By this point in August, the lists have become sludgy and static, with very little turnover. So it’s no surprise to see the fiction list stuffed with repeats and the nonfiction list filled, once again, with political titles. We decided to turn to other countries to see what they’re reading these days.
Not surprisingly, the Canadian best-seller lists overlap a great deal with our own. Tara Westover’s “Educated” tops The Toronto Star’s nonfiction list, and Daniel Silva’s “The Other Woman” is the country’s best-selling novel. Canadians definitely do not want to spend their summer vacations reading about our current political situation. There’s only one book on the Star’s list that deals with Trump, and it’s at No. 10: Michiko Kakutani’s “The Death of Truth.”
In Germany, a few political books do show up on Der Spiegel’s nonfiction list: Madeleine Albright’s “Fascism,” for one, and James Comey’s “A Higher Loyalty,” for another. But what Germans are really reading these days is a nutrition book called “Der Ernährungskompass” (“The Diet Compass”). The author, Bas Kast, is a journalist who has written that his interest in the subject came about “on a spring evening a few years ago, when I jogged off as usual. … After barely a kilometer I collapsed. … A steel hand grabbed my heart and squeezed it tight.” Had his junk-food diet caused the heart attack? (He says he used to eat chocolate for breakfast!)
No. 1 on Der Spiegel’s fiction list is “Das Feld” (“The Field”), a new novel from the Man Booker International finalist Robert Seethaler. When he was working on the manuscript a few years ago, Seethaler told The Times: “I’m writing a novel about a small town — particularly its graveyard. It’s a hell of a job.”
Italians love Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano series, and the latest, “Il Metodo Catalanotti” (“The Catalanotti Method”), is No. 1 on the fiction list there, according to Publishers Weekly. In the Netherlands, Karin Slaughter’s “Pieces of Her” tops the list from CPNB, a book-industry trade group, and at No. 2 is a novel called “Leven en Laten Leven” (“Live and Let Live”) by Hendrik Groen. The pseudonymous Dutch author is best known for his retirement-home novel “The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen,” in which eccentric friends form the “Old but Not Dead Club.”
Whoever he is, Groen is not about to divulge his real identity. “I’m not a 24-year-old model, nor am I a 46-year-old hairdresser,” he told his publisher tartly. “I don’t like fuss and I wanted to cherish my peace and quiet.”