Over the past two weeks we’ve surveyed Library of America’s most popular Story of the Week selections and News & Views features of 2017, so now, with 2018 already upon us, we conclude our year-end wrap-up with a rundown of our most popular backlist titles (i.e., volumes published more than one year ago) of the past twelve months.
String Theory, the irresistibly gifty collection of David Foster Wallace‘s tennis essays, heads the list, followed by a double-dose of James Baldwin; readers may not be surprised to learn that the Baldwin resurgence noted in this space back in 2015 continues, undoubtedly aided by the success of Raoul Peck’s documentary I Am Not Your Negro. Baldwin is joined in our top fifteen by two other canonical African American writers, who might be said to appear here for reasons both relatively predictable and not: Gwendolyn Brooks, whose centenary was celebrated in June, and Frederick Douglass, who unexpectedly made headlines at the start of Black History Month back in February.
An eclectic array of fiction and nonfiction, spanning the gamut from history and nature writing to mystery and science fiction classics, rounds out the list.
Library of America’s top fifteen backlist best-sellers of 2017
1. String Theory: David Foster Wallace on Tennis
2. James Baldwin: Collected Essays
3. James Baldwin: Early Novels & Stories
4. American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau
5. The Philip K. Dick Collection
6. Shirley Jackson: Novels & Stories
7. Kurt Vonnegut: The Complete Novels
8. Flannery O’Connor: Collected Works
9. The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks
10. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave
11. Reinhold Niebuhr: Major Works on Religion and Politics
12. John Muir: Nature Writings
13. Dashiell Hammett: Complete Novels
14. Abraham Lincoln: Selected Speeches and Writings
15. Ross MacDonald: Four Novels of the 1950s