Petaluma readers can’t get enough of Madeline Miller
The top selling titles at Copperfield’s Books, in Petaluma, for the week of April 5-April 11, 2021
For the third week since its publication, Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country” is the No. 1 title on Petaluma’s Bestselling Fiction and Nonfiction Books List. This not only marks the first time that a book of poetry has repeated three times in recent memory, it may be the first time since 1993 that a single individual poem has spent time on top of the list at all. That was 1993, and the poem was Maya Angelou’s “On the Pulse of the Morning,” yet another inaugural poem, in that case for President Bill Clinton. “The Hill We Climb,” by the way, will be released again in a full collection of Gorman’s poetry in September of this year.
Meanwhile, last week’s No. 2 book, Madeline Miller’s fantasy novel “Circe,” drops down to No. 3, making room for Delia Owens’ “Where the Crawdads Sing” to move from No. 10 into this week’s No. 2 spot. It should be noted that another work by Miller, her debut novel “The Song of Achilles,” also appears on the Top 10 list this week, taking the No. 6 place. While it’s not terribly unusual for two books by the same author to end up on the list at the same time – Ibram X Kendi saw three titles appear all at once in Petaluma last summer – this is the first time that Miller’s Greek mythology-based novels have shared the list in the same week. That’s remarkable because, except for one brief anomaly in the middle of March (March 18, to be precise), Miller’s two books have been taking turns on the list, alternating back and forth, since the beginning of February.
The picture this would seem to paint illustrates a kind of literary physics, a law of attraction in which readers who find their way to a book by a particular author, assuming they enjoy the work, immediately seek out other books by the same writer. To some degree, it explains what happened with Kendi. At a time of national racial self-examination, his “How to Be an Antiracist” became a must-read in Petaluma and beyond. For the next several weeks, readers eagerly moved on to other of Kendi’s works.
It happens all the time.
Sometimes, when the books in question represent an established series, as with Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall’s “Ivy and Bean Get to Work!” the No. 1 title this week on Petaluma’s Kids and Young Adults list – and the final chapter in what is now 12 “Ivy and Bean” books – a freshly hooked reader will head right back to the bookstore for the next volume in the series.
One need not buy every book in a series at once, of course, or every available title by a newly discovered author. But some people do, so smitten are they with their latest literary crush.
This, for what it’s worth, is one of the reasons that used bookstores are so popular.
Say someone gives you Christopher Moore’s “Bloodsucking Fiends” as a birthday present, and upon finishing it, you discover there are more books about Jody and Tommy, the San Francisco hipster vampires, and that, in fact, Moore has dozens of similarly transgressive and hilarious works of horror comedy. It would not be at all unusual for you to soon visit a used bookstore and carry away every Christopher Moore book on the shelf.
That, too, happens all the time.
But just replace the name Christopher Moore with that of Virginia Woolf, or Toni Morison or John Irving or Kurt Vonnegut or Anne Rice or Isabel Allende or Kazuo Ishiguro or H.G. Welles or Octavia Butler or (getting back to where we started) Ibram X Kendi, Madeline Miller, Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall, and you will have a very good example of the literary law of attraction.
Because reading a good book just makes you want to read more good books.
And a good author is as addictive and irresistible as a really great poem.
Here are the complete Top 10 Books on Copperfield’s Fiction and Nonfiction list, along with the full Kids and Young Adults list.
FICTION & NON-FICTION
1. ‘The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country,’ by Amanda Gorman – With a forward by Oprah Winfrey, this “gift edition” presents the electrifying poem Gorman read during President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
2. ‘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.