Laurie Hertzel is senior editor for books at the Star Tribune, where she has worked since 1996. She is the author of "News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist," winner of a Minnesota Book Award.

Posts about Best sellers

Graywolf essay collection hits best-seller list

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: April 10, 2014 - 12:36 PM

It was all celebratory doughnuts and smiles at Graywolf Press in Minneapolis this morning when the news came out that "The Empathy Exams," an essay collection by Leslie Jamison, debuted at No. 11 on the New York Times print paperback best-sellers list.

The book, which is this year's winner of the Graywolf Nonfiction Award, went into a sixth printing today, this time of 10,000 copies.

It's rare for a book of essays--especially a book published by a small independent press--to do so well so quickly, but "The Empathy Exams" has gotten extraordinary reviews. The Star Tribune called it "astonishing." The New York Times said "it's hard to imagine a stronger, more thoughtful voice emerging this year." The Boston Globe called it "a brilliant collection," and the Los Angeles Times says it is "remarkable and multifaceted."

Champagne corks might be popping over at Graywolf this afternoon. Champagne, I've heard, goes well with doughnuts. 

Dan Brown's latest novel to be published in mid-May

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: January 15, 2013 - 8:50 AM


Dan Brown, author of "The DaVinci Code."

Dan Brown, author of "The DaVinci Code."


 Secrets have been revealed about Dan Brown's new book--that is, the title, which has been secret--but only after eager readers solved a puzzle.

Dante's "Inferno" is the inspiration for Brown's latest mystery/thriller, "Inferno," which will be released May 14 in the United States and Canada. Random House today announced a planned first printing of a staggering 4 million copies. It will also be available as an e-book and audiobook.

"Inferno" brings back the character Robert Langdon from Brown's previous novels, "The DaVinci Code" and "The Lost Symbol."

Like his previous books, "Inferno" is steeped in codes, symbols, secret passageways, riddles and puzzles. It will be set in Italy.

“When we turn the first page of a new Dan Brown novel, we step into a world that seamlessly infuses fascinating history, art, symbols and puzzles," Brown's editor, Jason Kaufman at Doubleday, said in a press release. "This is Dan’s unique ability. In Inferno, we have the added excitement of following Robert Langdon back to the heart of Europe, where he becomes entwined in a mystery that has global ramifications…tied to the ominous and truly mesmerizing details of Dante’s masterful work.”

The title of Brown's book was released today after readers--through tweeting and posting on Facebook, using the hashtag #DanBrown--uncovered hidden squares in a mosaic. Each tweet or mention released one square.

The book's cover has not yet been released. Perhaps more fun and games soon?


Crime pays!

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: August 10, 2012 - 10:35 AM


James Patterson

James Patterson

James Patterson, who is a business all unto himself (it's pretty well known that he doesn't write every single word of every single novel himself, you know--and how could he? He published 11 books last year), tops the list of highest-paid authors overwhelmingly.


Note that these staggering figures are not net worth; they're an estimate of how much each writer earned in 2011.

Forbes magazine reports that the estimates were made by "talk[ing] to authors, agents, publishers and other experts and review[ing] data including Nielsen BookScan sales figures."

Poets, essayists, writers of short stories and literary fiction--I'm sorry. Apparently to crack this list you have to write about torrid romance, dismembered bodies, serial killers, vampires, or, possibly, brilliant attorneys duking in out in high courtroom drama. Selling movie rights doesn't hurt. Or you could try porn; E.L. James is fully expected to make this list for 2012.

Read 'em and weep.


  1. James Patterson ($94 million)
  2. Stephen King ($39 million)
  3. Janet Evanovich ($33 million)
  4. John Grisham ($26 million)
  5. Jeff Kinney ($25 million)
  6. Bill O'Reilly ($24 million)
  7. Nora Roberts ($23 million)
  8. Danielle Steel ($23 million)
  9. Suzanne Collins ($20 million)
  10. Dean Koontz ($19 million)
  11. J.K. Rowling ($17 million)
  12. George R.R. Martin ($15 million)
  13. Stephenie Meyer ($14 million)
  14. Ken Follett ($14 million)
  15. Rick Riordan ($13 million)

Waiting for Caro

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: May 2, 2012 - 10:07 AM

We thought you'd get a kick out of these photos, taken by the folks at Magers & Quinn Booksellers in Minneapolis, who looked out the window and saw this patient man waiting for the store to open:


Andy Sturdevant

Andy Sturdevant


Some people line up for the "Hunger Games" or "Twilight"; with Andy Sturdevant--artist, writer, arts administrator--it's "The Passage of Power," the latest in the series of Lyndon Johnson biographies by Robert A. Caro.  (You can read our review here.)

"This is my 'Harry Potter' release!" Sturdevant told the folks at Magers and Quinn. Wondering why? Read the AP's Hillel Italie's story on the popularity of the Caro books.


You just don't see pins like that anymore--except on the lapel of Andy Sturdevant.

You just don't see pins like that anymore--except on the lapel of Andy Sturdevant.



Fortunately for all concerned, Magers & Quinn did open on time, and the Caro book was in stock. A story with a happy ending.



MHS e-books discounted for January

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: January 3, 2012 - 3:18 PM


We can argue endlessly about paper books vs e-books--about whether or not a book that is interactive and embedded with video is destroying our attention span, and about whether or not anything read on a screen is actually a "book." But you can't argue with a bargain.


The Minnesota Historical Society Press has priced ten of its history titles--ebooks only--at $4.99 through the end of January:

The Assassination of Hole in the Day by Anton Treuer
Spirit Car by Diane Wilson
Creating Minnesota by Annette Atkins
Twin Cities Picture Show by Dave Kenney
Hmong in Minnesota by Chia Youyee Vang
Minneapolis in the Twentieth Century by Iric Nathanson
Norwegians on the Prairie by Odd S. Lovoll
Pale Horse at Plum Run by Brian Leehan
The Story of Cole Younger by Cole Younger
The Voyageur by Grace Lee Nute

Suddenly, the argument switches: Kindle? Nook? iPad?


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