Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Bestseller Post, Including Sonia Sotomayor, Captain Underpants, and a February Event Preview.

Hardcover fiction:
1. Little Wolves, by Thomas Maltman
2. Tenth of December, by George Saunders
3. Standing in Another Man's Grave, by Ian Rankin (event Feb 1)
4. River Swimmer, by Jim Harrison
5. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

Maltman comes out on top this week, with a lovely event filled with mystery fans, a book club, high school students, folks who loved Carole E. Barrowman's review in the Journal Sentinel, and of course, folks who come out for anything Stacie suggests. It's still early for other reviews, but the fellow who puts together the Book Chase blog writes:

"Thomas Maltman has written a complicated novel, one that can be read and enjoyed on several levels. The novel has the kind of action that most pleases thriller fans, and the mystery at its core is an intriguing one. Even better, it is filled with well-developed characters (of the hard-to-like, but easy-to-understand variety) and a complicated set of dual plots (filled with literary references) that tie together beautifully at the end."

Hardcover nonfiction:
1. Lessons from the Heartland, by Barbara Miner (event 1/25)
2. Going Clear, by Lawrence Wright
3. The Signal and the Noise, by Nate Silver
4. I Could Pee on This, by Francesco Marculiano
5. My Beloved World, by Sonia Sotomayor

In a lot of respects, I consider The Signal and the Noise our #1 nonfiction book of the fall, mostly because it wracked up so many sales without ever going on the Boswell's Best. One of the quirks of playing with the discounted list (and I rememember this from being a buyer) is that once you choose to not discount something, it's sort of tricky to then get it on the list once it's selling, whereas once it is selling (say, in Gillian Flynn), it's hard to take it off.

Emily Bazelon review's Sonia Sotomayor's new memoir in The New York Times Book Review is impressed with the telling of this future supreme court justice's growing up with diabetes in a Puerto Rican family. She notes that My Beloved World is not gossipy, and discusses neither her early marriage and divorce, nor the shaping of her legal views in law school.

"...This book delivers on its promise of intimacy in its depictions of Sotomayor’s family, the corner of Puerto Rican immigrant New York where she was raised and the link she feels to the island where she spent childhood summers eating her fill of mangoes (always keeping an eye on her blood sugar level). This is a woman who knows where she comes from and has the force to bring you there."

Paperback fiction:
1. City of Dark Magic, by Magnus Flyte
2. Chasing Sylvia Beach, by Cynthia Morris
3. The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker (event 2/12)
4. The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain
5. Driftless, by David Rhodes

Karen Thompson Walker's debut novel is out, and we've had a nice pop in sale, in part because of our scheduled school event at Homestead High School, but the book also had staff recs from both Jason and Jannis, and don't forget about Michiko Kakutani's rave review in The New York Times:

The Age of Miracles has made headlines for reportedly earning its first-time author a seven-figure deal. What sets the story apart from more run-of-the-mill high-concept novels is Ms. Walker’s decision to recount the unfolding catastrophe from the perspective of Julia, who is on the verge of turning 12. Her voice turns what might have been just a clever mash-up of disaster epic with sensitive young-adult, coming-of-age story into a genuinely moving tale that mixes the real and surreal, the ordinary and the extraordinary with impressive fluency and flair"

Paperback nonfiction:
1. Memoir of the Sunday Brunch, by Julia Pandl
2. In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson
3. Imperfect Spirituality, by Polly Campbell (event 2/1 at Outpost Capitol--editor's note: I fixed the date on this)
4. Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
5. The Emotional Life of your Brain, by Richard Davidson (now at 48 copies sold)

I went into my local Outpost Natural Foods and they had fliers for our co-sponsored Polly Campbell event for Imperfect Spirituality at the community room at the Capitol Drive location on Friday, February 1, 7 pm. Hannah has been reading through the book and gives it a thumbs up. And Publishers Weekly's reviewer adds a thumb:

"Compelling anecdotes from ordinary spiritual seekers and informative research help to illuminate this path of imperfect spirituality, which begins when we stop trying to hide our flaws and instead “pay attention to what’s going on: to what’s working and what’s not.” Practical tips for turning ordinary moments into opportunities for spiritual growth, many of which can be squeezed in while brushing your teeth or waiting for the bus, punctuate this clear and affable spiritual guide for the rest of u."

Children's books:
1. The Travelers: Present in the Past, by Elaine Schmidt
2. Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers, by Dav Pilkey
3. A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by Philip and Erin Stead
4. Adventures of a South Pole Pig, by Chris Kurtz
5. Penny and Her Doll, by Kevin Henkes (event Mar 2, 2 pm)

As NPR cried, "Hold on to your tighty whities, Captain Underpants is back." Here's an excerpt from their piece about Dav Pilkey's much loved series:

"Pilkey says there's a lot of him in the Captain Underpants series. He says he remembers what it was like to be a kid who got in trouble for his pranks. He also remembers what it was like to be a struggling reader. 'I remember every kid in the class would have to stand up and read a chapter from our history book or something. And whenever it was my turn, everyone would just kind of groan, like 'Ugh, Pilkey's reading again.' And it just took me so long to get through it. I had all these really negative associations with reading. I just hated it,' he says"

I'm not sure how to handle a quote within a quote within a quote. 

In the Journal Sentinel, Mike Fischer reviews Tenth of December.

"While Saunders is often compared with Vonnegut, this magnificent collection reminds me of Joyce's "Dubliners" - which also combines hard-hitting satire with unabashed feeling - in stories that collectively trace the same arc, from childhood's lost innocence to a final, hard-won redemption in the snow."

And also in the Journal Sentinel, Carole E. Barrowman, in her "Paging through Mysteries column", shouts out three fine works:

John Connolly's The Wrath of Angels is exquisite,

Peter Robinson's Watching the Dark is gripping,

and Lori Armstrong's Merciless is filled with sharp dialog and twisting loyalties.

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