Maybe it was the anniversary of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Maybe it was Chanel Miller’s public reclamation of her identity and her own story of sexual violence. Or maybe it was just the seemingly endless appeal of Margaret Atwood’s gloriously clean prose and monstrous dystopias. But whatever catalyst may have caused it, there’s a decidedly feminist bent to the Pacific Northwest’s regional bestsellers for the week ending Oct. 6, as compiled by the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association.

Take, for example, this juxtaposition from the hardcover nonfiction bestsellers: “She Said,” from New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, and “The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience,” by no less than Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, are back-to-back in eighth and ninth place respectively.

What we're reading


In “She Said,” Kantor and Twohey share the events that led them to break the Harvey Weinstein story in 2017, and present a case study in how empathy, trust and sensitivity can be components of successful investigative reporting as crucial as data-sifting. The book also considers the impact the #MeToo movement has had on American discourse, and the stories of the women who entrusted painful truths to Kantor and Twohey in the interest of transparency and public safety.

“The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience” tells a different story of bravery — or rather, 103 of them, in a collection of essays co-written by the Clintons. The 103 women in the book are bold contributors to the historical record — some icons, some obscure. That makes for a pleasantly motley crew; the book mentions everyone from abolitionist Harriet Tubman and photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White, to National Domestic Workers Alliance director Ai-jen Poo and prima ballerina Maria Tallchief, all rooted in the authors’ smart, personable writings.

Our region’s current fixation on women’s stories isn’t limited to nonfiction, either: The grand dame of feminist-informed speculative fiction, Margaret Atwood, made the bestseller list twice this week. “The Testaments,” Atwood’s sequel to her 1985 novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” (interest in it revived via streaming television, no doubt), is No. 1 on the hardcover fiction list. Writing a sequel to what’s essentially an urtext of contemporary feminism is an inherently risky proposition, but our Moira Macdonald found that it paid off. “[W]hat makes the book most mesmerizing is Atwood’s working of the everyday into the unthinkable; her way of conveying how, in different degrees, these characters came to accept their reality, and even to become complicit in it,” she wrote in her review.

A sequel is also a prompt to go back to the beginning, which Northwest readers did, bumping “The Handmaid’s Tale” to second place on the fiction paperback bestseller list, sneaking in among books that aren’t over 30 years old. Going back to the beginning to better understand where we are now is an impulse well in line with this week’s other literary selections. Whatever may have prompted this rearview glance, it seems we’re curious to look closely at what’s changed for women — and what, perhaps, has not.



Hardcover fiction

1. The Testaments, Margaret Atwood

2. The Dutch House, Ann Patchett

3. The Water Dancer, Ta-Nehisi Coates

4. Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens

5. A Better Man, Louise Penny

6. Land of Wolves, Craig Johnson

7. Circe, Madeline Miller

8. The Institute, Stephen King

9. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Ocean Vuong

10. Imaginary Friend, Stephen Chbosky

11. A Single Thread, Tracy Chevalier

12. The Topeka School, Ben Lerner

13. Turn Around Time, David Guterson, Justin Gibbens (illustrator)

14. The World That We Knew, Alice Hoffman

15. The Bitterroots, C.J. Box

Hardcover nonfiction

1. Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth, Rachel Maddow

2. Talking to Strangers, Malcolm Gladwell

3. Educated, Tara Westover

4. How To, Randall Munroe

5. Permanent Record, Edward Snowden

6. How to Be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi

7. Year of the Monkey, Patti Smith

8. She Said, Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey

9. The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chelsea Clinton

10. Three Women, Lisa Taddeo

11. The Education of an Idealist, Samantha Power

12. The Moment of Lift, Melinda Gates

13. Trick Mirror, Jia Tolentino

14. The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, Mark Manson

15. The Pioneers, David McCullough

Paperback fiction

1. The Overstory, Richard Powers

2. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

3. A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles

4. There There, Tommy Orange

5. Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng

6. The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Heather Morris

7. The Great Alone, Kristin Hannah

8. Washington Black, Esi Edugyan

9. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman

10. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

11. The Best American Short Stories 2019, Anthony Doerr, Heidi Pitlor (editors)

12. The Winter Soldier, Daniel Mason

13. The Alice Network, Kate Quinn

14. Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

15. The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker

Paperback nonfiction

1. Born a Crime, Trevor Noah

2. So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo

3. White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo

4. The Soul of an Octopus, Sy Montgomery

5. Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari

6. All That the Rain Promises and More, David Arora

7. The Library Book, Susan Orlean

8. On Tyranny, Timothy Snyder

9. Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer

10. The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2019, Sy Montgomery, Jaime Green (editors)

11. Calypso, David Sedaris

12. These Truths: A History of the United States, Jill Lepore

13. The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers, Maxwell King

14. The Best American Essays 2019, Rebecca Solnit, Robert Atwan (editors)

15. The Spy and the Traitor, Ben Macintyre