Awards-season buzz has sent Hidden Figures, the book that inspired the new movie about black women mathematicians at NASA who helped launch the space race, rocketing up USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list.
Margot Lee Shetterly’s history is No. 5 this week, up from No. 24 last week. (The full list will be published on Thursday.)
The movie, which stars Octavia Spencer (nominated for a Golden Globe), Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monáe, went wide on Jan. 6 and was the weekend’s box office champ with $22.8 million, winning a squeaker over Rogue One.
Hidden Figures, set during the era of segregation, was published in hardcover in September and at the time got to No. 104 on USA TODAY’s list. The publication of the movie tie-in edition in early December (the book is also sold as an e-book) gave it new life.
Shetterly, an executive producer on the movie, sold the film rights and was working on the book as the movie was being made, a rather unusual confluence.
A young readers’ edition of the “untold true story” was published in November. Hidden Figures, which is also a tale about civil rights and women’s rights, focuses on “human computers” Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Dardenand their work doing calculations that helped propel the space program.
“It’s nice for us to see such an uplifting story get so much attention,” says Kate Schafer of publisher William Morrow. Shetterly “did incredible research for the book.”
At a recent press event for the movie, Shetterly said: “It took a long time for us to see these women and to value their contributions and to say, ‘You know what? It’s time that they get their moment in the sun.’ We’ve seen John Glenn’s great moment, but we didn’t really get to see Katherine Jackson and Mary Johnson, and now we do. So, as hard as it is that it has taken this long, the thing that I am so excited about is that they’re here, we’re all here celebrating them, and these women are never, ever going back into the historical shadows. Not ever.”