Shuffling of the Shelves, September 2023: Part One
By Anais Aguilera
Back to school season is upon us and, while the work may be starting to pile on, you’ll want to make some time for these reads.
Lessons in Chemistry continues rising with fifty-eight consecutive weeks in the Amazon charts. There is still time to fit this one in before the Apple TV adaptation starring Brie Larson releases this October. Bonnie Garmus’ debut novel sees our protagonist, Elizabeth Zott, balancing academia and love as the only woman on an all-male research team. Her life takes a turn when, years later, she finds herself as the star of a popular cooking show and a single mother. Elizabeth's lessons on cooking and, more importantly, on how women can carve a place for themselves in a world stacked against them are more poignant than ever.
Making the Amazon Most Read chart, Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano is another novel that begins in an academic setting and grows into something more complex. Julia Padovano and her three sisters are tight-knit. Yet, when Julia meets William Waters as a student in college and the two go on to marry, William’s past causes a rift in the family. This Oprah’s Book Club pick promises moving family dynamics familiar to fans of Little Women.
For those of you navigating life outside of school or college this September, Adam Kay’s Undoctored: The Story of a Medic Who Ran out of Patients may strike a cord. It is no surprise to see Kay’s third book in the charts after the resounding success of his first book This is Going to Hurt. Undoctored tells the story of Kay’s step away from the field of medicine. Equal parts funny and moving, this memoir grapples with work, life and all the ways in which they are connected.
The WHSmith charts are in the spirit of learning, though not in the way you may think. How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie is not your average self-help book. Our main character, Grace Bernard narrates the fictional story of how she killed her absentee father’s family in the first-person. Goodreads calls it “perfect for fans of Killing Eve and My Sister, the Serial Killer.”
On the Waterstones Bestselling Chart is Atomic Habits by James Clear. This is an engaging guide on how to change your life in small increments. Informed by psychology and neuroscience, Clear also details success stories of people from all walks of life to show how simple habit formation can have big turnouts in productivity and fulfillment. New students and seasoned procrastinators may benefit from this book, but anyone is sure to take away something useful from it.
If self-help isn’t your thing, however, Olivie Blake’s Masters of Death could be a good escape. Originally published in 2018, this book is climbing the charts again, this time with a revamped edition featuring illustrations and sprayed edges. We follow Viola Marek, a vampire real-estate agent, and Fox D’Mora, a fraudulent medium who also happens to be the godson of Death. After Viola hires Fox to help with her ghost infestation, the two find themselves caught up in an unexpected quest.
Over on BookTok and Bookstagram, Divine Rivals is making a buzz. Rebecca Ross combines journalism and mythical war in this enemies-to-lovers fantasy novel. The story follows two competing journalists, Iris and Roman, who unknowingly build a connection through anonymous letters. At the same time, a war between the gods brews, threatening them and the world they know. This has been said to appeal to fans of Shadow and Bone and Lore.
Another book trending on social media is The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab. Schwab is a well-loved author, known for crafting layered characters and narratives that explore all sides of humanity. Addie lives an eternal life that spans centuries and continents until someone finally remembers her name. Will she be able to leave her mark on the world after all?
Our noteworthy author this week is Erik Larson. Larson has made a name for himself as an author capable of writing non-fiction that feels almost like fiction. He has written books on topics ranging from Winston Churchill to the Lusitania; each one more engaging than the last. The Devil in the White City, his latest book follows the serial killer of the 1893 World’s Fair, was especially popular on social media. Erik Larson has six New York Times bestsellers as well as notable experience in journalism and teaching. His expertise runs throughout all of his narratives. If you are looking to learn something new this September without enduring the dryness of university textbooks, Larson’s books could be just what you’re looking for.