John Steinbeck, centre, with his 19-year-old son John, visits visits President Lyndon B. Johnson in the White House on May 16, 1966, shortly before John Jr. left for for active duty in Vietnam (Photo: Public Domain).

Here are the lists of the top 10 fiction and non-fiction titles sold by independent booksellers in Alberta during the week ended Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021.

The lists are compiled by the Book Publishers Association of Alberta, and include sales at Audreys Books and Glass Bookshop in Edmonton.

As I have observed in this space before, one of the charms of this list, undoubtedly owing to the fact it is based on the sales of books in independent bookstores, is the occasional appearance of venerable classics atop the fiction bestsellers. This goes to show, if you ask me, why independent bookshops, despite their dwindling numbers and the unfair competition they face from online booksellers and bog-box book stores, remain a valuable cultural institution. 

Literary popularity comes and goes – and sometimes, thankfully, as in the case of writers like Steinbeck – comes again. Leastways, it is the opinion of this blogger that the prolific Steinbeck, winner of the 1962 Nobel prize for literature, has been underrated of late, or maybe just mostly forgotten. So it is nice to see that some readers in Alberta are paying him attention again – perhaps because of a new biography published last year, or maybe because the house in which he wrote Of Mice and Men in tony Sag Harbor, N.Y., is now on sale for the not inconsiderable sum of $16.75 million US. More likely, I suppose, it is because it was assigned by some literature professor. Still, its appearance here is a hopeful sign, especially in Alberta. 

Incidentally, congratulations to Jason Purcell, co-owner of Edmonton’s Glass Bookshop, on the publication of his debut poetry collection by Arsenal Pulp Press.


1. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck (Penguin Books)
2. The Madness of Crowds – Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)
3. Fight Night – Miriam Toews (Knopf Canada)
4. The Hound of the Baskervilles – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (William Collins)
5. Five Little Indians – Michelle Good (Harper Perennial)
6. Dune – Frank Herbert (Ace Books)
7. The Midnight Library – Matt Haig (HarperCollins)
8. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse – Charlie Mackesy (HarperCollins)
9. The Last Thing He Told Me – Laura Dave (Simon & Schuster)
10. The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller (Ecco)


1. Braiding Sweetgrass – Robin Wall Kimmerer (Milkweed Editions)
2. Medicine Unbundled – Gary Geddes (Heritage House)
3. A Kids Book About Racism – Jelani Memory (A Kids Book About)
4. Finding the Mother Tree – Suzanne Simard (Knopf)
5. Life Among the Qallunaat – Mini Aodla Freeman (University of Manitoba Press)
6. Parenting from the Inside Out – Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell (TarcherPerigee)
7. Entangled Life – Merlin Sheldrake (Random House)
8. Whitewater Cooks Together Again – Shelley Adams (self-published)
9. 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act – Bob Joseph (Page Two Books)
10. The Menopause Manifesto – Dr. Jen Gunter (Random House Canada)

* Alberta Author   + Alberta Publisher

The independent bookstores contributing to this weekly list are:

Audreys Books, Edmonton
Cafe Books, Canmore
Drawn to Books, Edmonton
Glass Bookshop, Edmonton
Monkeyshines Books, Calgary
Owl’s Nest Books, Calgary
Pages on Kensington, Calgary
Shelf Life Books, Calgary
The Next Page, Calgary
Three Hills Books, Three Hills

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  1. Of Mice And Men? Shush. Don’t tell the Cons.

    Former MLA and would be leader of the Progressive Conservative Party Victor Doerksen presented a petition to the Legislature to have this book banned from Alberta schools alleging it had profane content. He admitted at the time to have never actually read it. The petition originated in a constituency other than his own. He was later obliged to present a petition on behalf of a number of his own constituents criticizing the original submission. Mr. Doerksen also introduced a Marriage Amendment Act which defined marriage solely as a union between a man and a woman that was passed by the Legislature despite being irrelevant as the definition of marriage is outside provincial jurisdiction.

    I understand these incidents occurred in the past. My concern is that we may too easily forget and overlook the existence of contemporary bigots who would gladly transform our province and our country into a book burning theocracies.

  2. It is appropriate during these trying times that we look to the works of Steinbeck and the invaluable narratives he composed. He was always suspicious of the powerful, but he was always wary of those who claim to be one of the people. Hitler was a populist, but every forgets that lesson until it’s too late.

    We should look to “The Grapes of Wrath” and the r of Tom Joad and the lessons in his story, because he is story is everyone’s story.

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