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Best-selling books in the U.S. January 2021

The best-selling book in the United States as of the week ending January 11, 2021 was the memoir 'A Promised Land' by Barack Obama with 64.02 thousand units sold. 'The Deep End (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #15' by Jeff Kinney was still high on the top 10 best-selling list with 23.21 thousand units sold.

Michelle Obama’s memoir ‘Becoming’ previously featured in the list for several months, having snatched its place in the top ten upon its release and securing the enviable position of best-selling print book in the United States in 2018, selling over 3.4 million copies.

What makes a book a best-seller?

Ultimately, there is no secret ingredient to making a book a best-seller, despite numerous online articles offering tips on how to craft a novel or non-fiction piece that will earn millions. However, being an international icon like Michelle Obama naturally presents an advantage. Obama’s millions of Instagram followers and her previous position as First Lady of the United States would have been enough to thrust her book into the media spotlight.

For other writers such as E. L. James (author of the ‘Fifty Shades’ series) being part of fan fiction communities and crafting a story based on an existing narrative, notably Stephanie Meyer’s ‘Twilight’, helped to push sales by targeting a particular demographic.

Many best-selling books go on to become classics, however not all members of the classical literary canon shot to fame upon publishing a novel.

A look at classic literature

A survey on readership of selected literary genres showed that classics were one of the most favorable among U.S. adults, and numerous books in this category proved popular among Goodreads users. As of November 2018, almost 1.06 million Goodreads users had marked Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ as ‘to be read’, with other important literary works such as Anne Frank’s ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’ garnering significant interest on the platform, as well as books by George Orwell, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jane Austen.

Anne Frank’s book is an excellent example of one which became a best-seller (and indeed, a classic) unintentionally, however like so many authors Frank sadly never lived to see her diary grow to global success.

Best-selling books in the United States in the week ending January 11, 2021, by unit sales

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Release date

January 2021


United States

Survey time period

January 4 to 11, 2021

Supplementary notes

Figures have been rounded.

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Statistics on "Print media in the U.S."

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