Sunday, May 3, 2015

Boswell Bestsellers Beckon: A Round Up of Our Top Titles for the Week Ending May 2, 2015

Here are Boswell's bestselling books for week ending May 2, 2015

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Dead Lands, by Benjamin Percy
2. All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
3. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
4. The Fishermen, by Chigozie Obioma
5. God Help the Child, by Toni Morrison
6. Gathering Prey, by John Sandford
7. The Dream Lover, by Elizabeth Berg
8. The Harder They Come, by T.C. Boyle
9. The Bone Tree, by Greg Iles
10. Inside the Obriens, by Lisa Genova

Schwartz Bookshops hosted John Sandford (the pen name of John Roswell Camp) back in the day, though not at Boswell. It seems that less thriller writers tour nowadays, though I should note that tickets are now on sale for our co-sponsored event for Daniel Silva at the JCC on Monday, July 6 for The English Spy. Of Gathering Prey,  the newest in the Lucas Davenport series, Publishers Weekly's anonymous critic called the story "engrossing", and observed that "Sandford handles the drawn-out action with his usual artful combination of suspense and humor." While I wasn't able to find reviews in the general press for this part-time Wisconsinite (one of his homes is in Hayward, Wisconsin), the Redding Record Searchlight critic noted in a recent write up that Deadline shot out too many f-bombs for her taste.

Signed copies still available for The Dead Lands and The Fishermen.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Elsie De Wolfe's Paris, by Charlie Scheips
2. Listen to Your Mother, edited by Ann Imig
3. The Man Who Stalked Einstein, by Bruce J. Hillman
4. Memento Mori, by Paul Koudounaris
5. The Road to Character, by David Brooks
6. Urgent Unheard Stories, by Roxane Gay
7. Heavenly Bodies, by Paul Koudounaris
8. Dead Wake, by Erik Larson
9. Grain Brain, by David Perlmutter
10. H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald
11. Empire of Death, by Paul Koudounaris
12. On the Move, by Oliver Sacks
13. Between You and Me, by Mary Norris
14. In Defense of a Liberal Education, by Fareed Zakaria
15. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo

This was by far a week for hardcover nonfiction, with bestseller sales outpacing all other categories. It didn't hurt that we had four strong events and a runaway bestseller in David Brooks' The Road to Character. Instead of another round of reviews, here's Husna Haq at the Christian Science Monitor looking at why the book has become so popular. OK, maybe one more review from Abigail Clevenger in The Federalist, pondering whether the book can save your soul, as Brooks set out to do with his own.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Red Notebook, by Antoine Laurain
2. Listen and Other Stories, by Liam Callanan
3. I've Got Your Number, by Sophie Kinsella
4. The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennett
5. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
6. The Husband's Secret, by Liane Moriarty
7. My Struggle, volume 3, by Karl Ove Knausgaard
8. The Life We Bury, by Allen Eskens
9. Summer House with Swimming Pool, by Herman Koch
10. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin

Momentum keeps building for Antoine Laurain's The Red Notebook, which in French is called La Femme au carnet rouge. At first I wondered, could lightning strike twice? After all, we had been sadly disappointed by Muriel Barbery's follow-up to The Elegance of the Hedgehog, but I should note that that was in fact an earlier book. But customers who've read Laurain's newest agree it is just as charming and delightful (in part do to the translation by Jane Aitken and Emily Boyce) as The President's Hat. I can pretty much guarantee we'll be selling this through Christmas, as it will certainly appear as some bookseller's favorite in the holiday newsletter.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. At the Table, by Elizabeth Crawford
2. The Man Who Planted Trees, by Jim Robbins
3. The Art of War Visualized, by Jessica Hagy
4. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
5. The Opposite of Loneliness, by Marina Keegan
6. How to be Interesting, by Jessica Hagy
7. The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert
8. The Birds of Wisconsin Field Guide, by Stan Tekiela
9. The Pope and Mussolini, by David I. Kertzer
10. David and Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell

Two Pulitzer winners hit our top ten this week. The Sixth Extinction won the award for general nonfiction while The Pope and Mussolini garnered honors for biography/autobiography. The history prize went to Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People, by Elizabeth A. Fenn, which seems to be having some stock problems at our wholesalers, but note that it is available at Boswell. Here is Daniel K. Richter's Wall Street Journal review of that book. As for David Kertzer's book, here's James J. Sheehan's review of The Pope and Mussolini in Commonweal.

Books for Kids:
1. Echo, by Pam Munoz Ryan
2. Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir
3. If You Were a Dog, by Jamie Swenson (event 5/9, see below)
4. Oh the Places You'll Go, by Dr. Seuss
5. Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson
6. Stick and Stone, by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
7. Orion and the Dark, by Emma Yarlett
8. The Penderwicks in Spring, by Jeanne Birdsall
9. Funny Ha Ha, an Independent Bookstore Day collection
10. Pete the Cat's Groovy Guide to Life, by Dean James

It's National Children's Book Week and we have so many events (four) that I'm going to chop up our event blog into two parts, adult and kids. One of our featured authors is Jamie Swenson, who will appear for a picture book panel on Saturday, May 9, 2 pm, along with Kashmira Sheth and Janet Halfmann. Swenson's newest book is If You Were a Dog, which has gotten great write ups, such as Susan Murray's at School Library Journal: " The text has a rhyming, sing-song quality that makes it a great match for preschool storytimes. Raschka brings movement, energy, and personality to his vibrantly colored art. With just a few strokes, he makes a hissing cat puff up in anger at a nearby dog, ferocious and threatening. Readers can act out the characteristics of that cat or fish as the story is read. However, this could also be used in a classroom, both as a model for creative writing or as a beginning point for expanded study on a given species. A fun way to get readers to use their imaginations in the natural world."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins profiles Elizabeth Berg, who is the featured speaker at this year's Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library's Literary Lunch on May 14, at the Wisconsin Club for The Dream Lover. The deadline for tickets is May 8th; get them here! Higgins writes: "Berg has Sand tell her own life story, moving back and forth between her childhood and her years as a prominent writer, friend or lover of such greats and near-greats as the poet Alfred de Musset, composer Frédéric Chopin and novelist Gustave Flaubert. It's a passionate, dramatic story of strong-willed women: not only Sand, but her mother and grandmother as well." If you are not going to the event, you can purchase a copy from us and get it signed by the author.

From Jon Gilbertson, here's a review of The Life of Saul Bellow: To Fame and Fortune, 1915-1964 (on sale Tuesday), by Zachary Leader. "With lightly displayed learning and a practiced sense of how to couch analysis in narrative, Leader gives each piece of writing context in its time and in the long artistic view. Next to the contemporaries whose reviews he cites, he is more forgiving than Bellow's harshest critics and less rhapsodic than his most supportive critics," Gilbertson notes.

And returning to Jim Higgins, this Journal Sentinel review covers the newest from Kate Atkinson, A God in Ruins, which follows Teddy, the brother of Ursula Todd, the heroine of Life After Life. "While Atkinson granted Ursula 17 or more lives in the temporally tricky Life After Life, she limits Teddy to a single long one in A God in Ruins, though she moves deftly back and forth through his life span. In compelling scenes, she captures the routine and the tedium of a bomber pilot's life, punctuated by random moments of airborne terror." But yes, there does turn out to be a twist.

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