The week everyone was talking about a kidney (This week in books)

This week! Books!

Everyone in publishing this week was talking about a kidney. Here’s why. I personally couldn’t get through it, but consider yourself alerted that this story managed to overshadow all other publishing news this week. And it was a week where National Book Awards finalists and the Nobel Prize for Literature were announced!

Speaking of, here are your National Book Award finalists! (all links affiliate links to




Translated Literature

Young People’s Literature

And Tanazanian author Abdulrazak Gurnah won the Nobel Prize in Literature, becoming the first Black author to win since Toni Morrison in 1993.

You’ve probably heard plenty about global supply chain issues lately, and the publishing industry is facing some real chaos this holiday season. If you’re hoping to give books as holiday gifts, place those orders soon.

Alexandra Alter at the NY Times profiled Blushing Books, which carved out a very profitable corner in publishing with erotica, but whose business practices left…something to be desired. The article also serves as a cautionary tale for authors who want to leap at their first publishing deal without the help of a professional to navigate contract terms. The practices here do seem beyond industry standard, but they’re by no means unique. Always know what you’re signing.

Recent guest blog contributor Christine Pride and coauthor Jo Piazza’s book We Are Not Like Them was published this week, and they are a Good Morning America book club pick! They also talked to Entertainment Weekly about what it was like writing together and how they delved deeper into their ripped-from-the-headlines plot.

Has Amazon changed the nature of books? Writing in the New Republic, Kyle Chayka evaluates Mark McGurl’s new book on novels in the age of Amazon, which makes the case that Amazon has left its stamp deep in the heart of literature and storytelling. I agree with Chayka’s take that this is unquestionably true when it comes to genre fiction, but less so for genres like literary fiction where traditional channels still hold sway.

Lincoln Michel has a roundup of the 10 strangest dystopias in fiction, and Emily Temple has a list of the 25 most iconic book covers.

And Austin Kleon has a great post on how the observer effect can ruin the act of creation.

This week in bestsellers

Here are the top five NY Times bestsellers in a few key categories. (All links are affiliate links):

Adult print and e-book fiction:

  1. The Wish by Nicholas Sparks
  2. Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
  3. Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty
  4. The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik
  5. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

Adult print and e-book nonfiction:

  1. Peril by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa
  2. Vanderbilt by Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe
  3. American Marxism by Mark R. Levin
  4. No Cure for Being Human by Kate Bowler
  5. The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk

Young adult hardcover:

  1. Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber
  2. One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
  3. Steelstriker by Marie Lu
  4. Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray
  5. Dark Rise by C.S. Pacat

Middle grade hardcover:

  1. The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo
  2. Pony by R.J. Palacio
  3. The Cursed Carnival and Other Calamities by Rick Riordan et al
  4. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  5. Refugee by Alan Gratz

This week on the blog

In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:

Don’t forget that you can nominate your first page and query for a free critique on the blog:

And keep up with the discussion in all the places!

And finally, my main non-books hobby is watching soccer, and my favorite team since the early 2000s, usually-moribund Newcastle United, was just bought by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund. Rory Smith has a great newsletter entry today about what it says about the state of soccer and the broader world.

Have a great weekend!

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The week everyone was talking about a kidney (This week in books)