Going to Town: Readers Can’t Get Enough of Inside-the-Beltway Chatter

In his New York magazine column of August 12, Frank Rich wrote, “It’s been the summer of This Town,” and enthusiasm for the title doesn’t seem to be waning anytime soon. Currently in its fifth week on our Hardcover Nonfiction list, Mark Leibovich’s tome has racked up, according to Nielsen BookScan, total sales of 44,225. With coast-to-coast appearances and nonstop media, This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral–Plus Plenty of Valet Parking!–in America’s Gilded Capital has turned into the country’s unlikely summer beach read. Leibovich, dubbed by the Washington Post “a master of the political profile,” is the New York Times’ chief national correspondent who’s covered D.C. for decades and has written a scathing and cinematic book about these fat and fast times in the nation’s capital.

Far from being hopelessly divided, Washington is hopelessly interconnected, says Leibovich, and the capital’s overriding imperative these days is to make money for the permanent political class that runs the country. In a nod to Richard Ben Cramer’s great political classic What It Takes, there is no index included in This Town—as stated on the back jacket, “Those players wishing to know how they came out will need to read the book.”

This Town’s July launch kicked off with a New York Times Magazine first serial, with author appearances that included This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Fox News Sunday, The Daily Show, et al. A major social media campaign—including a Reddit AMA and ringing Twitter endorsements from Rob Lowe (“Mark Leibovich’s new book This Town is so funny and biting and smart. It’s my House of Cards”) and Bette Midler—made #ThisTown part of the daily conversation online. The dialogue continued with major political voices such as Maureen Dowd, Fareed Zakaria, and Christopher Buckley weighing in. (Buckley, in his NYTBR review, called This Town “vastly entertaining and deeply troubling.”)

On August 23, Leibovich was the subject of a one-hour PBS Moyers & Co. interview; appearances still to come include NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me as well as events this fall, including the San Francisco Commonwealth Club, the Texas Book Festival, and several other venues around the country. After five trips to press, the publisher reports 135,161 copies in print, adding that e-book sales have been “outstanding.”—Dick Donahue

Hot Summer Backlist Books

Though summer is often reserved for books you can take to the beach or on a road trip, the books don’t necessarily have to be frontlist. Besides, a backlist trade paperback is much more portable than frontlist hardcover.

Older favorites like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain have each sold in excess of 4,000 copies over the past two weeks. Another perennial favorite, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, first published in 1984, has sold well over 6,000 copies over the past two weeks.

Meanwhile, both Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower have sold over 100,000 copies in 2013 alone. Wallflower is likely seeing an uptick because of students reading for school (or on their own!), and The Alchemist is, well, The Alchemist.

Other titles with more than 5,000 copies sold over the past two weeks: The Language of Flowers by Jennifer Diffenbaugh, Lost & Found by Jacqueline Sheehan, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, and The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien.—Gabe Habash

She’s Going, Alright: Chelsea Cain’s Latest Hits the Fiction List

Let Me Go, Chelsea Cain’s sixth novel featuring detective Archie Sheridan and serial killer Gretchen Lowell, debuts at #24 on the Hardcover Fiction list this week.

Jack Reynolds is a crime kingpin in Oregon whose daughter was one of Gretchen’s victims, and whose son, Leo, is one of Archie’s undercover informants. At a Halloween party on his private island in Oswego Lake, Jack adds a touch of business to the festivities, and both Archie and Leo get a glimpse of a criminal summit. But before he knows what’s happening, Archie is knocked out—and when he comes to, he learns that one of the guests was murdered. He also finds evidence that Gretchen, who has recently escaped from a mental hospital, was at the party. Piecing together the night’s events on Jack’s island, Archie learns that Leo is in danger, as is everyone who was close to him, especially his girlfriend Susan Ward. And Gretchen might be the only person Archie can trust in a situation that’s getting deadlier by the second.

Cain’s first five novels in this series were all New York Times bestsellers. Also the author of Confessions of a Teen Sleuth, a parody based on the life of Nancy Drew, and several nonfiction titles, Cain was born in Iowa, raised in Bellingham, Wash., and now lives in Portland, Ore.

The launch event for the book at Powell’s in Portland was her biggest event there ever, drawing an estimated 200 people. Dressed in a blood-spattered nurse costume, Cain handed out necklaces made from fake severed body parts.—Peter Cannon

Can ‘Lightning’ Strike Twice?

A mythical battle resumed at the movie theater on August 7 with the release of Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. This sequel to Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief (2010) is based on the second in Rick Riordan’s middle-grade fantasy series (#6 on Children’s Frontlist Fiction), about a 12-year-old boy with dyslexia and ADHD who discovers he is the son of Poseidon. In the second film, Percy and his fellow demigods journey to retrieve the Golden Fleece, their only protection against the mythological beasts that populate the Sea of Monsters. Most of the cast from the first film has returned for Sea of Monsters, including Logan Lerman as Percy Jackson, Brandon T. Jackson as Grover Underwood, and Alexandra Daddario as Annabeth Chase. The film, from 1492 Pictures/Sunswept Entertainment and 20th Century Fox, is directed by Thor Freudenthal, who takes over from Chris Columbus, director of the first movie, which grossed over $88 million domestically. With its high adventure, mythological creatures, and relatable hero, the series has drawn an impassioned fan base. To date, more than 33 million books (across the Percy Jackson & the Olympians, the Kane Chronicles, and the Heroes of Olympus series) are in print in the U.S., and the books have been translated into 37 languages.—Matia Burnett