October Surprise

Amid a global pandemic, thousands of people are reading... a book about a fictional pandemic. The Lawrence Wright thriller The End of October, in which a virus threatens the lives of millions, debuts at #12 in hardcover fiction. Our starred review said “this timely literary page-turner shows Wright is on a par with the best writers in the genre.”

It’s not the only new release with contemporary resonance. In March, Vivek H. Murthy, surgeon general under Barack Obama, and Alice T. Chen, an internal medicine physician, wrote in the Atlantic that the pandemic could trigger a “social recession—a fraying of social bonds that further unravel the longer we go without human interaction.” Murthy’s Together, subtitled The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World, lands at #20 on our hardcover nonfiction list.

TV Watch

Sally Rooney’s Normal People had already sold 109K copies in hardcover and another 61K in trade paper before the small-screen adaptation, full of much-discussed sex scenes, dropped April 29 and gave homebound viewers a reason to Hulu and chill. It’s up five positions to #2 on our current trade paper list; Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones, the series leads, promoted Rooney’s novel on Instagram on World Book Day, April 23.

In Clubland

Margarita Montimore’s second novel, Oona Out of Order, pubbed at the end of February. “This witty, fantastical exploration of life’s inevitable changes is surprising and touching,” our review said of the “whimsical” time-travel story. The book has been building momentum: on March 24, Good Morning America announced it as its April book club pick, and a month later, it debuts at #20 in hardcover fiction. Print unit sales are up 45% compared with the week before, for its best weekly sales yet.


John Grisham
#1 Hardcover Fiction, #1 overall
This follow-up to 2017’s Camino Island kicks off with the murder of a popular thriller writer. “Grisham peoples the intriguing, elaborate plot,” our review said, “with a winsome ensemble of distinguished authors and booklovers.”

Michael Todd
#2 Hardcover Nonfiction, #4 overall
“Todd, lead pastor of Transformation Church in Tulsa, Okla., offers millennials strategies for building strong relationships,” our review said, “in his fresh if meandering debut.” A companion study guide debuts at #3 in trade paper.