The Millions Top Ten: September 2020

October 14, 2020 | 2 books mentioned 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 September.

This Month Last Month Title On List
1. 8. cover Tell It Slant 5 months
2. 3. cover Death in Her Hands 4 months
3. 5. cover Sharks in the Time of Saviors 4 months
4. 4. cover Utopia Avenue
3 months
5. 6. cover All My Mother’s Lovers 3 months
6. 10. cover The Vanishing Half
2 months
7. cover 22 Minutes of Unconditional Love 1 month
8. cover Disappearing Earth 1 month
9. 7. cover Summer 2 months
10. cover Vesper Flights 1 month

It’s always a celebration when books alight to our site’s Hall of Fame, but when those books are written by our own staffers it’s a special occasion indeed. This month, Emily St. John Mandel’s The Glass Hotel becomes the longtime Millions writer’s second novel to reach the Hall. (Station Eleven ascended in April 2015.) Congratulations, Emily! Her book is joined in the Hall by fellow September 2020 inductee N. K. Jemisin’s The City We Became. This is Jemisin’s first book to reach the Hall, but it’s also the first installment of a trilogy, so we’ll see how things go.

With two spots opened up—and then a third because A Luminous Republic dropped off of this month’s list—we welcome three newcomers: Daphne Merkin’s 22 Minutes of Unconditional Love, Helen Macdonald’s Vesper Flights, and Julia Phillips’s Disappearing Earth. The first two titles appeared in our Great Second-Half 2020 Book Preview while Phillips’s debut graced our First-Half Book Preview from 2019, well before it became a finalist for that year’s National Book Award.

Of this trio, Macdonald’s likely most familiar to Millions readers, not least of all due to the way H Is for Hawk, her 2015 memoir, was celebrated on this site. But Vesper Flights ushers forth its own delights as well, as Daniel Lefferts wrote in his profile of Macdonald last June. “What unifies the essays in Vesper Flights is her ardor for nature, her extensive knowledge of it, and her fear for its destruction,” Lefferts wrote. “With a naturalist’s command of technical vocabulary and a poet’s eye for simile, she can sound like a former scholar who’s broken free of the constraints of academe—which is, in essence, what she is.”

Next month we may see further shakeups, as the titles on the top half of the list approach the ends of their runs, and other newcomers are sure to pop in.

This month’s near misses included: How to Be an Antiracist, The Mirror & the Light, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, and Fleishman Is in Trouble. 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.

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