Spare lessons in slow cooking: UK regional bestsellers in 2023

While we often see bestsellers reported for the UK as a whole, breaking the book market down by region shows how interests can vary around the country. Although of course not all things vary: for 2023 so far, Prince Harry’s memoir Spare has had widespread success and maintains a dominant position as the number one book in the UK, selling nearly 700k copies to the end of May. More than 20% of those books have been bought in London, but that’s shy of the capital’s contribution to the overall market, by about 5%, with the Southern region also under-indexing. On the other hand, three regions increase their share by at least 1% for Spare compared to the total book market: Lancashire, Yorkshire and Northern Ireland. But for the latter, it’s not the strongest overperformer in the top ten: 12% of the sales of Nathan Anthony’s Bored of Lunch cookbooks have come from Northern Ireland, significantly ahead of the region’s overall market share of 2%. Both titles are even ahead of Spare in the chart, and the Northern Ireland native is the bestselling author in the region for the year so far (ahead of UK market frontrunners Julia Donaldson, Colleen Hoover and Prince Harry).

Bored of Lunch: The Healthy Slow Cooker Book has sold more copies in both the Midlands and Northern Ireland than in London, although it is still the top cookbook in the capital. However, London is the only region without a Bored of Lunch book in the overall runner-up spot, as fiction bestsellers Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus and It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover rank ahead there; it’s also the only region where The Healthy Air Fryer Book hasn’t cracked the top five yet, sitting behind Atomic Habits by James Clear. Extending to the top ten (and excluding World Book Day £1 books), The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Cleopatra & Frankenstein by Coco Mellors and The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, along with the aforementioned Atomic Habits, only appear among the London bestsellers.

Spare and Bored of Lunch: The Healthy Slow Cooker Book are actually the only two books to feature in the top five across all regions. No Plan B by Lee Child & Andrew Child replaces Lessons in Chemistry in Lancashire and It Ends With Us in Scotland, East of England, South West, Southern and Wales & the West, but while both It Ends With Us and Lessons in Chemistry still make the top ten everywhere, the latest Jack Reacher thriller is absent from the London and Northern Ireland top tens. We’ve covered the London differences above, and in Northern Ireland, Colleen Hoover holds half the top spots – it’s the only region that has Ugly Love and It Starts With Us within its top ten, along with Verity (also in the Lancashire chart) and Never Never (featured in Lancashire, Scotland and Yorkshire). In fact, on top of Nathan Anthony as the top author in Northern Ireland, it’s also the sole region with Colleen Hoover ahead of Julia Donaldson based on cumulative sales.

Only one area (East of England) has the same top ten as the overall UK, just in a different order. The South West and Southern bestsellers match each other, but again in a different order, with The Fast 800 Keto Recipe Book by Dr Clare Bailey & Kathryn Bruton replacing How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie in both regions. How to Kill Your Family also drops down in the North East, as do Murder Before Evensong by Reverend Richard Coles and Robodog by David Walliams, with The Rising Tide by Ann Cleeves and Dolly’s Dream by Dilly Court joining the bestsellers there. Pinch of Nom Enjoy by Kay Allinson & Kate Allinson also jumps into the top ten in the North East, as well as in Lancashire, the Midlands, Wales & the West and Yorkshire, with the highest sales stemming from the Midlands, followed by Yorkshire and Lancashire. And finally, 1989 by Val McDermid ranks seventh in Scotland, leaping 30 spots compared to the wider UK chart.

That’s a lot of jumping around across regions and stats, so here’s a handy summary table of the books that feature in the various top tens:

That’s 23 different books featuring in 11 top ten charts; for the full year 2022, it was 18 different books, so will the next seven months bring a narrowing of the bestsellers? Stay tuned!

Based on data from the BookScan UK Total Consumer Market (TCM), to 27 May 2023. For more information, please contact