The Millions Top Ten: June 2022

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We spend plenty of time here at 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.

Ulysses: An Illustrated Edition
6 months

2.
2.

The Socratic Method: A Practitioner’s Handbook
5 months

3.
3.

The Penguin Modern Classics Book
6 months

4.
4.

When We Cease to Understand the World

6 months

5.
7.

How High We Go in the Dark
3 months

6.
6.

Refuse to Be Done
3 months

7.


Either/Or
1 month

8.
9.

Sea of Tranquility
2 months

9.
8.

Crossroads
6 months

10.


Forbidden City
1 month

It might surprise you to read that before this month, Karl Ove Knausgård had never sent a book to our site’s Hall of Fame. It might surprise you if you didn’t read carefully that now the Norwegian author’s made a home there: The Morning Star did what all 3,936 pages of the six-part My Struggle series could not. (Sidebar: the sixth installment represents for 30% of those pages? Today I learned.)

Meanwhile, Katie Kitamura’s Intimacies dropped off the list this month, but we frequently see books come and go. Will it be back after July? You know where to look.

The upshot is two spaces opened on this month’s list, and were filled Elif Batuman’s Either/Or and Vanessa Hua’s Forbidden City. They occupy the seventh and tenth spots, respectively, and both were featured in our Great First-Half 2022 Book Preview earlier this year.

Speaking of Great Book Previews, we expect to drop our enormous Second-Half 2022 list very soon. Stay tuned.

This month’s near misses included: Tartar Steppe, Paradais, Pure Colour, The Hurting Kind, and Essays One. See Also: Last month’s list.

The Millions Top Ten: May 2022

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We spend plenty of time here at 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 May.

This Month
Last Month

Title
On List

1.
1.

Ulysses: An Illustrated Edition
5 months

2.
2.

The Socratic Method: A Practitioner’s Handbook
4 months

3.
4.

The Penguin Modern Classics Book
5 months

4.
3.

When We Cease to Understand the World

5 months

5.
5.

The Morning Star
6 months

6.
6.

Refuse to Be Done
2 months

7.
10.

How High We Go in the Dark
2 months

8.
8.

Crossroads
5 months

9.


Sea of Tranquility
1 month

10.


Intimacies
1 month

Just one change to the top-half of this month’s list, and it’s a tiny one: When We Cease to Understand the World swapped places with The Penguin Modern Classics Book. This type of scarcely observable change has been notionally understood in the abstract for years, but it wasn’t until a team of pioneering physicists got together that its dynamics were fully understoo–this is a Benjamín Labatut joke and I need to bail before I get carried away.

The books in seventh through tenth positions changed more dramatically. How High We Go in the Dark rose three spots this month, and we also had two newcomers make the list.

Longtime Millions staffer Emily St. John Mandel’s latest novel Sea of Tranquility debuts in ninth position. It’s “a work of literary science fiction in which Mandel crafts a tale of flawed and disparate characters—whose lives are unwittingly altered in time and space—yet linked by an anomalous glitch in time,” K.E. Lanning wrote in the introduction to her interview with St. John Mandel last month.

Rounding out this month’s list is Katie Kitamura’s Intimacies, which Sinead O’Shea described in a review for our site as “an elegant and gripping story about a female interpreter who is thrust into one of the International Criminal Court’s high-profile cases.”

Next month we should get at least one more newcomer on our list, so stay tuned to find out which.

This month’s near misses included: Either/Or, Harlem Shuffle and The Collected Stories (William Trevor), Small Things Like These, and Shit Cassandra Saw: Stories. See Also: Last month’s list.

The Millions Top Ten: April 2022

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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 April.

This Month
Last Month

Title
On List

1.
1.

Ulysses: An Illustrated Edition
4 months

2.
2.

The Socratic Method: A Practitioner’s Handbook
3 months

3.
3.

When We Cease to Understand the World
4 months

4.
5.

The Penguin Modern Classics Book

4 months

5.
4.

The Morning Star
5 months

6.


Refuse to Be Done
1 month

7.
7.

These Precious Days: Essays
6 months

8.


Crossroads
4 months

9.


Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
6 months

10.


How High We Go in the Dark
1 month

By golly, you pulled it off. Millions readers, egged on by our own Ed Simon, purchased enough copies of a hundred-year-old Ludwig Wittgenstein book to sustain Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus on six separate Top Ten lists. (It should be noted that those lists were non-consecutive: this journey began in August 2021, so it’s taken nine months because it kept popping off the list into the “Near Misses”—only to return weeks later.) It’ll be ten months by the time Wittgenstein’s book reaches our site’s Hall of Fame, but a century after publication, who’s counting? Patience is a virtue, but persistence is a skill.

This month we are also rejoined by Jonathan Franzen’s Crossroads, which is back on the Top Ten for the first time since the end of 2021. In football, you never count out Tom Brady; in literature, you never count on Jon Franzen.

Meanwhile our list’s true newcomers are Matt Bell and Sequoia Nagamatsu, who join in the sixth and tenth positions for Refuse to Be Done and How High We Go in the Dark, respectively.

Space for all four of these works was opened up by the graduation of four titles to our Hall of Fame. Three cheers for Anthony Doerr’s Cloud Cuckoo Land, Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You?, Lauren Groff’s Matrix, and Richard Powers’s Bewilderment. Each of these authors have been to the Hall of Fame before, but this will be Groff’s third appearance. We began this write-up with persistence, and we end it with reliability.

What will next month bring? As always, there’s only one way to know.

This month’s near misses included: Intimacies, The Magician, Sea of Tranquility, Harlem Shuffle and The Collected Stories (William Trevor).  See Also: Last month’s list.

The Millions Top Ten: March 2022

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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 March.

This Month
Last Month

Title
On List

1.
1.

Ulysses: An Illustrated Edition
3 months

2.
4.

The Socratic Method: A Practitioner’s Handbook
2 months

3.
6.

When We Cease to Understand the World
3 months

4.
2.

The Morning Star

4 months

5.
7.

The Penguin Modern Classics Book
3 months

6.
3.

Cloud Cuckoo Land
6 months

7.
5.

These Precious Days: Essays
5 months

8.
9.

Matrix: A Novel
6 months

9.
10.

Beautiful World, Where Are You
6 months

10.


Bewilderment
6 months

Millions readers, solve a math problem for me. We have 10 titles on our list. One—written by Ruth Ozeki—ascends to our site’s Hall of Fame, opening up a spot for another book to fill. And yet in March 2022, no newcomers joined our list. How can that be?

You see, it’s a trick. This month’s newcomer is hardly a newcomer at all. This month, our list is rejoined by Richard Powers’s Bewilderment, which had a great run in our Top Ten from September through January before taking last month off. Now it’s back, and set to follow Ozeki in next month’s bumper crop of Hall of Fame titles. (I count four total, but here’s a caveat: I did my month’s quota of math in the first paragraph of this write-up.)

Elsewhere on our list, books shuffled. Lauren Groff’s Matrix moved from ninth to eighth. Ward Farnsworth’s Socratic Method moved from fourth to second. Benjamín Labatut’s When We Cease to Understand the World moved from sixth to third, and scrambled my brain when I read it. All around, the world spun, flowers bloomed, and miseries swapped places with joy—or vice versa, as the case may be.

Next month, four spots will open. Next month, we’ll have more to discuss.

This month’s near misses included: Crossroads, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Intimacies, The Magician, and How High We Go in the Dark.  See Also: Last month’s list.

The Millions Top Ten: February 2022

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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 February.

This Month
Last Month

Title
On List

1.
1.

Ulysses: An Illustrated Edition
2 months

2.
2.

The Morning Star
3 months

3.
3.

Cloud Cuckoo Land
5 months

4.


The Socratic Method: A Practitioner’s Handbook

1 month

5.
5.

These Precious Days: Essays
4 months

6.
10.

When We Cease to Understand the World
2 months

7.
6.

The Penguin Modern Classics Book
2 months

8.
4.

The Book of Form and Emptiness
6 months

9.
9.

Matrix: A Novel
5 months

10.
7.

Beautiful World, Where Are You
5 months

We joked last month that Ludwig Wittgenstein was on the cusp of reaching our site’s Hall of Fame, if only Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus placed on our Top Ten once more. (It has five months; it needs six.) The book’s been a Millions favorite since Ed Simon described it as “poetry that gestures beyond poetry.” Well, sorry Wittgenstein, but your work is among our “Near Misses,” so the wait continues. After 100 years, what’s another month?

In any event, it’s not surprising to see Ward Farnsworth’s The Socratic Method: A Practitioner’s Handbook on this month’s list. Once again, it’s Ed Simon’s fault. A couple weeks ago, in a piece where he called Socrates a “schmuck,” Simon drew a through-line from the Greek philosopher into Larry David, Twitter, and so much of “what ails the body politic.”

Meanwhile, The Other Press’s illustrated edition of Ulysses, which features art by Eduardo Arroyo, holds the top spot on this month’s list⁠—fitting for the centennial of James Joyce’s original. (Now that I think of it, what is it with Millions readers and works from 1922?)

This month we also saw Benjamín Labutut’s When We Cease to Understand the World rise four spots from 10th to sixth. This book on the relationship between genius, madness, and the observable world is unlike anything I’ve read. It would not shock me, Heisenberg, or Schrödinger, to see it rise more or drop off the list completely—perhaps both at once, if you catch my drift.

This month’s near misses included: Crossroads, Intimacies, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, and The Magician. See Also: Last month’s list.

The Millions Top Ten: January 2022

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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 January.

This Month
Last Month

Title
On List

1.


Ulysses: An Illustrated Edition
1 month

2.
3.

The Morning Star
2 months

3.
4.

Cloud Cuckoo Land
4 months

4.
2.

The Book of Form and Emptiness

5 months

5.
5.

These Precious Days: Essays
3 months

6.


The Penguin Modern Classics Book

1 month

7.
6.

Beautiful World, Where Are You
4 months

8.
8.

Bewilderment
5 months

9.
9.

Matrix: A Novel
4 months

10.


When We Cease to Understand the World
1 month

Close counts in curling, or so the Winter Olympics announcers say, but close does not count for our site’s Hall of Fame. You need six strong showings to reach the Hall. Alas, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus came up short by one. Ludwig Wittgenstein, if your ghost is reading this, you can take consolation in the fact that Ed Simon’s piece got Millions readers so excited about your work that for five months they dutifully purchased copies of your 100-year-old book. Also, get off the internet. Ghosts have better things to do.

On the other hand, The House on Vesper Sands by Paraic O’Donnell is off to our site’s Hall of Fame this month. It’s the author’s first appearance, and we congratulate them.

These opened spots—plus another vacated by Jonathan Franzen’s Crossroads—made way for three titles on this month’s list:

In first position is The Other Press’s illustrated edition of Ulysses, which features 300 color and black-and-white works by Spanish painter Eduardo Arroyo, and which was published this year for the centennial of James Joyce’s original. Last month, Sophia Stewart interviewed publisher Judith Gurewich about Arroyo’s legacy and the development of the illustrated edition. Gurewich explained that “anybody will tremendously enjoy turning the pages—the drawings are at once complex, satirical, and super easy to grasp. No art history course required!”

Henry Eliot’s encyclopedic series on Penguin Modern Classics earned sixth position on this month’s list, demonstrating that Millions readers appreciated art books and books about books in addition to good old fashioned books.

Finally, Benjamín Labutut’s When We Cease to Understand the World joined our list in the 10th space after making last month’s “near misses.” Having recently finished the book myself, I can personally sing its praises—or at least, I would like to sing its praises but I am still reeling from the experience, and words fail. Trust me. It’s great.

This month’s near misses included: Intimacies, The Magician, and Nightbitch. See Also: Last month’s list.

The Millions Top Ten: December 2021

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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 December.

This Month
Last Month

Title
On List

1.
1.

The House on Vesper Sands
6 months

2.
3.

The Book of Form and Emptiness
4 months

3.


The Morning Star
1 month

4.
8.

Cloud Cuckoo Land

3 months

5.
9.

These Precious Days: Essays
2 months

6.
10.

Beautiful World, Where Are You

3 months

7.
6.

Crossroads
3 months

8.
4.

Bewilderment
4 months

9.
7.

Matrix: A Novel
3 months

10.
5.

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
5 months

I need you to hold on. The surge is real, cases are rising, but the vaccines work. It’s decoupled: your likelihood of ending up in the hospital is reduced if you’re vaccinated, which is all along what the vaccines were supposed to do. But, remember: a small percentage of a bigger number can still produce a big number. We aren’t out of the woods.

Oh, right, we were talking about books. In that case, I still need you to hold on, Millions readers. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus remains on our list, but it’s in precarious position. We have the unprecedented chance to put a book from 1921 into the Hall of Fame, but we need two more strong showings from y’all. If you haven’t read Ed Simon’s piece on Ludwig Wittgenstein, you must. Here it is. Here’s a second link to it in case you didn’t click it the first time.

Carrying on. This month we bid farewell to Jonathan Lee’s The Great Mistake, which rode six straight strong showings into our site’s Hall of Famed sunset.

In its place, we welcome newcom—oh, no, wait we’ve seen you before, surely? Karl Ove Knausgaard, whose novel The Morning Star joins our ranks in the third spot. Knausgaard is no stranger to Millions readers but it may surprise you to learn he’s not yet made the Hall of Fame .

Will he this time? We’ll see.

This month’s near misses included: The Magician, A Calling for Charlie Barnes, Intimacies, Harlem Shuffle, and When We Cease to Understand the World. See Also: Last month’s list.

The Millions Top Ten: November 2021

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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.

The House on Vesper Sands
5 months

2.
2.

The Great Mistake
6 months

3.
10.

The Book of Form and Emptiness
3 months

4.
3.

Bewilderment

3 months

5.
4.

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
4 months

6.
7.

Crossroads

2 months

7.


Matrix: A Novel
2 months

8.


Cloud Cuckoo Land
2 months

9.


These Precious Days: Essays
1 month

10.
7.

Beautiful World, Where Are You
2 months

There’s some intrigue this month, as our list is reunited with two novels we last saw in September. Back then, Lauren Groff’s Matrix and Anthony Doerr’s Cloud Cuckoo Land held seventh and eighth position, respectively. This month, they once again hold seventh and eighth position, respectively. Plus ça change… At this rate, they might be bound for our Hall of Fame next July.

J. Robert Lennon sent his first book the Hall this month, as Subdivision capped off six months of strong showings. The spot it opened was filled by Ann Patchett’s essay collection These Precious Days—which Millions readers may recognize from its inclusion in our most recent Book Preview.

Meanwhile, two novels dropped off of this month’s list. Who knows? It’s possible that both Joshua Ferris’s A Calling for Charlie Barnes and Colm Tóibín’s The Magician will follow the same pattern as Groff’s and Doerr’s works mentioned above—returning in two months’ time as though nothing happened. We’ll have to wait and see.

One thing’s certain, however. By then, the list may be stuffed with books mentioned in our ongoing Year in Reading series, underway as I write this, and certainly set to inform our Top Tens in December and beyond. Which ones are on your list?

This month’s near misses included: Harlem ShuffleFierce Little Thing, and Nightbitch. See Also: Last month’s list.

A Year in Reading: Nick Moran

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Last year I couldn’t go to bars because of a virus; this year I can’t because of a toddler. The vaccines work. Go get one—or better yet three—so you can safely grab a drink for me.

At home I made do. This was a year of incrementalism. Most nights after bedtime, I had a routine: 25 pages of poetry plus 50 pages of fiction or non. There were periodicals but they weren’t the priority; many nights I took my sieve to Twitter’s stream and I prospected. I lost a lot of time to TikTok.

Fortunately, incrementalism is another word for progress. Incrementalism was good for 15,000 pages this year—it was a giant killer, even if it didn’t feel like it at the time. Slowly I took down big tomes by Louise Glück (Poems 1962-2012), Paul Celan (Memory Rose into Threshold Speech), Frank Stanford (What About This?), John Dos Passos (U.S.A.), and William Gaddis. (Fitting, that last one: like Wyatt and his original paintings, I haven’t finished The Recognitions, but I’m far enough along to know that Adam Mars-Jones missed the point in his review for The London Review of Books. The length and overstuffing of The Recognitions are features, Adam, not bugs. Saying it should be shorter is like saying Magic Eye illustrators should draw simple sailboats.)

Anyway, I read other books more quickly. At no point in In Patagonia does Bruce Chatwin take his foot off the gas. The closing sentences throughout Amparo Dávila’s The Houseguest are what stories should be. I didn’t read a more satisfying chapter of anything this year than chapter 33 of Jung Yun’s O, Beautiful (“Rules seem so arbitrary here. Just small demonstrations of power by people who have very little, used against people who have even less”), but if we’re talking poetry I have to shout out P. Scott Cunningham’s piece in Islandia, Vol. 1 about love, life, and 2 Fast 2 Furious. I have to shout out Andrew Hemmert for how he described shoveling dead rats in the wall like “strange soft coal” in Sawgrass Sky. Brilliance abounds.

Before this year, I typically read one book at a time. Now I alternate, and I find the trick is to switch from one kind to another: chip away at the long ones while flying through the shorts. The momentum of the latter propels you through the former. It’s just one of those things, like how slicing your sandwich in half makes lunch more filling.

Leaping book to book (or app to book) was also self-preservation, if I’m being honest. One way I cope with intense stress is by minimizing the time I spend thinking about it. They say sharks drown if they stop swimming. If you’re lucky, art can be an escape.

But the bars, right? I miss them. I miss reading in places where a $100 tab would kill a man. I miss guys who rip filters off their cigarettes instead of paying more for unfiltered packs. I don’t miss guys wearing too much cologne but I miss one-eyed bartenders. I miss the way guys trade stories like they’re farts: things their perpetrators appreciate most. So I’ve gone in search of these moments—albeit from my couch.

I began by watching Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets in my living room. What a flick. Great dives insulate customers from the terrors of reality, and especially the reality of capitalism—until they don’t. (Sip whiskey while watching so you know you’ve still got your senses of taste and smell.)

Ever after, I kept track of lines that scratched my itch. What follows is an amalgamation, or a mixtape of drunken hits. Together they shape a scene. As you read, if the line does something for you, click the (number) after it and buy the book. Fair is fair, so remember to tip your bartender.

“I was on a gin-fueled hunt for big asses and music I could cry to.” (1) “Drunk and/ wandering like a dog through the/ supermarkets of the night,” (2) “Thick beads of sweat run like lizards down my chest and armpits.” (3) “[I] arrived at a room full of people who spent their lives in rooms.” (4) “The first thing [I] notice[d] … [was] that it smell[ed] like too many things. Cleaning chemicals, body odor, fryer grease, popcorn, and stale beer.” (5) “For once/ my anonymity made me feel serene./ Amid half-murmured intros, volleyed/ glances, conversation of car keys and shot/ glasses, I knew I liked this place just like I knew// I’d never see my crew in here.” (6) “The days have gone into the ground/ Like rainwater strangers wipe from their eyes/ when they meet again/ in these drinking places.” (7) “God is on a beer run./ Jesus and Mary argue/ about who’s driving/ them home. Eve’s/ phone is dead.” (8) “Who should be pouring drinks there [at the bar] but a young woman whose name I can’t remember. But I remember the way she poured. It was like doubling your money.” (9) “She is sad from sipping the flat beer/ of her own voice.” (10) “I had two doubles and immediately it was as if I’d been dead forever, and was now finally awake.” (11) “[I] shut [my] eyes like [I’m] losing or finding God.” (12) “The whisky was hotsweet in [my] mouth, buzzed like bees in [my] ears.” (13) “Another beer? [I] started to decline, then noticed the mirror behind the bar, and watched [my]self accept.” (14) “I think I’ll stay up late with a few bandits/ of my choice and resist good advice.” (15) “All around [us] men drank alone, staring out of their faces.” (16) “I tried to eavesdrop on other conversations. It was impossible. I could only hear the odd word … words that meant nothing yet conveyed the infinite vulgarity and hopelessness of my compatriots.” (17) “There is a certain type of conversation one hears only when one is drunk and it is like a dream, full of humor and threat and significance, deep significance. And the way one witnesses things when one is drunk is different as well. It is like putting a face mask against the surface of the sea and looking into things, into their baffled and guileless hearts.” (18) “They were enjoying their discussion very much, each finding the other intelligent, witty, in all, a good companion, for neither was listening to what the other was saying.” (19) “Time passed, and some of it became this.” (20) “I walk around carrying [my great grandmother]—a swallow/ of whiskey waiting, holding it// like the water that refuses/ to dissolve on my tongue// because it is my tongue already.” (21) “I drink wine like a city.” (22) “When I drink wine I drink an ocean.” (23) “I swallowed and the wine became a warming stream that trickled down my throat. This warmth spread outward, into my chest—it felt like a warm little bomb splashing in my heart, sending shockwaves through the blood.” (24) “I have built myself/ a safer body, covered the rot with rot.” (25) “These days I raise a glass to make sure it’s empty.” (26) “In those days I took the purest joy in the art of remotion, in acts of singular and simple economy: [drinking] alone, eating alone, reading, walking, and doing these same things day after day.” (27) “There were many moments in [this bar] like that one—where you might think today was yesterday, and yesterday was tomorrow, and so on. Because we all believed we were tragic, and we drank.” (28) “We are a society drinking at our own wake, but … we look good doing it.” (29)
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The Millions Top Ten: October 2021

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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.
10.

The House on Vesper Sands
4 months

2.
1.

The Great Mistake
5 months

3.
5.

Bewilderment
2 months

4.
6.

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
3 months

5.
2.

Beautiful World, Where Are You
2 months

6.
3.

The Magician

2 months

7.


Crossroads
1 month

8.
9.

Subdivision
6 months

9.


A Calling for Charlie Barnes
1 month

10.
4.

The Book of Form and Emptiness
2 months

Can lists… listen? For months I’ve exclaimed our Top Ten’s consistency. The titles and their order have resisted change. Newcomers are as sporadic as they are welcome.

Well, no more. Like the goo in Ghostbusters 2, which animates in proportion to how much it’s heckled, our Top Ten converted months of my jibes into total metamorphosis. First place this month belongs to Paraic O’Donnell’s The House on Vesper Sands, which last month held… last. Down is up, which means up is also down. Ruth Ozeki’s The Book of Form and Emptiness moved from fourth to 10th. In between, two of last month’s top-three books—Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World… and Colm Tóibín’s The Magician—shifted into the middle this month.

If not my digs, then what shuffled the deck? If I possessed such unknowable answers, I’d be doing something else.

Some things held steady, though. Millions readers were so lathered up by Ed Simon’s piece about Ludwig Wittgenstein’s work that Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus rocketed onto our list, and three months later it’s not just hanging on; it’s climbing. Likewise, Millions readers welcomed Jonathan Franzen’s latest novel Crossroads onto this month’s list, which is fitting since Franzen’s made it to our site’s Hall of Fame three times. There’s comfort in stability, is there not?

Lastly, Joshua Ferris’s A Calling for Charlies Barnes entered our list in ninth position this month, after hovering in the “Near Misses” for a time. On our site last August, David Aaron wrote that “if this is not quite Ferris’s silliest work, it feels like his most personal.” Evidently, Millions readers were intrigued.

This month’s near misses included: Harlem Shuffle, Craft in the Real World, and Fierce Little Thing. See Also: Last month’s list.