Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Bestseller Post--How We Might Sell "The Son" Better, Why Nonfiction Paperbacks Have So Much Trouble Breaking Out, and a Window Into the Jounal Sentinel Book Page.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Bad Monkey, by Carl Hiaasen
2. And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini
3. TransAtlantic, by Colum McCann
4. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
5. The Illusion of Separateness, by Simon Van Booy
6. The Son, by Philipp Meyer
7. The Burgess Boys, by Elizabeth Strout
8.  Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
9. The Last Word, by Lisa Lutz (event at Boswell 7/19)
10. Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson

I've spent the last few weeks talking about books that we're doing relatively well with compared to other indies. Most notably The Illusion of Separateness, but also TransAtlantic. Despite not being on the national tour for the authors, we're the #2 Above the Treeline store for The Illusion of Separateness and #12 for TransAtlantic. But compare that to The Son, where we're #31 with 16 books sold. Not bad (and you also have to remember that the author was the #1 Indie Next Pick and thus had a lot of reads and also a big tour, the last of which gives those stores an advantage), but considering we have a strong read in Jason and had a great local review from Mike Fischer. Perhaps it nees more reads or perhaps it needs more local champions. You'd be surprised how a few avid customer fans can drive sales at Boswell.  Need some more pushing? Ron Charles in The Washington Post calls it "a spectacular captivity narrative." Janet Maslin in The New York Times called it an "enveloping, extremely well-wrought, popular novel with passionate convictions about the people, places and battles that it conjures." I read this review before, but this time it helps me think about positioning.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Wrapped in the Flag, by Claire Conner
2. I Wear the Black Hat, by Chuck Klosterman (event at Boswell 7/18)
3. Holy Sh*t, by Melissa Mohr
4. Behind the Beautiful Forever, by Katherine Boo
5. Lessons from the Heartland, by Barbara Miner
6. Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand
7. Mo' Meta Blues, by Ahmir Questlove Thompson with Ben Greenman
8. Wheat Belly, by William Davis
9. Wisconsin Supper Clubs, by Ron Faiola
10. The Riddle of the Labyrinth, by Margalit Fox

Questlove's memoir Mo' Meta Blues is settled on the nonfiction bestseller list nationally and it has been doing pretty well at Boswell too. Dwight Garner in The New York Times particularly enjoyed Questlove's "open-mike, improv-night spirit."And Mikael Wood in the Los Angeles Times interviews Mr. Thompson, noting "Questlove recounts his musical journey -- starting with the years he put in as a kid with his father's touring doo-wop outfit -- but digresses regularly with deep (and deeply funny) analyses of the artists and records that shaped him."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter
2. Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple
3. Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver
4. Sweet Tooth, by Ian McEwan
5. The Dog Stars, by Peter Heller
6. The Light Between Oceans, by M.L. Stedman
7. The Chaperone, by Laura Moriarty
8. The Beautiful Mystery, by Louise Penny
9. The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain
10. Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles

Our sales for Ian McEwan's Sweet Tooth were higher than they were for his previous book, Solar. Now we'll see how the book fares in paperback compared to its last, where impulse and book clubs make more of a difference. Erin O'Neill in the Canadian publication Exclaim has a nice insight about the book's structure: "It is through a series of such doublings in the story—Serena is the reader to Tom's writer just as we are the reader to McEwan's writer; the protagonist's clashing private and public selves; etc.—that the author investigates the grey and murky nature of concepts like identity and truth. He explores the artfulness of fiction, the crafted terrain we escape into with heavy expectations, regardless of whether these expectations are subconscious or considered. And he does this in a seemingly effortlessness manner."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Stolen Dog, by Tricia O'Malley
2. Bits and Pieces of a Psychiatrist's Life, by Barry Blackwell
3. Crossing the Healing Zone, by Ashok Bedi (event at Boswell 7/17)
4. Quiet, by Susan Cain
5. North Point Historic Districts, by Shirley McArthur
6. Monkey Mind, by Daniel Smith
7. The Good Food Revolution, by Will Allen
8. Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
9. How Children Succeed, by Paul Tough
10. 100 Things Brewers Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die, by Tom Haudricourt (event 7/15)

For us, Daniel Smith's Monkey Mind continues the momentum we had in hardcover. I know Simon hoped to break the book out more in paperback, but boy, that paperback nonfiction bestseller list is inpenetrable, unless perhaps you see heaven (three books in the top 20).  Well, it's still doing well for us, and sometimes success isn't all about a ranking, right? Here's more about the book on Smith's website. I see he's going to be at a Jewish temple in Wilmette in December. If you wind up loving the book, you can always get tickets for that.

Books for Kids:
1. The Testing, by Joelle Charbonneau
2. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
3. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs
4. The School for Good and Evil, by Soman Chainani
5. Good Night Wisconsin, by Adam Gamble and Mark Jasper
6. Lego Star Wars Character Encyclopedia
7. Zen Shorts, by Jon Muth
8. Openly Straight, by Neil Konigsberg
9. The Runaway King, by Jennifer Neilsen
10. Three Times Lucky, by Sheila Turnage

Jennifer Neilsen's first book in the Ascendance triliogy had some nice reads in house so it's nice to see a pop for the second title, The Runaway King. Melissa Montavani on the blog YA Bookshelf champions the series, assuring folks it will "peak the interest of tweens who love to read, those who are reluctant to read, and even adult readers of middle grade fiction." Her enthusiasm is paired with a nice interview with Nielsen.

In the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins previews our three basball authors (and longtime newspaper folks) speaking together on Monday night. Haudricourt notes that he has been covering the Brewers for 60% of their existance. Come see Tom Haudricourt, Dave Weller, and Greg Pearson tomorrow (Monday, July 15, 7 pm) at Boswell. More on our Facebook event page.

He's also reviewed The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P (on sale Tuesda), a novel fine portrait of an unlikable fellow who moves through the literati of Brooklyn. Per Higgins, "She's given us a clinical dissection of Piven, including how he explains his behavior to himself. While this is Piven's story, Waldman shows us plenty of other youngish hottie-chasing, status-gauging Brooklynites of both genders along the way. After reading her novel, I shudder to imagine my sweet teenagers moving to Park Slope one day."

Amusingly enough, I am currently reading Alice McDermott's Someone, which is also set in Brooklyn, but among its themes is the Irish flight from Brooklyn, and a few members of one family who couldn't bear to leave. More on that later.

Also in the paper, Chris Foran looks at Mark Kurlansky's newest micro-history, Ready for a Brand New Beat: "How Dancing in the Streets Became the Anthem for a Changing America." Perhaps too many tangents, he thinks.

From the wire, the Journal Sentinel reprints a review of The Astronaut Wives Club, from the Houston Chronicle. Maggie Galehouse applauds how the book "cracks the veneer of the astrowives" and "lays bare the challenges of astrowife life."

From the San Francisco Chronicle, Novella Carpenter reviews Mardi Jo Link's Bootstrapper. Link is coming to Books and Company on Monday (tomorrow), July 15, 7 pm. She notes that the memoir might be compared to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (or the comparison we got, Wild), but she likens it most to Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies. Per Carpenter, it misses being a classic by just a hair. That's still pretty high praise.

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