The Millions Top Ten: October 2014

November 4, 2014 | 15 books mentioned 4 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 October.

This
Month
Last
Month
Title On List
1. 1. cover The Bone Clocks 2 months
2. 2. cover A Highly Unlikely Scenario, or a Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World 6 months
3. 3. cover We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves 4 months
4. cover The Novel: A Biography 1 month
5. 4. cover Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
3 months
6. cover Station Eleven 1 month
7. 9. cover Reading Like a Writer
4 months
8. 5. cover Cosmicomics
3 months
9. 8. cover My Struggle: Book 1 4 months
10. cover The Narrow Road to the Deep North 1 month

 

Oh, hello there, Emily St. John Mandel! How nice it is to see you on our latest Top Ten, and on the heels of your appearance on an even loftier list, at that!

Since 2010, Emily’s thoughtful reviews and essays have highlighted dozens of novels for Millions readers, and made them aware of both un(der)heralded classics and new releases alike. So in a karmic sense, it’s about time we turn our attention toward Emily’s own fiction. In the words of fellow Millions staffer Bill Morris, “her fourth novel, Station Eleven, [is] a highly literary work set in the near future that focuses on a Shakespearean troupe that travels the Great Lakes region performing for survivors of a flu pandemic that wiped out most of mankind and ended civilization.” (It’s a premise that by Emily’s own admission was made possible at least in part by the success of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.)

Looking at it more generally, though, Morris notes that Station Eleven‘s near-future setting affords Emily with some luxuries not typically available to writers focused on the past, or even present, state of the world:

The near future is an alluring time to set fiction because it frees the writer’s imagination in ways that writing about the past does not. Fiction set in the near future frees the writer to build a plausible and coherent world on a known foundation – in a sense, to extrapolate where today’s world is going. It’s a liberating strategy since the future is so patently unknowable; and it’s a timely strategy since people in an anxious age like ours are especially eager to know – or imagine – where we’re headed.

Sounds pretty enticing, if I do say so myself. But, decide on your own. You can whet your appetite by reading the book’s first chapter over here.

Moving along, I turn my attention toward the debut of another newcomer on the Top Ten: The Novel: A Biography. If I’m being honest, I must admit that I feel a distinct sense of pride for being affiliated with a book site whose readers are purchasing enough copies of a 1,200-page history of “the novel” that the tome ranks among our bestsellers. Be proud of yourselves, fellow nerds. The hefty book was tackled by Jonathan Russell Clark in an engaging review in September.

Rounding out this month’s list, we welcome Richard Flanagan’s Booker-winning novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North to the party (we reviewed the book here), and we bid adieu — probably only for a short time — to Well-Read Women: Portraits of Fiction’s Most Beloved Heroines, which has fallen out of the rankings after a strong six-month showing, and as a result has missed our Hall of Fame by the skin of its teeth.

Near Misses: The Round House, Well-Read Women, The Children Act, 10:04, and To Rise Again at a Decent HourSee Also: Last month’s list.

works on special projects for The Millions. He lives in Baltimore and he frequents dive bars. His interests can be followed on his Tumblr, Nick Recommends and Twitter, @nemoran3.

4 comments:

  1. …i have this bone-deep sensation, premonition almost, that I should not spend my time reading Mitchell or Murakami (both substantiated by a few withering J. Woods articles). It’s the same feeling I had with Tartt, which turned out to be horrendously justified….irrevocably lost lifetime, I’m afraid….

  2. How did “Naked Singularity” ever drop out of the Top10? How is none of the Southern Reach Trilogy in there? Couldn’t you do a staff Top10 with like little blurbs by your writers? Or does such a thing already exist?

  3. Hey Themba,

    To your second post’s questions, I think next month’s “Year in Reading” should be right up your alley. That’ll be a month-long slate of posts from staffers and prominent writers/critics alike about what they think everyone else should be checking out.

    Huge VanderMeer fan over here, by the way.

    Best,
    Nick

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