our list this month, and it may come as a surprise for readers who have been following the site. Our own Lydia Kiesling read Tao Lin’s Taipei and came away viscerally turned off by a book that has received quite a lot of attention both for its attempt to forge a new style and for the aura of its author, who has an army of followers and is, as New York once called him, “a savant of self-promotion.” Despite Lydia’s misgivings, the book has been on balance reviewed positively, including in the Times.

Still, Lydia’s review – negative as it was – was utterly compelling (Gawker thought so too), and because of that, as I watched the sales of Taipei pile up last month, I was not completely surprised. After all, the last target of a stirring and controversial pan (don’t miss the angry comments) at The Millions was Janet Potter’s fiery takedown of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, and two of those three of those books now sit in comfortable retirement in our Hall of Fame. In the case of Taipei, the lion’s share of credit of course goes to Lin for writing a book that readers are evidently very curious to read, but I think it is also true that a well crafted, properly supported, and strongly opinionated review like Lydia’s can have the odd effect of compelling the reader to see what all the fuss is about.

In fact, this phenomenon has been studied and a recent paper showed that, "For books by relatively unknown (new) authors, however, negative publicity has the opposite effect, increasing sales by 45%." (I think in the context of this study, it is fair to call Lin "relatively unknown." While Lin may be well-known among Millions readers, he is not a household name outside of certain households in Brooklyn, and when readers flocked to read the review from Gawker and other sites that linked to it, they may have been compelled to check the book out for themselves.) As we have known for a while at The Millions, to cover a book at all is to confer upon it that we believe the book is important, and whether you believe the book is "good" or "bad," Taipei was certainly worthy of our coverage.

Otherwise, June was another quiet month for our list with the top two positions unchanged, including Millions ebook Epic Fail: Bad Art, Viral Fame, and the History of the Worst Thing Ever at number one, while An Arrangement of Light, Nicole Krauss’s ebook-only short story graduates to our Hall of Fame. Next month, things will get interesting on our list as we may see as many as four books graduate to the Hall of Fame, opening up plenty of room for newcomers.

Near Misses: Fox 8, The Interestings, All That Is, The Round House, and The Flamethrowers. See Also: Last month’s list.

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

One comment:

  1. Max and friends:

    So I couldn’t help but re-read Janet Potter’s take down of Stieg Larrson. Then I noticed there were 100 comments over 3 years in the post. Is that thread the “busiest” ever here at The Millions?

    Curiously yours,
    David

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