An intriguing aspect of settling down after Christmas is getting a clear view of what books sold best. For us, in December, the winner was Andrea Wulf’s “The Invention Of Nature” (see our Windowbox). This is followed by:

Little Red Chairs (Edna O’Brien)
Dictator (Robert Harris)
We Go To The Gallery (Miriam Elia)
My Brilliant Friend (Elena Ferrante)
Silk Roads (Peter Frankopan)
Norwegian Wood (Lars Mytting)
Alive Alive Oh (Diana Athill)
Submission (Michel Houellebecq)
Sweet Caress (William Boyd)
SPQR (Mary Beard)
Secret War (Max Hastings)
Fault Lines (David Pryce-Jones)
Fox (Anthony Gardner)

The surprises here are at the top – it’s wonderful to see that a superb biography can be appreciated like this; and extremely gratifying that Edna’s remarkable novel has done so well – and the bottom of the list. For David Pryce-Jones’s excellent memoir was turned down by UK publishing houses and finally published by New Criterion in the USA, while Anthony Gardner’s “Fox” is self-published (see our Windowbox for further info). It is rare for a self-published book to be any good, and exceptionally rare for one to sell well. But, just occasionally, if it is nicely produced and interesting, the fact that a book is self-published can be turned to its advantage – and this (from our perspective) has happened here.

Looking at the year’s bestsellers, the list is slightly different:
My Brilliant Friend (Elena Ferrante)
The Fall of the Ottomans (Eugene Rogan)
Silk Roads (Peter Frankopan)
Little Red Chairs (Edna O’Brien)
The Invention of Nature (Andrea Wulf)
Sweet Caress (William Boyd)
The Story Of A New Name (Elena Ferrante)
Gorsky (Vesna Goldsworthy)
The White Road (Edmund de Waal)
Threads (Julia Blackburn)

with My Brilliant Friend selling nearly three times as many as the next one, and the other 3 titles in the series only just not making it onto the list.