Sunday, September 14, 2014

Annotated Boswell Book Company's Sunday Bestsellers, Week Ending September 13, 2014, including Sunday Journal Sentinel Reviews

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Liar's Wife, by Mary Gordon
2. The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell
3. The Long Way Home, by Louise Penny
4. Vampires of Manhattan, by Melissa de la Cruz
5. Perfidia, by James Ellroy
6. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, by Haruki Murakami
7. The Children Act, by Ian McEwan
8. The Secret Place, by Tana French
9. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
10. Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel

We highlighted six new fiction books this week, Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven on Tuesday, plus five more on Wednesday, but we didn't yet get around to James Ellroy's Perfidia. His World War II novel is set after Pearl Harbor, when a team of three Los Angeles detectives (including one Japanese-American) is charged with solving the murder of a Japanese family. Colette Bancroft in the Tampa Bay Times (you should know her because her excellent reviews are often reprinted in the Journal Sentinel) writes: "James Ellroy is back at work on his version of the 20th century. And if, like me, you are among his legion of fans, you will dive into Perfidia with a shiver that is equal parts anticipation and fear — because you know it's going to get very dark very fast."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Happiness of Pursuit, by Chris Guillebeau (event is Wednesday, September 24, 7 pm, at Boswell)
2. Perimeter, by Kevin Miyazaki (event is Wednesday, September 17, 6 pm, at the Haggerty)
3. 13 Hours, by Mithcell Zukov
4. Waking Up, by Sam Harris
5. Everything I Need to Know, I Learned from a Little Golden Book, by Diane Muldrow
6. World Order, by Henry Kissinger
7. Elephant Company, by Vicki Croke
8. The History of Rock and Roll in Ten Songs, by Greil Marcus
9. Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, by Karen Abbott
10. Death of a King, by Tavis Smiley

A customer came up to me who was reading Henry Kissinger's World Order, was in wonder that the statesman was now 90-something. John Micklethwait, in The New York Times, is more struck by an alternate history in which Kissinger might still be running foreign policy: "If you think America is doing just fine, then skip ahead to the poetry reviews. If, however, you worry about a globe spinning out of control, then World Order is for you. It brings together history, geography, modern politics and no small amount of passion."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Illusion of Separateness, by Simon Van Booy (event is Tuesday, September 30, 7 pm, at Boswell)
2. Behind God's Back, by Miki Knezevic
3. The Mathematician's Shiva, by Stuart Rojstaczer
4. TransAtlantic, by Colum McCann
5. Longbourn, by Jo Baker
6. A Guide for the Perplexed, by Dara Horn
7. Unmentionables, by Laurie Loewenstein
8. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, by Anthony Marra
9. Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson
10. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

Based on the number of titles in the top ten that I've read, you can guess that we had a major book club selecting their titles for the year. The Illusion of Separateness was further buoyed by a program Mr. Van Booy is doing at an area school. He'll be speaking to two high school classes, and the kids will be reading the book ahead of time. I just can't figure out why other stores haven't jumped on the hand-sell bandwagon was this book. It's a deceptively easy read that nonetheless offers a poetic style and much food for thought, but best of all, a lot of readers finish the book very enthusiastic and ready to spread the word. That's why the Milwaukee area sales for the hardcover were among the best in the country. It wasn't just us--it was folks who learned about the book from us recommending it to other people. And our enthusiasm continues; Mr. Van Booy visits on Tuesday, September 30,  7 pm.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Girls of Atomic City, by Denise Kiernan
2. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
3. The Bully Pulpit, by Doris Keans Goodwin
4. Inside the Godfather, by Daryl Brown
5. Stuffed and Starved, by Raj Patel

With the Roosevelts: An Intimate History documentary series from Ken Burns starting (and getting great advance reviews, like this from David Bianculli at Fresh Air), Simon and Schuster moved up Doris Kearns Goodwin's The Bully Pulpit to take advantage of the resulting enthusiasm. She was one of the historian consultants for the series, per this article from Mark Dawidziak in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Books for Kids:
1. Fiona's Lace, by Patricia Polacco
2. Mr. Wayne's Masterpiece, by Patricia Polacco
3. The Unwanteds, by Lisa McMann
4. The Blessing Cup, by Patricia Polacco
5. Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories, by Dr. Seuss
6. Blue Bloods, by Melissa de la Cruz
7. The Keeping Quilt, by Patricia Polacco
8. Found, by Margaret Peterson Haddix
9. Gifts of the Heart, by Patricia Polacco
10. The Keeping Quilt, by Patricia Polacco

Did I mention that Patricia Polacco visited this week? But I should also note there's been a lot of enthusiasm for the previously unpublished Dr. Seuss stories, Horton and the Kwuggerbug. Here's a story about the book's release from NPR's Morning Edition.

In the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins reviews the new novel from Lauren Beukes, Broken Monsters, which chronicles the search for a bizarre serial killer through modern Detroit. Higgins writes: "Beukes, a genre-busting South African novelist with a sharp prose style who has a good handle on America, won the United Kingdom's top sci-fi prize for the dark fantasy Zoo City, then delivered The Shining Girls, one of the great horror-thrillers of our time. I'd rate Broken Monsters just a tick below The Shining Girls because of the great compassion she invested in the earlier novel's victims. But we're talking here about the difference between an A+ and an A." Mike Fischer reviews The Paying Guests, the new novel by Sarah Waters, that we've had some great reads on at Boswell. Several Boswellians even interviewed the author. Fischer writes: "This being a Waters novel, ecstasy of a different sort awaits us; for all their differences, Frances and Lilian's physical proximity soon becomes intimacy. Waters always writes well about sex and her new novel is no exception: It's both hot and sensually beautiful, transcending cheap cliché." That said, he was pretty disappointed in the book, particularly when a criminal act separates the two and yet binds them together with a secret.

I totally understand where Fischer is with this, but since I've got three fans on staff, I've got to counterpoint the review with one from the Boston Globe, where Rebecca Steinitz claims Waters is writing "at the height of her powers." She has a caveat: "Despite — or perhaps because of — its ominous tension, the middle slows to a near-glacial pace (including a single climactic evening that stretches to about 30 pages of minute detail). But overall, the novel is so delicious that, by its gasp-worthy last few pages, any bitter taste is long forgotten."

Here's info on the Sterling North Book Festival, taking place at Edgerton High School on September 27, featuring David Wiesner, Deborah Blum, David Benjamin, and several other area writers. More info here.

A Hank the Dog book is coming. We'll find out if it's for the Brewers only to sell, or whether they want us to sell it too. In the old days, you wanted other retailers to participate, but nowadays, online sales take care of that reach.

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