Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Annotated Boswell Bestsellers for Week Ending March 7, 2015, Plus the Journal Sentinel Book Reviews.

Hardcover Fiction
1. Epitaph, by Mary Doria Russell
2. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
3. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
4. The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro
5. The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, by Rachel Joyce

Kudos to Knopf for doing a beautiful job on Kazuo Ishigruo's The Buried Giant. Love the black stain, which is apparently the color of the moment for these sort of things, as we saw it this fall with Michel Faber's The Book of Strange New Things. Neil Gaiman covered the book for The New York Times Book Review (exceptional, but he didn't fall in love with it), while Christine Pivovar tackles the book for the Kansas City Star, where she notes "it’s impossible not to ask if this story is supposed to mirror in some way a more recent moment in Britain’s past or even its present."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
2. Schubert's Winter Journey, by Ian Bostridge
3. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
4. Believer, by David Axelrod
5. Make it Ahead, by Ina Garten

Yes, in the age of struggling symphoneies, a good book on classical music can still have a sales pop at an independent bookstore. in Schubert's Winter Journey, Ian Bostridge (a tenor himself) waxes on Winterreisse, a song cycle based on 24 poems by Wilhelm Müller. Michael Dirda in The Washington Post notes that “Schubert’s Winter Journey both deepens and contextualizes this emotionally somber masterpiece, the ideal music for darkest February. While reading, I also listened to him (Bostridge) sing, and even though I grew up on Fischer-Dieskau’s baritone, I’m nearly persuaded that a light tenor voice is best for this still, sad music."

Paperback Fiction:
1. What Burns Away, by Melissa Falcon Field
2. Mr. Palomar, by Italo Calvino
3. Doc, by Mary Doria Russell
4. Redeployment, by Phil Klay
5. Dept. of Speculation, by Jenny Offill

A little course adoption (Calvino), some great events (Russell and Field) plus the announcement of our next two in-store lit group picks (Dept of Speculation on April 6 and Redeployment on May 4) round out this week's top five. Redeployment won the National Book Award for fiction. He's not up for the National Book Critics Circle award, which is announced this week, but we have a 60% chance of having co-hosted the winner since we've opened. While Rabih Alammeddine was at UWM for An Unneccesary Woman with Boswell selling books, Lily King and Chang-rae Lee appeared at Boswell for their previous novels.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Milwaukee, Mafia, by Gavin Schmitt (event is Saturday, March 14, 2 pm)
2. Christianity without God, by Daniel Maguire
3. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
4. Thinking Fast and Snow, by Daniel Kahneman
5. What the Dog Knows, by Cat Warren (event is Tuesday, March 10, 7 pm)

There are apparently two ways to hit the Boswell bestseller lists, at least this week's nonfiction paperback top five. One way is to have an event with us--both Gavin Schmitt's Milwaukee Mafia and Cat Warren's What the Dog Knows will be featured in the upcoming week. Warren is touring several cities for the paperback; here's Warrens profile in the Portland Oregonian in conjunction with her visit to Vintage Books in Vancouver, Washington. And the other way apparently is to share my first name, albeit a very popular one.

Books for Kids:
1. Listen, Slowly, by Thanhha Lai
2. Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanhha Lai
3. Mitzi boo and Mia, Too: Go to England, by Gina Cilento
4. Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson
5. Double Exposure, by Bridget Birdsall
6. The Thickety: A Path Begins, by J.A. White (two events Wednesday, March 18, 4 pm at Elm Grove Library and 6:30 pm at Boswell)
7. Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
8. Rumble, by Ellen Hopkins
9. Impulse, by Ellen Hopkins
10. The School for Good and Evil, by Soman Chainani (event is Sunday, April 19, 3 pm)

So you don't think kids' like poetry? Half of this week's top 10 kids' titles are in verse, including Thanhha Lai's Inside Out and Back Again, Jacqeline Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming, plus all three books from Ellen Hopkins.  Of course, our entire top ten is current (Ellen Hopkins, Thanhha Lai, Gina Cilento, Bridget Birdsall) or future events, aside from Woodsall, so it just might be that we're pushing poetry on kids. How devious!

This week in the Journal Sentinel, Mike Fischer reviews Know Your Beholder, by playwright Adam Rapp, whose new novel is about a 36 year old fellow who has lost the love of his life and finds himself unable to leave the attic of his childhood home. Fischer writes: "This is familiar territory for Rapp, many of whose stage plays involve people who are similarly stuck in neutral or worse...Unlike many of those plays — beautifully written but sometimes overheated as they lay bare various characters' existential angst — Know Your Beholder approaches the same material with humor."

Carole E. Barrowman reviews Dennis Lehane's World Gone By, the conclusion of his crime trilogy (which alas, I didn't know was a trilogy. You really need to pay attention to these things). It focuses on Joe Coughlin, set in 1940, at the center of an organized crime family. She writes: "With his trilogy, Lehane explores a world gone by, a watershed in American history when the Cold War looms on America's horizon and Cuba is soon to fall from it, and although this third book stumbles at times from the weight of too many characters (real and imagined) and their back stories, World Gone By is a poetic conclusion to an accomplished American crime story."

And Greg Kot reviews Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon's Girl in a Band, reprinted from the Chicago Tribune.

Oh, and our event with Joseph Kanon made the "The Week Ahead" column for our Leaving Berlin event.Come see Kanon on Wednesday, March 11, 7 pm. More on his event tomorrow.

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