Paperback Fiction Bestsellers For Dec. 31, 2009 William P. Young's The Shack — at No. 15 this week — has been a bestselling paperback for 84 weeks. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery is No. 6 this week; it has been on the list for 69 weeks.
NPR logo Paperback Fiction Bestsellers For Dec. 31, 2009

Paperback Fiction Bestsellers For Dec. 31, 2009

Compiled from weekly surveys of close to 500 independent bookstores nationwide in collaboration with the American Booksellers Association. This list reflects sales ending Dec. 27, 2009. Book descriptions are based on publishers' information.

1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

By Stieg Larsson

Weeks on list: 27  •  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first book in a trilogy of thrillers by Swedish writer Stieg Larsson. It is a mystery that peeks into the darker elements of contemporary society. Part corporate corruption tale, legal thriller and dysfunctional-family psychological suspense story, it is witty, at times violent, and unflinching in its feminist social commentary.

Paperback, 608pp, $14.95, Vintage, Pub Date: Jun. 23, 2009

2. Olive Kitteridge


By Elizabeth Strout

Weeks on list: 36  •  Elizabeth Strout's short stories are connected in that they all take place in the small Maine town -- and they all include local schoolteacher Olive Kitteridge. In some stories, Olive is the central figure; in others she is merely peripheral. But regardless of her involvement, her big, sometimes unpleasantly overbearing personality touches all of the town's inhabitants and draws them closer to one another.

Paperback, 304pp, $14.00, Random House Trade Paperbacks, Pub Date: Sep. 30, 2008

3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

By Annie Barrows; Mary Ann Shaffer

Weeks on list: 34  •  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is set after World War II and follows a London writer who becomes enthralled with the stories of Nazi occupation of the island of Guernsey, off the British coast. The book was written by Mary Ann Shaffer, who died before she could complete it. After Shaffer died, her niece, Annie Barrows, helped finish the novel.

Paperback, 304pp, $14.00, Dial Press Trade Paperback, Pub Date: May. 5, 2009

4. The Art of Racing in the Rain

By Garth Stein

Weeks on list: 29  •   The Art of Racing in the Rain is a collection of insights and observations on the life of a family as told from the dog's perspective. Enzo, a lab terrier mix with an old soul, tells the story of his master, Denny, a race car driver; his wife, Eve; and daughter, Zoe.

Paperback, 336pp, $14.99, Harper Paperbacks, Pub Date: May. 15, 2009

5. Let the Great World Spin

By Colum Mccann

Weeks on list: 4  •  On a gray morning in August 1974, Philippe Petit stepped off the edge of the yet-to-be completed World Trade Center and into history. He crossed a wire stretched between the towers eight times. He performed for the crowd that had gathered more than 100 stories below his feet, before dismounting into the custody of New York police officers. The tight-rope walk is the event around which the novel revolves. Let the Great World Spin won the National Book Award for fiction in November 2009.

Paperback, 400pp, $15.00, Random House Trade Paperbacks, Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2009

6. The Elegance of the Hedgehog

By Muriel Barbery; Alison Anderson

Weeks on list: 4  •  Muriel Barbery's wry and erudite novel won the 2007 French Booksellers Prize and was translated into English and published in paperback. This tale of a middle-aged French concierge named Renee, who hides her hard-won self-education in the humanities from her building's wealthy tenants, astutely comments on class, presumption and power.

Paperback, 325pp, $15.00, Europa Editions, Pub Date: Sep. 1, 2008

7. The Road (Movie Tie-in Edition 2009)

By Cormac Mccarthy

Weeks on list: 7  •  A father and son walk together through the ravaged landscape of a post-apocalyptic America. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have only the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food and each other, plus a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road. Amid destruction and devastation, the tenderness of family bonds sustains them.

Paperback, 304pp, $14.95, Vintage, Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2009

8. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

By David Wroblewski

Weeks on list: 16  •   The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is about a boy and his dog, and if you think that sounds prosaic, think again. This boy is mute, and this dog is his voice and his protector. It's a special dog: a Sawtelle, a breed engineered by Edgar's kennel-running relatives. The novel is set in Wisconsin, on the edge of the Chequamegon National Forest and on the border of the Iron Range, where the author himself grew up.

Paperback, 608pp, $16.99, Ecco, Pub Date: Sep. 8, 2009

9. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

The Classic Regency Romance-Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem

By Seth Grahame-Smith; Jane Austen

Weeks on list: 37  •  Beware on your next trip to the bookstore -- zombies have invaded a classic. The living dead have come to Longbourn, the land of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Author -- make that co-author -- Seth Grahame-Smith altered Jane Austen's original text ever so slightly to accommodate brand new scenes of the Bennet girls forming "The Pentagram of Death" and taking on hordes of the undead, along with a ninja or two.

Paperback, 320pp, $12.95, Quirk Books, Pub Date: Apr. 1, 2009

10. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

By Jamie Ford

Weeks on list: 12  •  An evocative novel of Japanese-Americans in Seattle during World War II.

Paperback, 320pp, $15.00, Ballantine Books, Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2009

11. The Piano Teacher

By Janice Y. K. Lee

Weeks on list: 6  •  The first novel by former Elle editor Janice Y. K. Lee, The Piano Teacher is the story of a high-level English official living in British-controlled Hong Kong in the years leading up to and following the invasion by the Japanese in 1941.

Paperback, 352pp, $15.00, Penguin (Non-Classics), Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2009

12. The Private Patient

By P.D. James

Weeks on list: 8  •  Cheverell Manor is a beautiful old house in Dorset, which its owner, the famous plastic surgeon George Chandler-Powell, uses as a private clinic. When the investigative journalist, Rhoda Gradwyn, arrives to have a disfiguring facial scar removed, she has every expectation of a successful operation and a peaceful week recuperating. But the clinic houses an implacable enemy and within hours of the operation Rhoda is murdered. Commander Dalgliesh and his team are called in to investigate a case complicated by old crimes and the dark secrets of the past.

Paperback, 368pp, $15.00, Vintage, Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2009

13. Sarah's Key

By Tatiana de Rosnay

Weeks on list: 50  •   Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a 10-year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel' d'Hiv' roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours. Paris, May 2002: On Vel d'Hiv's 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.

Paperback, 320pp, $13.95, St. Martin's Griffin, Pub Date: Sep. 30, 2008

14. The Lovely Bones

By Alice Sebold

Weeks on list: 1  •  The Lovely Bones centers on the story of Susie Salmon, a 14-year-old girl looking down from heaven after her own rape and murder. Sebold is not an author to shy away from tough topics. One of the first lines of the novel would qualify, in most stories, as a spoiler: "I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973." Susie clings to her earthly life while trying to accept her death, and she narrates her story from beyond the grave, watching her family struggle with grief as her murderer evades detection.

Paperback, 368pp, $14.99, Back Bay Books, Pub Date: Sep. 1, 2009

15. The Shack

By William P. Young

Weeks on list: 1  •  Mackenzie Allen Phillips's youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in the midst of his great sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare.

Paperback, 256pp, $14.99, Windblown Media, Pub Date: Jul. 1, 2008