In 2017, George Orwell might not have been the name you expected to make headlines when there’s a new shocking story roughly every 24 hours. But the author did precisely that when his classic dystopian novel 1984 topped Amazon’s best-sellers list nearly 70 years after its original publication.
According to NPR, Signet Classics, the current 1984 publisher, reported sales for the book rose nearly 10,000 percent since President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20. The uptick was even more noticeable after Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway called press secretary Sean Spicer’s comments on the size of inauguration crowds “alternative facts.” The phrase was later described as Orwellian by a Washington Post reporter in a CNN interview.
Here in Northern Virginia, a stone’s throw away from D.C. and those inauguration (and protest) crowds, 1984 hasn’t dominated book sales. Recent best-selling mainstays like Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, page-to-screen adaptations like Hidden Figures and buzzed-about new arrivals like Emily Ruskovich’s Idaho all make appearances among January’s most sought-after titles at big-box chains, local book shops and libraries in the region. With that said, 1984 did still see a rise in sales in NoVA.
Among Barnes & Noble Fairfax’s top sellers for the month of January, 1984 ranked No. 6. But arguably just as interesting are the other books making a comeback in Northern Virginia.
We Should All Be Feminists, the essay adaptation of author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Ted Talk of the same name, was Reston pop-up Scrawl Books’ No. 1 best seller in January, the same month the Women’s March on Washington drew hundreds of thousands to the nation’s capital. Likewise, March, the 2013 memoir of Civil Rights leader and Georgia Rep. John Lewis, placed at No. 3 among Scrawl’s best-sellers. That mirrored a national trend: Lewis’ memoir rose in sales after Trump criticized the congressman for calling him an “illegitimate” president earlier this month. Feminists and March were followed by B.A. Shapiro’s 2015 historical fiction The Muralist, which tells the story of Jewish-American painter Alizée Benoit who went missing in the 1940s and the European refugees who were refused entrance to the U.S.
At One More Page Books in Arlington, a pocket-sized copy of the Constitution topped the store’s best-sellers, and it also became Amazon’s No. 2 best-seller during the Democratic National Convention in July when Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father of Muslim U.S. soldier Capt. Humayun Khan, waved his pocket Constitution on the DNC stage and challenged then-presidential nominee Trump on whether he was familiar with the text.
It’s worth noting 1984 isn’t even the only book to see a resurgence on Amazon’s best-selling list. Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here, the 1935 novel about a president who comes to power during the Great Depression and launches a dictatorship, ranks at No. 9. More recent releases like J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, which makes appearances on both regional and national best-selling lists, has political resonance, too. The 2016 memoir chronicles a working-class family’s social and economic struggle from Appalachia to the Midwest.
Compare the full lists of regional and national book sales below:
Barnes & Noble Fairfax Best Sellers – January 2017
1. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
2. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
3. Harry Potter & the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling
4. The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer
5. A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
6. 1984 by George Orwell
7. Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission by Bret Baier
8. Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
9. Talking as Fast as I Can from Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (And Everything in Between) by Lauren Graham
10. No Man’s Land by David Baldacci
Alexandria Library Most-Requested Books – January 2017
1. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
2. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
3. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
4. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
5. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
6. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
7. The Tresspasser by Tana French
8. Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
9. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
10. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Scrawl Books Best-Sellers – January 2017
1. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
2. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
3. March by John Lewis
4. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
5. The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro
One More Page Best-Sellers – January 2017
1. The Pocket Constitution
2. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
3. Idaho by Emily Ruskovich
Amazon Best Sellers – As of Jan. 31, 2017
1. 1984 by George Orwell
2. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
3. Tools of Titans by Timothy Ferriss
4. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
5. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
6. The Whole30 by Melissa Hartwig
7. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
8. First 100 Words by Roger Priddy
9. It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis
10. The Shack by William P. Young