By Serena Kerrigan-Noble, Hannah Moore, Lucy Shardlow, Melissa Tran and Holly Watson
This September, as the seasons have officially begun changing, the charts are filled with a variety of romance, thriller and crime novels.
There are some new editions to the WHSmith’s chart this week. At number five is The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley. This novel, longlisted for The Women’s Prize 2022, opens with Elle Bishop, cheating on her husband with her childhood love, Jonas. The Paper Palace goes on to follow Elle’s life, a life full of love and difficult decisions that will keep readers gripped until the very end. At number nine is the newest novel by Ali Hazelwood, previously known for The Love Hypothesis. This new book, titled Love on the Brain, sees scientists Bee and Levi forced to work on a project together – an enemies-to-lovers “STEMinist” novel that Hazelwood readers will be obsessed with.
The second bestselling book in the Waterstones chart is currently A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham. Chloe, the daughter of a serial killer whose life has been destroyed as a result, has finally built another life, but this all comes crashing down when a girl she knows goes missing on the anniversary of her father’s crimes. At number three we have Taste by Stanley Tucci, a memoir and an homage to food. Growing up in an American-Italian family, Tucci shares with us tales of his adolescence in New York before The Devil Wears Prada and The Hunger Games, centred around the meals that made his childhood. Another book edging its way into the top ten is Elizabeth Strout’s Booker Prize-shortlisted novel, Oh William!, which returns to the favourite character Lucy Barton as she copes with love, loss and family secrets when she encounters her first husband and they recall their history together.
The Amazon chart has seen newcomers this week, one being Paula Hawkins with A Slow Fire Burning which sits at number four. Hawkins is known for her bestselling novel The Girl on The Train, and his new thriller is perfect for fans of the novel with it having many twists that so many like within Hawkin’s writing. No stranger to the charts is Richard Osman, who sits at number five in the Amazon chart with the third instalment of The Thursday Murder Club: The Bullet That Missed. Osman creates another thriller, jam packed with mystery and wit that will keep readers on their toes! At number eight is Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris. Described by readers as an “important book for our current time,” Harris portrays the distinct ideologies of England and America through his characters, whilst building a brilliant fictional story that is difficult to put down (Amazon).
With the leaves starting to fall and students preparing for the start of term, it’s no wonder that the cultural phenomenon, dark academia, is seeing a renaissance on bookstagram. This aesthetic saw its inception in Donna Tartt’s 1992 classic The Secret History, a novel which established the tropes of this subculture. R. F Kuang’s important take on this popular aesthetic is Babel, or the Necessity of Violence: an Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution, a book which has been dominating everyone’s Instagram feed this month. Kuang’s novel powerfully confronts readers with the harrowing realisation that translation can be complicit with colonial violence and language obsolescence. Kuang’s book reminds readers of the corruption and privilege lurking within the antiquated halls of prestigious academic institutions.
The new Stephen King novel is our noteworthy book this month. Fairy Tale is currently an Amazon bestseller and is in the top fifty UK charts. With a cult fanbase such as King’s, his novel has sparked excitement within his followers, with one calling it “phenomenal” and explaining how it made him feel “70% entertained and 20% creeped out” (Twitter). Fairy Tale is not your typical story book especially when you consider its author’s history! The premise follows seventeen-year-old Charlie who inherits keys to a parallel world from the strange Mr. Bowditch. This book is perfect for all fans of horror, as the “master of horror” creates a familiar tale with a horrific twist and plenty of gore (Financial Times).
Tess Gunty has been rising through the charts since her novel The Rabbit Hutch was awarded Waterstone’s Best Fiction Prize, back in August 2022. Whilst Gunty may be new to the industry, she is already making a huge name for herself around the literary world and deserves nothing less than being named as our Author of the Month. Gunty’s novel looks into the tale of a young woman with irrepressible strength as she battles with the power structures that continue to fail her. Impressively, Gunty has been receiving the utmost amount of support and praise for her work, with top newspapers stating that “the writing is incandescent, the range of styles and voices remarkable…there’s so much dazzling stuff here” (The Sunday Times). This is a novel that explores loneliness and community, entrapment and freedom; it has a “blend of razor-sharp psychological insight with irresistible humour” (Waterstones).