Bestsellers, Book List

Towne Bestsellers of 2020

It’s been quite a few months since we did our last bestsellers of Towne, so as we come down the home stretch to the holidays, we felt the overwhelming urge to crunch the numbers and to see what you, our wonderful customers, have been picking up off our displays so far this year (with the exception of mid-March through mid-May!). As the year’s not over yet, and Obama’s book doesn’t arrive until Tuesday, we’ll be updating the list on our website (button right below) a few times between now and the end of the year!

28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand

This one just makes sense – we’re so honored to be Elin’s hometown bookstore!

I eagerly waited for this book and it did not disappoint.  This is the story of Jake and Mallory who meet in 1993, during Labor Day weekend, for a bachelor party held in Mallory’s brother’s honor.  However, the party is a disaster, and everyone leaves except Mallory and Jake and so begins their intense, 28 year, summer relationship.  It is reminiscent of the movie, Same Time Next Year, with Jake and Mallory only meeting each year during Labor Day weekend in Nantucket at Mallory’s beach cottage.  During the other 362 days, except in a leap year, they live with their respective families, which for Jake is his wife Ursula, who has political ambitions, and his daughter, while Mallory is a teacher and single mother raising a son in Nantucket.   

Pam

When Mallory Blessing’s son, Link, receives deathbed instructions from his mother to call a number on a slip of paper in her desk drawer, he’s not sure what to expect. But he certainly does not expect Jake McCloud to answer. It’s the late spring of 2020 and Jake’s wife, Ursula DeGournsey, is the frontrunner in the upcoming Presidential election.
There must be a mistake, Link thinks. How do Mallory and Jake know each other?
Flash back to the sweet summer of 1993: Mallory has just inherited a beachfront cottage on Nantucket from her aunt, and she agrees to host her brother’s bachelor party. Cooper’s friend from college, Jake McCloud, attends, and Jake and Mallory form a bond that will persevere—through marriage, children, and Ursula’s stratospheric political rise—until Mallory learns she’s dying.
Based on the classic film Same Time Next Year (which Mallory and Jake watch every summer), 28 Summers explores the agony and romance of a one-weekend-per-year affair and the dramatic ways this relationship complicates and enriches their lives, and the lives of the people they love.

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

We wondered which of the anti-racism books would make the list, this one makes the most sense to us as far as which would top the list.

The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.
In this “vital, necessary, and beautiful book” (Michael Eric Dyson), antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and “allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to ‘bad people’ (Claudia Rankine). Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.

Too Much and Never Enough by Mary L. Trump

Well, every year for the past few years, this list has included a Trump book.

In this revelatory, authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him, Mary L. Trump, a trained clinical psychologist and Donald’s only niece, shines a bright light on the dark history of their family in order to explain how her uncle became the man who now threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric.
Mary Trump spent much of her childhood in her grandparents’ large, imposing house in the heart of Queens, New York, where Donald and his four siblings grew up. She describes a nightmare of traumas, destructive relationships, and a tragic combination of neglect and abuse. She explains how specific events and general family patterns created the damaged man who currently occupies the Oval Office, including the strange and harmful relationship between Fred Trump and his two oldest sons, Fred Jr. and Donald.
A firsthand witness to countless holiday meals and interactions, Mary brings an incisive wit and unexpected humor to sometimes grim, often confounding family events. She recounts in unsparing detail everything from her uncle Donald’s place in the family spotlight and Ivana’s penchant for regifting to her grandmother’s frequent injuries and illnesses and the appalling way Donald, Fred Trump’s favorite son, dismissed and derided him when he began to succumb to Alzheimer’s.
Numerous pundits, armchair psychologists, and journalists have sought to parse Donald J. Trump’s lethal flaws. Mary L. Trump has the education, insight, and intimate familiarity needed to reveal what makes Donald, and the rest of her clan, tick. She alone can recount this fascinating, unnerving saga, not just because of her insider’s perspective but also because she is the only Trump willing to tell the truth about one of the world’s most powerful and dysfunctional families.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

We’re pretty sure if we’d been open for browsing all year, Glennon would be Elin’s top rival for the number one spot!

This is how you find yourself.
There is a voice of longing inside each woman. We strive so mightily to be good: good partners, daughters, mothers, employees, and friends. We hope all this striving will make us feel alive. Instead, it leaves us feeling weary, stuck, overwhelmed, and underwhelmed. We look at our lives and wonder: Wasn’t it all supposed to be more beautiful than this? We quickly silence that question, telling ourselves to be grateful, hiding our discontent—even from ourselves.
For many years, Glennon Doyle denied her own discontent. Then, while speaking at a conference, she looked at a woman across the room and fell instantly in love. Three words flooded her mind: There She Is. At first, Glennon assumed these words came to her from on high. But she soon realized they had come to her from within. This was her own voice—the one she had buried beneath decades of numbing addictions, cultural conditioning, and institutional allegiances. This was the voice of the girl she had been before the world told her who to be. Glennon decided to quit abandoning herself and to instead abandon the world’s expectations of her. She quit being good so she could be free. She quit pleasing and started living.
Soulful and uproarious, forceful and tender, Untamed is both an intimate memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call. It is the story of how one woman learned that a responsible mother is not one who slowly dies for her children, but one who shows them how to fully live. It is the story of navigating divorce, forming a new blended family, and discovering that the brokenness or wholeness of a family depends not on its structure but on each member’s ability to bring her full self to the table. And it is the story of how each of us can begin to trust ourselves enough to set boundaries, make peace with our bodies, honor our anger and heartbreak, and unleash our truest, wildest instincts so that we become women who can finally look at ourselves and say: There She Is.
Untamed shows us how to be brave. As Glennon insists: The braver we are, the luckier we get.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

This is the THIRD year these southern crawdads find their way onto this list. (And it’s not even 3 years old!)

Where the Crawdads Sing is a stunning and beautiful novel that readers will want to simultaneously savor and devour with every luxurious word. You’ll hear the gulls cry on the beach through these pages, you’ll see the light flickering through the marsh trees, you’ll smell the homemade grits sizzling on the stovetop. Your heart will ache for the lonely marsh girl and your wheels will start turning when a body is discovered, but you’ll never regret reading this gorgeous novel.

Amanda Zirn, Bethany Beach Books, Bethany Beach, DE

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

This is another one, with Untamed, that definitely would have been higher up if we’d been open for browsing all year.

Erik Larson has done it again! With years of impeccable research into diaries, archives, dossiers, biographies, and official British documents, he has presented an intimate and detailed account of Winston Churchill in his first years as prime minister as he dealt with the London Blitz and his own personal and family issues. This is Churchill as few of us can imagine, in his silky pajamas entertaining major dignitaries at his weekend retreat, all the while continuing to reassure the British people during their darkest days that they have what it takes to withstand the German onslaught. The Splendid and the Vile reads like an engrossing novel, with all the fascinating details and facts that Erik Larson can provide.

Gail Meyer, The Bookstore Plus Music & Art, Lake Placid, NY

On Winston Churchill’s first day as prime minister, Adolf Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium. Poland and Czechoslovakia had already fallen, and the Dunkirk evacuation was just two weeks away. For the next twelve months, Hitler would wage a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britons. It was up to Churchill to hold his country together and persuade President Franklin Roosevelt that Britain was a worthy ally—and willing to fight to the end.
In The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson shows, in cinematic detail, how Churchill taught the British people “the art of being fearless.” It is a story of political brinkmanship, but it’s also an intimate domestic drama, set against the backdrop of Churchill’s prime-ministerial country home, Chequers; his wartime retreat, Ditchley, where he and his entourage go when the moon is brightest and the bombing threat is highest; and of course 10 Downing Street in London. Drawing on diaries, original archival documents, and once-secret intelligence reports—some released only recently—Larson provides a new lens on London’s darkest year through the day-to-day experience of Churchill and his family: his wife, Clementine; their youngest daughter, Mary, who chafes against her parents’ wartime protectiveness; their son, Randolph, and his beautiful, unhappy wife, Pamela; Pamela’s illicit lover, a dashing American emissary; and the advisers in Churchill’s “Secret Circle,” to whom he turns in the hardest moments.
The Splendid and the Vile takes readers out of today’s political dysfunction and back to a time of true leadership, when, in the face of unrelenting horror, Churchill’s eloquence, courage, and perseverance bound a country, and a family, together.

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer

Millennials, and their moms, still love Twilight.

#1 bestselling author Stephenie Meyer makes a triumphant return to the world of Twilight with this highly anticipated companion: the iconic love story of Bella and Edward told from the vampire’s point of view.
When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella’s side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward’s version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun.
This unforgettable tale as told through Edward’s eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward’s past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger?
In Midnight Sun, Stephenie Meyer transports us back to a world that has captivated millions of readers and brings us an epic novel about the profound pleasures and devastating consequences of immortal love.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half got a boost from Juneteenth reading lists and the multiple celebrity and internet book clubs that made it a selection over the summer.

Brit Bennett’s second novel broke my heart. She doesn’t shy away from the sadness inherent in each character’s life, yet she left me feeling better for having met all of them. I read The Vanishing Half with a sense of hope, despite my dread that terrible things might befall the characters. Desiree and Stella’s story unfolds with a deft delicateness in a book that is astonishingly accomplished and sweeping, and yet so very intimate.

Jamie Thomas, Women & Children First, Chicago, IL

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?
Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passingLooking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.
As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.

Rage by Bob Woodward

It wouldn’t be an election year without multiple political books on this list.

Bob Woodward’s new book, Rage, is an unprecedented and intimate tour de force of new reporting on the Trump presidency facing a global pandemic, economic disaster and racial unrest.
Woodward, the #1 international bestselling author of Fear: Trump in the White House, has uncovered the precise moment the president was warned that the Covid-19 epidemic would be the biggest national security threat to his presidency. In dramatic detail, Woodward takes readers into the Oval Office as Trump’s head pops up when he is told in January 2020 that the pandemic could reach the scale of the 1918 Spanish Flu that killed 675,000 Americans.
In 17 on-the-record interviews with Woodward over seven volatile months—an utterly vivid window into Trump’s mind—the president provides a self-portrait that is part denial and part combative interchange mixed with surprising moments of doubt as he glimpses the perils in the presidency and what he calls the “dynamite behind every door.”
At key decision points, Rage shows how Trump’s responses to the crises of 2020 were rooted in the instincts, habits and style he developed during his first three years as president.
Revisiting the earliest days of the Trump presidency, Rage reveals how Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats struggled to keep the country safe as the president dismantled any semblance of collegial national security decision making.
Rage draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand witnesses as well as participants’ notes, emails, diaries, calendars and confidential documents.
Woodward obtained 25 never-seen personal letters exchanged between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who describes the bond between the two leaders as out of a “fantasy film.”
Trump insists to Woodward he will triumph over Covid-19 and the economic calamity. “Don’t worry about it, Bob. Okay?” Trump told the author in July. “Don’t worry about it. We’ll get to do another book. You’ll find I was right.”

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Reese’s book club picks still reign supreme!

The bride – The plus one – The best man – The wedding planner  – The bridesmaid – The body
On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.
But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.
And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

Out manager, Sarah, is beyond thrilled that her favorite book of 2020 made this list!

I absolutely loved The Jane Austen Society. As I read, I felt I was walking around Chawton, immersing myself in the world of her colorful inhabitants, surprised by how they handled certain situations, while simultaneously feeling like they were behaving exactly as they should. The plot is intricate and beautifully woven, written by the hand of the master storyteller, it’s a great book for Austen lovers and historical fiction lovers alike!

Sarah

Utterly and wonderfully charming! The residents of Chawton, England, who seem to have nothing in common, come together by their love for the writings of Jane Austen. They quickly come to realize that true friendship depends on nothing but a caring heart and the willingness and courage to be open to others. This is a book to read again and again whenever your faith in humanity is threatened.

Sandi Madore, Magnolia’s Bookstore, Seattle, WA

Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.
A powerful and moving novel that explores the tragedies and triumphs of life, both large and small, and the universal humanity in us all, Natalie Jenner’s The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with readers for years to come.

My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg

We’re thrilled RBG is a bestseller, but saddened by the fact that she is no longer with us.

My Own Words “showcases Ruth Ginsburg’s astonishing intellectual range” (The New Republic). In this collection Justice Ginsburg discusses gender equality, the workings of the Supreme Court, being Jewish, law and lawyers in opera, and the value of looking beyond US shores when interpreting the US Constitution. Throughout her life Justice Ginsburg has been (and continues to be) a prolific writer and public speaker. This book’s sampling is selected by Justice Ginsburg and her authorized biographers Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams, who introduce each chapter and provide biographical context and quotes gleaned from hundreds of interviews they have conducted.
Witty, engaging, serious, and playful, My Own Words is a fascinating glimpse into the life of one of America’s most influential women and “a tonic to the current national discourse” (The Washington Post).

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Over half the staff have read this one and recommend it whole heartedly for a royalist escape.

I love this book so much! It is so cute and so happy. I love that it isn’t a crazy dramatic book, but instead a cute and fluffy romance. I love Alex and Henry as characters, and I love seeing the progression going from enemies to friends, and then eventually to lovers. This is one of the best romances that I have ever read, and I look forward to the author’s other future novels!

Anna

RED, WHITE, AND ROYAL BLUE is by definition a romance, hitting all the plot points in the formula up to and including the inevitable happily-ever-after, but there is a depth to this romance that makes the story stand out. Heavy issues of today, fantastic family relationships, and a truly wonderful queer romance combine into a funny and warmhearted read that will have you laughing and crying but always feeling good. Read this book and smile!

Marielle

Fresh, irreverent, and funny, Red, White & Royal Blue is a delight and a treasure. With subtle jabs, Casey McQuiston pokes fun at both the public face of the British monarchy as well as the back-door politicking that dominates the U.S. political scene. The story follows the self-centered Alex Claremont-Diaz (America’s First Son) and his interactions with British Prince Henry of Wales. As hostility increases between two political scions forced into a sham friendship, we see the framework of political destiny and duty begin to fray. Little by little, hostility turns to something else entirely. This is a story about happiness — and, more importantly, honesty — for those who live their lives in the public eye.

Todd Ketcham, The Book Cellar, Lake Worth, FL

What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?
When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.
Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.

Troubles in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

We’ve started with Elin, so it’s only fitting we finish with Elin.

Travel to the bright Caribbean one last time in the satisfying conclusion to the nationally bestselling Winter in Paradise trilogy by Elin Hilderbrand, “Queen of the Summer Novel” (People).
After uprooting her life in the States, Irene Steele has just settled in at the villa on St. John where her husband Russ had been living a double life. But a visit from the FBI shakes her foundations, and Irene once again learns just how little she knew about the man she loved. 
With help from their friends, Irene and her sons set up their lives while evidence mounts that the helicopter crash that killed Russ may not have been an accident. Meanwhile, the island watches this drama unfold — including the driver of a Jeep with tinted windows who seems to be shadowing the Steele family.
As a storm gathers strength in the Atlantic, surprises are in store for the Steeles: help from a mysterious source, and a new beginning in the paradise that has become their home. At last all will be revealed about the secrets and lies that brought Irene and her sons to St. John — and the truth that transformed them all.

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