Monday, December 22, 2014

The Winter 2015 Book Club Brochure is Fabulous Fireball Fuschia.

Just what the winter reader needs, a bright collection of book club offerings. I've updated the fall recommendations a bit, winnowing out a few of the titles that had fallen off or were no longer timely, and adding a few new releases. I should note that it's important for me to include six nonfiction titles, which tend to be a bit more out-of-the box than the fiction selections. We also try to offer a spread, including both short and long books, and with a reads that go from relaxing to challenging.

One 2014 novel whose paperback dropped in December is The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin, which as you remember, helped us celebrate our five-year anniversary. I am always a little sad when a book like this doesn't get it's hardcover holiday season, but Algonquin got the book into the top 10 of the bestseller list in paperback, so that early release paid off, and we still sold at least one in cloth. I do love the added touch that the hardcover is in the bookstore window of the paperback jacket.

One book coming in paperback right after Christmas is Shotgun Lovesongs, by Nickolas Butler, on sale in paperback on 1/27. We've had a nice resurgence of sales in December, and why would we not, being that the book is a Wisconsin-infused story of friendship which had something like six recommendations from current and former Boswellians. We've already started getting the word out that Butler's book is the Shorewood Reads selection this spring. He'll be at the Shorewood Public Library on April 16.

One of the big biographies of fall has been Hermione Lee's Penelope Fitzgerald. I started thinking about just how few major biographies their were this fall, and realized that that is a whole 'nother blog post. What's been so great is that the bio is not only selling, but it's also driving sales of Fitzgerald's novels. Jane's pick to start is Offshore, the Man Booker winning novel about a bunch of folks living on a houseboat. If you do pick this novel, we suggest one of you should read the bio for some background.

We're always looking for a good historical novel and Renée Rosen's What the Lady Wants fit the bill for us. The great thing about historicals at book clubs is that you put the book in the context of the times, and what with the popularity of Mr. Selfridge, I continue to hope that this novel finds finds well beyond the Marshall Field's trading area.

For groups that want a bit more of a challenge, I think Daniel Alarcón's At Night We Walk in Circles might fit the bill. I still think fondly about the heyday of Latin American writers (remember the Bard series from Avon?) and I'm always looking for writers who are part of the new renaissance. Hey, it ain't gonna come if we don't make it a "thing." His novel is a contemporary suspenseful novel, set in an unnamed South American nation, of a man who sets out to find the truth behind another man's downfall. I'll have more to talk about after our In-Store Lit Group meets to discuss the book on January 5.

Our nonfiction selections had the most turnover from the fall brochure. One book that should have been there is This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett. Her essays together read like a memoir and have already had some nice pickup from book clubs. Patchett resonates with so many of our customers; even her book picks carry weight around the country. Everyone is out of stock of Deep Down Dark since she picked it for the Morning Edition Book Club and even Barbara Trapido's Brother of the More Famous Jack has become a rediscovery, due to Patchett's help. I think that also deserves a full post.

Two other books that have had strong pops this fall make great book club selections. Simon Winchester's The Men Who United the States and Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist might not exactly target the same reader, but wouldn't it be cool if a group read the two in succession? I'm also convinced that Greg Kot's I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples, The Staple Singers, and the March Up Freedom's Highway would make a wonderful discussion. It's a survival story in the context of our history that is also a great read and what a fun evening you'd have if somebody made a playlist. 

The carry-overs from fall, and yes, earlier, still going strong:
Someone, by Alice McDermott
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler
Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, by Anthony Marra
A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki
An Untamed State, by Roxane Gay
The Illusion of Separateness, by Simon Van Booy
TransAtlantic, by Colum McCann
Unmentionables, by Laurie Loewenstein
The Rathbones, by Janice Clark
Longbourn, by Jo Baker
After Visiting Friends, by Michael Hainey
The Everything Store, by Brad Stone

Don't forget, Jane, Anne (and who knows, maybe one of our other Boswellians) will present to your book club at Boswell. Weekday afternoons work best, but some evenings are available, depending on our event programming. We'd hope you'd have at least eight folks attending and that there was a least some idea that you'd be making some purchases, as we don't charge a fee for the service. We've also had some really great feedback about our talks at the Woman's Club and the Shorewood Library, so if you have a larger proposal for us, ask away!

Want something a little handier? We've got the fabulous fuschia fliers at the store, along with an insert of some great events for book clubs this winter.

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