Petaluma Bestsellers: Historical eye-opener ‘Caste’ returns to Top 10 list

Positive word-of-mouth continues to propel Isabel Wilkerson’s ambitious exploration of American inequality.|

The top selling titles at Copperfield’s Books, in Petaluma, for the week of April 19-April 25, 2021

For the first time in over a month, Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country” is not the No. 1 title on Petaluma’s Bestselling Fiction and Nonfiction Books List.

It’s No. 2, dropping down a notch to make room for the return of Isabel Wilkerson’s “Caste,” the 2020 bestseller that spent a good portion of the summer and fall on or near the top of Petaluman’s minds and bookstore Top 10 Book lists, here and nationwide. Taking a different look at the roots of poverty and racism, “Caste,” with the poetically pointed subtitle “The Origins of Our Discontents,” is Wilkerson’s 10-years-in-the-making follow-up to her acclaimed “The Warmth of Other Suns,” an examination of the great “unrecognized migration” of Black people to the north in the early 1900s. “Caste” launches an equally ambitious, historical exploration of America’s complex social structure, ultimately defining it as not just foundationally racist, but as an intentionally designed caste system, a structured culture of inequality purposefully creating the haves and have-nots, vigorously working to keep them apart, while making sure the system always stays that way.

As a work of American history, “Caste” is a richly researched, thoroughly stunning achievement. As more and more people find their way to it and then recommend it to others, it’s no surprise Wilkerson’s monumental engrossing and eye-opening book keeps returning to the top of our local bestseller list.

Here are the complete Top 10 Books on Copperfield’s Fiction and Nonfiction list, along with the full Kids and Young Adults list.


1. ‘Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,’ by Isabel Wilkerson – The 2020 bestseller looks at race and poverty in the United States through the lens of caste, a rigid system of haves and have-nots.

2. ‘The Hill We Climb,’ by Amanda Gorman – With a forward by Oprah Winfrey, this “gift edition” presents the electrifying poem Gorman read during President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

3. ‘100 Things to Do in Sonoma County Before You Die,’ by Yvonne Michrie Horn – Santa Rosa travel writer Horn spent the better part of 2020 writing this entertaining look at some of the best places and activities in Sonoma County.

4. ‘Circe,’ by Madeline Miller – The notorious animal-transforming sorceress from “The Odyssey” tells her own story, and guess what? It’s not the same story told by the piggish men she encountered.

5. ‘World Travel,’ by Anthony Bourdain – The late Anthony Bourdain traveled around the world and reported brilliantly and humanely about those travels. This is a collection of previously unpublished essays that almost, but not quite, resemble a real Bourdain travel guide.

6. ‘Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race,’ by Walter Isaacson – A stunning true story with massive implications, this is the story of woman who invented gene-splicing, how she did it, and what happens next.

7. ‘The Galaxy, and the Ground Within,’ by Becky Chambers – The Hugo Award-winning Chambers warps back to the universe of the Galactic Commons in another installment of her popular Wayfarers series, a blend of brilliant character development and inventive science-fiction.

8. ‘The Water Dancer,’ by Ta-Nehisi Coates – A fantasy novel about a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad in the 1800s, who discover a power to transport people instantly along and across bodies of water.

9. ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo,’ by Taylor Reid Jenkins – An acclaimed 2017 Hollywood novel about a sex symbol’s glamourous but gritty life, told alternately by her and the unknown journalist randomly selected (or was it so random?) to write the actress’s biography.

10. ‘Where the Crawdads Sing,’ by Delia Owens – The bestselling novel about a young girl name Kya who lives in a Louisiana swamp, abandoned by everyone in her life until she learns how to survive by watching the insects and swamp animals around her. Oh, and there’s a murder mystery.


1. ‘Dog Man: Mothering Heights,’ by Dav Pilkey – In the 10th book in the series by the creator of Captain Underpants, canine cop Dog Man teams up with Petey the Cat and a stray kitten to stop an onslaught of villains and prove the persistent power of love, kindness and dog-slobbering.

2. ‘Shadow and Bone,’ by Leigh Bardugo – The first book in the amazing adventure-fantasy series that just last week became a lavish and spectacular Netflix TV series.

3. ‘We Were Liars,’ by E. Lockhart – This YA novel is a taught psychological thriller about a group of friends on a private family island struggling a legacy of darkly fairytale-ish secrets.

4. ‘Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows,’ by Asia Citro – One of the many delightful books in this STEM-based series about a very smart girl, a cat, and a different magical creature each time.

5. ‘Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Spooky Stories,’ by Jeff Kinney – The “Wimpy Kid” sidekick shares scary tales that are actually hilarious.

6. ‘Margaret’s Unicorn,’ by Briony May Smith – A lonely girl befriends a lost baby unicorn in this delightful picture book.

7. ‘Itty-Bitty Kitty-Corn,’ by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham – A tale of affirming one’s identity as told through the friendship between two different (but not-so-different) magical creatures.

8. ‘Wings of Fire: The Dangerous Gift,’ by Tui Sutherland – Another popular sequel, another chapter in Sutherland’s epic tale, more dragons, more fire, more fun.

9. ‘Whatever After: Two Peas in a Pod,’ by Sarah Mlynowski – The series of magical fairytale spoofs continues with this variation on the Princess and the Pea folktale.

10. ‘If You Go Down to the Woods Today,’ by Rachel Piercey – Poems and drawing filled with interesting things to look for, this magical book gives kids a way to look deeply at nature while being thoroughly entertained and entranced.

Data compiled by Amber-Rose Reed, Manager of Copperfield’s Books.

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