Back to the Future

A pair of major authors, each having a cultural moment, debut at the top of our list with first-week print unit sales in the six figures.

The #1 book in the country is The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s “eminently rewarding sequel,” our starred review said, to The Handmaid’s Tale. Since that book’s 1986 U.S. publication, it has been adapted as a film, a graphic novel, and a popular TV series that just concluded its third season. The same week The Testaments pubbed, the 1998 trade paper edition of The Handmaid’s Tale sold 18K print copies.

Stephen King’s The Institute, the #2 book in the country, is “the most gut-wrenching tale of kids triumphing over evil since It,” our starred review said. It, like The Handmaid’s Tale, pubbed in 1986 and has since spawned a 1990 mini­series and a two-part feature film adaptation. It Chapter Two opened September 6; the movie tie-in edition, which pubbed July 30, is #1 in trade paper with 12 print copies sold.

(See all of this week's bestselling books.)

Power’s Station

The Education of an Idealist by Samantha Power, who won a Pulitzer Prize for 2002’s A Problem from Hell, debuts at #5 in hardcover nonfiction. In her new book, she traces her route from college to law school to serving in the Obama administration, first on the National Security Council and then as ambassador to the United Nations. “Power’s vibrant prose, exuberant storytelling, and deep insights into human nature,” our starred review said, “make for a page-turning memoir.

Raise the Dead

Caitlin Doughty, a self-described “mortician, activist, and funeral industry rabble-rouser,” lands at #11 in hardcover nonfiction with Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?, which aims to answer the many questions that, as a funeral director, Doughty fields about death. Her two previous books, both death-centric—2014’s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and 2017’s From Here to Eternityhave sold a combined 146K print copies. First-week print unit sales have increased with each book.

New & Notable

Talking to Strangers
Malcolm Gladwell
#1 Hardcover Nonfiction, #3 overall
Sparked by the death of Sandra Bland, who died in her jail cell after a traffic stop, Gladwell “aims to figure out the strategies people use to assess strangers,” our review said, in an effort to understand “how to balance trust and safety.”

The Only Plane in the Sky
Garrett M. Graff
#8 Hardcover Nonfiction
Journalist Graff’s oral history of 9/11, which our starred review called a “vivid, moving work,” includes accounts from New York City, the Pentagon, and the Flight 93 crash site in Shanksville, Pa.

She Said
Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey
#9 Hardcover Nonfiction
“The dogged investigative journalism that brought down Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein is spotlighted” in this “crackerjack journalistic thriller that becomes a revealing study of the culture that enables sexual misconduct,” according to our starred review.

Top 10 Overall

Rank Title Author Imprint Units
1 The Testaments Margaret Atwood Doubleday/Talese 111,280
2 The Institute Stephen King Scribner 108,443
3 Talking to Strangers Malcolm Gladwell Little, Brown 65,856
4 For Whom the Ball Rolls (Dog Man #7) Dav Pilkey Graphix 52,481
5 Where the Crawdads Sing Delia Owens Putnam 30,327
6 Call Sign Chaos Mattis/West Random House 23,253
7 Everything Is Figureoutable Marie Forleo Portfolio 21,068
8 The Oracle Jonathan Cahn Frontline 19,371
9 The Goldfinch Donna Tartt Back Bay 18,719
10 Antoni in the Kitchen Antoni Porowski HMH/Martin 18,399

All unit sales per NPD BookScan except where noted.