This post first appeared at The National Book Review.
1. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson (Broadway)
A film adaptation starring Robert Redford as travel writer Bryson and Nick Nolte as his grumbling sidekick has pulled in more than $25 million in three weeks -- and given new bookstore bounce to this 1998 memoir. When it was first released, the Washington Post called this tale of unathletic amateurs on America's most iconic hiking trail "choke-on-your-coffee funny."
2. Reckless: My Life as a Pretender by Chrissie Hynde (Doubleday)
Singer-songwriter-guitarist Hynde's singular musical style ("Back on the Chain Gang," "Brass in Pocket") infuses this candid memoir of her journey from a pleasant Akron, Ohio childhood to the red-hot center of 60's rock-and-roll London. Her band, The Pretenders, and the globally influential rock world it was part of, crashed and burned, but Hynde is a survivor - and an unexpectedly gifted writer, in the tradition of Patti Smith and her prize-winning memoir, Just Kids.
3. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Doubleday)
Word of mouth has been quietly building since March for this subtly written - and disturbing - story of a group of friends coming of age in New York City. Last week, this dark and decidedly not little (736 pp.) novel's profile soared when it was both longlisted for the National Book Award and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
4. The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz (Knopf)
Happy news for Lisbeth Salander fans: the girl with the dragon tattoo has survived the untimely death of her creator Stieg Larsson. Swedish journalist Lagercrantz has won high marks for delving deeper into Lisbeth's character, while crafting another pulse-racing tale of cyber spies and vital secrets.
5. The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories by Joy Williams (Alfred A. Knopf)
Williams, a past finalist for both a National Book Critics Circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize, has long been regarded as a consummate writer's writer. This new story collection, her first in a decade, is winning raves - the New York Times Magazine hailed "The Misanthropic Genius of Joy Williams" - and could finally win her a well-deserved place as a reader's writer.