Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday Bestsellers--Events Past and Future (Carol Anshaw and John Elder Robison), Movie Juggernauts, Secret Tie Breakers, and Folks Want Haggaddahs and They Want Them Now!

Hardcover Fiction:
1. American Dervish, by Ayad Akhtar
2. Carry the One, by Carol Anshaw
3. What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, by Nathan Englander
4. The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes
5. Collected Poems, by Jack Gilbert

I'm sure you noticed that I hate ties. My tie breaker? I rank books in descending price order, as in some sense, the $30 book is more sales than the $25 book, right? Well, it's all in fun anyway. But that means that when a $35 poetry book like The Collected Poems of Jack Gilbert has a pop, it jumps above most novels with the same sales. Publishers Weekly notes that Gilbert is known for" wise, hard-won poems about the joys and complexities of romantic love, about grief and about the power of experience."

Oh, and can I say again that Carol Anshaw is visiting Boswell on Tuesday, March 27, 7 pm. I told folks it was our literary highlight of March, and the reviews for Carry the One are bearing me out. Michiko Kakutani was pretty bowled over by the novel in Tbe New York Times, noting that this "beautifully observed novel" and despite a small quibble about the siblings' relationship, she notes that "so assured are Ms. Anshaw’s storytelling talents and her intuitive understanding of how personality and the intangibles of luck and timing and impulse can determine which characters find a way to transcend the past, while others wobble and crash under its weight." Wow!

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1.  The Ace of Cakes, by Duff Goldman
2. The New American Hagaddah, edited by Jonathan Safran Foer and translated by Nathan Englander
3. House of Stone, by Anthony Shadid
4. While America Sleeps, by Russ Feingold
5. Religion for Athiests, by Alain de Botton

Oops, it looks like the publisher has run out of New American Haggadah, which Mr. Englander talked up at his February appearance at Boswell). There are a lot of copies on order at our wholesaler, but who knows what will happen at three weeks before the first Seder. This is something that happens every year to any sort of popular Haggadah. One always wants to be cautious as who is going to buy this the day after Passover? In the past (I'm going back more than five years here), we'd periodically get requests a week before Passover and the customer would want ten and then be surprised when we didn't have one (and note that this Hagaddah would not have sold a copy for the previous five years).

Paperback Fiction:
1. Until the Next Time, by Kevin Fox
2. The Tiger's Wife, by Téa Obreht
3. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, by Stieg Larsson
4. A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan
5. The All of It, by Jeannette Haien

Perhaps in honor of St. Patrick's Day, we've had a pop on two Irish-themed novels (and to note, a decent sale on Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin.) Mr. Fox discussed his novel Until the Next Time at County Clare--the story was inspired by stories of his grandfather, spun into an entirely original novel. I then discussed the book at a talk I gave in Elm Grove, but the real conversation was about Jeannette Haien's The All of It, the story of an Irish priest, and one particular confession. Hence, another appearance in our top five.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. My Korean Deli, by Ben Ryder Howe
2. Unfamiliar Fishes, by Sarah Vowell
3. Look me in the Eye, by John Elder Robison
4. Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street , by John Nichols
5. The Sneaky Book for Boys, by Cy Tymony

The past present, and future of author events are on the bestseller list today. Vowell's had some residue sales over week two, while Howe and Tymony were writers at the UWM Spring Writers' Festival. One of our customers has assured me that we are due for an event with John Nicols any minute, but the one that is booked is John Elder Robison, who is coming for the paperback of Be Different this coming Thursday, March 22, 7 pm.

Tickets are $5 and as a fundraiser for Autism Speaks, all the ticket proceeds are going to this organization. You can buy your ticket here. I know I pictured Be Different instead of Look me in the Eye, which was actually the book on the bestseller list, but hey, I want to plug the new book.

Books for Kids:
1. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
2. 39 Clues: Cahills V. Vespers #3: Dead of Night, by Peter Lerangis
3. Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins
4. The Legend of Diamond Lil, by Doreen Cronin
5. The Trouble with Chickens, by Doreen Cronin

Even this week's author events could not overcome the juggernaut that is The Hunger Games and its film release. I was excited to see Stanley Tucci with blue hair. Did I mention that Peter Lerangis worked at the Melody Top Theatre in his past? Ah, memories!

What might hit next week? Let's check the Journal Sentinel for clues. Carol Barrowman's mystery roundup is highlighted by Owen Laukkanen's debut novel, The Professionals, about a band of would-be kidnappers chased by both the FBI and the mov, which she notes deserves the high praise it's getting.

I forgot to give a shout out last week to a feature review of Half Blood Blues from Esi Edugyan. I'd feel remiss if we didn't mention this paperback original about jazz musicans in World War II. The novel has been shortlisted for a number of nominations, including the Man Booker, and it won the beloved Giller Prize of Canada. I belove it, at least.

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