Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Bestsellers, Week Ending August 25--Michael Perry Vanquishes with His Event Sales, but There Are Lots of Other Interesting Tidbits.

Hardcover fiction:
1. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
2. The Dog Stars, by Peter Heller
3. Canada, by Richard Ford
4. Sacré Bleu, by Christopher Moore
5. Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple

I was just having a conversation with Pauls Toutonghi about Seattle and how it’s a great place to set a novel—a large literate population, a relatively new wealthy population in what was once a middle class city, and influential people who like to read about themselves. And sure enough, we’ve been doing quite well with Where’d You Go Bernadette?, by Maria Semple, who has a great pedigree in TV writing, but who seemed to get less attention for her last novel, This One is Mine. Now L.A. is also a large dynamic market, but it’s been said that novels set in L.A. seem to have an extra burden.

The new book is about a mom who disappears from her Microsoft family, outsourcing all her responsibilities to a virtual assistant. The story is told through her daughter Bee. Carolyn Kellogg in the Los Angeles Times (but the link is to the San Jose Mercury News, as it's cleaner) said that she wasn’t the prime target for the novel’s setup but the review is a rave, calling it “a fantastic, funny novel.”

Hardcover nonfiction:
1. Visiting Tom, by Michael Perry
2. Paris: A Love Story, by Kati Marton
3. Healing the Heart of Democracy, by Parker Palmer
4. Joy of Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free Baking, by Peter Reinhart
5. Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand

We had a great event with Michael Perry on Friday (ask for a signed copy), with not just his new book, but backlist popping up on our bestseller list. And we’re hoping to have a great event with Kati Marton on September 5 for Paris: A Love Story, what with the attention she is receiving. This Wall Street Journal review from Julia Klein focuses on her tumultuous relationship with first husband Peter Jennings. She was also married to diplomat Richard Holbrooke.

Paperback fiction:
1. Pryme Knumber, by Matthew Flynn
2. Cat’s Eye, by Margaret Atwood
3. The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes
4. A Feast for Crows, by George R.R. Martin
5. State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett

After about a year of dilly dallying, I finally got around to reading The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes. Like many customers, I don’t really understand the egg on the paperback jacket. You know the plot—an older man has lived with a bad decision in his past by misremembering it, and then tries to set the remains of the past right, with rather bad results. I was surprised how much the novel reminded me of Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam, another compact Man Booker winner for a book that relied on a clever twist for much of its impact, sort of like a Roald Dahl short story. That's a tip to Commonwealth novelists who write big, sprawling books and don't think they are getting their due prizes.

Paperback nonfiction:
1. In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson
2. The Table Comes First, by Adam Gopnik
3. Coop, by Michael Perry
4. Population 485, by Michael Perry
5. Just Ride, by Grant Petersen

I don’t think The Table Comes First: France, Family, and the Meaning of Food, hit our top five in hardcover, but one does not think of this kind of book popping bigger in paperback. Adam Gopnik wrote the runaway bestseller Paris to the Moon, and this is sort of a companion book. Ina Garten says, “Adam Gopnik brilliantly weaves together the history, philosophy, and culture of food with his deep passion for cooking and the shared pleasures of the table.” And here’s Maria Popova in The Atlantic: “Deeply fascinating and absorbingly written, The Table Comes First is the kind of read you'll want to devour in one sitting, despite its Thanksgiving-sized 320-page heft.” Laura Shapiro in Slate liked the book but poked a few holes in his premise, but what’s wrong with a little friendly debate between foodies?

Books for Kids:
1. The Brixen Witch, by Stacy DeKeyser
2. The Flavor of Wisconsin for Kids, by Terese Allen and Bobbi Malone
3. Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
4. Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins
5. The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee, by Tom Angleberger

Excluding some bulk sales, our top two bestsellers where books were sold individually were at local events with Stacy DeKeyser and Terese Allen. But the breakout continues to be the Tom Angleberger’s Origami Yoda series, as The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee has surpassed our life-of-book sales for Darth Paper Strikes Back in three weeks, and we sold most of the sales of the second book at Christmas.

Next week perhaps we’ll have East of Eden and Moby Dick on our bestseller list. Those are just a couple of recommendations from Bonnie Jo Cambpell, as told to Jim Higgins in today’s Journal Sentinel. The author of Once Upon a River (who visited in June) offers her take on books she’d like to argue with, a book she’s given as a gift, and a writer who deserves to be rediscovered. She just finished reading Benjamin Busch’s Dust to Dust. We had a great event with Busch last spring, and look, he’s still on tour.

Also in the Journal Sentinel is Mike Fischer’s review of The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, Jonathan Evison’s third published novel about a road trip between a battered loser and his charge, a wheelchair-bound young man with muscular dystrophy. Evison balances “sharp humor” with “warm-hearted generosity” in this novel, and yes, the author is visiting on Wednesday, September 12. You’ll be hearing a lot about the book in the next few weeks, particularly because I’ve just finished reading the new novel, and I’m now making my way through West of Here, the featured title of our next in-store lit group meeting (first Monday at 7 pm).

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