The Millions Top Ten: November 2017

December 6, 2017 | 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 November.

This Month Last Month Title On List
1. 1. cover Manhattan Beach 2 months
2. 5. cover The Changeling 4 months
3. 2. cover Exit West 5 months
4. cover Don’t Save Anything: Uncollected Essays, Articles, and Profiles 1 month
5. 4. cover The Seventh Function of Language: A Novel 4 months
6. 9. cover Little Fires Everywhere
2 months
7. 6. cover Forest Dark 3 months
8. cover Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process
1 month
9. cover The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage
1 month
10. 8. cover My Absolute Darling
3 months


Haruki Murakami’s short story collection Men Without Women is off to our Hall of Fame this month. It’s the author’s third title to achieve that feat, so add “Millions readers” to the list of things closely associated with Murakami’s works. (That list also includes spaghetti, cats, The Beatles, and long distance running.) Meanwhile, two titles from last month’s Top Ten list dropped out in November: Autumn by Ali Smith and What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons.

Filling the three open spaces are works by James Salter, John McPhee, and Philip Pullman. Perhaps you’ve heard of them?

Ninth place this month belongs to Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage, the first installment in the author’s new Book of Dust trilogy  itself a quasi-prequel/-sequel (it’s been called, flatly, an “equel”) to the author’s His Dark Materials trilogy. In his review for our site, Charles-Adam Foster-Simard wrote that Pullman’s latest novel is “more mature” than his earlier trilogy “because it explores psychological darkness.”

There are whispers of pedophilia and sex crimes at the fringes of the story, which heightens the sense of danger, and underscores the theme of innocence and experience, which plays an essential role in Pullman’s books.

Checking in one spot up the list in the eight spot is John McPhee’s Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process., which our own Iľja Rákoš described as “a primer in the how, the why, the who, and the humor of getting at the story without sacrificing the art.” It’s also, as Stephen Phillips argues in his review for our site, “a capsule of the charmed status of an elite practitioner during what looks today like a golden era of magazine journalism replete with extended parlays with editors, protracted fact-checking triangulation, and two weeks on a picnic table.”

And speaking of the “golden era” of publishing, James Salter’s Don’t Save Anything holds the fourth spot on this month’s list. The book collects, according to Nick Ripatrazone, “Salter’s previously uncollected non-fiction; essays that appeared in The New YorkerEsquire, People, and elsewhere. The book’s title comes from a line from one of Salter’s final interviews: ‘You try to put everything you have in a book. That is, don’t save anything for the next one.'”

Next month our list will no doubt be reshaped by our Year in Reading series, which is currently ongoing, and which reliably reorders everyone’s “to read” lists every winter.

This month’s other near misses included: The Idiot, Sing, Unburied, Sing, and The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake. See 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.

One comment:

  1. Hi Nick, thanks for the invitation; I will take you up on that! Canlit did well this year, but Steve Heighton’s The Nightingale Won’t Let You Sleep was brutally overlooked by Governor General’s Award and Giller. A soldier’s PTSD – recovery in Greece then into the Turkish zone – not a political novel, although it could have dived down into that territory, but one of humanity, which is the basis of great literature.

    I read the Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker (finally). Whoa. The last best anti-war novel I have read prior to Barker would be Johnny Got his Gun by Trumbo. Barker’s trilogy with its history of psychiatry for shell shock in the first world war is compelling, yet almost beside the point when reading her exquisite sentences.

    I also enjoyed Woman No. 17 by Edan Lupecki, The Dark Flood Rises by Margaret Drabble, Huck out West by Robert Coover, Danzy Senna’s New People and Katie Kitamura’s The Seperation.

    Oh – and Beautiful Animals by Lawrence Osborne.

    Good year for reading! And that is just my fiction picks.

    I am hoping that more of my fellow commenters weigh in.

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