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With event announcements at an early-summer ebb, I thought I might share some further nuggets from my giant spreadsheet of our sales from our first five years. Overall bestsellers are fine, but weirdos like me want to know: of all those gazillion Mo Willems Elephant & Piggie books, which have been the most popular here? The answer:
  1. We Are in a Book!
  2. The Thank You Book
  3. I Really Like Slop! (of course)
  4. Should I Share My Ice Cream?
  5. Waiting Is Not Easy!
And how about our beloved NYRB Classics? No surprises here for us, since these include some of our own favorites, and some of the ones that certain customers buy again and again as gifts:
  1. My Summer Book by Tove Jansson
  2. Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household
  3. The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
  4. A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes
  5. The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson
And a little comparison: how has readership of some of our most popular series held up after the first book? Let's compare those two European writers who arrived at the same time: Elena Ferrante and Karl Ove Knausgaard. For Ferrante, our sales of books two, three, and four of her Neapolitan novels are 34%, 30%, and 27% of our sales for the first one: a bit of a drop-off from My Brilliant Friend (the #6 seller in our history), but it looks like folks who read book two mostly stayed all the way to the end. The drop-off for Knausgaard's My Struggle has been a little more precipitous: the percentages for books two through six are 37%, 23%, 17%, 9%, and 2% (book six has just come out in hardcover so far).

How about for the three popular, award-dominating science fiction trilogies that have come out since we opened? Total sales for each trilogy here have been almost identical, but the patterns are a little different. For N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth series, many readers have bought all three: books two and three have sales of 49% and 47% of the first (The Fifth Season). The drop-off is a little higher for Ann Leckie's Ancillary trilogy: after the first, Ancillary Justice, books two and three were at 35% and 23%. And for Cixin Liu's perhaps a little more daunting Remembrance of Earth's Past? Our sales for The Three-Body Problem dropped to 29% for book two and 16% for the dauntingly titled finale, Death's End.

And that's the sort of rabbit hole I fall into (when I'm not paging through Philip Roth auction items...).
Thanks—Tom, Laura, Kim, Liz, Haley, Anika, Doree, and Nancy
Ridge Readers Book Club: Tyrant
Next Wednesday, July 17, at 7:30 pm, our Ridge Readers book club discusses Stephen Greenblatt's Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics. Next month's discussion, on August 21, is on Fabio Bartolome's We Are Family. Newcomers always welcome!
New Book of the Week
Last Witnesses: An Oral History of the Children of World War II
by Svetlana Alexievich
In Nobel Prize winner Alexievich’s latest book to be translated into English we hear from the most unacknowledged of all war veterans—those who experienced it as children. The physical details of their memories are specific to the USSR between 1940-45, but it is the children’s (boys and girls, rural and urban, Jewish and gentile) position closer to the ground that allows them to perceive unmediated the fundamentals of all war—fear, loss and uncertainty. Even more poignant are their echoed tales about how war mangles common talismans of childhood—dolls, candy, the word “Mama.” The chapters fly by—each is just a few pages of conversation—because they are both horribly compelling and too intense to linger over. Our consolation is that these children grew up to tell their stories, and Alexievich composed them into this shattering testimonial to the idea that no child should ever suffer for the political follies of their elders. —Liz
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
Audiobook of the Week
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
by Ocean Vuong
I'm not sure if Ocean Vuong's first novel is more intense on the page or in your ear. I took it in the latter way, read in Vuong's own soft, quavering, and forceful voice, which he keeps at such a pitch of high, vulnerable emotion that even his reading of the copyright notice at the end could bring you to tears. But so could any note of his character's story, written as a letter to his immigrant mother in a language she could never read, recounting the losses and fleeting joys (see the title) of their lives with an almost unbearably tender exactness for physical details—the toxins of nail salons, the brush of a farmer's son's teen mustache as they embrace in the barn—and the metaphors they spawn. The traditional immigrant's story charts a growing assimilation in the new culture and estrangement from the old; Vuong's follows no such arc but hovers in the anguish of the middle, sung like a bluesy, bitter lullaby, one of those in which down comes baby, cradle and all. —Tom
(Order the audiobook from our partners at
We Are Okay
Kids' Book of the Week
We Are Okay
by Nina LaCour
I first read Nina LaCour’s We Are Okay shortly after it was published, and now that it’s been released in paperback, I feel compelled to write about it. It’s a quiet, character-driven book about family, first love, loneliness, and grief. When Marin’s grandfather dies unexpectedly, she’s left with no one. She heads from California to New York for college, where she suffers in silence for months before her childhood friend Mabel comes to visit her over winter break. LaCour’s writing is beautiful and melancholy, her storytelling straightforward and intimate. We Are Okay is so much more than just a pretty cover—and it is indeed a gorgeous cover. (12 and up) —Anika
Open City
Link of the Week
Ferrying Fellow Citizens to Safety
As a companion to the awfully timely Shakespearean speech in defense of strangers at a time of anti-immigrant riots in London, which James linked to in last week's Madison Books newsletter, here's Teju Cole, author of Open City, linking the experience of being translated—literally "carried across"—into another language to the generosity of those who are carrying desperate migrants across borders, and being arrested for doing so.
Cover Crop Quiz #151
A little more recent than in some of our previous quizzes.
Last Week's Answer
Straight off your parents' bookshelf, or a mid-80s library sale: Gail Sheehy's 1976 midlife-crisis blockbuster, Passages.
The Overstory
New to Our 100 Club

The Overstory
by Richard Powers
(13 weeks (!!!) to reach 100)
New to Our 100 Club

Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child
by John Gottman
(1,090 weeks to reach 100)

Phinney Books
7405 Greenwood Ave. N
Seattle, WA 98103
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New on Our Resist List
(See this week's full list.
20% of sales go to the ACLU.)

Shapes of Native Nonfiction: Collected Essays by Contemporary Writers, edited by Elissa Washuta and Theresa Warburton
This America: The Case for the Nation by Jill Lepore
New in the Store

Deep River by Karl Marlantes
Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
Knife (Harry Hole #12) by Jo Nesbo
Stay and Fight by Madeline Ffitch
Hope Rides Again (Obama-Biden Mystery #2) by Andrew Shaffer

What Do We Need Men For?: A Modest Proposal by E. Jean Carroll
The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America by Margaret O'Mara
Shadowlands: Fear and Freedom at the Oregon Standoff by Andrew McCann
Mcmindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality by Ronald Purser

Kids and Teens:
Wilder Girls by Rory Power
The Pigeon HAS to Go to School by Mo Willems
Cheshire Crossing by Andy Weir and Sarah Andersen
To the Future, Ben Franklin! (Magic Tree House #32) by Mary Pope Osborne
Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey

A Terrible Country by Keith Gessen (on Liz's 2018 top 10!)
Early Work by Andrew Martin
Whiskey When We're Dry by John Larison
The Impostor by Javier Cercas
This Week in Leo Tolstoy's Diaries

July 7, 1854
(age 25)
"I am ugly, awkward, untidy, and socially uneducated. I am irritable, boring to other people, immodest, intolerant, and bashful as a child. I am almost an ignoramus. What I know I have somehow learned myself in snatches, piecemeal, unsystematically, and it amounts to very little. I am intemperate, irresolute, inconstant, stupidly vain, and passionate like all people who lack character. I am not brave. I am unmethodical in life, and so lazy that idleness has become for me almost an insuperable habit. I am intelligent, but my intelligence has never yet been thoroughly tested by anything.... I am so ambitious, and this feeling has been so little satisfied, that as between fame and virtue, I fear I might often choose the former if I had to make a choice."
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