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Amazon’s Top 10 Books: October 2015

Those Amazon book editor’s sure know their books! Once again they’ve suggested ten titles, many of which will end up on my ever-growing pile of books to be read.

You can see last month’s suggestions here: Amazon’s Top 10 Books: September 2015

Which of these titles appeal to you?

Spotlight title:


Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt

The inspiring true story of a transgender girl, her identical twin brother, and an ordinary American family’s extraordinary journey to understand, nurture, and celebrate the uniqueness in us all.


Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.


City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg

The individuals who live within this extraordinary first novel are: Regan and William Hamilton-Sweeney, estranged heirs to one of the city’s largest fortunes; Keith and Mercer, the men who, for better or worse, love them; Charlie and Samantha, two suburban teenagers seduced by downtown’s punk scene; an obsessive magazine reporter and his idealistic neighbor; and the detective trying to figure out what any of them have to do with a shooting in Central Park. Their entangled relationships open up the loneliest-seeming corners of the crowded city. And when the infamous blackout of July 13, 1977, plunges this world into darkness, each of these lives will be changed forever. A novel about love and betrayal and forgiveness, about art and truth and rock ‘n’ roll, about how the people closest to us are sometimes the hardest to reach–about what it means to be human.


Find A Way by Diana Nyad

On September 2, 2013, at the age of sixty-four, Diana Nyad emerged onto the shores of Key West after completing a 110-mile, fifty-three-hour, record-breaking swim through shark-infested waters from Cuba to Florida and delivered three messages to the world: never, ever give up; you’re never too old to chase your dreams; and it looks like a solitary sport, but it takes a team.


Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price–and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…


Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann

Deeply personal, subtly subversive, at times harrowing, and indeed funny, yet also full of comfort, Thirteen Ways of Looking is a striking achievement. With unsurpassed empathy for his characters and their inner lives, Colum McCann forges from their stories a profound tribute to our search for meaning and grace. The collection is a rumination on the power of storytelling in a world where language and memory can sometimes falter, but in the end do not fail us, and a contemplation of the healing power of literature.


The Last of the President’s Men by Bob Woodward

Bob Woodward exposes one of the final pieces of the Richard Nixon puzzle in his new book The Last of the President s Men. Woodward reveals the untold story of Alexander Butterfield, the Nixon aide who disclosed the secret White House taping system that changed history and led to Nixon s resignation. In forty-six hours of interviews with Butterfield, supported by thousands of documents, many of them original and not in the presidential archives and libraries, Woodward has uncovered new dimensions of Nixon s secrets, obsessions and deceptions.


The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America’s Secret Government by David Talbot

America’s greatest untold story: the United States’ rise to world dominance under the guile of Allen Welsh Dulles, the longest-serving director of the CIA. Drawing on revelatory new materials—including newly discovered U.S. government documents, U.S. and European intelligence sources, the personal correspondence and journals of Allen Dulles’s wife and mistress, and exclusive interviews with the children of prominent CIA officials—Talbot reveals the underside of one of America’s most powerful and influential figures.


Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell

On August 16, 1824, an elderly French gentlemen sailed into New York Harbor and giddy Americans were there to welcome him. Or, rather, to welcome him back. It had been thirty years since the Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette had last set foot in the United States, and he was so beloved that 80,000 people showed up to cheer for him. The entire population of New York at the time was 120,000.


My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl

In the fall of 2009, the food world was rocked when Gourmet magazine was abruptly shuttered by its parent company. No one was more stunned by this unexpected turn of events than its beloved editor in chief, Ruth Reichl, who suddenly faced an uncertain professional future. As she struggled to process what had seemed unthinkable, Reichl turned to the one place that had always provided sanctuary. “I did what I always do when I’m confused, lonely, or frightened,” she writes. “I disappeared into the kitchen.”


Mrs. Engels by Gavin McCrea

Lizzie is a worker in the Manchester, England, cotton mill that Frederick owns. When they move to a posh townhouse in London to be closer to Karl Marx and his family, she must learn to navigate Victorian society. We are privy to Lizzie’s intimate, wry, and astute views of Marx and Engels’s mission to spur revolution among the working classes, and to her ambivalence toward her newly luxurious circumstances. Haunted by her first love (a revolutionary Irishman), burdened by a sense of duty to right past mistakes, and torn between a desire for independence and the pragmatic need to be taken care of, Lizzie knows, as she says, that “the world doesn’t happen how you think it will.

Peter Rabbit turns 113

On this day in history in 1902, Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit was published. The beginnings of Peter Rabbit was ignited by Potter writing letters to a little boy – the ill child of her former governess.  After several rejections from publishers, Potter privately printed the book in 1901. The book was an instant hit and was printed by Frederick Warne  & Co. in 1902. With over 45 million copies in print, The Tale of Peter Rabbit is considered one of the best selling books of all time.

There are many different lovely editions on AbeBooks of this beloved children’s tale ranging from first editions,  pop-up versions,  board games, puzzles and everything in between.

A selection of The Tale of Peter Rabbit covers:


First Edition (1902)


Printed in 1928 with both color and black & white illustration


This is the second version of the “Wee Books for Wee Folks” edition, printed in 1904


Illustrated by Virginia Albert (1916)


Printed in 1907, this book includes 30 full pages of black and white illustrations – each illustration has another image embedded in it that is obscured or hidden. The end of the book includes a key to deciphering the puzzles. A rare, uncommon version of The Tale of Peter Rabbit.


A facsimile edition printed in 1989

Beautiful Book Covers

Sometimes it’s ok to judge a book by its cover. I would be happy to have every one of these new and vintage books on my shelf. Which one is your favorite?


1. To See Every Bird on Earth by Dan Koeppel

2. Spiders by W.S. Bristowe

3. The Mayor’s Tongue by Nathaniel Rich

4. The Fox and the Sheep by Coralie Bickford-Smith

5. The Migration of Birds by Frederic C. Lincoln

6. Heliogabal by Louis Couperus

Beautiful Broadsides

One of the best parts of my job is being able to spend time looking at different listings on the AbeBooks’ website. Today I learned something new – a type of ephemera called broadsides. The definition of a broadside is a large piece of paper printed only on one side – similar to a poster. In the past, broadsides were used to highlight an event, or advertise a product. Today they are not as popular but are still used by smaller printers and publishers.

AbeBooks has a vast number of broadsides offered for sale, many affordable – all interesting.

What will we discover next on AbeBooks…?


Taffy’s Revised Football Rules. 1895


Baked Bean Benefit. 1917


The Here World Balancing by Clive Matson, 1968


Dracula. Frank Langella in the Edward Gorey production of Dracula Directed by Dennis Rosa. 1977


Issued by the Bauer Type Foundry to celebrate their 125th anniversary. 1962


Come to the Hootenanny Sponsored by Friends of the Children’s Theater Workshop. 1965


The Backshooter – drawing by Fred Mason. 1969

AbeBooks’ Literary Link Lineup


Donald Trump’s new book, secret messages in Harry Potter books and a wonderful essay by author David Sedaris – all in this week’s edition of the Literary Link Lineup:

1. The appeal of magical boarding schools.

2. The Daphne Awards – Celebrates the best book of 50 years ago.

3. The Guardian reports on the sad passing of novelist Jackie Collins.

4. Apparently Salman Rushdie is just like the rest of us says the Globe and Mail.

5. Author David Sedaris talks about A Modest Proposal.

6. Los Angeles Times Jacket Copy says that Donald Trump will publish a new book in October.

7. Harry Potter fans are leaving secret notes in JK Rowling’s books.

8. Huffington Post presents 7 famous novelists who only published one novel.

9. The Guardian blog asked its readers to submit a picture of their favourite book cover. Tell us what your favorite book cover is!

10. Follow this Instagram account: Bookshelf Porn.

AbeBooks’ bestselling signed books

Bestselling Signed Books on AbeBooks - September, 2015

Once a month we like to take a peek at our top-selling signed books. This month’s list features an ex-president, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and an astronaut.  British neurologist Oliver Sacks’ book Awakenings makes a special appearance following his death on August 30th, 2015.

1. A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety by Jimmy Carter

2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

3. Armada by Ernest Cline

4. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

5. The Martian by Andy Weir

6. The Year of Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota

7. The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz

8. Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

9. Awakenings by Oliver Sacks

10. Game Changer by Louise Phillips

Stay tuned for next month’s list of bestselling signed books!

A golden ticket? Signed first edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sells online for $25,000

This copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sold for $25,000

It’s time to dig out your old Roald Dahl books – prices for rare copies of Dahl’s classic children’s books are hitting new heights. Late last week a signed first edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sold for $25,000 on the AbeBooks online marketplace.

The book is a first edition that had been signed and inscribed by the author with the words “For Jane and Alex with much love Roald Dahl October 1964.”

The bookseller was Raptis Rare Books located in Brattleboro, Vermont.

The inscription from Roald Dahl

Published in September 1964 by Knopf, just 10,000 copies of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were published and they sold out within a few weeks.

This copy is by far the most expensive Roald Dahl book to sell via AbeBooks and probably the most expensive Dahl book to ever be sold. In March 2015, a signed first edition of Matilda sold for $5,000 through AbeBooks, and then a month later a signed first edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sold for $7,500 indicating that Dahl is more popular than ever with high-end book collectors.

As always, condition plays a vital role in rare book pricing and the copy sold by Raptis Rare Books was in stunning condition considering its age and the fact that it is a children’s book.

AbeBooks has sold 31 Roald Dahl books priced $1,000 or more since 2002. The most expensive Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book currently available on AbeBooks is a signed first edition offered for $17,500. Raptis Rare Books is offering a signed first edition of James and the Giant Peach for $20,000 that is also inscribed to Jane and Alex.

Interest in Roald Dahl, who died in 1990, has not dimmed in recent years. A musical version of Matilda was launched in 2010 and is currently running in London’s West End and on Broadway in New York. In 2005, the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre opened in Great Missenden in Buckingshire – the village where Dahl lived and wrote for 36 years until his death. Also in 2005, Tim Burton released a movie version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka.

A memorable illustration from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The Ultimate Alice in Wonderland Birthday Cake

In honor of the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, AbeBooks has created a video describing how to make the ‘Ultimate Alice Birthday Cake.’

Have you made a literary cake?

Bookslut blog announces 2015 Daphne Awards shortlist

The Daphne Awards are back. Organised by the Bookslut book blog, these awards celebrate literature from 50 years ago – in this case 1965. This year’s shortlist has just been announced by Jessa Crispin who has run Bookslut for as long as I can remember. AbeBooks.com is thrilled to be a partner once again.

The fascinating thing about these awards is the role that ‘time’ plays. Does a book that was decent in the middle of the 1960s still hold up today? Jessa had a team of judges plowing through hordes of books in order to produce this year’s shortlist. The winners will be announced in early December.


An Area of Darkness by VS Naipaul

Giordano Bruno by Frances Yates

Shadow and Act by Ralph Ellison

A Very Easy Death by Simone de Beauvoir

Bastard by Violette Leduc



Arrow of God by Chinua AchebeThe Ravishing of Lol Stein

The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy

The Ravishing of Lol Stein by Marguerite Duras

Albert Angelo by BS Johnson

The Passion According to GH by Clarice Lispector

Short Friday by Isaac Bashevis Singer


PoetryLanguage by Jack Spicer

77 Dream Songs by John Berryman

The Sonnets by Ted Berrigan

Lunch Poems by Frank O’Hara

O Taste & See by Denise Levertov

Language by Jack Spicer

The Dead Lecturer Poems by LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka