I've just sent off our current bestsellers to John who helps on our website- a slightly stalled project as we have managed to miss eachother over most of the summer, ho hum, anyway I thought I might as well post it here too.
Pan bestsellers Sunday 16th September
Top 20- no particular order
Singled Out by Virginia Nicholson
A best seller for us partly because we sold the book at her launch but also because the story of how 2,000,000 women survived without men after the first world war is a fascinating one.
Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane
MacFarlane’s previous book, ‘Mountains of the Mind’ is a meditation on mountaineering - its history and literature. His new subject is more defined but no less challenging. In ‘The Wild Places’ Robert Macfarlane is searching for the wildness that remains in the British Isles. His writing is beautiful his subject fascinating but even without all that the book would probably be worth it for the suggested reading list alone!
Two hardy perennials, constantly battling out year after year, vieing to suggest which restaurant you should visit- always amongst our bestsellers, much loved reference books of our customers. Hardens seems to be favoured by Brits, Zagats favoured by the Americans
Uncommon reader by Alan Bennett
I hate to use the phrase ‘much loved’ in consecutive capsule reviews but if I didn’t I’d have to use the phrase ‘national treasure’ which would be a greater sin. ‘Much loved’ he may be but Alan Bennett is a talented writer and this is meant to be one of his best- according to Geoffrey (our crime buyer so he should know) it has an ‘absolutely brilliant ending’
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
Probably does not need me to say anything about it- one of the favourites to win the ManBooker this year, lovely cover- we’ve sold a lot of it
Shakespeare by Bill Bryson
It’s about Shakespeare, it’s by Bill Bryson, get your signed copies here.
Atonement by Ian McEwan
The author will probably hate this phrase but, the book of the film. Atonement sold loads when it first came out as a new hardback and loads more as a new paperback- sadly, reading, is a minority interest- a point driven home each time even a successful book is made into a popular film and sales rise accordingly.
Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
The long awaited second novel from the author of ‘The Kite Runner.’ A recent trade blog pointed out the importance of independent bookshops in the world of booksales- i.e. not much- about 5% of some, unnamed bestseller. Trade legend (albeit one promulgated by small shops) has it that we are still vital as a ground for breaking new authors and the Kite Runner is often cited as an example of this- it would be interesting to know if the figures bore this out. Certainly I got the impression that when we were stocking it in 10’s and 20’s (it’s been our bestselling book of the last few years) the chains were barely keeping it face out but that said, they still may have shifted an awful lot more copies than us.
The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters edited by Charlotte Mosley
We have signed copies and if you know the Pan Bookshop you will know why we were very excited to see this published and why it is in our window. If you do not know the Pan Bookshop this is one type of book that defines us – although there are many others.
Jamie at home by Jamie Oliver
We do not, normally, do terribly well with television related titles but cookery books seem to flout this particular rule and here is the latest exception.. I have not really kept up with his most recent books but certainly the recipes in the early ones all worked and he seems a nice bloke- not something that can be said of all cookery books and writers (and before anyone thinks that’s a pop at Ramsey- his recipes are meant to be amongst the best and he’s always been as nice as pie whenever I’ve met him.) I also like the fact he grows his climbing beans over an arch- as we do at home (mind you, we do it through lack of space but I’m sure the effect is just the same)
Exit Music by Ian Rankin
The final Rebus novel. I don’t want to say anything really as whatever I put down might be construed as giving the ending away. I’ll just say I finished it at about 2.00am in the morning with Hawkwind on as background music (yes, you read that correctly) and a nice glass of red wine.
Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book
Does what it says on the cover. Another of our annual favourites.
Blair Years by Alastair Campbell
This has been in our window since publication, by allrights it should be out by now but, firstly, we have to have somewhere to put the signed stock (we got a lot signed but it was worth it) and, secondly, judging from the sales our customers are not bored with it yet so neither should we be. And this from the safest Conservative seat in the country.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
Another ManBooker contender- we also have a sneaking liking for this one as we sold the books at this launch party too, plus, everyone I know who’s read it thinks it’s fab.
The Great Big Glorious Book for Girls by Rosemary Davidson and Sarah Vine
The controversial reply to the hugely successful Dangerous Book for Boys. Many people have complained about it being too girly but it does have tips on how to fall out of a tree so it can’t be all bad.
Restless by William Boyd
Some, many, of our customers think that William Boyd is the best storyteller of his generation. ‘Restless’ is set in Paris, 1939, features a beautiful 28 year-old Russian émigré and should provide the perfect setting for Boyd’s talents.
Hotel de Dream by Edmund White
Edmund White is best known for his non-fiction and his autobiographical novels so this is a sort of departure although a real person, the author Stephen Crane, is at its centre. In Hotel de Dream the imagined author is dictating a new story to his wife, leading White’s publishers to describe the book as ‘a deftly layered novel of longing, both gay and straight.’
Dancing with the Bear: A Serial Entrepreneur goes East by Roger Shashoua
Where a local author of ours (at least he said he was- reading how he promoted his previous book in the opening chapter of this one I’m not sure I really want to test the veracity of this claim) gives us the ‘inside track to making mega-millions in Russia.’ I only took the book as we had done so well with his brothers (at least he said he was…) and I wanted to stay in with him- I also said that although the cover was fine for ‘mass market shops’ it would not go down well here- anyway, we’ve had it 5 weeks and it’s been in our bestsellers for the last 4.
The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany
Extremely successful in the Arab world this novel had quite a reputation to live up to when translated into English. Set in a grand old building on a street whose glories were some time ago ‘The Yacoubian Building’ seeks to portray all the social strata of modern Cairo. Pitched somewhere between the Tales of the City and A Fine Balance (now, if you know me you’ll know these are pretty important novels for me) it lacks the sheer playfulness and outrageous use of coincidence to remove any plot obstacle of the former and, I’m afraid it has to be said, brilliance of the latter but retains both novels compelling description of what it is to like live in a modern city. Very fascinating, very enjoyable.