Sunday, May 31, 2015

What's Selling at Boswell While I Was Trying to Find New Books to Sell at Book Expo, for the Week Ending May 30, 2015?

Happy Book Expo week. Here's what sold while we were trying to find books that would hit our bestseller lists for the next year.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
2. Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf
3. Citizens Creek, by Lalita Tademy
4. A God in Ruins, by Kate Atkinson
5. Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson (ticketed event Fri Jun 5, 7 pm)
6. Divine Punishment, by Sergio Ramirez
7. The Dream Lover, by Elizabeth Berg
8. Radiant Angel, by Nelson Demille
9. Mislaid, by Nell Zink
10. The Green Road, by Anne Enright

One of the things I participated in at Book Expo was a morning where we got to listen to editors talk about their books, not just something coming out in the future, but some of their past successful acquisitions and how they came to be. Megan Lynch of Ecco talked about a working with Emma Straub on The Vacationers back at Riverhead and a book coming out next year called The Nest, but being that she said she was attracted to family dysfunction stories, I can see that she would also take to Nell Zink's Mislaid, an Ecco novel that's just come out (even if she wasn't the acquiring editor). It's about a couple who, despite many differences, wind up marrying and have kids, but when they split up, the mother and daughter live very, very different lives. From the Durham Herald-Sun, Cliff Bellamy writes "Misland also is rich in literary allusion, irony and humor. The novel is an entertaining romp that manages to make poets Gregory Corso and Allen Ginsberg distant minor characters, and is ultimately about reconciliation."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. How We Got to Now, by Steven Johnson
2. How to Raise a Wild Child, by Scott D. Sampson
3. Our Kids, by Robert B. Putnam
4. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
5. The Road to Character, by David Brooks
6. Hold Still, by Sally Mann
7. Between You and Me, by Mary Norris
8. Believer, by David Axelrod
9. The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough
10. Dead Wake, by Erik Larson

We've had interest before in books about connecting kids with nature and How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature looks like a book that fills this need. The author, at research and collections at the Denver Museum of Science, is also the host of PBS's Dinosaur Train. On NPR's Weekend Edition, he spoke to Rachel Martin: "One of the problems today is that kids don't have their sensory skills developed. We can walk outside and not hear the birds or smell the flowers or feel the air. And so the initial challenge is just to start noticing nature. Get kids taking pictures of it if they need to use technology. But just start to engage with it, become aware of it and at that point, you are actually doing nature connection for your kids."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Citizens Creek, by Lalita Tademy
2. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson
3. Almost Crimson, by Dasha Kelly
4. Granta Book of the African Short Story, edited by Helon Habila
5. Cane River, by Lalita Tademy
6. Euphoria, by Lily King (authorless book club discussion at Boswell Mon Jun 1 7 pm)
7. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
8. Lovers at the Chameleon Club 1932, by Francine Prose
9. The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Cline
10. The Red Notebook, by Antoine Laurain

Now in paperback, we're hoping to continue our nice sales run on Francine Prose's Lovers at the Chameleon Club, 1932. When it was in hardcover, Carolyn Kellogg noted in the Los Angeles Times that the story followed several women, but at the center was Louisianne "Lou" Villars. She writes: "The character was inspired by the real-life Violette Morris, a French athlete/driver/Nazi collaborator. Prose first saw her in a photograph, "Lesbian Couple at Le Monocle, 1932," taken by Brassai, a photographer best known for his shots of underground nighttime Paris. In the novel, Lou, dressed in a tuxedo, sits with her arm around Arlette, wearing a silk gown, and the photo is taken by Gabor."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand
2. Salt Sugar Fat, by Michael Moss
3. Whistling Vivaldi, by Claude Steele
4. The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp
5. Excellent Sheep, by William Deresiewicz
6. The Book of My Lives, by Aleksandar Hemon
7. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
8. Dark Tide, by Stephen Puelo
9. Shorewood, Wisconsin, by the Shorewood Historical Society
10. The Lady in Gold, by Anne Marie O'Connor

Also new in paperback is William Deresiewicz's Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life. There were some really great reviews and also some very negative reactions, and so it also got some critical pieces analyzing the book's reception, like this piece from James McWilliams in Pacific Standard. He explains: "Deresiewicz takes elite higher education to the woodshed. He characterizes its smug beneficiaries as members of the Lucky Sperm Club, obedient automatons 'heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.' Predictably, the club—which includes not only students but also professors, administrators, and parents—has taken umbrage." And here's Dwight Garner's New York Times review, which is positive, but with some criticism.

Books for Kids:
1. American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang
2. Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli
3. Legend, by Marie Lu
4. Wonder, by R.J. Palacio
5. The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan
6. Short Seller, by Elissa Brent Weissman
7. Game Over, Pete Watson, by Joe Schreiber, with illustrations by Andy Rash
8. In Mary's Garden, by Tina Kugler, with illustrations by Carson Kugler
9. Superhero School, by Aaron Reynolds
10. The Penderwicks in Spring, by Jeanne Bridsall

Joe Schreiber's Game Over, Pete Watson has been out for a while in hardcover and is scheduled for paperback in July. It's illustrated by area-artist Andy Rash, who was recently doing a school visit, so you'll see more Rash titles in the coming weeks. We're also looking forward to his next picture book, Archie the Daredevil Penguin, coming from Viking this fall.  Here's some background from Publishers Weekly on Schreiber's book: "Pete Watson certainly doesn't have any reservations about selling his father's ancient CommandRoid 85 at an impromptu garage sale, not if it means he can afford a hot new game, Brawl-a-Thon 3000 XL, the day it's released. Unfortunately for Pete, selling the CommandRoid is the first link in a wild chain of events that involves his father being kidnapped, an evil exterminator, and a destructive computer virus."

At the Journal Sentinel, it's the annual summer reading issue, featuring 100 choice selections to go with your hammock and lemonade.

Here's just one of the many lists, the all-important editor's  choice:
1. Abe & Fido: Lincoln's Love of Animals and the Touching Story of His Favorite Canine Companion, by Matthew Algeo.
2. Act of God, by Jill Ciment
3. Almost Crimson, by Dasha Kelly
4. The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, by Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski
5. Joan of Arc: A History, by Helen Castor
6. The Meursault Investigation, by Kamel Dauoud (see review below)
7. Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg
8. The Players, by Jill Bialosky
9. Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva, by Rosemary Sullivan
10. The Theft of Memory: Losing My Father, One Day at a Time, by Jonathan Kozol
11. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, by Sydney Padua
12. The Whites, by Richard Price, writing as Harry Brandt

From guest critic Laurie Loewenstein is Saint Mazie, the second novel from Jami Attenberg. Here's a little taste from the Journal Sentinel review: "The real-life Mazie first appeared in a 1940 New Yorker profile by Joseph Mitchell and later again in his seminal collection, Up in the Old Hotel. Now Mazie's latest, and perhaps more powerful incarnation, is in the novel Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg. Here Mazie continues to grab the lapels and hearts of readers — and we are all the more glad for the shake-up she gives us." I should note that Boswellian Jen is also a fan.

And now to Algeria, where Jim Higgins reviews Kamel Daoud's The Meursault Investigation, a retelling of The Stranger from the point of view of the dead man's brother. Higgins observes: "To approximate the affect of Daoud's novel, imagine a retelling of To Kill a Mockingbird in the voice of Tom Robinson's brother - with acid commentary on the quality of justice available in Maycomb." The novel is from Other Press, so even though I don't have a rec from Boswellian Conrad, I'll be he's read it and liked it as well. Daoud's novel was translated by John Cullen.

From Mike Fischer, a review in the Journal Sentinel of Loving Day, the new novel from Mat Johnson, featuring Warren Duffy, whom like Johnson, is biracial, and leaves Cardiff after the death of his father to return to a ramshackle home in a mostly African American section of Philadelphia (which reminds me a bit of Heidi Durrow's The Girl Who Fell from the Sky). His life and assumptions are unrooted by an affair with a mixed-race woman and the discovery that he fathered a child with a Jewish woman as a teenager.

This should keep you busy reading!

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