Every Monday evening or Tuesday morning, Jason and Amie update our Boswell's Best of 20% off titles. We know that folks don't really think about us as a price store, though we do have plenty of second-hand and bargain books at very good prices, and markdowns at really great ones. The dollar cart (actually $1-4) goes away for the winter, but the store still has a $5 markdown cart with many great books on it. And the Boswell's Best gives you a good assortment of titles at a decent price. If you're on the Boswell Benefits program, you can think of the discount as effectively being 25%, as you get 5% of your purchase back in a coupon.
Publishers usually slow down their release schedule at this time of year. You'd want your books for the holiday season out already, to make sure they are well-positioned. That said, there are always a few new releases any time of year. For example, we just received and jason just added Luis Alberto Urrea's Queen of America to the list, his new novel that Stewart O'Nan called "jaunty, bawdy, gritty, and sweet."
Most of the year the Boswell's Best runs about 50 books, but we expand it for the holidays, by having every bookseller pick a few titles that they count among their favorites for the year. Yes, I know it is not Tuesday. Here are some of our selections:
Sharon: When She Woke, by Hillary Jordan
Stacie's also a huge fan of this novel, an apocalyptic take on The Scarlet Letter. Hannah Jordan wokes up in a ward where she's been injected with a virus that makes her skin turn red for having an abortion. Both readers compared the new book to Margaret Atwood. It was also the #1 Indie Next Pick for October. And Jordan won a lot of fans with Mudbound, though this is a very different kind of novel. We've been a little disappointed with our sales so far, but we're hoping we can have a good holiday with this solid novel.
Mark: The Cat's Table, by Michael Ondaatje
This novel with autobiographical elements (he's sent on a voyage from Ceylon to London to join his mother) has had magnificent reviews, and I think has been a bigger success than his last, Divisadero. Honestly, I read it and though it was beautfully written, I kept thinking that Ondaatje's secret message to me was "I dare you to love me. I dare you." This novel is more straightforward. We've already sold substantially more copies than the Schwartz location did of his previous novel and a Christmas push should bring us to about double the sales.
Amie: The Buddha in the Attic, by Julie Otsuka
Otsuka's "delicate and heartbreaking" (I'm paraphrasing Publishers Weekly) novel about Japanese mail-order brides was shortlisted for the National Book Award, and if you're wondering, Jason just added the winner, Jessamyn Ward's Salvage the Bones, to the Boswell's Best this week too. This novel falls also falls into the first-person plural camp, along with Hannah Pittard's The Fates will Find Their Way. Based on other novels I can think of that use this device (from Dean Bakopoulous and Jeffrey Eugenides*), I hearby challenge someone to write a book that isn't sad and whistful--a gruesome zombie novel or something like that. But no parodies.
*And Joshua Ferris too, right? Doesn't Then We Came to the End qualify? I can't remember.
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