The Millions Top Ten: November 2013

December 1, 2013 | 15 books mentioned 17

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 November.

Title On List
1. 1. cover Selected Stories 2 months
2. 2. cover The Flamethrowers 2 months
3. 3. cover The Pioneer Detectives 5 months
4. 4. cover Taipei 6 months
5. 5. cover The Luminaries 2 months
6. 8. cover The Goldfinch 2 months
7. 6. cover The Beggar Maid: Stories of Flo and Rose 2 months
8. 7. cover Fox 8 5 months
9. 9. cover Bleeding Edge 3 months
10. cover The Lowland 2 months


There wasn’t much action on our list November as the top 5 stayed unchanged. Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch was the big mover, jumping from the eighth spot to the sixth.

The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson graduates to our illustrious Hall of Fame after a six-month run on the list that was initially spurred by the book’s Pulitzer win earlier this year. That departure makes room for the return of Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland

Near Misses: Night Film, Visitation Street, The Interestings, MaddAddam and Dear Life. See Also: Last month’s list.

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


  1. It’s so refreshing to click on a book on your site and have it take me to Amazon. The Millions is in Jeff Bezo’s pocket. Maybe while I’m on Amazon I’ll take some of your book suggestions as I shop around for skin conditioner and organic hamster food.

    Please understand Amazon hates independent bookstores and the free market. In Bezo’s perfect world you would be under his thumb as well.

  2. Hey Mark,

    I must have missed it – where does it mention we absolutely MUST order from Amazon? Is that rule listed anywhere? Should I go burn down my local indie while I’m at it? I’m having trouble finding it.



  3. I’m relieved to learn that The Millions supports drone delivery service. We can count on this site to continue its risk-averse, humorless, and uncritical takes on the developments of our age. I’m certain that if someone were to sit most of the staffers down, at least two thirds would easily confuse an opportunity to rake in a few dimes from an affiliate program with killing innocent people in Pakistan. In any event, I appreciate Mark Haber’s sentiments. He has inspired me to finish my lengthy poem CHILDE HAMSTER’S PILGRIMAGE, which never fails to induce tears before bedtime when I add a new stanza each night.

  4. I have to argue in support of Mark Haber’s comment; I will begin supporting the Millions financially monthly when it isn’t a shill for Amazon any longer.

  5. Hello all,

    Our site’s policies with regard to Amazon’s affiliate program have always been clearly and transparently explained in a post that I encourage you all to read. In a vacuum, we would of course prefer to make all of our purchases at local independent bookstores, but we also understand that a) that isn’t possible for everybody (and particularly a huge share of our site’s readers) due to geographic reasons, and b) that Amazon simply works as the best online index around.

    All best,

  6. Can someone open a window? Thanks, it was getting a bit self-righteous in here. I’m sure people posting about Amazon weren’t sending their comments on a device made in terrible conditions in another part of the world. No sir, no Apple users making comments here. I’m sure their comments were hand lettered using soy-based ink and then sent to this great hand press place in Red Hook (You don’t Carl? No? He does amazing work, really marvelous) where they take the letters and cut them out one by one and digitize them on a scanner made from organic materials (what you lose in resolution is made up for by the fact you get to feel better about your life) and then sent out humanely on the internet.

  7. Nick Moran: Spare me your hollow and risible sanctimony. Given that you have shamelessly sock puppeted on past threads, your commitment to The Millions’s “preference” to independent bookstores is highly suspect. You may have had a jot of credence if you had, oh say, offered a thoughtful post devoted to the remarkable (and, based on what I experienced in person a few days ago, with a considerable hit to my wallet, greatly successful) Friday experiment whereby authors became independent booksellers for a day. You could have noted the drone delivery service. You could have pointed to warehouse abuses, the recent German strike, or the thuggish practices committed in the past two years (many observed by the gallant Richard Russo) to squeeze out booksellers. I’ve seen nary a mention of these developments. Because all The Millions really cares about are the pennies you get from a corporate entity that would be more than happy if you were dead tomorrow.

    Ping me when you grow a set of balls. For now, I see a really angry, greatly dishonest, and highly defensive guy incapable of civil disagreement or actual argument who has spent more time hate-favoriting and obsessing over me on Twitter (I blocked you to protect you from your own pathetic impulses) than I have ever spent logging onto The Millions — and that includes everything I’ve read here before social media existed and when Max was just a puppy cooing in the pound. In the meantime, I’ll be throwing the usual spitballs until The Millions develops a moral conscience. I hope other fine minds will do the same. But I suspect that you’re holding out for that final press conference, where you’ll declare to the world that you won’t have The Millions to kick around anymore. (This 300 word comment took me five minutes to write.)

  8. “Nate in Venice” was published by Byliner, not Amazon. You may recall that Amazon decided to pull Buzz Bissinger’s book (pointed out here in The Millions in a rare case of pointing to important news stories). Byliner publishes in multiple formats. It is no different than any other book distributed through Amazon. Thank you for playing, “ThomasMoore.” But unfortunately the reality is against you. Do you have the stones to leave a comment under your real name? Or are you more interested in slandering people anonymously? What did Richard Russo ever do to you? Aside from write marvelous novels and stand up for independent bookstores?

  9. Eddie, baby, what can I say? You got me there. I did not do my homework as thoroughly as I should have before I messed with Brooklyn, am I right? I have nothing against Richard Russo (Straight Man is one of my favorite novels), I think he’s brilliant and wonderful in every possible way. Conversely, if something is so bad (i.e. Amazon) why would he still sell books on there? Publishers (I know, Eddie, baby, didn’t even have to look that one up) – but then isn’t he just a tool of the corporate system? Wouldn’t a true rebellion entail leaving traditional publishing behind? Or is there some halfway? Is it not all bad? Because if something is evil and yet, yet, I still engage in it, am I not part of the issue? Can I complain loudly about something and still make money off of the thing I decry? I noticed on your website (kudos on the real name thing, Eddie) that you’ve written for Barnes and Noble – surely you know they’ve helped the decline of the indpendent bookstore, and yet reviewing for them and linking to their website from yours, at least by my math, makes you also part of the issue that you protest. Either you go all in and cut ties, or you set up straw men to knock down. Would you be willing to take down your links to Barnes and Noble (No, because I don’t shill for them, I don’t get any money from people who click on that link) Maybe not, but it sure isn’t a link to the shop around the corner. But I’m sure you’ll have a response to this that will justify your association and continued association.

  10. You’re going to have to do more digging to incriminate me, He Who Hath Not the Guts to Useth His Real Name. Let me help you out. Not only have I taken money from Barnes & Noble to write essays, but I’ve also taken money from Amazon (through Audible), who agreed to sponsor several episodes of The Bat Segundo Show for a surprising sum and who I proceeded to mock in my advertising reads. This is hardly Mike Wallace hawking Parliament cigarettes. It has not affected my tone in the slightest. My criticism of Bezos and company continues unabated.

    This is not unlike the “hip and edgy” cartoonists (including Dan Clowes and Charles Burns) who worked for OK Soda (that is, Coca-Cola) and proceeded to ridicule them. Or Melville House distributing its books through Amazon even as Dennis Johnson rails against them. Or Chumbawamba taking $70,000 from GM to use “Pass It Along” in a commercial, only to give it to CorpWatch for anti-capitalist purposes. How is any of this equivalent to Tishman Speyer buying Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village using other people’s money and utterly destroying the affordability of those apartments as established (questionably) by Met Life and Frederick Ecker? (See Charles Bagli’s excellent book, OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY, for good reporting of that incident. It came out this year and was regrettably lost in the shuffle..)

    The absolutist rebellion you’re calling for — although we’ve seeing it somewhat with Bitcoin, Occupy Sandy (which still needed to cooperate with government agencies, by the by), and so forth — isn’t possible as the rich hordes more of the wealth. Even Ian MacKaye had his Minor Threat T-shirts sold by Urban Outfitters. This “hypocritical” stance is no different than George Orwell calling for a socialist revolution while simultaneously calling for participation in World War II. You have to play the cards you have in your deck if you want to try changing things and sometimes it’s a long, difficult, and near futile battle. But you’ve got to stay on message. One method is to siphon funds — not in a greedy way, but in a way that permits you to pay your rent — into places that are true to your values while still remaining true to your voice. The idea here is to put your time into ways that allow you to create, rather than toiling at a go nowhere day job that will besmirch your voice and your identity.

    To return to the argument at hand, The Millions can in fact take Amazon money and raise hell and it would probably be a lot more fun than it presently stands. But it chooses not to — in large part because its editor remains inflexible to anything edgy and are, moreover, remarkably condescending about it — the source of my longstanding feud with this site.

    I stopped writing for B&N when they asked me to soften my content and avoid what they deemed “negativity.” The editor there is a scoundrel who has railroaded other freelancers, who have happily found work elsewhere. Please inform me how writing editorial copy for B&N puts indies out of business, especially when the B&N Review was never quite able to establish its website presence. My arrangement allowed me to repurpose all of my essays, which I have republished at my own place (and which have, in cases such as my Iain Banks essay, had greater visibility at Reluctant Habits). I also wrote about books that weren’t easily available in B&N bookstores, but that were more likely to be found in used and indie bookstores.

    You can indeed complain loudly about something and make money off of it. Especially when the only other option is starvation. There are limits, however. I would never go to the level as anyone exposed at the S.H.A.M.E. Project. I probably wouldn’t go NSFWCorp’s route and get acquired by Pando Daily. (That latter arrangement was recently called out by Glenn Greenwald in an interesting conflict over whether his exclusive hold on the Snowden records was a form of “privatization.”)

    “ThomasMoore,” I appreciate the slight change in tone with your last comment, even with its “Eddie baby”s. Now we’re having a slightly more constructive discussion. But who the hell are you? Do you have the guts to be this transparent? To risk ridicule? To put it all on the line like this? To be utterly candid about your principles, your conflicts, and what you’re trying to do to uphold them? Because I see a mere pseudonym, a timorous type who would rather cry “J’Accuse” than “So how do we beat this thing?”

  11. Honest question: why do you want everyone who argues with you in the comments section of a website to be “transparent?” Say you find out Thomas More is Eric Lynch from Sacramento, California. Say you find out he’s married to Traci Millman and they have two kids and he works for Bank of America and she is a homemaker. Say Eric has a few articles under his name from undergrad at Adelphi, one of them a defense of Amazon written in the ’90s when full access to almost everything in print was a revolution in itself. Say you do your little background “journalism” and discover all of this. What then, Edward?

    I’m not likely to meet you in person (thankfully, I think, as my temper is tested by nonsense from people who worry about the journalistic integrity of what most people feel is a nice diversion from another day of the slog, and really who needs another place just trying to win the “integrity” wars that were tiresome in the pre-Internet and now just feel like the stick-shakings of elderly men on virtual porches), and I’m definitely not going to have a professional interaction through my very mysterious job. We’re not going to have a meaningful interaction through Twitter or email. I’m not in charge of your pay or your living conditions or your happiness. So what does it matter, really? Unless I’m threatening you or preventing you from your soul’s right to breathe?

    I go through this in my very mysterious, cowardly job. People say terrible things about me on Twitter. I know who they are, the roots of their displeasure. My interactions with them are no different from those I might have with them if they were completely anonymous (as some of them are or try to be). Just because YOU decide to be public with your every breath does not make your need for publicity the pillar of “integrity.” It just makes you you. And if you like you, then proceed.

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