Sunday, July 8, 2012

What Sold at Boswell, July 1-7, 2012? Milwaukee and Politics, Although Not Necessarily Milwaukee Politics.

Hardcover nonfiction:
1. Bushville Wins, by John Klima
2. Barack Obama, by David Maraniss (Centennial Hall event July 18)
3. Imagine, by Jonah Lehrer
4. The Making of Milwaukee, by John Gurda
5. Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace, by Kate Summerscale

There was a nice pop in regional books this week, partly because we do get an uptick in visitors, between the 4th of July holiday and it being Summerfest. That made it a good week to release John Klima's Bushville Wins, which was featured in last Sunday's Journal Sentinel. But at least one family was in town trying to negotiate around Summerfest. They certainly knew where to eat--they had one meal at Crazy Water and the next at Tess.

Also getting a sales pop is Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady (Bloomsbury). Summerscale previously penned The Suspicions of Mrs. Whicher, and Library Journal praised the new book as "the deft unraveling of a little-known scandal that should appeal to any reader interested in women's history or the world behind the facade of the Victorian home." The story is a scandal in Victorian England; the husband came across the wife's private journals that showed her infatuation with a married doctor, and he filed for divorce. The journals went public. Yikes.

Hardcover fiction:
1. The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker
2. A Hologram for the King, by Dave Eggers
3. Canada, by Richard Ford
4. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
5. This Bright River, by Patrick Somerville (Boswell event July 11)

It looks like Random House is getting at least some bang for their million bucks (plus) they bet on The Age of Miracles. Admittedly we have two nice recs on the novel, but I suspect we'll see a very good placement on next week's bestseller lists. Here's a piece in Slate pondering whether Earth's rotation could really slow down.

Paperback nonfiction:
1. In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson
2. Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, by Alexandra Fuller
3. Anatolian Days and Nights, by Joy Stocke and Angie Brenner
4. My Year with Eleanor, by Noelle Hancock
5. I Remember Nothing, by Nora Ephron

I wasn't paying much attention to Noelle Hancock's My Year with Eleanor (Ecco) in hardcover, but in paperback, it's really begininng to move, thanks partly to Halley, whom I heard talking it up this week at the front desk. Like a Julie and Julia or pretty much any of the last three memoirs of A.J. Jacobs, Hancock decides to take Eleanor Roosevelt as her personal sage for a year. In particular, she chooses to do one thing that scares. I sort of liked the quirky hardcover jacket treatment, but the more on-trend paperback version has apparently made a difference. This is not the story of inspiring advice from a deceased woman; it's about some unidentified woman (no face allowed) having fun! (family note: my father would agree that adding flippers to any water outing doubles the amount of fun).

Paperback fiction:
1. Pryme Knumber, by Matthew Flynn
2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
3. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
4. State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett
5. The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach

I understand when a book that bombs (or at least doesn't take off) has the jacket revised. Hancock's revamping (above) made a difference and as I may have mentioned before, I really like the new jacket treatment for My American Unhappiness (reading with Patrick Somerville on July 11). But what do you think goes through the heads of marketing folks with something like The Night Circus (Vintage)? This story of  Le Cirque des RĂªves and the two magicians who must battle to the death was a huge bestseller and the cover is not that different. We are not fans of die-cut jackets, as they tend to tear, and the gimmick reminds me of baby rattles--it's doesn't improve the quality of the book, but just catches attention. I suppose a male and female figure on the jacket plays up the romance more; yes, that's probably it.
Books for Kids:
1.The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
2. Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins
3. Good Night Wisconsin, by Adam Gamble and Joe Veno
4. Curious George Goes Camping, by Margaret Rey
5. Happy, by Mies Van Houtas

I first learned about Happy (Lemniscaat) at our spring rep night presentation and I'm glad to see other folks are discovering it. Publishers Weekly called it "a delightful amuse-bouche of a book" with various fish representing emotions in a deep black sea. Not only is it a lovely book, but I think this is the one that was printed in Wisconsin.

In the "maybe next week" section of this blog, today's front-page New York Times Book Review feature is for Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero, by Larry Tye. And here's the Fresh Air interview.

In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins covers Gold, which is the new novel by Chris Cleave, which of course you know is our event on July 16. He finds the exciting race scenes and coach talk spot on, and Sophie's battle with leukemia heartbreaking, though he wonders whether an athlete like Zoe would really be tabloid fodder.

Can I put another plug in for ticket sales here?

Also in the Journal Sentinel, Chris Foran reviews Final Victory: FDR's Extraordinary World War II Presidential Campaign, by Stanley Weintraub. This is the story of Roosevelt's run for a fourth term of office, and Foran notes that the story had more drama than history books suggest.

Alas, the presidential sheen shines less brightly in Michael Fischer's review of The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln, by Stephen L. Carter. To sum up, great premise, disappointing book, at least to Fischer. Ron Charles is quite a bit more positive in The Washington Post*, noting that Carter's thoughtful thriller continues an overarching threme through his work of that African Americans have possessed more money and power than white people realize, and this story includes an African American law professor who plays a pivotal role in the story.

*You might get to read the story from the link, or you might not, depending on, like so many papers, the number of hits you have on the website. I'll just ode that Charles liked the atmosphere of 19th century Washington when there were, count 'em, seven newspapers.

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