Sunday, November 30, 2014

Boswell Annotated Bestsellers, Week Ending November 29, 2014.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Lila, by Marilynne Robinson
2. The Laws of Murder, by Charles Finch
3. Family Furnishings, by Alice Munro
4. Gray Mountain, by John Grisham
5. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
6. The Counterfeit Heiress, by Tasha Alexander
7. Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
8. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
9. Redeployment, by Phil Klay
10. All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews

You can see that my go-to picks for hand-selling are Station Eleven and All My Puny Sorrows. I kind of start out saying they are not for everyone, although one the tricks of Station Eleven is that it is for more people than you'd suspect. My favorite books end to have very intricate, interconnecting plots, like Station Eleven and last year's The Illusion of Separateness, for example, or pretty much no plot at all, like All My Puny Sorrows and spring's To Rise Again at a Decent Hour. Curtis Sittenfeld touched on this in last week's New York Times Book Review, but she also noted: "All My Puny Sorrows is unsettling, because how can a novel about suicide not be? But its intelligence, its honesty and, above all, its compassion provide a kind of existential balm — a comfort not unlike the sort you might find by opening a bottle of wine and having a long conversation with (yes, really) a true friend."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Money: Master the Game, by Tony Robbins
2. Yes Please!, by Amy Poehler
3. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
4. What if, by Randall Munroe
5. You are Here, by Chris Hadfield
6. Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned from a Little Golden Book, by Diane Muldrow
7. The Keillor Reader, by Garrison Keillor
8. Small Victories, by Anne Lamott
9. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
10. Make it Ahead, by Ina Garten

Several prior events have pops from their autographed copies this week, including Chris Hadfield's You Are Here, and The Keillor Reader, which we were squirrel-ish enough to hold onto since last spring. As to what books people are buying in quantity, there is Tony Robbin's Money: Master the Game: Seven Simple Steps to Financial Freedom and also Atul Gawande's Being Mortal. Gawande's book is touching a lot of our older customers. Here's Sheri Fink's review in The New York Times Book Review.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Brewster, by Mark Slouka (event 12/12, 7 pm, at Boswell)
2. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin
3. What the Lady Wants, by Renée Rosen (event 12/11, 7 pm, at Boswell)
4. Hild, by Nicola Griffith
5. We are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler
6. The Illusion of Separateness, by Simon Van Booy
7. Offshore, by Penelope Lively
8. Massive: Black Pacific, by Brian Wood
9. The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton
10. Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson

The new Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life, from Hermione Lee has Jane Glaser not just pushing that opus on fans of great literature but it's revived her spirit for recommending several of her novels, most notably Offshore, a Booker prize winner, about a group of people who live on a houseboat in the Thames. Here is an extract of Alan Hollinghurst's new introduction to the novel, reprinted in The Telegraph. Here's a teaser about Offshore: "At its centre is a young Canadian woman, Nenna James, forced at last to accept that the English husband who has abandoned her and their two children will never come back to her. Nenna, who has unfulfilled artistic interests (she trained as a violinist), lives on a houseboat called Grace, just as Fitzgerald had done; but she has married much younger: she is 32 and her elder daughter 11 – a reminder and a warning that Fitzgerald, who was married at 25, had three children, and lived on the Thames for two years in her mid-forties, reused her own life as freely and selectively as she liked."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Emotional Life of Your Brain, by Richard J. Davidson (this event is sold out!)
2. Your Living Compass, by Scott Stoner (event 12/4, 7 pm, at Boswell)
3. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett
4. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
5. Eat Bacon, Don't Jog, by Grant Petersen
6. The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
7. Zealot, by Reza Aslan
8. Healing the Soul, by Bhupendra Khatri
9. Kansas City Lightning, by Stanley Crouch
10. Behind the Beautiful Forevers, by Katherine Boo

Alas Richard Davidson's event has filled up to capacity at Temple Sinai for The Emotional Life of Your Brain. The waitlist is also filled. The author lives in Madison, so I suspect your organization can also have him speak at a future event. Here's more information on his website. You can also see him at the Thrive luncheon in Madison on January 29.

Books for Kids:
1. The Little Blue Truck's Christmas, by Alice Schertle, with illustrations by Jill McElmurry
2. Before After, by Anne-Margot Ramstein and Matthias Arégui
3. Countablock, by Christopher Franceschelli, with illustrations by Peskimo
4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, by Jeff Kinney
6. I am a Bunny, by Ole Risom, with illustrations by Richard Scarry
7. The Animal's Santa, by Jan Brett
8. Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, by Mac Barnett, with illustrations by Jon Klassen
9. Once Upon an Alphabet, by Oliver Jeffers
10. The Mitten, by Jessica Southwick, with illustrations by Pippa Curnick, paper engineering by Yevgeniya Yeretskaya

In this latest installment of Little Blue Truck's adventures, the truck delivers trees to holiday friends and you get to count along. I was mentioning that there is an awful lot of counting in this year's holiday offerings for kids. It must be that new math focus in schools. Jane would want you to know that that last tree lights up in Little Blue Truck's Christmas, but please don't remove the battery protector until you get the book home.

When I have time, I like to include the illustrator to kids' books, at least when the artwork is throughout. One particularly difficult person to give credit to is Pippa Curnick, who did the illustrations for the new pop-up of The Mitten. While she is credited on the book itself, she has no listing on the ABA website, which is what we use for orders, and I do not understand why, as the paper engineer (who also did a great job) did get a link. I love Curnick's work and would probably work to find it if she were doing loose or boxed cards or kids' diaries, or whatever else I can find. Check out her adorable penguins of the world print here.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, the big book story is their "100 Books for Holiday Giving." I don't have the time or energy to list out all the books today, but here's a link to all their picks.

In addition, Jim Higgins reviews Literchoor is My Beat, a new biography by New Directions publisher James Laughlin from Ian S. MacNiven. Higgins notes: "Literchoor Is My Beat is something of an authorized biography — Laughlin's literary executors selected Ian S. MacNiven, author of a Lawrence Durrell biography, to write it. Nonetheless, MacNiven delivers a smart, fair-minded, thoughtful and entertaining book about this striking man of letters."

Also in the Journal Sentinel, Erin Kogler reviews How to Be Both*, the new Ali Smith work of fiction that has already been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. An explanation from Kogler: "When I was asked to review this book, I was given two different versions. The book is written in two halves, with each set off by a drawing. One half tells the story of a Renaissance artist (eyes), and the other is the story of a modern-day 16-year-old girl (camera). In one book, the 'eyes' section is first and in the other, the 'camera' section is first. The text is exactly the same in both versions. When the reader pulls How to Be Both off a bookstore or library shelf, she will not know
which version she has without looking inside. In the press information that accompanied the books, Ali Smith is quoted: 'Who says stories reach everybody in the same order? This novel can be read in two ways and the choice is yours.'"

Here is Mary Louise Schumacher's list of picks on art, architecture, and design.

And here is an interview with Ann M. Martin, which appeared in the print version of the Journal Sentinel, originally from the Miami Herald.

*The classic white jacket with plain typeface and a little icon, that the Knopf/Doubleday group loves so much. They definitely have a Calvin Klein-ish thing going on, don't they?

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