Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Bestsellers for Week Ending April 20--All Sorts of Tidbits About What's Sold This Week at Boswell.

Hardcover fiction:
1. Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson
2. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
3. The View from Penthouse B, by Elinor Lipman
4. The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer
5. Z, by Therese Anne Fowler

I mentioned on a post about how their is this slew of high-profile releases by women in April, seemingly because April is an important publishing month, but also because I think there's an obsession with a gift pop for Mother's Day. And that leaves us with a top five sweep for female authors. My only confusion? Aren't women the majority of readers all year long, not just when they are the specific gift receivers?

We had a slowish start with Therese Anne Fowler's Z, but after seeing not just a New York Times pop, but a astrong presence on the Indie Next bestseller list (from other indie bookstores), we beefed up our stock and gave it a place on the Boswell's Best, and we're now getting a steady sale. The author's reviews seem heavily weighted towards Australia and New Zeland on initial searches--here's a piece from Anita Sethi in the Sydney Morning Herald. I don't know why this is. However, I do know that all the Zelda novels are a conflagration of two forces--the release of the new "Great Gatsby" movie and success of other novels featuring wives of famous figures.

Hardcover nonfiction:
1. Dead Run, by Dan Schultz
2. Gulp, by Mary Roach
3. Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg
4. Salt, Sugar, Fat, by Michael Moss
5. The Little Paris Kitchen, by Rachel Khoo

Another great week of events included Kate Atkinson on Friday (#1 fiction hardcover), and the Dan Schultz (#1 nonfiction hardcover) Maguire (#1 nonfiction paperback). I learned that Mr. Schultz was a former bookseller, having booked events at Explore Booksellers in Aspen.

Meanwhile, Michael Moss's Salt, Sugar, Fat continues to sell well. Hannah Wallace in The New York Times notes: "If you had any doubt as to the food industry’s complicity in our obesity epidemic, it will evaporate when you read this book."

Paperback fiction:
1. Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter (May 6 event)
2. Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple (May 1 event)
3. Started Early, Took my Dog, by Kate Atkinson
4. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
5. The Light Between Oceans, by M.L. Stedman

The word of mouth on Beautiful Ruins is amazing. We're seeing increases in sales each week, which is not what you see for this kind of novel. We'd like to hope that some of the extra buzz is around our event with Jess Walter on May 6, but it seems well beyond that. Good job HarperCollins for not second guessing yourself on the paperback cover. Similarly Semple's publisher only did minor tweaks on the paperback jacket for Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, and this image has been so popular that a variation has been used on most of the international editions. I think I posted the Spanish version, but even the German cover jumped on the bandwagon.

The third book in the not-exactly-literary-breakout-because-all-three-hit-the-NYT-bestseller-list-in-hardcover-but-plenty-of-hardcover-bestsellers-don't-sell-as-well-in-paperback series is The Light Between Oceans, by M.L. Stedman, a book that had a slow start with us, but wound up picking up quite a bit after a bit more prompting on our part. If you missed this Marjorie Kehe interviewed Stedman in the Christian Science Monitor this past fall. This interview will be really helpful for book club meetings. Here's a teaser; you can read the whole piece on their website.

"I write very organically – a picture or phrase or voice turns up in my mind, and I just follow it. For this story, I closed my eyes and could see a lighthouse and a woman. I could tell it was a long time ago, on an island off Western Australia. A man appeared, and I sensed he was the lightkeeper, and it was his story. Then a boat washed up, carrying the body of a dead man. I kept looking and saw there was a baby in it too, so I had to keep writing to see who all these people were and what happened next."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1.  A Merry Memoir of Love, Sex, and Religion, by Daniel Maguire
2. Citizens of London, by Lynne Olson
3. Quiet, by Susan McCain
4. Milwaukee Soldier's Home, by Patricia Lynch
5. The Social Conquest of Earth, by Edward O. Wilson

It's nice to see a pop for Edward Wilson's The Social Conquest of Earth, and it feels like a whole month since we've seen a new regional title from History Press of Arcadia. Milwaukee Soldier's Home is from the later. But too me the most interesting thing on the list is the steady sales of Lynne Olson's Citizens of London, a book that has had long legs in paperback in a genre (history) that usually sees its best sales in paper, and the book club selections (we've had a number) reserved for the prize winners or the superstars of the genre.

Books for Kids:
1. Better Nate than Ever, by Tim Federle
2. The Dark, by Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen
3. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
4. Goblin Secrets, by William Alexander
5. Goodnight Underwear, by Harriet Ziefert and Todd H. Doodler

Regarding Federle, it turns out that a school with a tap dance program is a good match. Regarding Alexander, you should expect more appearances here as his school sales come in. Regarding The Dark, how nice of Fresh Air to rerun Lemony Snicket's wonderful interview. And regarding Goodnight Underwear, should I bring in the bear in underwear plush or not? I can't decide.

On the front page of today's New York Times Book Review, one of the Chicago books featured is Thomas Dyja's The Third Coast: When Chicago Built the American Dream. Dyja will be speaking at Boswell tomorrow, Monday, April 22, 7 pm. Rachel Shteir observes that "Dyja zooms in on the qualities Chicagoans value and does it better than anyone else I’ve read: informality; the desire to be 'regular'; the conviction among artists that 'the process was as important as the product." Join us tomorrow.

In the Journal Sentinel, Christi Clancy reviews The Humanity Project, the newest novel from Jean Thompson, who is visiting Boswell on Wednesday, May 8, 7 pm. Her take: "With godlike power, Jean Thompson, author of The Humanity Project, throws her dented (and entirely recognizable) characters into the crucible of the American recession to reveal what it means to be human: flawed, and yet somehow worthy of redemption that comes in glimmers instead of bursts.

Carole E. Barrowman offers up this month's mystery roundup.

Sarah Graves's new entry in the Home Repair is Homicide series, A Bat in the Belfry, is "stylishly suspenseful." Needless to say, the latest entry in this Maine-set saga has our sleuths investigating a teen's death in a bell tower.

Linda Barnes takes a break from her Carlotta Carlyle series with The Perfect Ghost, a stand alone about a celebrity biographer who, after the death of her writing partner, finishes a project on her own, becoming involved with a reclusive director and, well, to paraphrase, it blew Barrowman away.

Brad Parks writes about an investigative journalist investigating the death of a policeman in The Good Cop.  Barrowman calls it "a charming first-person mystery punctuated with big doses of humor."

And I should also note that Jim Stingl profiles Jayne Jordan, whose new book, This Token of Freedom, chronicles her journey from war-torn Europe to Fox Point.

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