2013 Top Best-Selling Education Books

The Top 75 New York Times Best-Selling Education Books of 2013


Prof. Randy Pausch’s “last lecture,” a talk he gave at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in 2007, was made into a book. Though it was published in 2008, that book still sells strongly enough that it is No. 5 on our 2013 Education Best-Sellers list, below .

In lieu of a lesson on this last Wednesday before the holiday break, we asked Deborah Hofmann, the senior editor of the New York Times Best Sellers List, to create a special list for us of the top 75 best-selling education titles of 2013, and to explain how she defined and ranked books for this new category.

We hope it starts conversations, introduces you to new ideas and authors, and provides inspiration for teaching and learning well into 2014.

Reading List | The Top 75 New York Times Best-Selling Education Books of 2013

By Deborah Hofmann

Welcome to the debut of the New York Times Best-Seller List of Education titles.

This collection of eclectic and far-ranging titles is intended to get people talking and thinking about the many ways we discuss education, how we present sometimes arcane subjects, and how we think about teaching and learning at all ages and in many contexts.

The list was compiled by looking at every adult nonfiction title that was reported each week to the New York Times Best-Seller Lists though Dec. 7, in both print and electronic formats. This includes titles that were released in earlier years, but continue to enjoy sales; for this first experiment, we wanted to cast a wide net to see what turned up naturally.

I classified a title as “Education” after I examined multiple standard sources, including its industry identifiers, reviews and interviews, to create a sort of card catalog of titles that — to this editor’s sensibilities — spoke to an enduring appetite for books that try to teach the reader, or tell us how we learn or why we learn — or, sometimes, why we do not. There were no vetting experts or outside education consultants. Had that been the case, we might still be debating.

Although some titles are familiar for having made the traditional best-seller list that is published weekly in the Book Review, many of the titles are books that were reported, but perhaps often in quantities too low in any given weeks to qualify for the traditional rankings. Cumulatively over the months and in this subgroup, however, they emerge in clearer relief. They are ranked below by their relative reported sales, the same way we rank all books on the best-seller lists.

Please note that I chose not to consider for inclusion any titles that are actively tracked toward ranking among the Childrens’ Best-Sellers List categories, so you will not find classroom evergreens or coming-of-age narratives here.

One might argue that some of these titles are simply too narrow, too literal, or, in some cases, spoofery or farce. But isn’t argument what makes for lively hand-raising and calling out of turn?

What strikes you about the books on this list? Tell us, below.

1. America the Beautiful, by Ben C. Carson with Candy Carson
2. Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
3. How to Read Literature Like a Professor, by Thomas C. Foster
4. How Children Succeed, by Paul Tough
5. The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch
6. The Signal and the Noise, by Nate Silver
7. Pathways to the Common Core, by Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth and Christopher Lehman
8. Far from the Tree, by Andrew Solomon
9. The End of Your Life Book Club, by Will Schwalbe
10. The Smartest Kids in the World, by Amanda Ripley
11. Reign of Error, by Diane Ravitch
12. How Music Works, by David Byrne
13. Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series, by Charlotte Mason
14. The Autistic Brain, by Temple Grandin and Richard Panek
15. Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data, by Charles Wheelan

16. One World Schoolhouse, by Salman Khan
17. The Theoretical Minimum: What You Need to Know to Start Doing Physics, by Leonard Susskind and George Hrabovsky
18. F in Exams, Richard Benson
19. Letters to a Young Scientist, by Edward O. Wilson
20. On Writing, by Stephen King
21. NurtureShock, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
22. De-Textbook, by Cracked.com
23. F for Effort, by Richard Benson
24. The Whole-Brain Child, by Daniel J Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
25. Walk in Their Shoes: Can One Person Change the World?, by Jim Ziolkowski with James S. Hirsch
26. Teach Like a PIRATE, by Dave Burgess
27. What You’re Really Meant to Do, by Robert Steven Kaplan
28. Make Good Art, by Neil Gaiman
29. The Education of a Lifetime, by Robert Khayat
30. The Naked Roommate, by Harlan Cohen

31. Sticks and Stones, by Emily Bazelon
32. Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking, by Daniel C. Dennett
33. College (Un)Bound, by Jeffrey Selingo
34. Confessions of a Scholarship Winner, by Kristina Ellis
35. How to Create a Mind, by Ray Kurzweil. (Penguin)
36. Pandora’s Lunchbox, by Melanie Warner
37. Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s, by John Elder Robison
38. This Is Water, by David Foster Wallace
39. Heretics and Heroes, by Thomas Cahill
40. Instant Vocabulary, by Ida L. Ehrlich
41. Onion Book of Known Knowledge, by The Onion
42. Disney U, by Doug Lipp
43. Smithsonian Book of Presidential Trivia, by Smithsonian Institution and Amy Pastan
44. Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, by Mignon Fogarty
45. Things Come Apart, by Todd McLellan

46. Real Talk for Real Teachers, by Rafe Esquith
47. The School Revolution, by Ron Paul
48. What Great Teachers Do Differently, by Todd Whitaker
49. Why Teach? by Mark Edmundson
50. The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, by Nicholas Carr
51.Shouting Won’t Help, by Katherine Bouton
52. Teach Your Children Well, by Madeline Levine
53. Big Book of How, by Editors of Time Magazine for Kids
54. Teacher Man, by Frank McCourt
55. Is College Worth It? by William J. Bennett with David Wilezol
56. Here Is Where: Discovering America’s Great Forgotten History, by Andrew Carroll
57. Art As Therapy, by Alain De Botton and John Armstrong
58. A History of Western Music, by J. Peter Burkholder, Donald Jay Grout and Claude V. Palisca
59. My Bookstore, by Ronald Rice
60. Hello! My Name Is Public School, and I Have an Image Problem, by Leslie Milder and Jane Braddock

61. Thinking in Numbers, by David Tammet
62. Who Owns the Learning? by Alan November
63. Good Luck, Graduate, by Gregory Lang
64. First Class, by Alison Stewart
65. A Year Up, by Gerald Chertavian
66. Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
67. History’s Greatest Hits, by Joseph Cummins
68. Strings Attached, by Joanne Lipman and Melanie Kupchynsky
69. Hope Against Hope, by Sarah Carr
70. Learning by Doing, by Richard DuFour, Rebecca DuFour, Robert Eaker and Thomas Many
71. Teaching Mathematics for Social Justice, by David Stinson and Anita Wager
72. Information Dashboard Design, by Stephen Few
73. Fire in the Ashes, by Jonathan Kozol
74. What Your Third Grader Needs to Know, by Hirsch, E. D., Jr.
75. All Roads Lead to Austen, by Amy Elizabeth Smith

Sales of both print books and e-books are reported confidentially to The New York Times; retailers were not asked specifically about Education titles. The sales venues for print books include independent book retailers; national, regional and local chains; online and multimedia entertainment retailers; supermarkets, university, gift and discount department stores; and newsstands. E-book rankings reflect sales from leading online vendors of e-books in a variety of popular e-reader formats.

Learn more about how the New York Times Best-Seller List is compiled.

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