2014 In Review: Part II

…and we’re back!

This time with the Top Trending books from July through December. From war heroes and tween megastars, to popular bloggers and gut-busting comedians, the past six months have brought together an eclectic mix of books that bring the term “variety” to a whole new level.

Our year’s end review was garnered through careful analysis of millions of tweets, with the trending books serving as a reflection of the current events at the time.

July

Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption was on everybody’s lips during the month of July.

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Although the biography on World War II hero and former Olympic track star Louis Zamperini is critically acclaimed for its message of perseverance and survival, it was Zamperini’s death on July 2nd at the age of 97 that set Twitter book discussions on fire.

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J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye was also a hot topic of discussion, as the beloved novel celebrated its 60th anniversary on July 16th.

August

August was all about books of the YA variety.

Even though both Disney starlet Bella Thorne and YouTube darling Alfie Deyes had books that were yet to be released, the Twittersphere was already alight with excited buzz.

Autumn Falls Bella Thorne

The Pointless BookAlfie Deyes

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September

With the Man Booker Prize and National Book Awards looming ahead, tweeters were in a tizzy of anticipation over which novels might win, expressing their praise, disappointment, and hopes.

Wolf in White VanJosh Darnielle

The Lives of Others – Neel Mukherjee

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The film adaptation of James Dashner’s novel, The Maze Runnerwas released on September 19th. Both the book and its sequel, The Scorch Trials, were Top Trending fixtures across several months.

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October

The month of October was taken over by Richard Flanagan, who was announced as the victor of the Man Booker Prize on October 14th for The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

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And to take a break from Flanagan’s heart wrenching novel, tweeters looked for laughs from established comedians.

Yes Please Amy Poehler

RevolutionRussell Brand

Food: A Love StoryJim Gaffigan

Not That Kind of GirlLena Dunham

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November

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Famous YouTuber Zoella broke the record for highest first week sales for a debut author since records began with her book, GirlOnline. The subsequent backlash for her use of a ghostwriter only fueled more discussions on Twitter.

December

The last month of the year came with many film adaptations that were released just in time for the holidays (and awards season, with all three movies vying for Oscar voters’ attention).

Inherent ViceThomas Pynchon

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest TrailCheryl Strayed

American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military HistoryChris Kyle

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And that’s a wrap! We hope you enjoyed the list we put together—we (literally) couldn’t have done it without you. Have you read any of these novels? Which were your favorites of the year? Drop a comment and let us know!

2014 In Review : Part 1

With the year coming to a close, we’re getting a tad nostalgic. It’s been a great 12 months for our Top Trending (most tweeted about) books, with wonderful surprises and a flurry of different genres and adventures that have made 2014 anything but boring.

Fancy going back in time for a bit? Strap yourself in for a ride through the first six months in review:

January

Seems like tweeters were feeling a bit reminiscent at the beginning of the year, bringing #tbt to a whole new level with many mentions of Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms (1929).

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Simultaneously, users were casting their eyes ahead with a pop culture explosion that manifested itself in the form of books written by Hollywood starlets.

Find it in EverythingDrew Barrymore

The Body Book Cameron Diaz

Brunette AmbitionLea Michele

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February

You would think that the month of Valentine’s Day would yield tons of mentions of sappy love stories, written by the likes of Nicholas Sparks or Nora Roberts—but tweeters surprised us with their cravings for dark and twisted paranormal romances, ranging from historical horror love stories to sexy demons.

Donners of the DeadKarina Halle

IcedKaren Marie Moning

White Hot KissJennifer L. Armentrout

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March

March could have been nicknamed “March Movie Madness.” Users were blowing up the Twittersphere with mentions of Veronica Roth’s Divergent and Solomon Northup’s narrative memoir Twelve Years a Slave.

Of course, that wasn’t surprising— the film adaptation of Divergent was released in March, while the movie version of Twelve Years a Slave had just won a whopping three Academy Awards.

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April

Success was on everyone’s mind in April, with the Top Trending lists dominated by career oriented and self-help books.

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True InspirationEd Catmull

Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and WonderArianna Huffington

The Sermon on the Mount: The Key to Success in LifeEmmet Fox

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May

Magical May mostly consisted of novels that touched on the otherworldly. Perhaps the resurrection of J.R.R. Tolkien in the form of a new book had something to do with it.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemJ.K. Rowling

The Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus)Rick Riordan

Beowulf: A Translation and CommentaryJ.R.R. Tolkien

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June

The sunny month of June was all doom and gloom, with a fixation on horror and mystery novels. All three featured books were released during this month, which propelled readers to seek out similar books.

Mr. MercedesStephen King

The SilkwormRobert Galbraith

The Murder Complex Lindsay Cummings

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Have you read any of these novels? If so, what did you think? Drop us a comment to let us know and check in on Wednesday for July through December.

Top Trending: December 19 – 24

It’s nearing the end of December and we’re super excited to see which books the top trending right before Christmas. If you’re wondering which books will make great gifts for loved ones, then fret no more—the following list will hopefully help you make a decision or two.

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Seems like tweeters are throwing it way back with John Steinbeck’s East of Eden—and who can blame them? This epic, sprawling tale documents the intertwining fates between two families, the Trasks and Hamiltons, as they reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the rivalry between Cain and Abel. Encounter mesmerizing characters and explore themes ranging from the inexplicability of love to the struggle for identity.

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Steinbeck isn’t the only influential author on the list—Thomas Pynchon has also made it with Inherent Vice, a psychedelic powerhouse with an exciting plot that will toss you back to the marijuana haze-filled sixties. When Doc Sportello—an out of sorts private eye with a penchant for trouble—receives a visit from his ex-girlfriend with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer who she’s in love with, things get complicated—and very groovy.

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Speaking of the sixties, Daring: My Passages chronicles the life of Gail Sheehy when she was an innovative “girl” journalist in New York City. The author of the classic New York Times bestseller Passages writes a candid memoir that hones in on the obstacles and opportunities encountered when she dared to blaze a trail in a “man’s world,” and details many of her more controversial assignments: From walking the streets with hookers and pimps to expose prostitution, to seeking out Egypt’s president Anwar Sadat when he was targeted for death, Sheehy will have you perpetually on the edge of your seat.

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Serious books aside, light up the holidays with Austin Mahone’s Just How It Happened: My Official Story. See how Mahone went from being a small town kid having fun on YouTube to now headlining shows around the world. For the diehard fan, get lost in exclusive photos and stories from his childhood.

Check out the rest of this week’s Top Trending list here. And before you sign off, drop us a comment to let us know which books you’re hoping to get for the holidays!

The Trendy Trending Fashion + Beauty Books

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Nicky Hilton may be relatively unknown when it comes to gossip sites and the tabloids (unlike her younger sister), but she is no stranger in the fashion world, where she has earned her reputation as a style icon. In 365 Style, Nicky not only talks about her red carpet and runway experiences, but also shares her formula for creating your own signature style. Her best-kept style secrets—everything from your five must-have wardrobe items, to the $30 wardrobe item you can’t live without—will help you look like a million bucks (without dropping six figures).

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It’s almost impossible to walk around the streets without seeing at least one person toting a bag or wearing flats from designer Tory Burch. So just who is this amazing fashionista who’s listed as the 79th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes (with a net worth of approximately a billion dollars)? Simply flip through Burch’s book, In Color, and obtain an in-depth look at the people, places, and ideas that inspire her. Catch rare glimpses of Burch’s personal life, pore over her favorite artistic works, and take away some valuable business advice.

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Is your makeup routine getting a little boring? Is your hairstyle bringing to mind “flat,” instead of “fabulous”? Well have no fear—because rock n’ roll hair stylist and makeup artist Louise Teasdale is here! If you’ve heard of mega-popular boy band One Direction, you’ll know that she’s responsible for their slick coifs. Let her work her glittery magic on you with The Craft: DIY Hair and Beauty. With twenty-five fashionable projects for you to do at home, The Craft features everything from tutorials on how to achieve the perfect liquid eyeliner flick, to guides on choosing the proper moisturizers.

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You know how they say shoes can make or break an outfit? Well, it’s true. And nobody knows that better than shoe designer extraordinaire Christian Louboutin. His exquisite self-titled monograph highlights the range of his couture and includes a five-piece foldout binding and a pop-up. With six chapters to fawn over, learn about Louboutin’s early life, the inspiration behind his exotic designs, and get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at his studios and workshops.

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Do you have a favorite Fashion / Beauty book you’d like to recommend? Drop a comment and let us know! Check out the full list of stylish books here.

Top Trending: December 8 – 13

It’s December, the best month to curl beside your cozy fireplace while sipping on a mug of frothy hot chocolate—with a great book by your side, of course!

This week’s Top Trending books are magical, mysterious, and mesmerizing—delve into a wild world of beasts, detectives, and unforgettable heroines.

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Bouncing in at number two is J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. We’re sure that as you’ve read through the Harry Potter series, a few questions will have popped up—like where does the Quintaped live, for example? Or those adorable purplish-pink Puffskeins, what do they eat? A copy of this book is a necessity in every wizarding household, but now Muggles can join in on the fun, too!

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When Mrs. Quine’s novelist husband goes missing, her first thought was that he was up to his usual fun and games—that he had gone off by himself for a few days as he used to do before. But when he doesn’t return home, she calls in private detective Cormoran Strike, who quickly realizes that there’s much more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist had just finished a manuscript featuring life-ruining pen-portraits of everyone he knows—meaning there are a lot of people who might want Quine silenced. The Silkworm is tantalizingly suspenseful and just happens to be written by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling’s penname).

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In John Green’s Finding Alaska, silence and safety is all that comes to Miles Pudge Halter’s mind when he thinks about life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and he’s determined to change that. When Miles goes off to Culver Creek Boarding School for a change in scenery, he meets the gorgeous and unforgettable Alaska Young, who embodies everything he wants his life to be: dangerous, unpredictable, a little screwed up, and utterly fascinating.

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Get wrapped up in the fascinating world of the cyberpunk genre in William Gibson’s Neuromancer. The winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Awards, this novel—about a washed-up computer hacker hired by a mysterious employer to pull off the ultimate hack— exploded onto the science fiction scene in the 80’s. In fact, only one science fiction masterpiece is to thank for the term “cyberpunk”—a subgenre of sci-fi in a near-future setting, noted for its focus on “high tech and low life”— and that is Neuromancer.

Intrigued yet? Check out the rest of this week’s exciting list of Top Trending books here!

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Twitter: Battle of the Sports Books

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard—who has recently won the U.S. player of the year award—is releasing a new book, The Keeper: The Unguarded Story of Tim Howard this Monday (December 9), to the delight of soccer fans around the globe.

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And this isn’t surprising—people are still reeling from Howard’s spectacular performance at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, including 16 saves in the 2-1 loss in extra time to Belgium in Brazil. He did so well that a plethora of “Things Tim Howard Could Save” memes broke the Internet.

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With all of that in mind, we decided to see what type of sports book is most popular in the Twittersphere. We cast a spotlight on four sports—basketball, baseball, hockey, and soccer—and pulled out four books featuring the very best athletes in their fields to determine which inspired the most mentions.

Michael Jordan: The LifeRoland Lazenby

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He shoots…and he scores! From the Shrug to the Shot and Flu Game, Michael Jordan is responsible for legendary moments that are so ingrained in sports history that they have their own names. Basketball journalist Roland Lazenby delves into the complex life of the hoops star, starting all the way back to Jordan’s skinny rookie days.

The Closer: My StoryMariano Rivera

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Follow along with the greatest relief pitcher of all time, Mariano Rivera, as he shares his extraordinary story of survival, love, and baseball. The son of a poor Panamanian fisherman, Rivera didn’t even have his own glove when he was scouted by the Yankees—nor did he fly in an airplane or speak English. But with the love of his family and Rivera’s trust in the Lord, he emerges as one of baseball’s most iconic figures.

Mr. Hockey: My StoryGordie Howe

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Get wrapped up in the definitive autobiography from hockey’s greatest living legend, Goldie Howe. Known as “indestructible,” Howe dominated both the sport and record books—over six decades, the Hall of Famer set the record for most records by any athlete ever in any sport.

Why Soccer MattersPelé

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Before Beckham and Messi, there was Edson Arantes do Nascimento—simply known as Pelé, the greatest soccer player of all time. Boasting an unprecedented three World Cup championships with 1,283 goals in his amazing twenty-year career, Pelé has now turned to writing, providing insights into soccer’s role in connecting players around the world.

We’re not going to lie, we honestly thought that Pelé’s book would have the highest amount of mentions, seeing as how soccer is known as the “world’s most popular sport,” and all, but Twitter doesn’t seem all that impressed. The book has a little more than 50 mentions in the past year— the lowest number out of the four books—and was released all the way back in April.

Both Michael Jordan: The Life and The Closer were published at the same time to a decent amount of buzz—Jordan’s book inspired twice as many tweets (almost 400) during their month of release (May), while Howe’s Mr. Hockey only managed to scrape 68 tweets in its October month of publication.

So between the four sports and legendary athletes, baseball and Mariano Rivera emerge as the victors.

Have you read any of these inspiring books? If so, what did you think? If you have a favorite sports book, share with us by leaving a comment!

From Memoirs to Movies

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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (2012) author Cheryl Strayed’s first-person memoir of her 1,100 mile-hike from the Mojave Desert through California, Oregon, and the border of Washington State— has been adapted into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon and it’s all anybody can talk about.

Out in theaters today, the movie is projected to be a smashing success that matches that of the book, which reached No. 1 on the New York Times Best Seller list and was the first selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0.

This made us wonder: What does it take for a memoir to become a movie? Does the book have to be a bestseller before movie executives even consider the purchase of rights for the film?

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Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia (2006) chronicles Elizabeth Gilbert’s trip around the world after her divorce and what she discovered during her travels. The book remained on The New York Times Best Seller list for a whopping 187 weeks, spurring Columbia Pictures to purchase movie rights for a film starring Julia Roberts.

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Journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (1997) describes what the author’s life is like after a massive stroke that left him with locked-in syndrome. The book received phenomenal reviews, sold the first 25,000 copies on the first day of publication, and continued on to become a number one bestseller across Europe. The success prompted a film of the same name featuring Mathieu Amalric as Bauby.

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Clearly, how well the memoirs performed in sales played a big part in their transformation into films, but money isn’t the only factor—Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography. The critical acclaim was enough to push for a film to be made, following the anecdotes and stories of the author’s impoverished childhood and adulthood in Brooklyn, New York, and in Limerick, Ireland.

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However, An Education (2009)—journalist Lynn Barber’s memoir of her teenage lover affair with a suave, older man—was not a bestseller, nor did it win any notable awards. Screenplay writer Nick Hornby simply stated that Barber’s story appealed to him because Lynn was “a suburban girl who was frightened that she was not going to get a cut out of everything good that happens in the city,” essentially likening her story to that of “pretty much every rock ‘n’ roll band.” The film version of the same name went on to be nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Actress for Carey Mulligan.

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Aron Ralston’s Between a Rock and a Hard Placeabout how Ralston was trapped by a boulder in an isolated slot canyon in Blue John Canyon— was also made into a film (starring James Franco) for similar reasons. Director Danny Boyle, fresh from his previous film, Slumdog Millionaire, “wanted to do a film where [he] could follow an actor the way Darren Aronofsky did with The Wrestler, and 127 was [his] version of that.” Boyle wanted a powerful and intimate film, and Ralston’s one-man story resonated with him above all others.

In both cases with An Education and Between a Rock and a Hard Place, the memoirs were chosen not because of their ability to fly off bookshelves, but for reasons far deeper. They are unbearably honest and display the unbreakable strength of the human spirit, proving that it’s not always about the money or accolades—sometimes, a book’s message just has to strike the right emotional chord.   

YouTubers vs. Established Authors

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If you’ve never heard of Zoella, the popular English fashion and beauty YouTuber, then you’ve been living under a rock—because this 24-year-old has recently obliterated records for highest ever first week sales for a debut writer. With 78,000 copies of GirlOnline picked up in its first week, Zoella has outperformed both EL James and JK Rowling during their debuts!

Now that’s impressive.

With a rising trend of publishers throwing book deals at vloggers, we wanted to see whether their efforts for getting fans to post on social media are actually effective. By doing so, we pulled data from four books that have been released around the same time and compared the Twitter buzz generated by YouTubers to those of established authors.

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The Pointless Book: Started by Alfie Deyes, Finished by You is anything but pointless. Filled with fun activities and challenges, it is no surprise that vlogger Alfie Deyes—who boasts over 2.9 million subscribers—and his book were mentioned more than two thousand times on Twitter. A barrage of self-advertising tweets and interviews (along with constant mentions from girlfriend, Zoella––yes, you read right) helped a great deal. Grace Helbig’s (1.9m subscribers) Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-up—a tongue-in-cheek handbook for young adults— also derived an impressive two thousand tweets. Helbig’s relentless campaign on Twitter and live launches have done well to promote the guide that is flying off bookshelves.

No surprises there, but when we pulled up tweets for Anne Rice’s Prince Lestat, we were blown away—the Queen of Gothic Fiction’s new novel inspired almost four thousand mentions. We guessed that the continuation of sexy vampire Lestat’s story had something to do with it, but Jodi Picoult’s novel, Leaving Time about a daughter determined to find her missing mother—generated a whopping five thousand mentions!

We’ve got to be honest— we suspected that the YouTubers (who are all in their twenties) would win out, especially over older authors who lack a younger fan base, but we were wrong. Although the graph (below) suggests that The Pointless Book and Grace’s Guide boasted the highest spikes in discussion, Prince Lestat and Leaving Time had the most consistent buzz throughout.

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Make no mistake––although young social media mavens are currently all the rage, veteran authors are still the ones who reign supreme over the literary world.

Top 5 TV Shows Based On Books

From witches, blood-sucking vampires, to privileged teens in the Upper East Side and murderous teenagers, television shows these days are exciting and addictive—all you want to do at the end of an episode is watch another.

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But did you know that many of these TV shows were based off of novels?

Here are five of the most surprising:

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Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris serves as the basis for the hit television drama series, True Blood. The novel details the co-existence of vampires and humans in Bon Temps, a fictional town in Louisiana.

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Who would have thought that popular Netflix show Orange Is the New Black—a comedy-drama series about a bisexual woman who is sentenced to 15 months in a women’s federal prison— is actually based on Piper Kerman’s memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison? Kerman details the story of her money laundering and drug trafficking conviction and subsequent year spent in a women’s prison, where she attempts to preserve her individuality in the face of a gray bureaucracy.

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Boardwalk Empire, an American period crime drama TV series, was inspired by Nelson Johnson’s book, Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City. Emmy Award winning screenwriter Terence Winter was inspired after reading about local mob kingpin Enoch L. “Nucky” Thompson and the Prohibition-era mecca of lawlessness.

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Most people are so engrossed with the TV show Dexter that they fail to realize that the show’s first season was derived from Jeff Lindsay’s novel, Darkly Dreaming Dexter. A forensic blood spatter pattern analyst, Dexter has a unique hobby—in his spare time, he acts as a serial killer who kills rapists, murderers, and other undesirables he believes have escaped the justice system.

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Friday Night Lights is a popular show that is set against the backdrop of Texas and addresses issues facing contemporary American culture including family values, racism, drugs, and school funding. It takes its inspiration from H.G. Bissinger’s non-fiction book, Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and Dream, which details the 1988 season of the Permian Panthers, a high school football team.

Have you read any of these books? If so, did you prefer the TV show adaptation or the novel? Share your thoughts by leaving us a comment!

This Week’s Top Trending Relaxation + Self-Help Books

December is here! Now that NaNoWriMo is officially over, you can relax your poor fingers and let your brain quiet down for a bit. Fortunately, we’ve got just the thing you need: this week’s list of Top Trending relaxation and self-help books. From the art of being “still,” to tips on how to manage stress, we’ve got you and your mental wellbeing covered.

The Practice: Simple Tools for Managing Stress, Finding Inner Peace, and Uncovering Happiness by Barb Schmidt

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 Happiness isn’t easy to acquire—and sometimes, your mind is your worst enemy. It takes training to gain an inner source of peace and with Schmidt’s three-part spiritual discipline, you will learn how to avoid stress and doubt while gaining a higher sense of self-confidence. The tools that you will learn are derived from a wide variety of religious and spiritual traditions and are proven to work. Meditate, reflect, and engage in exercises that will inspire and change your life.

Sane New World: A User’s Guide to the Normal-Crazy Mind by Ruby Wax

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Attempt to understand the craziness of modern life with this hilarious and honest book by comedian, writer and mental health advocate, Ruby Wax. So often our minds can drive us up the wall with our internal critics (“You should have,” “Why didn’t you,” etc.) that it’s no wonder that we’re all a little bit bonkers. This is why Wax— by sharing her enlightening life journey— hopes to explain why we sabotage our sanity, how our brains work, and how we can rewire our thinking through often simple techniques.

The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer

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 Staying put isn’t as simple as you’d think. The Art of Stillness focuses around the unexpected adventuring of staying still and theorizes that, “the more ways we have to connect, the more we seem desperate to unplug.” Pico, a lifelong traveler who has visited everywhere from Ethiopia and Cuba to Kathmandu, draws influence from the lives of well-known monks and his own experiences as a travel writer in rural Japan. Iyer reflects that advances in technology are making us more likely to retreat, and stresses that sometimes “Nowhere” has a lot more to offer than “Anywhere.”

 Staying Strong: 365 Days a Year by Demi Lovato

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 Anywhere you go, you will see singing megastar Demi Lovato’s face plastered on posters and television screens. The former Disney star may seem as if she leads a perfectly charmed life, but she has her own demons to deal with. In Staying Strong, the starlet—who is about to embark on her second season as a judge on X-Factor—commits to helping other young people dealing with issues of self-worth and value. With a powerful 365-day collection of Lovato’s most hopeful insights and quotes, readers will emerge from the pages to be stronger than ever.

Do you have any similar book suggestions or tips on how to wind down? If so, share with us by leaving a comment! Visit here for the rest of this week’s Top Trending self-help and relaxation books.