Hardcover Nonfiction Bestsellers For Oct. 28 In the early 20th century, Mark Twain wrote an unabashed autobiography under the strict directive that the work not be published until 100 years after his death. This year marks the end of Twain's embargo, which means his uncensored autobiography can finally hit bookshelves. It debuts at No. 3.
NPR logo Hardcover Nonfiction Bestsellers For Oct. 28

Hardcover Nonfiction Bestsellers For Oct. 28

Compiled from weekly surveys of close to 500 independent bookstores nationwide in collaboration with the American Booksellers Association. This list reflects sales ending Oct. 24. Book descriptions are based on publishers' information.

1. At Home

A Short History of Private Life

By Bill Bryson

Weeks on list: 3  •  Author Bill Bryson -- of A Short History of Nearly Everything -- is known for exploring far-flung places, but he found inspiration for his most recent book after a hike through his own old, Victorian house in England. In At Home, Bryson uses his own house as a jumping-off point to explore the general history of domesticity everywhere. Through the course of his research, he stumbles across some unexpected finds, including the origins of the phrase "make a bed."

Hardcover, 512pp, $28.95, Doubleday, Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2010

2. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents Earth (The Book)

A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race

By Jon Stewart

Weeks on list: 5  •  Where do we come from? Who created us? Why are we here? These questions have puzzled man since the dawn of time, but when it became apparent to Jon Stewart and the writers of The Daily Show that the world was about to end, they embarked on a mission to write a book with all the answers. Earth (The Book) is the definitive guide to our species.

Hardcover, 256pp, $27.99, Grand Central Publishing, Pub Date: Sep. 21, 2010

3. Autobiography of Mark Twain

The Complete and Authoritative Edition, Volume 1

By Mark Twain; Lin Salamo; Harriet E. Smith

Weeks on list: 1  •  After dozens of false starts and hundred of pages, Mark Twain embarked on his "Final (and Right) Plan" for telling the story of his life. It was 1904. In order to feel free to speak his "whole frank mind," Twain gave strict instruction that many of his texts remain unpublished for 100 years so that, when they hit bookshelves, he would be "dead, and unaware, and indifferent," to public reaction. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Twain's death, and thus, Autobiography of Mark Twain offers a first glimpse into Twain's memoir, exactly as he left it.

Hardcover, 743pp, $34.95, University of California Press, Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2010

4. The Last Boy

Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood

By Jane Leavy

Weeks on list: 2  •   Jane Leavy, the acclaimed author of Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy, returns with a biography of an American original -- Mickey Mantle. Drawing on more than 500 interviews with friends, family, teammates and opponents, Leavy delivers a definitive account of Mantle's life, mining the mythology of "The Mick" for the true story of the luminous and illustrious talent and his achingly damaged soul.

Hardcover, 480pp, $27.99, Harper, Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2010

5. The Grand Design

By Stephen Hawking; Leonard Mlodinow

Weeks on list: 7  •  In The Grand Design, British physicist Stephen Hawking and American physicist and author Leonard Mlodinow unravel a complex line of theories that explain the universe. The authors assert that God wasn't necessary for the creation of the universe because physics can explain things without the need for a "benevolent creator who made the Universe for our benefit."

Hardcover, 208pp, $28.00, Bantam, Pub Date: Sep. 7, 2010

6. The Wave

In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean

By Susan Casey

Weeks on list: 6  •  One-hundred-foot-tall waves can be nightmarish, ship-swallowing monsters -- or seductive sirens for the adventurous. In The Wave, Susan Casey tells the story of these giant rogue waves and the scientists and extreme surfers who seek to know them.

Hardcover, 352pp, $27.95, Doubleday, Pub Date: Sep. 14, 2010

7. Washington

A Life

By Ron Chernow

Weeks on list: 3  •  The childless Father of Our Country seems to many of us to have been born middle-aged, in uniform, with powdered hair and false teeth, atop his famous steed, Old Nelson. In Washington: A Life, Ron Chernow -- the author of award-winning biographies of Alexander Hamilton and John D. Rockefeller -- suggests that beneath the surface of Washington's buttoned-down personality lurked not only a titanic temper but also softer emotions. The struggle to put them in their proper place had an enormous impact on his behavior as a planter, politician, soldier and slaveholder.

Hardcover, 928pp, $40.00, Penguin Press HC, The, Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2010

8. Obama's Wars

By Bob Woodward

Weeks on list: 4  •  Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Bob Woodward presents an intimate behind-the-scenes account of the Obama administration as it made crucial decisions on the war in Afghanistan, the secret war in Pakistan and the worldwide fight against terrorism.

Hardcover, 464pp, $30.00, Simon & Schuster, Pub Date: Sep. 27, 2010

9. Sh*t My Dad Says

By Justin Halpern

Weeks on list: 24  •   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

10. Extraordinary, Ordinary People

A Memoir of Family

By Condoleezza Rice

Weeks on list: 2  •  The life of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is anchored by seminal events in U.S. history, from her youth in segregated Alabama to helping plan the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. In Extraordinary, Ordinary People -- the first half of a planned two-book memoir -- Rice tells stories of her upbringing, her parents and how those roots helped her travel from civil rights-era Birmingham to the White House.

Hardcover, 352pp, $27.00, Crown Archetype, Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2010

11. The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Weeks on list: 7  •  Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns provides a sweeping history of the Great Migration -- the period between 1917 and 1975 during which millions of African-Americans fled the Jim Crow laws of Southern towns and cities for the relative freedoms of the North. Wilkerson tells the migration story through the lives of three individuals: Ida Mae Gladney, who in 1937 left sharecropping and prejudice in Mississippi for Chicago; the sharp and quick-tempered George Starling, who in 1945 fled Florida for New York; and Robert Foster, who left Louisiana in 1953 to pursue a medical career.

Hardcover, 640pp, $30.00, Random House, Pub Date: Sep. 7, 2010

12. Aftershock

The Next Economy and America's Future

By Robert B. Reich

Weeks on list: 5  •  Economist Robert Reich argues that the American economy isn't going to get moving again until we address one fundamental problem: the growing concentration of wealth and income among the richest Americans.

Hardcover, 192pp, $25.00, Knopf, Pub Date: Sep. 21, 2010

13. Trickle Up Poverty

Stopping Obama's Attack on Our Borders, Economy, and Security

By Michael Savage

Weeks on list: 3  •   Radio host Michael Savage argues that Obamanomics is dragging the middle class, and everyone else, into a Marxist-socialist death spiral. Trickle Up Poverty details how Americans can restore the country to the power and prestige that Savage believes President Obama and his corrupt and degenerate "czars" are trying to destroy.

Hardcover, 384pp, $26.99, William Morrow, Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2010

14. Guinness World Records 2011

By Guinness World Records

Weeks on list: 5  •   Guinness' book of world records returns with an updated set of intriguing, informative and instructional superlatives for 2011.

Hardcover, 288pp, $28.95, Guinness World Records, Pub Date: Sep. 14, 2010

15. The Moral Landscape

How Science Can Determine Human Values

By Sam Harris

Weeks on list: 3  •  Sam Harris' first book, The End of Faith, ignited a worldwide debate about the validity of religion. In The Moral Landscape, Harris again lambastes religion and argues that science should be able to tell us what we ought to do to live the best lives possible and that, because such answers exist, moral relativism is simply false -- and comes at increasing cost to humanity.

Hardcover, 304pp, $26.99, Free Press, Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2010