Sunday, August 24, 2014

Boswell's Sunday Bestsellers--the Journey to Film of "The Hundred Foot Journey", The Five Year Return of Rennie Airth, and Pete The Cat's Transition from Portrait to Story, Plus "Journal Sentinel" Reviews of Matthea Harvey and John Scalzi.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, by Haruki Murakami
2. Goodnight Darth Vader, by Jeffrey Brown
3. The Silkworm, by Robert Galbraith
4. All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
5. The Colder War, by Charles Cumming
6. The Reckoning, by Rennie Airth
7. California, by Edan Lepucki
8. The String Diaries, by Stephen Lloyd Jones
9. The Home Place, by Carrie La Seur
10. We are Not Ourselves, by Matthew Thomas

It's taken a few weeks for Carrie La Seur's debut novel to pop onto our bestsellers list. The Home Place follows Alma Terrebonne, a woman who left Billings, Montana for Seattle after the death of her parents and returns when her troubled sister is found frozen to death. The Jackson Sun (no author listed) calls the book one of the year's strongest reviews, noting "La Seur poignantly shows how characters are influenced by a sense of place, affecting their choices in life."

I remember waiting years between the first John Madden mystery series, River of Darkness, and the second, The Blood-Dimmed Tide. My coworker Catherine would regular ask me to check when the next one was coming. Now we know that Rennie Airth is on a five-year schedule and yes, five years after The Dead of Winter comes The Reckoning. Madden has retired (this was said to be a trilogy) but another set of killings is plaguing Sussex. It is said that his books are a hybrid of whodunit mystery and twisty-chase thriller. Marilyn Stasio writes in The New York Times Book Review that "like the previous books in this almost too beautifully written series, The Reckoning is about the comforts of redemption and forgiveness — and the impossibility of forgetting."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. How Not to be Wrong, by Jordan Ellenberg
2. The Making of Milwaukee, by John Gurdan
3. Stars and Strikes, by Dan Epstein
4. In the Kingdom of Ice, by Hampton Sides
5. The Mockingbird Next Door, by Marja Mills (event 9/4 at Boswell)
6. A Spy Among Friends, by Ben Macintyre
7. Falling Upward, by Richard Rohr
8. Milwaukee: Then and Now, by Sandra Ackerman
9. I Knead my Mommy, by Francesco Marciuliano
10. The Grumpy Guide to Life, by Grumpy Cat

Our bestseller lists only sometimes matches up with the national lists and that makes sense; some titles are sell better at mass merchandisers, chain stores, or on line, whereas other books have strong regional followings. Sometimes, a book like The Boys in the Boat starts regionally in the West and then moves national. One book that's been ensconced on both our list and the NYT is Hampton Sides' In the Kingdom of Ice. Strong reviews continue--Robert A. Harris in The New York Times Book Review writes that "In the Kingdom of Ice is a harrowing story well told, but it is more than just that. Sides illuminates Gilded Age society, offering droll anecdotes of Bennett’s escapades in New York, Newport and Europe. The author also convincingly portrays what it was like to survive in northern Siberia and provides an engaging account of the voyage of the Corwin, a kind of mail and police steamer that searched for the Jeannette and carried John Muir as a supernumerary."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Illusion of Separateness, by Simon Van Booy (event 9/30 at Boswell)
2. Saving Kandinsky, by Mary Basson
3. The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion
4. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler
5. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
6. Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson
7. Augustus, by John Williams
8. The Hundred Foot Journey, by Richard Morais
9. An Event in Autumn, by Henning Mankell
10. Instructions for a Heatwave, by Maggie O'Farrell

Our books-into-film table is pretty much permanent and while I periodically update the titles featured on the signage, the titles itself come and go with some frequency. While we generally have a better pop in sales when the film is playing at the Oriental or Downer, its interesting to me that the store seems to be more of a follower than a leader in tie-in sales once the film is out. Though it hasn't been featured on our bestseller list recaps, we've actually had a strong sale pre-release, in both hardcover and paperback, for Richard Morais's The Hundred Foot Journey. Here's Dave Luhrssen's review in the Shepherd Express.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
2. Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay
3. The War That Ended Peace, by Margaret Macmillan
4. The Hidden History of Milwaukee, by Robert Tanzilo
5. No Time to Lose, by Pema Chodron
6. The Everything Store, by Brad Stone
7. Shakespeare with Hearing Aids, by Nick Weber (event 8/27 at Boswell)
8. Food Lovers' Guide to Wisconsin, by Martin Hintz
9. Knocking on Heaven's Door, by Katy Butler
10. Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand

Katy Butler's memoir is just one of the books that had a nice pop in sales from a book club talk this week. On the fiction side, we've been making a big push for The Illusion of Separateness of course (as the author is coming on September 30th) and Jane's also been doing a good job getting the word out on Instructions for a Heatwave. Knocking on Heaven's Door was also likely helped by Polly Drew's recent profile in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. There was a lot of attention for the book in hardcover, and the paperback press seemed to follow the book tour. Lois Collins in the Salt Lake City Deseret News wrote "The book, which has become a best-seller in hardback, has now been released in paperback and has earned a lot of praise for its exploration of tricky end-of-life issues that most people will encounter in some form, often in conjunction with a beloved parent's decline in later years. But it's also intimate and edgy, the writing exquisite."

Books for Kids:
1. Pete the Cat and the New Guy, by Kimberly and James Dean
2. If I Stay, by Gayle Forman
3. Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown
4. Jedi Academy V2: Return of the Padawan, by Jeffrey Brown
5. I Am a Bunny, by Ole Risom and Richard Scarry
6. The Seven Wonders V3: The Tomb of Shadows, by Peter Lerangis
7. The Mapmakers Trilogy V1: The Glass Sentence, by S.E. Grove
8. The Orchestra Pit, by Johanna Wright
9. The Year of Billy Miller, by Kevin Henkes
10. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

We had a nice pop in sales for Pete the the Cat and the New Guy. Per Russ Bynum's profile in AP wire last year, Pete the Cat was first drawn by James Dean in 1999; previously he was an engineer. His first book was a collection of Pete the Cat paintings in 2006. The first kids' books was Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, written by Eric Litwin. Last year James Dean's wife Kimberly took over as collaborator. This causes havoc with our shelving. Because the illustrator is the consistent--we break the rule of shelving by the author. Now it's my opinion that we just need to consider keeping all of Lois Ehlert and Eric Carle's books together, but as you can imagine, this is only one of the many problems of shelving one comes across in a physical bookstore. Here's the trailer for the new book. Well, actually it's the whole book.

In the Journal Sentinel today, Jim Higgins reviews poet Matthea Harvey's newest, If the Tabloids are True, What are You? He calls it an "entertaining, whimsical, and often challenging new collection, which pairs her poetry with her own photos, silhouettes, and other images."

Also from Jim Higgins in the Journal Sentinel, John Scalzi's newest, Lock In, toys with consciousness and identity. Per Higgins, Scalzi "iagines a future world where a viral plague has left 5 million people locked in their bodies, unable to move or respond to stimuli." He praises Scalzi's ability to turn out "one completely readable book after another."

From the Tampa Bay Times, Lennie Bennett reviews Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, by Dianne Hales. Bennett notes that the author puts Lisa del Giocondo's life in credible context, bulking up the scant verifiable details with the social and political history of her times and weaving into the book a parallel biography of the life of Leonardo da Vinci."

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