Sunday, June 16, 2013

An Exhilarating and Sometimes Exhausting Week Recapped Through Boswell Books Bestsellers, Week Ending June 15, 2013

There are a lot of highlights you can put together when you have seven events in a week, but perhaps I should first note that after our power loss during the Lauren Conrad event, we lost power again on Saturday at 4 pm for about an hour. Needless to say, we were worrying about a repeat performance, as Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan were appearing at 7. Fortunately, not as many folks arrived early as they did for David Sedaris, though one particularly nice couple from Grafton (Pam and Mike) decided to spend the day at the store, and boy did they get the total experience. Signed copies of Dad is Fat are now available!

Our decision was that we'd wait until 6:15, but if we didn't have power by then, we'd need to come up with an alternate venue. Noticing that the blackout area was the same as last time, a wide swath of the East Side, but ending on the west side of Downer, I went to St. Mark's Episcopal Church and they graciously gave us some options. It wound up that the power did go on in plenty of time, but it was a close call.

Folks, next time St. Mark's has a plant or pumpkin sale, I expect everyone who attended Jim Gaffigan's event to buy something in gratitute.

Hardcover nonfiction:
1. Dad is Fat, by Jim Gaffigan
2. Queen of the Air, by Dean Jensen
3. Anti Judaism, by David Nirenberg
4. Lauren Conrad Beauty
5. Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris
6. The Girls of Atomic City, by Denise Kiernan
7. Between Man and Beast, by Monte Reel
8. The Guns at Last Night, by Rick Atkinson
9. American Savage, by Dan Savage
10. Dirty Wars, by Jeremy Scahill (event added! coming Sat. Jun 22, 2 pm)

It's almost not fair for Dean Jensen to have his event the same week as Jim Gaffigan as in most week's he'd be a clear number one, but that's the way the schedule sometimes falls. Since they are both published by Crown, their editors can battle it out or something. I should say one more thing about the Gaffigan--Stevens Point Brewery made a custom batch of Dad is Fat root beer for the event, and everyone who got a book signed got a free bottle. Our thanks to Joe and Jim at the brewery for putting this together. If we somehow helped get Soup House to start carrying Point root beer, so much the better!

Hardcover fiction:
1. And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini
2. Beautiful Fools, by R. Clifton Spargo
3. Inferno, by Dan Brown
4. Bad Monkey, by Carl Hiaasen
5. TransAtlantic, by Colum McCann
6. Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
7. The Illusion of Separateness, by Simon Van Booy
8. We are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler
9. Vader's Little Princess, by Jeffrey Brown
10. The Kill Room, by Jeffrey Deaver

The summer reading competition is in full swing, with Hannah and Anne touing Colum McCann's TransAtlantic, and Stacie and Sharon pushing The Illusion of Separateness, by Simon Van Booy. Stacie reminded me that I tried to get her to read Love Begins in Winter a couple of years ago and now she's kicking herself that she didn't take me up on it. And I'll be kicking myself that I haven't yet read the newest!

Interestingly enough, though Van Booy is doing a pretty substantive bookstore speaking tour, and seems to be on a "blog tour" as well, it's been a little slow getting traditional book reviews, or at least that's what I'm thinking from my searches. I of course wonder as more and more reviews go behind pay walls, will I even find them? But here's Derek Emerson, whose review was picked up by the Seattle Post Intelligencer:

"While this seems like a setup for a depressing novel, Van Booy is one of the most hopeful writers around. His other works have explored the theme of love, and he is not afraid to see love as the basis of a good life. Too often, writers focus on love as a setup for failure. But Van Booy appeals to the romantics in the world in that he believes in love."

Paperback nonfiction:
1. Lauren Conrad Style
2. You Don't Know Me, but You Don't Like Me,Y by Nathan Rabin
3.  In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson
4. Quiet, by Susan Cain
5. I'll Seize the Day Tomorrow, by Jonathan Goldstein

What is this I'll Seize the Day Tomorrow? It's from Pintail, the Penguin imprint that publishes from their Canadian division, and Goldstein is a Montreal based writer (Poutin special at Red Dot on Sundays) and radio host (WireTap) who has chronicled his 40th year (which I think is actually the year before you turn 40, not afterwards). He's also been featured on "This American Life" and his writing has been featured in The New York Times.

The Candian National Post critic Sarah McCulloch notes "the strength of Goldstein's observation and reflection lies in how he manages to cull valuable life lessons from the inane." A friend who eats his hot dog alternating ends recalls what Jean Luc Goddard said about beginnings, middles, and ends, for example. Interestingly enough, The National Post is now expects licensing for even using a  quote of a few sentences, or so it appeared. Not only am I careful about how much I quote, unlike a lot of folks (including publishers), I always acknowledge the writer as well as the review source.

Paperback fiction:
1. Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter
2. Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver
3. The Dog Stars, by Peter Heller (event Wed. June 19)
4. Devil Dog Death, by Daniel Warschkow
5. Joyland, by Stephen King
6. Bring up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel
7. The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain
8. Mission to Paris, by Alan Furst
9. This Bright River, by Patrick Somerville
10. The Art Forger, by B.A. Shapiro (event at Charles Allis, Wed July 24)

Those Paris novels keep coming, don't they? We'll be featuring yet another one when Toby Barlow's new Babayaga comes out. Our event with Barlow is Wed. August 21.A lot of paperbacks are dropping for summer reading, with hardcovers published last spring on a traditional cycle and fall titles on the increasingly popular abbreviated cycle. I haven't seen a big book on the ridiculously short 5 month cycle the way they did with Swamplandia two years ago, but I probably haven't searched hard enough.

Books for Kids:
1. Infamous, by Lauren Conrad
2. Poems to Learn by Heart, edited by Caroline Kennedy
3. The Fame Game, by Lauren Conrad
4. Star Struck (cloth), by Lauren Conrad
5. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

And thene there's a bunch more Lauren Conrad, and then comes Steam Train, Dream Train, by Sherri Duskey Rinker, with illustrations by Tom Lichtenheld. In this new book, the first from Rinker since Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, animals load cargo onto this night train. It's another rhyming bedtime story, and as the publisher notes, "Sweet and silly dreams are guaranteed for any budding train enthusiasts!"

In the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins looks at the spate of books being published in advance of the Gettysburg sesquicentennial. Books reviewed include:

--Gettysburg: The Graphic History of America's Most Famous Battle and the Turning Point of the Civil War, by Wayne Vansant

--The Illustrated Gettysburg Reader: An Eyewitness History of The Civil War's Greatest Battle, by Rod Gragg

--The Civil War: The Third Year Told by Those Who Lived it, from Library of America. 

--Gettysburg: Turning Point of the Civil War, from Time Magazine.

--The New York Times: Disunion: Modern Historians Revisit and Reconsider the Civil War from Lincoln's Election to the Emancipation, edited by Ted Widmer

--Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, by Alan Guelzo

--The Civil War in 50 Objects, by Harold Holzer and Eric Foner. 

Plus Higgins offers suggestions of previously published titles, novels, and more. We've curated the list a bit, meaning we're not carrying everything!

Carole E. Barrowman was busy this week, with this review of Neil Gaiman's long-awaited novel. She starts her essay thusly: If you ask me, I'll tell you that The Ocean at the End of the Lane is Neil Gaiman's portrait of the artist as a young man. With this book, Gaiman has crafted an achingly beautiful memoir of an imagination and a spellbinding story that sets three women at the center of everything."

And it's also time for Barrowman's "Paging through Mysteries" column. Featured this week:

--Black Star Nairobi, by Mukoma Wa Ngulgi. This one is stellar, a Kenyan private detective with a background from Madison, Wisconsin.

--Until She Comes Home, by Lori Roy. This outstanding novel deals with the racial politics in a 1950s suburban largely white Detroit neighborhood.

--Crime of Privilege, by Walter Walker. "As a college student in the 90s, (George) Becket witnesses a particularly harrowing sexual assault at a party he crashed." The aftermath becomes a "slick, satisfying conspiracy novel."

--The Innocence Game, by Michael Harvey. We've been talking about this one, inspired by Harvey's alter-ego as a journalism professor. Barrowman notes Harvey has "a keen wit, a strong sense of pacing, and creates appealing characters." Michael Harvey is visiting Boswell on Friday, June 21, 7:30 pm (and Mystery One at 5 pm).

That's it for this week. Time to start again.

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