Sunday, June 24, 2012

What's Selling this Week at Boswell? Horses, Future Films, and Dueling Literary Heavyweights Ford and Eggers.

Hardcover fiction:
1. Canada, by Richard Ford
2. A Hologram for the King, by Dave Eggers
3. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
4. Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter
5. Sacré Bleu, by Christopher Moore

It's a new fight for #1. The last few weeks have all been about Richard Ford's Canada. And I think it's not just about the amazing reviews. One thing I've noticed is that very few writers leave Knopf when they are on an upswing. They are usually the ones that grab the writer from another house and bring them to a new level of success. Was it a fair trade that they picked up Nell Freudenberger from Ecco? Well, they each did get front page New York Times Book Review reviews. Here's an interview with Ford in The Daily Beast.

If you're talking about must haves, however, Dave Eggers's new novel, A Hologram for the King is #1 on many levels. McSweeeneys windowed the ebook, and delivered on an affordable and beautiful physical book. Am I buying one for myself? Yes I am. It's really hard to pass on the McSweeney quality. And the Michiko Kakutani review was great. Find it on The New York Times interview.

Hardcover nonfiction:
1. Front Burner, by Kirk Lippold
2. Killing the Messenger, by Thomas Peele
3. Barack Obama, by David Maraniss
4. The Second World War, by Anthony Beevor
5. Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

Journalists love journalism, and that's one reason why we had a nice amount of press for Killing the Messenger, Peel's book on the Chauncey Bailey's murder, during his coverage of the Yusuf Bey Black Muslim cult. Folks compared this book to Jon Krakauer of Under the Banner of Heaven to me, but it was only as I got to know the book better, helped by several enthusiastic bookseller reads, that I really understood the parallels. Like Krakauer's coverage of the ELDS group, Bey was a spinoff of the Black Muslims, not adherents to Elijah Muhummand's original group, with a leader taking in multiple spirit wives (though explained in different language), some of them teenagers.

Plus the reads and reviews were great, which also compares well with Under the Banner of Heaven. Missed our event on Friday but wish you hadn't? Here's an interview with Peele on CBS News.

Paperback fiction:
1. Fifty Shades Darker, by E.L. James
2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
3. Fifty Shades Freed, by E.L. James
4. State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett
5. We the Drowned, by Carsten Jensen

So great to see a nice paperback sale on Carsten Jensen's epic novel, We the Drowned, which several Boswellians enjoyed so much in hardcover. It's tourist season, and I asked a Danish couple about whether they had read the book. They had not, but it just didn't feel right for a Wisconsinite to hand-sell a Danish national treasure to natives. It would be like asking them to try kringles.

So we've proven Peter Behrens wrong when he wrote in the Washington Post, "When was the last time you relished sitting down with a 678-page Danish novel? We, the Drowned might just be too much book to tote to the beach next summer, but it's powerful reading for a long winter's night." Contrary to expectations, we're getting folks to take it to the beach!

Paperback nonfiction:
1. Sugarhouse, by Matthew Batt
2. Mom Knows, by Catherine Tuerk
3. In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson
4. Eighty Dollar Champion, by Elizabeth Lettis
5. Blue Nights, by Joan Didion

We've had a nice season of horse books, but the one that is popping this week is Eighty Dollar Champion:  Snowman, The Horse That Inspired a Nation, by Elizabeth Lettis. Lettis chronicles the story of Harry de Leyer, the Dutchman who found a champion show jumper at a Long island slaughterhouse. Sherry Ross writes in the New Jersey Star-Ledger that this story is a must for any horse lover's library.

Books for kids:
1. Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins
2. Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
3. I am a Bunny, by Richard Scarrey and Ole Rissom
4. The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak
5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

Not sure if the increased sales of The Book Thief are related to the developing film news. The Christian Science Monitor notes that recently The Book Thief got a director, Downton Abbey's Brian Percival.  My suspicion is that it will come out next year.

Regarding next week's bestsellers, we turn to the Journal Sentinel. We expect to see another nice pop for David Maraniss's Barack Obama bio. Colette Bancroft of the Tamba Bay Times calls it a richly nuanced picture of a young man who was charming, but in many ways wary and guarded, yet increasingly passionate about politics." Plus there's a nice shout out to the two Sapphire events on Wednesday, June 27.  Our ad wound up on page 9, talking up Alexandra Fuller, Chris Cleave, and David Maraniss. It's not on the book page, but it is next to the Summerfest schedule. As long as folks have their appointment books (devices) at hand, maybe they will enter some more listings.

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