Sunday, November 10, 2013

“Who Says April is National Poetry Month?” and More of What’s Selling at Boswell for the Week Ending November 9, 2013

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Heretics and Heroes, by Thomas Cahill
2. The International Bank of Bob, by Bob Harris
3. Driven, by Donald Driver
4. Good Stock, by Sanford D’Amato (event December 17)
5. Things that Matter, by Charles Krauthammer
6. Double Down, by Mark Halprin
7. The Bully Pulpit, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
8. The Men Who United the States, by Simon Winchester
9. The Book of Ages, by Jill Lepore
10. I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai

Sanford D’Amato’s long-awaited memoir with recipes, Good Stock, finally arrived! There were several advance events that helped whet the appetite for fans. Our event is a talk only—it’s a memoir, after all!

I expected to see The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism a bit higher on our list, but there’s some stiff competition. There are no shortage of reviews to link to, of course. Heather Cox Richardson in The Washington Post writes “Goodwin’s evocative examination of the Progressive world is smart and engaging, and if she presents a bit too much about family trees and legislative wrangling, her style shows her imitating the amassing of evidence pioneered by the muckrakers. Like them, she presents a highly readable and detailed portrait of an era.”

Also charting is Book of Ages, Jill Lepore's biography of Ben Franklin's sister, Jane Franklin Mecom. Here's The New York Times Book Review essay from Mary Beth Norton. In her spare time, Lepore is a professor of history at Harvard University, chairing the department, and is also a staff writer for The New Yorker. I hate layabouts, don't you?

Hardcover fiction:
1. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
2. Aimless Love, by Billy Collins
3. We are Water, by Wally Lamb
4. The Circle, by Dave Eggers
5. The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton

In addition to Billy Collins at #2, Mary Oliver’s Dog Songs holds at #6 on our fiction chart, and Nikki Giovanni’s Chasing Utopia holds at #10. On the paperback list, our three poets of this previous Friday Daisy Fried, Peter Campion, and Joshua Weiner, also made our top 15.

By mid-November, you stop seeing high-profile fiction releases, but a staged release of commercial novels continue. James Patterson drops Thanksgiving weekend, Michael Connelly and the late Tom Clancy arrive the first week of December, Dean Koontz and Karen Robards lay downthe second week of December, and W.E.B. Griffin and Jack Higgins come December 31, in time for gift card visits. In most cases, these books have a 1-2 week sales pop, and don’t need that complete holiday season to accumulate sales. The problem of stores getting behind and not staging new releases has lessened with the rise in online sales. I would expect that Michael Connelly is likely the only author to crash our top five.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. My Life and the Green and Gold, by Jessie Garcia
2. How Children Succeed, by Paul Tough
3. Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh
4. Milwaukee at Water’s Edge, by Tom Pilarzyk
5. Off the Map, by Simon Garfield

I think we were all surprised by the #1 Indie Next Pick for Hyperbole and a Half, but several Boswellians have since discovered and fell in love with Allie Brosh. I think the book is now on Greg’s rec shelf. The book is inspired by a popular blog, and immediately popped onto the national bestseller lists.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Dear Life, by Alice Munro
2. Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter
3. The Round House, by Louise Erdrich (in store book club selection December 2, 7 pm)
4. Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes
5. The President’s Hat, by Antoine Laurain

Penguin’s long-running campaign for Me Before You has really paid off—this book has legs. I can only quote that Liesl Schillinger New York Times Book Review line: “When I finished this novel, I didn’t want to review it; I wanted to reread it.” A modern day Love Story? Now who’s used that as a comparison in the last twenty years.

Books for Kids:
1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid Volume 8: Hard Luck, by Jeff Kinney
2. A Great Lakes Adventure: Salmon’s Journey Home, by SHARP Literacy with illustrations by Francisco X. Mora
3. The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt, with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers
4. Mr. Wuffles, by David Wiesner
5. The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak

For all the hundreds of copies of The Book Thief (or if you like movie tie in jackets, link here) that we’ve sold, I’ve never had to listen to the plot and say what the book was. I think this is the territory that comes with a movie release. We’re very excited to announce that The Book Thief is coming to Landmark’s Downer Theatre. Though sometimes the chain moves releases back and forth between the Oriental and Downer, it does mean that it will be very close to the bookstore, which definitely does pop sales.

In the Journal Sentinel, Mike Fischer reviews Daniel Alarcón’s At Night We Walk in Circles. He writes: “Most of all, Alarcón's title recalls the circles of Dante's "Inferno." But as Nelson makes his precipitous descent, there is no Virgil to guide his way — any more than the novel's unreliable, backward looking narrator can truly help us. In this sometimes confusing book, that's ultimately Alarcón's point: We can't see into the future unless we first let go of the past.”

I was introduced to Mr. Alarcón at Heartland Fall Forum, who visited Schwartz in Milwaukee for one of his previous novels. We’ve also had a great read from Conrad on this novel.

There are several other interesting pieces on the Journal Sentinel book page. Marion Winik reviews The Most of Nora Ephron, which first appeared in Newsday. And Connie Ogle of The Miami Herald interviews Billy Collins in conjunction with the release of Aimless Love. One interesting comment from him is that poetry should be taught “chronologically backwards,” a device he uses in the anthology Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry.

No events today, but we're gearing up for Amy Tan tomorrow. Tickets still available on the Brown Paper Tickets website through about 1 pm tomorrow.

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