Hardcover Nonfiction Bestsellers For Sept. 9 Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair presents a firsthand account of his years in office in A Journey: My Political Life, which debuts at No. 4 on this week's list.
NPR logo Hardcover Nonfiction Bestsellers For Sept. 9

Hardcover Nonfiction Bestsellers For Sept. 9

Compiled from weekly surveys of close to 500 independent bookstores nationwide in collaboration with the American Booksellers Association. This list reflects sales ending Sept. 5. Book descriptions are based on publishers' information.

1. Sh*t My Dad Says

By Justin Halpern

Weeks on list: 17  •  After being dumped by his longtime girlfriend, 28-year-old Justin Halpern found himself living at home with his 73-year-old dad, Sam Halpern. The younger Halpern describes his father as being just "like Socrates, but angrier and with worse hair." His Twitter feed of his dad's musings gained a massive following, and his greatest hits are recorded in this book.

Hardcover, 176pp, $15.99, It Books, Pub Date: May. 1, 2010

2. Let's Take the Long Way Home

A Memoir of Friendship

By Gail Caldwell

Weeks on list: 4  •  They met over their dogs. Both writers, Gail Caldwell and Caroline Knapp, author of Drinking: A Love Story, became best friends, talking about everything from their shared history of a struggle with alcohol to their relationships with men and colleagues to their love of books. Then, several years into this remarkable connection, Knapp gets diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Caldwell mines the deepest levels of devotion and grief in this moving memoir about treasuring and losing a best friend.

Hardcover, 208pp, $23.00, Random House, Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2010

3. Empire of the Summer Moon

Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American Hist

By S. C. Gwynne

Weeks on list: 10  •  In 1836, a 9-year-old pioneer girl named Cynthia Ann Parker was kidnapped during a Comanche raid in North Texas. She was strapped onto the back of a horse and taken north, back into the Plains where the powerful American Indian tribe lived. Parker became a ward of the chief and later, a full member of the Comanches. She eventually married a highly respected Comanche chief and gave birth to three children, including Quanah -- who would grow up to become the last and greatest Comanche leader. The story of Cynthia Ann and her son, Chief Quanah Parker, is told in S.C. Gwynne's book, Empire of the Summer Moon.

Hardcover, 384pp, $27.50, Scribner, Pub Date: May. 3, 2010

4. A Journey

My Political Life

By Tony Blair

Weeks on list: 1  •  Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair presents a firsthand account of his years in office, from the aftermath of Princess Diana's death to the war on terrorism to his relationships with both British and international leaders.

Hardcover, 720pp, $35.00, Knopf, Pub Date: Sep. 2, 2010

5. Women Food and God

An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything

By Geneen Roth

Weeks on list: 24  •  Since adolescence, Geneen Roth has gained and lost more than 1,000 pounds. She has been dangerously overweight and dangerously underweight. She has been plagued by feelings of shame and self-hatred, and she has felt euphoric after losing a quick few pounds on a fad diet. Then one day, on the verge of suicide, she did something radical: She dropped the struggle, ended the war, stopped trying to fix, deprive and shame herself. She began trusting her body and questioning her beliefs -- and it worked. She begins her book with her most basic concept: The way you eat is inseparable from your core beliefs about being alive.

Hardcover, 224pp, $24.00, Scribner, Pub Date: Mar. 1, 2010

6. Packing for Mars

The Curious Science of Life in the Void

By Mary Roach

Weeks on list: 5  •  In some ways, space exploration is an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can't walk for a year? Have sex? Smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a spacewalk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 17,000 miles per hour? To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA's new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), author Mary Roach discovers that it's possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth.

Hardcover, 334pp, $25.95, W. W. Norton & Company, Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2010

7. Born to Run

A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

By Christopher Mcdougall

Weeks on list: 5  •  Christopher McDougall travels to the unforgiving terrain of Mexico's Copper Canyons, in a quest to understand the area's indigenous population of ultra-runners, the Tarahumara Indians. Surviving on a diet of ground corn, mouse meat and homemade alcohol, are men and woman who nevertheless have the endurance to run cliff-side races topping 100 miles and sometimes lasting two days.

Hardcover, 304pp, $24.95, Knopf, Pub Date: May. 5, 2009

8. The Power

By Rhonda Byrne

Weeks on list: 3  •  Rhonda Byrne's follow-up to The Secret claims to be a handbook about gaining the "greatest power in the Universe" -- the power to have anything you want. While her first bestseller was all about the law of attraction -- the strategy of using positive thinking to achieve one's goals -- this second self-help book teaches readers how to use the power of love to improve their lives.

Hardcover, 272pp, $23.95, Atria, Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2010

9. Medium Raw

A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook

By Anthony Bourdain

Weeks on list: 13  •  Anthony Bourdain -- of Kitchen Confidential and TV's No Reservations -- takes no prisoners as he dissects his journey to celebrity chef-dom, pausing along the way for a series of confessions, rants, investigations, and interrogations of some of the most controversial figures in food.

Hardcover, 304pp, $26.99, Ecco, Pub Date: Jun. 8, 2010

10. The Big Short

Inside the Doomsday Machine

By Michael Lewis

Weeks on list: 25  •  The financial meltdown wasn't a surprise to everyone, according to Michael Lewis. His new book, The Big Short, tells the story of the lucky few who bet against the market, and ended up with big fortunes to show for it.

Hardcover, 266pp, $27.95, W. W. Norton & Company, Pub Date: Mar. 1, 2010

11. Outliers

The Story of Success

By Malcolm Gladwell

Weeks on list: 25  •  Why do Asian kids outperform American kids in math? How did Bill Gates become a billionaire computer entrepreneur? Was there something simply different about Mozart? New Yorker staff writer Malcolm Gladwell looks at "outliers" -- those who have "been given opportunities, and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them."

Hardcover, 320pp, $27.99, Little, Brown and Company, Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2008

12. Four Fish

By Paul Greenberg

Weeks on list: 6  •  Three decades ago, nearly everything we ate from the sea was wild, but rampant overfishing combined with an unprecedented biotech revolution has brought us to a point where wild and farmed fish occupy equal parts of a complex and confusing marketplace. In Four Fish, writer and lifelong fisherman Paul Greenberg takes us on a culinary journey, exploring the history of the fish that dominate our menus and examining where each stands at this critical moment in time.

Hardcover, 304pp, $25.95, Penguin Press HC, The, Pub Date: Jul. 15, 2010

13. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

By Rebecca Skloot

Weeks on list: 30  •  Author Rebecca Skloot explores the life of Henrietta Lacks, known to scientists simply as "HeLa." She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells -- taken without her knowledge -- became one of the most important tools in medicine. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses and the atom bomb's effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions -- though Lacks has been dead for more than 60 years.

Hardcover, 384pp, $26.00, Crown, Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2010

14. The Tiger

A True Story of Vengeance and Survival

By John Vaillant

Weeks on list: 1  •  It's December 1997, and a man-eating tiger is on the prowl outside a remote village in eastern Russia. But the tiger isn't just killing people -- it's annihilating them. As a team of men and their dogs chase the tiger through the forest, it becomes clear that these attacks aren't random: the tiger seems to be out for revenge. John Vaillant gives us a portrait of this spectacularly beautiful and mysterious region through the stories of Vladimir Markov, a poacher killed by the tiger; Yuri Trush, the lead tracker; and the tiger himself.

Hardcover, 352pp, $26.95, Knopf, Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2010

15. Committed

By Elizabeth Gilbert

Weeks on list: 24  •  Having both survived painful divorces, Elizabeth Gilbert and Felipe -- the man she fell in love with at the end of her best-selling memoir, Eat, Pray, Love -- promised to love but never marry. However, the couple finds that Felipe, a Brazilian national, will not be able to live in the U.S. unless the two formalize their union. Gilbert relents on her marriage ban, but is prompted to explore the meaning of marriage, in the U.S. and abroad, and its various manifestations through history, in order to come to peace with the institution.

Hardcover, 304pp, $26.95, Viking Adult, Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2010