Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday is Discuss Bestsellers Day--Because How Else am I Going to Write a Daily Blog Post?

I spent a lot of time on two recent novels (Mona Simpson's My Hollywood and Mary Helen Stefaniak's The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia) and so I don't have a book that I've read to meditate on, blogwise.

Also, I told Jason I would try to stick the gift posts in the weekends, but I'm not sure if I can control myself. Yesterday, we put out our displays of Blue Orange Games (a French company, mostly wood, kind of fun-goofy) and Fuzz that Wuzz (plush made out of soda bottles) and it's hard for me to control myself. The reprieve is that I left my camera-to-computer thigamabob at work. I certainly can't post this without some pictures.

Yes, I'm at home procrastinating writing another email newsletter. I was supposed to do it on my day off (yesterday) but how could I stay home when there was so much to do? Plus I had to go in for the Florentine Opera Insights presentation of "Rio de Sangre." It was just wonderful, and we had a nice crowd of 40 people. We still have samplers and refrigerator magnets. Here's how you're supposed to use them. Say you're on the phone in the kitchen--you look at your fridge and see the magnet. Then you say to your friend or mother-in-law or dental receptionist on the phone, "Say, have you heard about the world premiere opera Rio de Sangre at the Florentine? And then you pop the CD in something (your CD player, a computer, your toaster) and play some highlights. Easy, huh? Tickets are available at their website.
Here are our top ten hardcover nonfiction books last week, along with comments:

1. Wisconsin's Own, by Caren Connolly and Louis Wasserman
You've heard me talk at length about this already. Amazing event. Reorder of books should arrive shortly. Connolly and Wasserman will come by and sign stock. There may even be an encore event. Details to follow.

2. Sh*t My Dad Says, by Justin Halpern. OK, we don't exactly sell all the bestsellers well, but we're not immune to a bookselling phenomenon. And for folks who wonder how Shatner can affordably shill for the Milwaukee-area personal injury law firm of Cannon and Dunphy (like I did), these ads are packaged and used around the country. Can you imagine any other actor doing this? I can't. More info. Interested in Halpern? We're not hosting him. But I should mention Tucker Max's A**holes Finish First, if only because it's another book that involves asterisks. He's appearing October 12th at 7 PM. Breaking news--this is no longer a ticketed event! The book goes on sale next Tuesday, September 28th.

3. The Grand Design, by Stephen Hawking. Apparently not too different from his other books, except that he comes out as an atheist. It's like a celebrity saying he is bisexual, and then correcting himself five years later to bisexual, yes, but without any women involved. Reading this? You might want to try Greg Graffin's Anarchy Evolution. He's appearing at Boswell on Saturday, October 9th, at 6 PM.

4. The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson. Wilkerson's well-reviewed history of the great migration reminds me that Michele Norris's The Grace of Silence came out yesterday. We've got a big window promoting her appearance at Alverno College. Tickets are $26 and include a book or a $20 Boswell gift card. Buy tickets here. I mean, really, did you think I wasn't going to bring this up? I need to sell tickets!

5. Dreaming in Chinese, by Deborah Fallows. Hey, I wrote a blog piece on this. I don't think that's why we're selling it. Apparently she has a good "in" at NPR. I keep badgering my sister Claudia to see if she read it. And I'm convinced she could write a wonderful book about traveling to China over the last 30 years. She has these wonderful stories about how the culture (and yes, the language) has adapted. And she is credentialed too--lots of textbooks under her belt, and the president of the Chinese Language Teachers Association (or something like that). If you are publisher, you should sign her up. OK, that's the end of my pitch.

Just to be fair, my other sister Merrill has a good idea for a college cookbook on the back burner. Aren't you excited about her visit this weekend? I think you should come to our event with Joshua Ferris and Patrick Somerville and meet her (Saturday, September 25th, 2 PM).

6. Bob Dylan in America, by Sean Wilentz. Quoth our buyer Jason, on watching this book blow out of the store, "Hasn't everyone read enough about Bob Dylan?" Answer: No, and we're just about due for another book about Neil Young. Get cracking, publishers!

7. Medium Raw, by Anthony Bourdain. Somebody asked me if we're hosting him soon. We aren't, though we did sell books at his last Riverside event. Nice to see him judging on the recent Top Chef, especially when he was disagreeing with Eric Ripert. I'd be singing a different tune if we'd gotten Ripert for a Bartolotta event, but instead we have David Tanis, the head chef at Chez Panisse, who is coming for his new book, Heart of an Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys. It's a dinner at Bacchus on November 9th, and tickets are not yet available. Speaking of Bartolotta/Bacchus meals, we've got Mireille Guiliano coming on October 27th for a luncheon at Bacchus for The French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook. Tickets are on sales at (414) 962-6300. More at the Journal Sentinel. Not much more, but more.

8. The Tiger, by John Vaillant. The hunt for a man-eating tiger across Russia. I mentioned that Fran at Hickory Stick recommended this to me. Well, I also heard very good feedback from Renee, one of our regular customers.

9. Lost Dogs, by Jim Gorant. It's abook about Michael Vick's dogs. Who knew? We're having a shopping night with the Wisconsin Humane Society on November 10th, as part of our event for Linda and Allen Anderson's Dogs and the Women Who Love Them. Really, I can take any book and turn it into a pitch for one of our events. Just try me.

10. Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?, by Thomas Geoghegan. The labor lawyer imagines life lived like Europeans. Just to get a handle on his stand, he is described as a Europhile. I was just talking about this with our regular Aaron as he drove me to Lulu. I wonder if he was cribbing from the book when he mentioned that two world wars on your soil can make you a little more empathetic for the have nots.

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