Petaluma Bestsellers: How did Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ become local readers’ No. 1 choice this week?

The top selling titles at Copperfield’s Books, in Petaluma, for the week of Sept. 27-Oct. 3, 2021

It is not often that a classic novel lands at No. 1 on the bestseller list after more than 55 years in print, but that’s what Frank Herbert’s 1965 science-fiction epic “Dune” has done this week in Petaluma. Knocking last week’s No. 1 title, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s Trump exposé “Peril,” down to No. 2, the suddenly hot again “Dune” – which has been on-and-off the list since the beginning of August – has clearly captured the attentions of local readers.

It’s not hard to figure out why.

With anticipation high for the Oct. 22 release of the latest movie adaptation from director Denis Villeneuve (“Sicario,” “Arrival,” “Blade Runner 2049”), it’s obvious that fans are either re-reading the book in preparation for watching the film, or picking it up for the first time for the same reason. After all, while some movie trailers make the film look like an easy, laid back two hours in a theater, others instantly make us feel like maybe we should do a little research first, and that definitely applies to the latest trailer for “Dune,” and that aura of density and depth extends to the book itself. Few bestsellers in recent memory carry the same weighty reputation for complexity as Herbert’s masterpiece, while somehow sustaining a high level of passionate devotion and giddy enthusiasm from its fans at the same time.

“Dune,” for those who have not read it or seen the trailer, is the story of several warring families in a feudal universe where the most prized element is a spice found only on a desert planet ruled by giant sand worms and populated by a race of people straining under the rule of colonizing armies. Reportedly inspired by a combination of “Lawrence of Arabia” and Herbert’s own observations of how sand dunes function on the coast of Oregon, the story follows young Paul, of the House Atreides, and his transformation from sensitive youth to powerful leader. The book inspired several sequels. Some consider it the greatest science-fiction book series of all time.

So, will “Dune,” the book, stay popular once the movie comes out?

It definitely could.

For one thing, no movie can capture all of the detail and plot that a book can, and those who see the movie without having read the novel might end up hungry for more. And for another thing, the movie appears to only tell half of the story in the book. Yes, it ends with cliffhanger, concluding roughly halfway through Herbert’s novel.

That means that until part two is released sometime in the future, picking up the book may be your only way of finding out how the story ends.

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


1. ‘Dune,’ by Frank Herbert – Considered one of the greatest science fiction epics of all time, it’s the sweeping story of a prince and a planet has lots of really weird stuff, from heart-plugs and sand worms to space-traveling spice and some truly twisted politics.

2. ‘Peril,’ by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa – The latest in a behind-the-scenes trilogy examining the beginning, middle and end of the tumultuous Trump presidency, “Peril” not only details the how very close we came to a successful dictatorial dissolution of American democracy, it makes the case that that danger is far from over.

3. ‘The Last Graduate,’ by Naomi Novik – A sequel to the author’s 2020 bestseller “A Deadly Education,” this continuation returns to the Scholomance, where under-educated witch El is sooner-or-later going to have to face that hallway of terrifying monsters, if she ever hopes to graduate and return to her life.

4. ‘Harlem Shuffle,’ by Colin Whitehead – The author of Pulitzer-winning novels “The Underground Railroad” and The Nickel Boys” returns with a raucous crime novel set in Harlem in the 1920s.

5. ‘Fuzz,’ by Mary Roach – In her latest nonfiction exploration of uncommon book topics, the author of “Stiff” (a book about dead bodies) and “Gulp” (all about the digestive system and its many surprising realities) brings us a book about why animals sometimes attack human beings, and what some of those humans are doing about it.

6. ‘The Once and Future Witches,’ by Alix E. Harrow – Now in paperback, Harrow’s powerful historical-fantasy is set in during the suffragette movement of the late 1800s, as three sisters attempt to alter the future with magic.

7. ‘The Last Nomad,’ by Shugri Said Salh – This heartbreaking and soaringly inspirational memoir tells Santa Rosa author Salh’s remarkable journey from the deserts of Somalia to Northern California.

8. ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land,’ by Anthony Doerr – An ancient Greek manuscript inspires and incites over the course of thousands of years, from ancient cities to future space ships.

9. ‘Bewilderment,’ by Richard Powers – The bestselling author of “The Overstory” follows up his Pulitzer-winning eco-epic with an intimate novel about a biologist and his troubled 9-year-old son bonding over science and the fate of the earth after a devastating tragedy.

10. ‘Under the Whispering Door,’ by TJ Klune – From the author of “The House in the Cerulean Sea” comes another delightful and indelible fantasy, this one about a failure of a man who learns to appreciate the joy of being alive only after his sad and lonely death.


1. ‘A Tale of Magic: A Tale of Sorcery,’ by Chris Colfer – The third is actor-author Chris Colfer’s series about a magical land and its inhabitants.

2. ‘InvestiGators: Ants in Our P.A.N.T.S.’ by John Patrick Green – The Gators are back for another hilarious mystery.

3. ‘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.

4. ‘Babysitters Club: Kristy and the Snobs,’ by Ann M. Martin – The adventures continue, this time with plot problems arising from a pair of school time girls with superiority problem.

5. ‘Trubble Town: Squirrel Do Bad,’ by Stephan Pastis – Wendy the Wanderer has always lived in Trubble town, but never allowed to live up to her name until her dad leaves town on a business trip – and she suddenly has the freedom to explore her very strange home.

6. ‘Change Sings: A Children's Anthem,’ by Amanda Gorman – As a kind of follow-up to her acclaimed 2021 inaugural poem “The Hill We Climb,” rising poet Gorman delivers a vibrant kids’ picture book, written in rhyme, in which children change the world in ways large and small, with the help of a few musical instruments and the ever-hopeful human voice.

7. ‘One of Us Is Lying,’ by Karen McManus – Five students are sentenced to detention. One of them dies. Who did it? This popular YA novel is now a Netflix series.

8. ‘The Ghost of Midnight Lake,’ by Lucy Strange – A haunted shore and the ghosts who linger there could hold the secret to a 12-year-old girl’s true identity.

9. ‘Front Desk: Room to Dream,’ by Kelly Yang – Mia Tang takes a life-changing vacation with her family to China.

10. ‘Hilo: Then Everything Went Wrong,’ by Judd Winick – The monster-battling hero from anotbher planet returns for another adventure.

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

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