THE PARIS LIBRARY WAR WIDOW, And Other Bestsellers That Don’t Exist

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Landing on the bestseller list is an elusive accomplishment. The bestseller list doesn’t necessarily connote quality (though it can), but it often signals that a publisher has spent a lot of money on a marketing campaign or the author is very famous or the book has that unknowable combination of the right hook, the right cover, and just the right title to grab millions of readers’ attention. The perfect combination is unknowable, certainly, or everyone would be a bestselling author. But that does not mean the bestseller list is without trends. Take the top ten bestselling books of the decade. Eight of the ten books fall into three categories: sexually explicit Twilight fan fiction, thriller about a “girl,” or dystopian fiction. These books are outliers even within their own category of “bestseller,” but the point remains that certain subjects, certain themes, certain kinds of titles find their way onto the bestseller list more often than others. Taking the recent trends into meticulous account, I have ventured to create a list of bestsellers that don’t exist, but could.

The eight books below are not real bestsellers, but maybe that’s just because they haven’t been written yet. 

The Timekeeper’s Female Cousin

Harold McHarold was born to become the world’s timekeeper. The men in his family have held the role of timekeeper for generations, and it is his turn as soon as his father passes. The life of a timekeeper is one of isolation and loneliness; the timekeeper must never stop counting seconds, minutes, days, years in order to keep the world’s clocks aligned. But Harold McHarold’s unusual bond with his father’s youngest brother’s oldest daughter threatens to disrupt not just his timekeeping lineage, but the world’s clock as we know it. Part thriller, part generational saga, part family drama, The Timekeeper’s Female Cousin is compulsively readable. 

macro shot of chronograph watch
Photo by Shoaib SR on Unsplash

All the Lights in the Sky That Night

An unexpected explosion. Illegally purchased fireworks. A night that will change Jennifer’s life forever. Jennifer is one day away from her college graduation; she has a job as a copy editor lined up in Manhattan and she can’t wait to move away from the quiet Ohio town where she’s been stuck for four years. She decides to have one last hurrah with her classmates — a decision that will change the course of her life forever, forcing her to reevaluate her future and what it means to be happy. 

Ten Thousand Miles of Splendid River

Parker Kerosene doesn’t know anything but life on Splendid River. The river contains his whole world, and as far as he knows, that’s as far as the world goes. His world is turned upside down when his father drowns in Splendid River trying to cross on his beloved donkey, Declan. Parker is forced to grow up fast and become the bridge between the outside world and his Ma and 18 younger sisters. Suddenly, Parker must provide for his family, and that means taking Declan and venturing far away from the world he’s known. 

Secrets of the Beekeeper Who Kept Bees

When old Bob Prachett is discovered dead, no one knows what to do. All he left behind are thousands and thousands of bees and a legacy as the mysterious man who showed up once a week to sell honey at the local farmer’s market. What do the bees know? And what might they tell his neighbors who fall down the rabbit hole of who Bob Prachett was — and what he was hiding behind all those hives?

The Paris Library War Widow

Nadine is Parisian. Nadine is a librarian. Nadine has been made a widow by the war. Nadine is defying the enemy by passing coded messages to French intelligence through the library books. The Paris Library War Widow is a gripping novel of defiance; at times it will take your breath away and at times you will be confused by the author’s slight over usage of a language you may not be familiar with. Here’s a hint: “Bonjour” means “hello.” 

Greta Givewell and The Guys

It’s 1980s New York and 16-year-old Greta Givewell lives in a two-bedroom downtown apartment with The Guys, the six-man band her brother plays the bass for. Greta and her brother ran away from a tortured home and now her brother is trying to shelter her from the outside world while pursuing his dream of making it big. But Greta isn’t as innocent as her brother thinks; she and The Guys frontman Gil have been sneaking out together at night. Gil brings Greta to dingy clubs and has her sing backup for another band. Greta longs to be a star, and Gil thinks they might have the wrong Givewell. Will Greta ever be one of The Guys? This surprisingly touching novel, set against the backdrop of the ’80s underbelly of New York City, is about family, love, and what it means to have big dreams with no place to put them. 

The Girl With No Name

The posters announcing that the girl down the street was missing started appearing 14 days ago. The posters are simple, unofficial-looking. They just say “Missing. Call 866-783-9302 with information” with a photo below. Carter doesn’t know the girl’s name, knows only that she’s been living in the new high rises and that she has a cat. He can’t help but wonder whether it’s the police who are looking for her, or someone else — and does she want to be found, or is she hiding? When he decides to investigate her disappearance, he’s led down a dark path of discovery from which he may not be able to return. 

a person silhouetted against windows with blinds down
Photo by Jorge Salvador on Unsplash

A Game of Thistles and Thrones

The Kingdom of Gwain is the most powerful in all the land and the Polyesters have sat on the throne for generations, since overthrowing the Lanyards. The Polyesters have protected their kingdom for years with an impenetrable defensive wall of poisonous thistles. In this powerful new epic, the new generation of Lanyards are determined to retake their rightful throne from the greedy Polyesters. The question is: can they overcome the thistles to take the throne? Who will win and who will get poked? 

For more insight into bestsellers that DO exist, revisit some of those you might have forgotten about over the years — and whose titles in no way inspired any of these…