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Books in the Media Update

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The 20 Most Popular Books of the Week

The Top 20 Books of the Week

The most popular books of the week is our regular feature that lists the 20 most popular books on Books in the Media during the past week. 

We measure popularity by tracking the number of views of each book via Google Analytics. The current period is Monday to Sunday (30 December 2019 - 5 January 2020) inclusive. 

Overall traffic to our books section rose significantly - by 14.9% - compared with the same period the previous week (or year, or even decade). The top slot was taken by our old favourite, Robert Harris's futureshock thriller The Second Sleep, which has been a fixture on these charts for the past 13 weeks.

The 'twixtmas' lull in new releases means that the highest new entry of the week is down in seventh place, where J M Coetzee's timely The Death of Jesus appears with a 122% rise in views over the previous week. 

The second highest new entry this week is Kiley Reid's Such a Fun Age - a broadly acclaimed debut which drew comparisons with Sally Rooney - which entered the chart in the number 9 slot with a 900.0% boost in popularity over the previous week. 

The chart shows this week's position - with last week's in brackets - followed by the week-on-week change in popularity, as measured by page views. 

1. (4) +116.7%

Robert Harris

3.77 out of 5

11 reviews

The land around is strewn with ancient artefacts - coins, fragments of glass, human bones - which the old parson used to collect.As Fairfax is drawn more deeply into the isolated community, everything he believes - about himself, his faith and the history of his world - is tested to destruction.

2. (13) +114.3%

Fiona Valpy


1 review

3. (5) +42.9%

Lucy Foley

4.18 out of 5

6 reviews

EVERYONE'S INVITED. EVERYONE'S A SUSPECT. AND EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT IT. `Ripping, riveting' A. J. Finn `Clever, twisty and sleek' Daily Mail `Foley is superb' The Times `Chilling' Adele Parks `A terrific, riveting, and clever book' Dinah Jefferies

4. (2) +16.0%

Anne Glenconner

4.00 out of 5

9 reviews

The remarkable life of Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret who was also a Maid of Honour at the Queen's Coronation - and is a character in The Crown this autumn. Anne Glenconner reveals the real events behind The Crown as well as her own life of drama, tragedy and courage, with the wonderful wit and extraordinary resilience which define her.

5. (19) +100.0%

Laura Cumming

4.50 out of 5

12 reviews

Cumming began with a few criss-crossing lives in this fraction of English coast - the postman, the grocer, the elusive baker - but soon her search spread right out across the globe as she discovered just how many lives were affected by what happened that day on the beach - including her own.

6. (3) -8.3%

Elton John

4.39 out of 5

13 reviews

Coming in October 2019, the first and only official autobiography of a much-loved global icon.

7. (-) +122.2%

J.M. Coetzee

3.26 out of 5

12 reviews

In The Schooldays of Jesus, the small family searched for a home in which David could thrive. In The Death of Jesus, David, now a tall ten-year-old, is spotted by Julio Fabricante, the director of a local orphanage, playing football with his friends.

8. (9) +25.0%

Louis Theroux

3.67 out of 5

5 reviews

A funny, insightful memoir by much-loved documentary maker Louis Theroux, who takes us on a weird and wonderful journey through his life and two decades of groundbreaking television.

9. (-) +900.0%

Kiley Reid

4.17 out of 5

15 reviews

When Emira is apprehended at a supermarket for 'kidnapping' the white child she's actually babysitting, it sets off an explosive chain of events. Her employer Alix, a feminist blogger with a 'personal brand' and the best of intentions, resolves to make things right. But Emira herself is aimless, broke and wary of Alix's desire to help. When she meets someone from Alix's past, the two women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know - about themselves, each other, and the messy dynamics of privilege.

10. (11) -18.8%

Nino Haratischvili, Charlotte Collins, Ruth Martin

3.78 out of 5

5 reviews

11. (-) +157.1%

Laura Shepherd-Robinson

4.29 out of 5

3 reviews

June, 1781. An unidentified body hangs upon a hook at Deptford Dock - horribly tortured and branded with a slaver's mark. Some days later, Captain Harry Corsham - a war hero embarking upon a promising parliamentary career - is visited by the sister of an old friend. Her brother, passionate abolitionist Tad Archer, had been about to expose a secret that he believed could cause irreparable damage to the British slaving industry.

12. (7) -10.5%

Edward Parnell

4.00 out of 5

3 reviews

'A uniquely strange and wonderful work of literature' Philip Hoare 'An exciting new voice' Mark Cocker, author of Crow Country

13. (-) +466.7%

Onjali Q. Rauf

4.00 out of 5

3 reviews

Told with heart and humour, The Boy at the Back of the Class is a child's perspective on the refugee crisis, highlighting the importance of friendship and kindness in a world that doesn't always make sense.

14. (-) +112.5%

Julian Barnes

4.11 out of 5

16 reviews

The Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Sense of an Ending takes us on a rich, witty tour of Belle Epoque Paris, via the life story of the pioneering surgeon Samuel PozziIn the summer of 1885, three Frenchmen arrived in London for a few days' shopping.

15. (-) +∞%

Dr Andrew Jenkinson


1 review

16. (-) +114.3%

Gyles Brandreth


1 review

A little poetry really can save your life . . . Poetry is officially good for you. Not only does it enhance literacy in the young, but learning poetry by heart is the one truly pleasurable thing you can do to improve memory, boost brain power, extend your vocabulary and beat cognitive decline as time goes by. In Dancing by the Light of the Moon, Gyles Brandreth shares over 250 poems to read, relish and recite, as well as his advice on how to learn poetry by heart, and the benefits of doing so. Whether you are nine, nineteen or ninety, the poems and advice in this book provide the most enjoyable, moving and inspiring way to ensure a lifetime of dancing by the light of the moon - one joyous poem at a time . . .

17. (-) +50.0%

Erin Morgenstern

3.26 out of 5

5 reviews

This door leads to a subterranean labyrinth filled with stories, hidden far beneath the surface of the earth.When the labyrinth is threatened, Zachary must race with Mirabel, and Dorian, a handsome barefoot man with shifting alliances, through its twisting tunnels and crowded ballrooms, searching for the end of his story.

18. (-) +200.0%

Jess Kidd

4.11 out of 5

9 reviews

The gripping new novel, set in crime-fuelled Victorian London, from Costa Award-winner and twice BBC Radio 2 Book Club author Jess Kidd

19. (-) +∞%

An Yu

3.73 out of 5

6 reviews

One autumn morning after breakfast, Jia Jia's life changes for ever... 'So elegant and poised, so tuned to the great mysteries of love and loss. Braised Pork is a major debut' -- John Freeman One morning in autumn, just after breakfast, Jia Jia finds her husband dead in the bathtub of their Beijing apartment.

20. (-) +40.0%

Andre Aciman

3.30 out of 5

6 reviews

In this spellbinding new exploration of the varieties of love, the author of Call Me by Your Name lets us back into his characters' lives years after their first meeting In Find Me, Aciman shows us Elio's father, Samuel, on a trip from Florence to Rome to visit Elio, now a gifted classical pianist.