Petaluma Bestsellers: Lively response to new death-themed guidebook

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The top selling titles at Copperfield’s Books, in Petaluma, for the week of Sept. 16 - Sept. 22, 2019

It’s no surprise - given the standing-room-only audience that greeted authors B.J. Miller and Shoshana Berger last Friday night at Copperfield’s Books - that their remarkably fun-to-read new manual, “A Beginner’s Guide to the End,” would end up as the No. 1 bestselling book of the week. Subtitled “Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death,” the book is an easy-to-read (lots of pictures), step-by-step guide through the complex process of experiencing a terminal illness, from diagnosis to telling your loved ones and co-workers to handling all the legal and medical stuff to leaving up-to-date instructions and funeral wishes. “The thing about death,” said Miller at the event, “is there’s no way to fail at it. Everyone’s death goes a little differently, but don’t worry, you can’t do it wrong. Everyone successfully accomplishes it.” The book was designed, he said, to make getting to the end a little less stressful for everyone involved.

Meanwhile, last week’s No. 3 title, Margaret Atwood’s novel futuristic “The Testaments,” moves up to No. 2, riding a wave of high anticipation and interest. The newly released bestseller is a sequel to Atwood’s classic “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which also appears this week on the Fiction and Nonfiction Bestseller List (No. 9), while last week’s No. 1, Madeline Miller’s fantasy novel “Circe,” slides down to No. 3.

And on the Kids and Young Adults List, a new picture book by author Mac Barnett and illustrator Greg Pizzoli drops (or should we says “touches down”) directly into the No. 1 spot. “Jack Blasts Off” tells the story of Jack, a misbehaving dog who ends up in outer space.

At No. 2 is Sydney Smith’s “Small in the City,” while last week’s No. 1, ‘I’m Just No Good at Rhyming,’ by Chris Harris, takes over the No. 3 spot occupied by Dav Pilkey’s “Dog Man: For Whom the Ball Rolls,” which scampers down to No. 7.


1. ‘A Beginner’s Guide to the End,’ by B.J. Miller and Shoshana Berger

2. ‘The Testaments,’ by Margaret Atwood

3. ‘Circe,’ written by Madeline Miller

4. ‘Petaluma Wetlands Field Guide,’ by Marion Parker and John Shribbs

5. ‘Permanent Record,’ by Edward Snowden

6. ‘How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems,’ by Randall Munroe

7. ‘Talking to Strangers,’ by Malcolm Gladwell

8. ‘Where the Crawdads Sing,’ by Delia Owens

9. ‘Handmaid’s Tale,’ by Margaret Atwood

10. ‘Aluminum Leaves: A Broken Cities Novella,’ by Marion Deeds


1. ‘Hi, Jack! Jack Blasts Off,’ written by Mac Barnett and Greg Pizzoli

2. ‘Small in the City,’ written by Sydney Smith

3. ‘I’m Just No Good at Rhyming,’ by Chris Harris

4. ‘Guts,’ written by Raina Telgemeier

5. ‘Mac B Kid Spy: Top Secret Smackdown,’ by Mac Barnett

6. ‘AstroNuts Mission One: The Plant Planet,’ written by Jon Scieszka

7. ‘Dog Man: For Whom the Ball Rolls,’ written & illustrated by Dav Pilkey

8. ‘All the Impossible Things,’ written by Lindsay Lackey

9. ‘This Was Our Pact,’ by Ryan Andrews

10. ‘Oh, Rats!’ written by Tor Seidler

(Data compiled by Amber-Rose Reed, Assistant Manager of Copperfield’s Books)

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