Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday Bestsellers? An Annotated List for Week Ending 10/27/12

First of all, I wanted to let you all know that we are closing slightly early tonight, Sunday, October 28, at 4:45 pm. We're having a staff meeting so that we can be better booksellers this holiday season. We hope you're able to adjust your shopping plans accordingly. My personal apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.

And now, onto our bestsellers!

Hardcover fiction:
1. The Lighthouse Road, by Peter Geye
2. Telegraph Avenue, by Michael Chabon
3. The Racketeer, by John Grisham
4. A Hologram for the King, by Dave Eggers
5. This is How Your Lose Her, by Junot Diaz

Much as I enthused about how the fall season had bigger-named women writers than the past few years, this week's list is dominated by guys, a change from summer when women were holding sway. We wound up with four great reads on Peter Geye's novel, from Stacie, Sharon, Conrad, and the recently departed Carl, and he overcame the quardruple whammy of presidential debate, major sports programming, and a sickness among some of his local family members to still come through with a very nice event.

New this week is John Grisham's The Racketeer, focusing on Malcolm Bannister, a lawyer in prison (for a crime he didn't commit, of course) who now can help the courts with a new crime, the murder of a judge and his mistress. Apparently it's a twisty, well-conceived plot, per Carol Mammott of the Chicago Sun Times*. Her take? "The Racketeer is guilty of only one thing: keeping us engaged until the very last page."

Hardcover nonfiction:
1. Who I Am, by Peter Townshend
2. Roots, by Diane Morgan
3. Founders and Finance, by Thomas K. McCraw
4. How Children Succeed, by Paul Tough
5. The End of Your Life Book Club, by Will Schwalbe

Lots of after-interest on Diane Morgan's Roots book. I had to be out of town for that one, but I hear the carrot pesto and radish-top soup were delicious. Paul Tough is coming to Milwaukee on November 29 at 9:30 am, but I should note that the event is already sold out.  There is currently a waiting list.

Lots of attention for Will Schwalbe's The End of Your Life Book Club. Many folks are reacting like Dan Cryer at The Boston Globe: "I wish I had known Mary Anne Schwalbe. Former director of admissions at Harvard, head of a prestigious New York prep school, tireless activist for refugees across the globe, devout Christian, feminist, wife, mother, and book lover, this small speck of a woman loomed large in countless ways. But now, thanks to her son, Will, in a way I do know her."

Pretty basic book jacket. I think they were worried about veering too much in a schmaltzy direction and found themselves a bit straitjacketed, no?

Paperback fiction:
1. Plaguewalker, by Gemma Tarlach
2. Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell
3. In Need of a Good Wife, by Kelly O'Connor McNees
4. The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach
5. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James

On Friday night, Tarlach was surprised by the gift of a cape that matched the one on the jacket of her new novel. What a spooky Halloween-like thing to do. The gift giver left her an enigmatic note of congratulations and left it in a Martinizing bag, so she would know it had been dry cleaned. This lead to me wondering where this franchising operation was based. It turns out to be outside Cincinnati.

Paperback nonfiction
1. Pity the Billionaire, by Thomas Frank
2. The Journal of Best Practices, by David Finch
3. Milwaukee Mafia, by Gavin Schmitt
4. Naming the World, by Bret Johnston
5. Children's Writer's Market

A number of titles at this week's list were sold at the SCBWI conference, which should explain some titles on this list. We've also had a nice pop on Milwaukee Mafia. I wish we'd known about the book earlier, as it would have been a great event, but as you can see from my schedule, I'll pretty much collapse if we add anything more.

For now, we can just enjoy the photo of Boswell Book Company that is included in the book. It turns out that our building kept the jukebox operation of Frank Balistreri. As I was chatting with customers, I learned that the basement of the once-Chancery space on our block was also a popular nightclub, and several of our customers used to go dancing there. I'll be perusing Milwaukee's Historic Dance Halls as soon as it comes out for a photo (note: it doesn't exist).

Hardcover books for kids:
1. Waking Dragons, by Jane Yolen with illustrations by Derek Anderson
2. Railroad Hank, by Lisa Moser
3. Little Quack's New Friend, by Laurent Thompson with illustrations by Derek Anderson
4. Cork and Fuzz: No Fooling by Dori Chaconas
5. Underneath, by Kathi Appelt
6. How to Save a Life, by Sara Zarr
7. Over the River: A Turkey's Tale, illustrated by Derek Anderson
8. Gladys Goes Out to Lunch, by Derek Anderson
9. Over and Under the Snow, by Kate Messner
10. Personal Effects, by Em Kokie

I would like to think we are winding down with school events, but I think we have four more authors to go in the next week. Thank you to Mr. Anderson for a packed day of events. You can see the results on the bestseller list, which are pretty much all author events (the rest are SCBWI attendees)

One book that has been selling outside of SCBWI is Lisa Moser's Railroad Hank, a fun book about an engineer who's heading to cheer up Granny Bett by bringing her some gifts. Pam thought it has the same kind of charm as Amelia Bedelia, and Kirkus called it an "endearing tale" that is "impossible not to read aloud."

Paperback books for kids:
1. Keeper, by Kathi Appelt
2. At the End of the World, by Avi
3. Click Here, by Denise Vega
4. Guys Read Funny Business, edited by Jon Scieszka
5. Guys Read Thriller, by edited by Jon Scieszka

There are some school orders mixed in here too. But Kathi Appelt was one of our SCBWI event sales, and her new book in paperback, Keeper, was a big hit. It's about mermaids, and what happens when you believe in fairy tales for too long. Here's librarian Elizabeth Bird in School Library Journal. I can't exactly promise you'll understand the plot better after reading this review, but it's a rave nonetheless.

"The fact of the matter is, it’s a book that works for all sorts of folks for all sorts of different reasons. I always get a little wary when a bunch of folks like a new book and start recommending it to me. I worry that their opinions will raise my expectations too high and then I’m bound to be disappointed. That said, I can’t help but agree with anyone and everyone who has raved about this. It’s got kid appeal, amazing writing and storytelling, and a friggin’ merman. Consider it a story worthy of the hype and one that’s gonna win itself a whole new crew of Kathi Appelt fans. Plus it made me cry."

So what's likely to hit our list next week? It's always use to look to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for clues.  This week Jim Higgins rounds up several books of regional interest, including: 
--Thornton Wilder: a Life, by Penelope Niven (out on Tuesday, October 30)
--The Holiday Makers: Magazines, Advertising, and Mass Tourism in Postwar America, by Richard Popp
--Poles in Wisconsin, by Susan Gibson Mikos
--Historic Milwaukee Public Schoolhouses, by Robert Tanzilo
--Wisconsin Farm Lore, by Martin Hintz

Note that Professor Popp's book from earlier this year was coded by the publisher as a textbook, making it difficult for us to sell the book at the suggested retail price (which accounts for the odd pricing on our website), being that the book is effectively sold net-priced to us. There are ways to make this work, mostly by hosting an event, but alas, it's something that's difficult to make work when it's six months after the book is out, and we already have too many events scheduled. Apologies to all. That's my new mantra, I guess. 

Higgins also interviewed Bradley Beaulieu, author of the The Lays of Anuskaya trilogy. The third book in the series, The Flames of Shadm Khoreh, releases in April 2013. His reading list includes Seeds, The Silmarillion, and How to Eat Fried Worms. Read more here.

Mike Fischer reviews Emma Donoghue's new collection of stories, Astray. "In her novel Room, Emma Donoghue let us see the world from the vantage point of a little boy in an 11-by-11-foot room. In the stories gathered in Astray, Donoghue busts loose, returning to her roots in historical fiction by going forth into the wider world.

Chris Foran offers this review in the Journal Sentinel of Marilyn Yalom's How the French Invented Love. His take: "Yalom is constantly charmed by the French way of life and love--and literature. Only when she finds the latter wanting does she veer into other forms of culture, like painting and, too briefly, film.But Yalom's affection for the simultaneous idealism and pragmatism of l'amour a la française is infectious, and her gift for connecting the dots across the centuries shows that - at least in France - love will always find a way."

Another Journal Sentinel review goes the rounds with The Longest Fight: In the Ring with Joe Gans, Boxing's First African American Champion, by William Gildea. Critic Pete Ehrmann concludes "The original Joe Gans was a towering figure in boxing and the racially conflicted history of America. Like the man himself, Gildea's portrait of him is masterful and satisfies from the first to the last bell." Note that our selling price on the book is $26. The publisher raised the price from their initial announcement, and while it's changed in our inventory system, it didn't completely register on our website.

*Or maybe somewhere else. The review is from Gannett News Service and may have been originally commissioned for another paper. Who can tell anymore?

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