Slow news day at the shop today so I thought we could look at what books were on the top of the New York Times Best Seller List for October 18th, 1964. Topping the chart was the espionage classic that set the bar for spy thrillers, ‘The Spy Who Came In From The Cold’ by John LeCarre. The book had already been on the Times list for forty weeks. In second we find a book by Terry Southern, ‘Candy’. The book was originally published in 1958 by Olympia Press and later in the United States by Putnam. It was listed in 2006 as one of the 25 Sexiest Novels Ever Written, by Playboy Magazine. The third book people fifty years ago were reading was written by Louis Auchincloss. It was called ‘The Rector of Justin’, a novel about an exclusive school for boys. At number four we find “Herzog’ by Saul Bellow in the second week on the chart. This novel would go on to win a National Book Award for Fiction that year and also an international award for literature called the Prix Formentor. In the fifth spot is ‘Armageddon’ by Leon Uris. A post World War II novel about Berlin that would close out 1964 as the fourth highest selling book of the year. In sixth place is Ian Flemming’s ‘You Only Live Twice’. This was Flemming’s eleventh novel and the last to be published in his lifetime. Subsequent books appeared posthumously. In seventh place is “Julian’ by Gore Vidal. This historical novel about the life of the Roman Emperor known as Julian the Apostate. In eighth place we find another British author, Mary Stewart. Her novel ‘This Rough Magic’, which first appeared serialized in Women’s Journal. It would go on to be the ninth bestselling book for the year. In ninth place is ‘The Man’ by Irving Wallace. The novel looked at what society would be like if a black man were to become President of the United States. Rounding out the top ten is ‘A Mother’s Kisses’ by Bruce Jay Friedman. The book centers on a seventeen year old boy and his domineering Mother. So that’s what we were reading in 1964.

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