Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday Bestseller Post and a Prediction: Can Telegraph Avenue Top Hardcover Fiction Sales Next Week, Even Though We have Events with Three Authors Touting Cloth Novels, Including Terry Brooks?

Hardcover fiction:
1. NW, by Zadie Smith
2. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
3. The Beautiful Mystery, by Louise Penny
4. Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, by Emma Straub, event 9/18
5. 12.21, by Dustin Thomason

Not even a mediocre review from Michiko Kakutani could stop Zadie Smith from dominating this week’s hardcover fiction list for us. NW (Penguin Press). Adam Mars-Jones in the UK Observer finds lots to like, but still worries it falls short. I’m sort of a little bummed about the whole thing, but like a lot of our customers, I plan to read the novel anyway. So there.

Under the radar is Dustin Thomason's new novel, 12.21, his first since co-writing The Rule of Four some years ago, which I seem to recall was one of those books that had an extra bounce of sales in the wake of The Da Vinci Code. The new novel plays off end-of-the-world predictions for December 21, 2012.

Hardcover nonfiction:
1. A Father First, by Dwyane Wade (tickets still available)
2. Paris: A Love Story, by Kati Marton (signed copoies available)
3. Grapefruit, by Yoko Ono
4. No Easy Day, by Mark Owen
5. Mortality, by Christopher Hitchens

Several events, one this week (Marton) and one upcoming (Wade, 9/11) plus a classroom adoption (Ono) outperform the likely #1 title of next week, No Easy Day (Dutton). Mark Owen’s pseudonym turned out to be unmasked even before publication. Co-writer Kevin Maurer has been embedded with special forces in Afghanistan multiple times.

Paperback fiction:
1. Please Look after Mom, by Kyung-Sook Shin
2. Pryme Knumber, by Matthew Flynnn
3. Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe
4. Fifty Shades Freed, by E.L. James
5. A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin

For some reason, our lit group book club selection sometimes pops better than others. Last month, folks bought West of Here in dribs and drabs. This month, everyone went after the contemporary Korean novel which became a New York Times bestseller, Please Look After Mom (Vintage), on the same week. We’ve also had one customer buy several copies after finding that the book spoke to her.

Paperback nonfiction:
1. ROTC Kills, by John Koethe (signed copies available)
2. Invisible, by Ruth Silver
3. Arguably, by Christopher Hitchens
4. The Swerve, by Stephen Greenblatt
5. The Hare with Amber Eyes, by Edmund de Waal

John Koethe and Ruth Silver brought out fine crowds on Friday and Saturday, respectively, the first for his newest collection of poems, and the second for her memoir as a deaf and blind woman overcoming adversity and finding satisfaction in independence. And even after his death, Christopher Hitchens is impacting bestseller lists, scoring with his new book Mortality, and his now-in-paperback collection Arguably (both Twelve).

Books for Kids:
1. Olivia and the Fairy Princesses, by Ian Falconer
2. Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick
3. Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
4. Tico and the Golden Wings, by Leo Leonni
5. Philadelphia Chickens, by Sandra Boynton

In the newest Olivia adventure (it released on August 28), Olivia and the Fairy Princesses (Atheneum), our porcine pal decides that everyone wants to be a fairy princess. So boring! So she tries out different identities, as princesses of other countries, a Martha Graham like modern dancer (I think just about every reviewer has picked up this reference) and a queen.

Michiko Kakutani reviewed Telegraph Avenue just as early for next week, September 11, and then Janet Maslin leaped even further, reviewing Attica Locke’s The Cutting Season, which was not due for release until September 18. And of course what’s to stop media from releasing all their reviews as soon as they get the galley and read them. A lot of bookstores are concerned that the earlier the review, the more the sale goes to the A word. But we find ourselves jumping the gun a bit too, especially when we have an event with the author in launch week.

Mike Fischer and the Journal Sentinel  stick to the now standard two days before pub date for Telegraph Avenue, and it’s a rave, calling the book “spectacular.” He notes that Telegraph Avenue is “an ambitious and complex fusion that consciously echoes Joyce's Ulysses.”

Also in the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins’s latest installment in The Reading List series is from Emily St. John Mandel, who is coming to Boswell for The Lola Quartet this coming Saturday, September 15, at 7 pm. She makes the case both for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Bartleby, the Scrivener. Read the whole piece here.

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