Watchung Booksellers’ Biggest Hits of 2017

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There are three things you can count on as we near the end of each year: resolutions (bound to be broken), browning Christmas trees left discarded on the sidewalks, and – our favorite – “best of” lists.  Here, Watchung Booksellers owner Margot Sage-EL shares with us the store’s biggest hits of the year and a few of her staff’s favorite reads for 2017.

Celebrity Events:

2017 was a big year for Watchung Booksellers, which hosted Trevor Noah, Isabel Allende, Montclair’s own Christina Baker Kline, and Hillary Clinton, whose book-signing event on September 26 reportedly sold out within an hour of it being announced. According to Sage-EL, bestselling books from this year’s celebrity events were:

Trevor Noah, “Born a Crime” (Montclair Literary Festival)
Hillary Clinton, “What Happened” (bookstore signing)
Isabel Allende, “In the Midst of Winter” (MPL Open Book/Open Mind)
Christina Baker Kline, “Piece of the World” (local and MPL Open Book/Open Mind)
Laurie Lico Albanese, “Stolen Beauty” (local and Montclair Literary Festival)
Paul Auster, “4 3 2 1” (Montclair Literary Festival)

Local authors:

Watchung Books also held several great book launches for local authors, with top titles including:

Laura Schenone, “Dogs of Avalon”
Jillian Pransky, “Deep Listening”
Henry Neff, “Impyrium” (middle reader)
Christina Baker Kline, “Orphan Train” and the new middle reader version, “Orphan Train Girl”
Marina Antropow Cramer, “Roads”
Nancy Star, “Sisters 1, 2, 3”
Bobbi Brown, “Bobbi Brown Beauty from the Inside Out”

Other bestsellers included:

Top Five Nonfiction – paperback:
Neil DeGrasse Tyson, “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry”
Ron Chernow, “Grant”
Al Franken, “Al Franken Giant of the Senate” (last sales in October)
JD Vance, “Hillbilly Elegy”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, “We Were Eight Years in Power”

Top Five Fiction – hard cover:
George Saunders, “Lincoln in the Bardo”
Jennifer Egan, “Manhattan Beach”
Jessmyn Ward, “Sing Unburied Sing”
Amor Towles, “Gentleman in Moscow”
Colson Whitehead, “Underground Railroad”

Top Five Fiction – paperback:
Yaa Gyasi, “Homegoing”
Anthony Doerr, “All the Light We Cannot See”
Margaret Atwood, “Handmaid’s Tale”
Viet Thanh Nguyen, “The Sympathizer”
Stephanie Danler, “Sweetbitter”

Top Five Nonfiction – paperback:
Tim Snyder, “On Tyranny”
Hope Jahren, “Lab Girl”
Terry Tempest Williams, “When Women were Birds”
Thich Nhat Hanh, “How to Fight”
Michael Lewis, “The Undoing Project”

Bestselling Kids’ Books:
“A is for Activist,” Innosanto Nagara
“Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls,” Elena Favilli
“Ada Twist Scientist,” Andrea Beaty
“Not Quite Narwahl,” Jessie Sima
“Wonder,” RJ Palacio

December bestsellers (new releases):
Roz Chast, “Going to Town”
Mary Beard, “Women & Power”
Oliver Sacks, “River of Consciousness”
Chris Matthews, “Bobby Kennedy”
Pete Souza, Obama, “An Intimate Portrait”

We also asked Sage-EL what some of her staff’s favorite books of the year were. She said that while the store has a “great diverse staff” and each has employee has their favorite, some of them are:

Jessmyn Ward, “Sing, Unburied, Sing”
Tom Hanks, “The Uncommon Type”
Jenny Erpenbeck, “Go, Went, Gone”
Min Jin Lee, “Pachinko”
Angie Thomas (YA), “The Hate U Give”
David Barcley Moore (middle reader), “The Stars Beneath Our Feet”
Simon Philip (picture book), “You Must Bring a Hat”

What was the best book YOU read this year? Tell us in the comments below.

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