Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday Bestsellers from Boswell, with info on Margaret Atwood,Daniel Smith, Meg Choi, Brian Floca, "The International Bank of Bob" Harris, Plus the New "Journal Sentinel" Reviews.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. MaddAddam, by Margaret Atwood
2. How the Light Gets In, by Louise Penny
3. The Cuckoo's Calling, by J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith
4. Night Film, by Marisha Pessl
5. The Childhood of Jesus, by J.M. Coetzee

There's a nice pop of Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam this week, and while our local review wasn't the greatest, there are many other voices cheering the final volume of her trilogy. Andrew Sean Greer (of The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells) writes in The New York Times Book Review, "This finale to Atwood’s ingenious trilogy lights a fire from the fears of our age, then douses it with hope for the planet’s survival. But that survival may not include us."

I'm also intrigued by #6, a pop from the spring release from Elizabeth Strout, The Burgess Boys. While it can easily be a book club purchase (though that club does not seem to be registered with us), the only media hit I could find online was a glowing review from Corinna Lothar in The Washington Times. It's a great review, though it's quite unusual for a newspaper to review a four-month-old book of such prominence without a news peg. That said:

"Miss Strout guides her readers through the action with delicate subtlety and forceful writing. She has a gift for straightforward storytelling and original turns of phrase, coupled with insight into the human heart and psyche. Her portraits of depressed Shirley Falls and vibrant New York City are rich and colorful. One cannot put The Burgess Boys down as Miss Strout lets her story dominos fall into place."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The International Bank of Bob, by Bob Harris
2. Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book, from Chronicle Books
3. The Guns of Last Night, by Rick Atkinson
4. Lawrence in Arabia, by Scott Anderson
5. Salinger, by David Shields and Shane Salerno

Not a huge week for hardcover nonfiction; I'm expecting better for the September 10 releases. The big release is David Shields and Shane Salerno's Salinger, an oral biography that is tied into a new documentary. Alas, the A.O. Scott review in The New York Times called the documentary "a breathless story full of hyperbole and speculation."

Louis Bayard in The Washington Post is more gracious about the book, offering "Salinger is the thorny, complicated portrait that its thorny, complicated subject deserves. If nothing else, the book offers the most complete rendering yet of Salinger’s World War II service, the transformative trauma that began with the D-Day invasion and carried through the horrific Battle of Hürtgen Forest and the liberation of a Dachau subcamp."

While I don't normally include bulk sales, I felt compelled to include The International Bank of Bob: Connecting Our Worlds One $25 Kiva Loan at a Time, partly because it's relatively new, everyone liked the title, and partly because of the book's story. Bob Harris is a television writer, Jeopardy champion and one-time stand-up comic who decided to take his earnings and fund micro-loans. Oh, and Harris is the guest speaker at the fall WWIBC luncheon. It's November 5 at Potawotomi Casino, with more info right here.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Way Out, by Meg Choi
2. Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter
3. Where'd You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple
4. The President's Hat, by Antoine Laurain
5. The Beautiful Mystery, by Louise Penny

A nice week-after sale on signed copies of Louise Penny. Yes we still have How the Light Gets In signed copies. Meg Choi brought out a nice varied crowd for her talk about The Way Out--in addition to selling her new book, she provided free copies for Korean Veterans, which didn't count towards our sales totals. As a bonus, fellow Koreans who bought the book could also get a copy in Korean.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Create Space with Your Higher Self, by Serafina Krupp
2. The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls
3. Making Shapely Fiction, by Jerome Stern
4. Orange is the New Black, by Piper Kerman
5. Monkey Mind, by Daniel Smith

Let's catch up with Monkey Mind, a book that sells off our front table, as well as Mel's staff rec shelf. Here's an interesting interview with Cara Cannella in Biographile. She asks if writing about his own anxiety made Daniel Smith anxious.

"Strangely, it doesn’t really make me anxious to talk about my anxiety. I don’t know why this is, exactly. I think it’s because although I strive for emotional and psychological truth in the book, the person who is telling the story isn’t, in the end, strictly me -- or rather he’s not completely me. He’s a narrator, a persona"

Books for Kids:
1. Green Bay Packers ABC, by Brad Epstein
2. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs
3. Locomotive, by Brian Floca
4. Moonshot, by Brian Floca
5. Insurgent, by Veronica Roth

I'm glad to see a small pop of books before Brian Floca's appearance this Friday (at a special time of 4 pm) for Locomotive. Kristi Elle Jemtegaard in the Washington Post writes that Floca "weaves a poetic text and dramatic illustrations into an appealing narrative, providing young readers with both factual information about early train travel and a visceral sense of what it must have been like to climb aboard an iron horse in 1869."

In the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins turns to poetry, specifically haiku. "In the anthology Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years, editors Jim Kacian, Philip Rowland and Allan Burns bring together more than 800 of the little poems in an attempt to show how the form has developed in our tongue."

Former Journal Sentinel reporter Sarah Carr reports on Sheri Fink's Five Days at Memorial. "Despite the limitations in character development, Fink's book is first-rate: riveting reading, morally probing, scrupulously fair. Anyone interested in Hurricane Katrina, human behavior in times of crisis, or medical ethics should read it."

Also in the Journal Sentinel Mike Fischer responds to the newest novel from Jonathan Lethem, Dissident Gardens. "Most of this material and all of Lethem's characters are swaddled in his characteristically dense, allusive, metaphor-rich prose. Lethem's dazzling conceits — a childhood home as field hospital, a New Jersey chicken farm as an embodiment of the Popular Front and Quakerism's Inner Light as a stove's pilot light, to name three — are the stuff of great poetry, of the 17th-century variety."

We've got our first busy week coming up with Larry Watson, Oliver Pötzsch, Jasper Fforde, Erin Hart and Paddy O'Brien, and Brian Floca. More details tomorrow.

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