Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday Bestseller Posts--Wheat Bellies, Public School, Downton Abbey, Ratlines, Brunch.

Hardcover nonfiction:
1. Lessons from the Heartland, by Barbara Miner
2. Far from the Tree, by Andrew Solomon
3. Help Thanks Wow, by Anne Lamott
4. The World Until Yesterday, by Jared Diamond
5. The Wheat Belly Cookbook, by William Davis.

This week's nonfiction list is bracketed by two local authors. Our #1 seller has written a book about the Milwaukee public school system, and is coming on Friday, January 25, 7 pm. Publishers Weekly wrote about Lessons from the Heartland: "Enriched and enlivened by her deep relationship with the city, this is very much a book about Milwaukee, but the journalist in Miner locates her historical account within the wider context of national events."

At #5 is the newest book by Dr. William Davis, the Milwaukee cardiologist behind Wheat Belly and the new Wheat Belly Cookbook. Alas, the web site doesn't even include independent bookstores as place to buy his book, either with a link to his local bookstore or more commonly the Indie Bound app that sends folks to their nearest independent. If you are interested, here's a place to buy his tee shirt.

Hardcover fiction:
1. The Round House, by Louise Erdrich
2. Building Stories, by Chris Ware
3. Dear Life, by Alice Munro
4. Rat Lines, by Stuart Neville
5. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

It's time for a roundup of reviews of Stuart Neville's new book, mostly because he's coming to Boswell today Sunday, January 6, at 3 pm. Anne just finished it (I already wrote a blog post about my reading) and while she's not a mystery fan who reads the violent stuff, there was enough propelling her along to read it anyway.

Doug Johnstone in the UK Independent writes: "Anyone who likes a bit of moral complexity in their crime fiction is in for a treat with this accomplished, assured and expertly plotted historical novel. Set in the Republic of Ireland in 1963, Ratlines is an immersive, atmospheric book; a complex conundrum of a story with tendrils that lead back to the Second World War."

And I should note: "It should probably be pointed out that Ratlines is not for the faint-hearted. There are two lengthy torture scenes, a number of severe beatings and a fair old body count, but it's to Neville's credit that none of this seems gratuitous. The author's clean, direct prose, well-utilised research, intricate plotting and deep characterisation all add up to a seriously impressive piece of crime fiction, that lingers long in the memory."

And David Prestridge of Crime Fiction Lover asks some questions of Neville, about adapting history into fiction, Ireland and Britain's relationship, and his love for Celia Hume, one of the characters in Ratlines. It starts:

"Just as James Ellroy picked at the scab of America’s political upheavals in the 1960s – from the Bay of Pigs to the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr, and the Kennedys – in his Underworld trilogy, here Neville ambitiously digs around in Irish history during the same period. What you’ll discover is a story of corruption and intrigue involving Nazis who sheltered in Ireland after WWII, terrorists, assassins, mercenaries and Irish politicians. It’s quite a departure from his Jack Lennon police stories, set in Belfast. So we invited the Armagh-born writer over to talk about Ratlines, and more…"

Paperback nonfiction:
1. Memoir of the Sunday Brunch, by Julia Pandl
2. Militant Christianity, by Alice Beck Kehoe
3. Historic Milwaukee Public Schoolhouses, by Robert Tanzilo
4. Turing's Cathedral, by George Dyson
5. The Information, by James Glieck

I wanted to see what's up with Julia Pandl's memoir, as I heard she'll be hitting the road in early 2013. Here's a nice review in the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) from Meganne Fabrega:  It starts: "Plucked out of a sea of self-published memoirs by a savvy editor at Algonquin Books, Pandl's book is a welcome addition to the deluge of books by celebrity chefs and effusive foodies that crowd the bookstore shelves. The first half of Memoir of the Sunday Brunch is a fast-paced, lighthearted testament to growing up in a big Catholic family with a restaurant at its center."

Paperback fiction:
1. Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
2. The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain
3. The House at Tyneford, by Natasha Solomons
4. The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach
5. The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey

Jane's last words to me yesterday were "only 30 hours until Downtown Abbey" which is one reason why Solomons The House at Tyneford has returned to a semi-permanent spot in our bestsellers lists. Solomon's novel, which came out as a paperback original just about a year ago, did not get its fair share of traditional reviews, but Donna Marchetti at the Cleveland Plain Dealer offered this in her paperback column on The House at Tyneford:

"Halfway through, I was so invested in this gorgeously written story that I could barely read on, fearful that what I wished to happen would never come to pass. Permeated with an exquisite sadness, it reminded me more of Atonement than Downton, but yes, the cover teaser was right: I adored this book."

Books for kids:
1. The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart
2. Out of my mind, by Sharon Draper
3. Return to the Willows, by Jacqueline Kennedy
4. Brother Sun, Sister Moon, by Katherine Patterson
5. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

For some reason, our bestseller sales seem to drop off more in the kids' side than adult. I'm still convinced that this is partly because we don't have as many call-to-buy slots set up that directs customers to certain titles. Amie and I will work on this.

That said, the Shraon Draper novel is a 2012 paperback release about a girl with Cerebral Palsy that's gotten many nice reviews. Kirkus offered: "This book is rich in detail of both the essential normalcy and the difficulties of a young person with cerebral palsy.

So what's destined for next week's lists? Mike Fischer in the Journal Sentinel reviews Emily Robateau's Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora. His take: "She finally grasps what her father, Bob Marley's music and Martin Luther King Jr.'s sermons had been trying to tell her all along: The Promised Land is not a physical place, and it is not a nation state. It is a state of mind - one that is built on human relationships, liberated from the shackles that bind us all."

And Jim Higgins reviews David Abrams's satirical war novel Fobbit.  His diagnosis: "As gracious as Abrams' nod to Catch-22 is, Fobbit stakes its own strong claim to membership in the great American war novel tradition, satirical division, with its vivid portrayals of public affairs officers and spreadsheet jockeys at Forward Operating Base Triumph on the edge of Baghdad, who will do anything not to walk into the Mordor of IEDs and unpredictable, angry local nationals (whom the Americans derisively refer to as hajjis)."

He also gives a shout out to Woodland Pattern's poetry marathon, on January 26.

No comments: