Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sunday Bestseller Post--Denise Kiernan, David Rhodes, Peter Heller, Amy TImberlake, Plus Links to Journal Sentinel Stories on Jim Gaffigan, Dean Jensen.

It's been a good week to be an event goer, with several standout presentations. Here are our bestsellers for the week ending June 8.

Hardcover nonfiction:
1. The Girls of Atomic City, by Denise Kiernan
2. Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
3. Limping through Life by Jerry Apps
4. Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris
5. Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg
6. Dad is Fat, by Jim Gaffigan (event 6/15 at Boswell)
7. The Unwinding, by George Packer
8. The Guns at Last Night, by Rick Atkinson
9. The Center Holds, by Jonathan Alter
10. Lessons from the Heartland, by Barbara Miner ($10 ticketed event at the Urban Ecology Center at Washington Park on Tuesday, June 11, 7 pm, $5 for members)

Looking at this list is like a best-of for the bookstore. I thoroughly enjoyed the presentations of Kiernan and Armstrong. Kiernan's The Girls of Atomic City slide show particularly received so many compliments from both the attendees and the fellow booksellers (and you know I can sometimes be wary about AV, but the sales were very strong, beating the 33% expectation for events of this sort--I smell another blog post about this number). It was really interesting how many people with ties to Oak Ridge showed up at the event. 

New to the list is The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies, by Jonathan Alter, which covers the 2012 re-election. David Lauter in the Los Angeles Times notes that the book has excellent reporting, though it isn't the most exciting story. Well, duh. That's the problem with reading the news--you know all the endings.

Hardcover fiction:
1. Jewelweed, by David Rhodes
2. And the Mountains Echoes, by Khaled Hosseini
3. Inferno, by Dan Brown
4. The Shining Girls, by Lauren Beukes
5.Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
6. The Son, by Philipp Meyer
7. Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson
8. Black Country, by Alex Grecian
9. Choke Point, by Ridley Pearson
10. On Sal Mal Lane, by Ru Freeman

What a fine welcome back to David Rhodes, who I'm thrilled to see had a 20% increase in attendance for Jewelweed from his last bookstore event for Driftless, though as one of my customers noted, it's a very different store from 2009. I should note that I've had a couple of repeat events with down turnouts, so you never take anything for granted. Right now we're trying to make sure we do a good job with upcoming repeater Jeannette Walls (Thursday, June 20). Last time we had her late in the tour on the 2nd round, whereas this time she is very close to pub date. I might explore this in a separate blog post. But for now, could you just go to our Facebook page for Walls and tell me you are all coming? How could you miss this, after all?

Interesting to see three authors with echo sales in the weeks post event. While that's not surprising for Kate Atkinson, whose book has been a huge national bestseller, it's heartening to see momentum for both Black Country and On Sal Mal Lane, who are staff recs from Anne and Stacie respectively.

New this week is Lauren Beukes and her new time-jumping thriller, The Shining Girls. Though Charles Finch in USA Today says the book his some flaws, Beukes' talent shines through, "her voice acid, inventive and winning, and her characters plainly close to her heart."

Paperback nonfiction:
1. Quiet, by Susan Cain
2. How to be Interesting, by Jessica Hagy
3. In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson
4. Rural Wit and Wisdom, by Jerry Apps
5. Father to Son, by Melissa Harrison and Harry H. Harrison Jr.

What's with all the Apps sales, such as Rural Wit and Wisdom on this list? He spoke to the Rotary Club on Tuesday. Not only was Father to Son our #5 bestseller for the week, by Father to Daughter was #6. I tried to find an interesting story about the Harrisons, such as maybe one about how the H. stood for Harry, but found nothing except sales sites. I guess it was just a good idea that seemingly will sell forever.

Paperback fiction:
1. The Dog Stars, by Peter Heller (event June 19)
2. Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter
3. Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel
4. Driftless, by David Rhodes 
5. The Three Weissmanns of Westport, by Cathleen Schine (in store book club 7/1, event 7/22)
6. Rock Island Line, by David Rhodes
7. Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver
8. The Yard, by Alex Grecian
9. The Orphan Masters' Son, by Adam Johnson
10. Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple

Barbara Kingsolver paperback for Flight Behavior went onto the eight month cycle for the newest. She was up for the Women's Prize for Fiction, along with fellow this-week bestsellers Where'd You Go Bernadette, Bring Up the Bodies, and Life After Life. The winner turned out to be A.M. Homes for May We Be Forgiven, her sixth novel. We are currently out of stock, but should be getting more shortly.

Books for Kids:
1. One Came Home, by Amy Timberlake
2. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs
3. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
4. I am a Bunny, by Ole Rissom and Richard Scarrey
5. On the Day You Were Born, by Debra Frasier

More long tail for events with a pop in sales for the well-reviewed (Journal Sentinel and other recs), well-regarded (Hannah has a rec) and much-seen (we got Timberlake in front of close to 900 kids on her recent visit to the Milwaukee area), driving sales not just for us, but all kinds of retailers, as well as circulation at libraries. Plus we had a good time!

If you think this week was hopping (and it was), wait till next week. The Journal Sentinel highlights several of our upcoming events, including this great profile of Jim Gaffigan by Joanne Weintraub. In the article, he finally admits he is hoping to move into a larger apartment. Two bedrooms! Gaffigan comes to Boswell for the Dad is Fat tour on Saturday, June 15, 7 pm, a very special event co-hosted by Jim's wife Jeannie.

Jim Higgins writes up Dean Jensen's upcoming cultural history Queen of the Air, which goes on sale Tuesday and launches with an event at Boswell on Thursday, June 13. Higgins notes that Jensen has pulled off "an amazing temporal triple play. He's told a story that's completely of its time, yet often resonates with ours, and in its tragic dimension feels as timeless as a Greek myth."

Higgins can't help but sneak in a sports metaphor but he moves back to the circus by observing "Like a gifted ringmaster, Jensen knows what every performer, major or minor, in this show can do, and seems to bring each one on at just the right time. While Leitzel, Codona and their circle may have almost passed from public memory, Jensen brings them back to the center ring in his book."

I hope that the rest of the county is as excited by this book as Jim, Mel, and I are. I'm feeling pretty good about this!

Contributing book reviewer Mike Fischer fuels the fire of enthusiasm for The Son, joining amateur and professional critics in offering praise. "For all the debts this novel owes Melville, Faulkner, McMurtry and McCarthy, so has Meyer; The Son is a true American original. Meyer describes the Comanche as "riding to haul hell out of its shuck." It's an apt description of how it feels to read this exciting, far-reaching book."

There's also a review picked up from The Atlanta Journal Constitution from Gina Webb for The Silver Star. Alas, it's subscription only, and doesn't offer a limited free option (note: Ms. Webb sent me this link). It's on page 6 of the Journal Sentinel and I can quote Webb (who also reviews Gail Godwin's Flora) that readers familiar with Jeannette Walls' bestselling memoir, The Glass Castle, will feel right at home in her engaging novel, The Silver Star, as soon as the narrator describes a mother who sets her new baby on top of the car and starts to drive off, alerted by her older daughter before it's too late."

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