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Today’s Best-Seller Lists Look a Lot Like The Ones from 15 Years Ago

Category: Art & Culture,Books

The best-seller lists from 15 years ago bear quite a few similarities to the ones that are out today. For starters, there are Clintons atop both of them: Hillary Rodham Clinton’s memoir “Living History” was No. 1 on the nonfiction list back in 2003; today, “The President Is Missing,” the high-tech thriller Bill Clinton wrote with James Patterson, is at No. 1 on the fiction list. Patterson is a repeat best seller, too. In 2003 he had one novel, “The Lake House,” on the hardcover list, and two — “The Beach House” and “When the Wind Blows” — on the paperback list.

In 2003, Lauren Weisberger’s buzzy fashion-magazine roman à clef “The Devil Wears Prada” was No. 4; in 2018, her new novel, “When Life Gives You Lululemons,” which continues the story of a character from “The Devil Wears Prada,” is at No. 9. Nora Roberts, whose novel “Shelter in Place” is at No. 5 this week, also had a book on the list in 2003, as did John Grisham; his latest, “The Rooster Bar,” is at No. 5 on the combined list today.

Something Old, Something New

If the best-seller lists from summers past were in a constant state of flux, with glitzy, beachy new books appearing weekly, these days they’re much more static. Only three new titles appear this week: Nick Foles’s memoir ‘“Believe it,” Malcolm Nance’s “The Plot to Destroy Democracy” and Emily Giffin’s latest novel, “All We Ever Wanted,” which debuts at No. 2.

All of Giffin’s novels have been best sellers — well, all except “The Funny Pandas and the Messy Room,” which she wrote for her parents when she was 6. Despite that early effort, she didn’t actually pursue a writing career after college, choosing law school instead. A biographical timeline on her website notes that she hated “nearly every second of her legal career, except perhaps the firm cocktail parties,” and adds, “She began to write a young-adult novel in her free time and dreamed of quitting her job to write full time.”

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