Sunday, July 26, 2015

Boswell's Annotated Bestsellers for Week Ending July 25, 2015. "Watchman" is Still on Top But the Numbers are More Human.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee
2. The Bookseller, by Cynthia Swanson
3. Time Salvager, by Wesley Chu
4. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
5. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
6. A Winsome Murder, by James DeVita
7. Among the Ten Thousand Things, by Julia Pierpont
8. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
9. Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson
10. The Cartel, by Don Winslow

Just about every independent bookseller sees a pop in sales when Terry Gross talks to an author on Fresh Air. Maureen Corrigan's reviews can also have a significant effect, and that's the case for Julia Pierpoint's Among the Ten Thousand Things This Week. She loved the opening (a young girl is asked to deliver a package, only to open it and find some damning contents) and especially the telling: "The chapters that follow that dramatic opening make it clear that there are going to be as many ingenious twists and turns in this literary novel as there are in a top-notch work of suspense like Gone Girl. The effect is dizzying: as a reader you feel, as the Shanley's do, that the earth keeps shifting beneath your feet."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Conservative Heart, by Arthur Brooks
2. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
3. The Little French Bakery Cookbook, by Susan Holding
4. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
5. H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald
6. The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough
7. Barbarian Days, by William Finnegan
8. The Art of the Con, by Anthony M. Amore
9. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
10. How to Tie a Scarf, from Potter Style

You may not have expected a surfing memoir from William Finnegan, best known for his journalism in The New Yorker, but Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, is out and getting some nice attention. Dwight Garner wrote in The New York Times: "The star is the surfing, and the waves, which the author studies all over the world, from a hundred different angles. If this is your thing, this will be your thing. He becomes a walking database of oceanographic information." He cannot fault the book on any level, but seems to make the point that you have to be interested in surfing to love the book, at least from his perspective. The Dallas Morning News's Michael E. Young says the work is "beautifully told" and is enthusiastic without caveats.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Listen and Other Stories, by Liam Callanan
2. The Stranger, by Albert Camus
3. The Mersault Investigation, by Kamel Daoud
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. Almost Crimson, by Dasha Kelly
6. The Enlightenment of Nina Findlay, by Andrea Gillies
7. Euphoria, by Lily King
8. Shotgun Lovesongs, by Nickolas Butler
9. Etta and Otto and Russell and James, by Emma Hooper
10. The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd
The Enlightenment of Nina Findlay, by Andrea Gillies, is one of two Other Press titles in our top ten, the other being The Mersault Investigation, which is being read alongside The Stranger for a large book club. Gillies book screams summer, doesn't it, and has a great rec from Boswellian Sarah Lange, who writes: "Nina grew up with two handsome brothers next door; she was best friends with one and wound up marrying the other. Now, 25 years later, she's separated from her husband and recovering from an injury on a beautiful Greek island, and she's involved in another love triangle--this time with her charming doctor. This is a perfect summer read, whether you take it to the beach, on a plane or just into your backyard."

Paperback Nonfiction
1. Renewable, by Eileen Flanagan
2. The Secret Garden, by Johanna Basford
3. The Milwaukee Bucket List, by Barbara Ali
4. Testament of Youth, by Vera Brittain
5. Milwaukee Mafia, by Gavin Schmitt
6. The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert
7. Clearing Clutter, by Alexandra Chauron
8. The Enchanted Forest, by Johanna Basford
9. The Opposite of Loneliness, by Marina Keegan
10. We Should All be Feminists, by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie

With the phenomenon that is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I suspect the organization category in general is getting a boost, and Boswellian Mel Morrow is recommending a great follow up called Clearing Clutter: Physical, Mental, and Spiritual, by Alexandra Chauron. Her take: "This book is an accessible starting point for those interested in simplification, and is the perfect follow-up for KonMari fans. Yes, it is a wonderful practice to inventory, downsize, and organize your physical possessions--but then what? Alexandra Chauran's Clearing Clutter explains the benefits of nixing all kinds of clutter, from that stack of papers you've been meaning to sort through, to the millions of conflicting voices telling you what you should and shouldn't do, to the thoughts and feelings that hinder you from enjoying all the good that life has to offer. There's so much more to clearing a space than physically removing objects from it and giving it a thorough scrubbing: Clearing Clutter compassionately addresses how to get started with the process, where to go next, and how to make clutter-busting a rewarding part of your everyday life."

Books for Kids:
1. I am a Bunny, by Ole Risom, with illustrations by Richard Scarry
2. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
3. The Last Ever After, by Soman Chainani
4. The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate (event 9/25 for Crenshaw)
5. Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present, by Charlotte Zolotow with illustrations by Maurice Sendak
6. Paper Towns, by John Green
7. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews
8. The Name of This Book is Secret, by Pseudonymoous Bosch
9. The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan
10. My Brother's Book, by Maurice Sendak

More Sendak and a few movie tie-ins dominate the list, but it's nice to see a good first-week pop for Soman Chainani's third book in The School for Good and Evil, The Last Ever After. Kirkus wrote that the newest is "well-stocked with big themes, inventively spun fairy-tale tropes, and flashes of hilarity." Fine, there's a little context to that quote, but I didn't use a single ellipsis or parenthesis. And hey kids, we've got a trailer!

Over at the Journal Sentinel books section, Jim Higgins reviews The Last Pilot, by Benjamin Johncock. A Teaser from the review: "In The Last Pilot, debut novelist Benjamin Johncock evokes the years of America's ramp-up to the space program so skillfully, a reader can almost feel the sandblasted landing strips. But he also probes the struggles of a couple who face the most painful crisis parents could imagine. Deftly, Johncock threads fictional protagonists Jim Harrison, a top-notch test pilot, and his wife, Grace, through a milieu with many familiar historical characters, such as famed test pilot Chuck Yeager, legendary Happy Bottom Riding Club bar-and-restaurant owner Pancho Barnes and multiple Gemini astronauts, without awkward traces of literary Photoshopping."

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