Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Boswell Annotated Bestsellers for the Week Ending August 22, 2015.

It is indeed the summer of fiction. Based on my normal cutoffs, hardcover fiction is the strongest of the five bestseller areas this week.

Hardcover Fiction:
1 Music for Wartime, by Rebecca Makkai
2. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
3. Killing Pretty, by Richard Kadrey
4. Days of Awe, by Lauren Fox
5. Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee
6. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
7. The Making of Zombie Wars, by Aleksandar Hemon
8. Circling the Sun, by Paula McLain
9. Barbara the Slut and Other People, by Lauren Holmes
10. Bream Gives me Hiccups, by Jesse Eisenberg
11. Armada, by Ernie Cline
12. Kitchens of the Great Midwest, by J. Ryan Stradal
13. The Fishbowl, by Bradley Somer
14. The Dust that Falls from Dreams, by Louis De Bernieres
15. The Cartel, by Don Winslow

While it's got a pub date of September 8, hence the lack of mainstream reviews, Bream Gives me Hiccups, the new collection from Jesse Eisenberg, rolled into our store this week, and unlike the larger distribution channels, there's no timeline on when we should put the books out. The title comes from a series of stories Eisenberg wrote for McSweeneys, about a nine-year-old restaurant reviewer that reminds me a bit of Steven Millhauser's Edwin Mullhouse or perhaps a more even-keeled Simon Rich. But this is just one part of the new collection. Expect to see some strong reviews, being that the author is a well-known actor with not one but two major film projects out. Publishers Weekly calls the stories "charming, deftly written, and laugh-out-loud funny."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
2. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
3. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
4. Brain Maker, by David Perlmutter
5. Let Me Tell You, by Shirley Jackson
6. The Road to Character, by David Brooks
7. How to Bake Pi, by Eugenia Cheng (Event at Boswell Sat Sep 19, 2 pm)
8. H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald
9. In Defense of a Liberal Education, by Fareed Zakaria
10. Milwaukee Then and Now, by Sandra Ackerman

This is how much fiction was on the list. When I saw that Shirley Jackson's previously uncollected works, Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings, was shelved in fiction but also included essays, I moved it to nonfiction for this week's besteller list. Don't worry Jason; I didn't change it in our inventory system. On the work of Jackson, who died at the age of 48, Paul Theroux writes in The New York Times: "Jackson remains one of the great practitioners of the literature of the darker impulses and (in a term she uses in Hill House) 'the underside of life.' The texture of her two major novels tends to lushness and formality, more verbal foliage, while her stories are plain-spoken and persuasive for their apparent ­directness."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Martian, by Andy Weir
2. Perfidia, by James Ellroy
3. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, by Amy E. Reichert (event Tue Oct 6, 6:30, at East Library)
4. Shotgun Lovesongs, by Nickolas Butler
5. The Stone Mattress, by Margaret Atwood
6. Crooked River, by Valerie Geary
7. Euphoria, by Lily King
8. The Boston Girl, by Anita Diamant
9. Boy Snow Bird, by Helen Oyeyemi (in-store lit group Mon Oct 5, 7 pm)
10. Talk, by Linda Rosenkrantz

It is nice to see that a staff rec can really make a difference. Without any local connection or an author visit, our sales of Valerie Geary's Crooked River ties for sales at indie bookstores on the Above the Treeline inventory program. Boswellian Conrad Silverberg writes "Every few years, some pompous windbag comes along and informs us that the novel is dead; that there are no new things to say and no new ways to say them. They fail to remember that novels are simply storytelling. They fail to remember that the true test of the novel's worth is not the originality of its form or the uniqueness of its expression, but the strength, beauty and compelling attraction of its tale. Crooked River delivers. Valerie Geary is the real deal." The story is of two young girls in rural Oregon who find a dead body in a nearby river.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Our Final Melody, by Marian L. Freund
2. Equal Before the Law, by Tom Witosky and Marc Hansen
3. The Secret Lives of the Supreme Court, by Robert Schrakenberg
4. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
5. The Enchanted Forest, by Johanna Basford
6. One Man's Wilderness, by Sam Keith
7. The Book of My Lives, by Aleksandar Hemon
8. Teacher Wars, by Dana Goldstein
9. North Point Historic Districts, by Shirley du Fresne McArthur
10. The War That Ended Peace, by Margaret Macmillan

Dana Goldstein's The Teacher Wars: A History of America's Most Embattled Profession is out in paperback and being that this is a hot-button topic for a lot of our customers, we had a nice sales pop. Claudia Wallis noted in The New York Times Book Review: "Dana Goldstein traces the numerous trends that have shaped “the most controversial profession in America.” Along the way, she demonstrates that almost every idea for reforming education over the past 25 years has been tried before — and failed to make a meaningful difference."

Books for Kids:
1. The Day the Crayons Came Home, by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
2. What Pet Should I Get, by Dr. Seuss
3. Go to School, Little Monster, by Hellen Ketterman, with illustrations by Bonnie Leick
4. The Nutshell Library, by Maurice Sendak
5. Appleblossom the Possum, by Holly Goldberg Sloan
6. Auggie and Me: Three Wonder Stories, by R.J. Palacio
7. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews
8. The Last Ever After: Volume 3 of the School for Good and Evil, by Soman Chainani
9. Bumble Ardy, by Maurice Sendak
10. Imaginary, by A.F. Harrold

The sequel to The Day the Crayons Quit has just come back and most agree that it is a worthy follow up. Boswellian Jen Steele writes: "One day Duncan receives a stack of postcards. It seems Duncan has neglected some of his crayons and they've sent him postcards from all kinds of surprising places. These forgotten crayons have wound up under a couch, left by a swimming pool, down in the basement or in the clutches of Duncan's younger brother. Read The Day the Crayons Came Home to find out if Maroon Crayon, Neon Red Crayon, Esteban and the rest of the pack ever get rescued. Another awesome book from Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers!"

So what's on the docket for next week's bestsellers? Perhaps the Journal Sentinel book section will have some influence. Jim Higgins reviews new books from John Scalzi and Ian Rankin. The End of All Things, Higgins writes: "Scalzi extends his Old Man's War series with a compulsively readable four-part novel that ought to appeal to fans of Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica and other space operas.

For Ian Rankin's The Beat Goes on: The Complete Rebus Stories, Higgins writes "Rankin has fun with Detective Inspector John Rebus of Edinburgh, one of the great literary crime solvers of our time. The brooding Rebus of the dark novels never completely disappears — the character study 'Sunday' shows us the veteran detective wrestling with his conscience over killing a cornered drug dealer. But Rankin exposes other facets of this music-loving, pint-imbibing crazy diamond. One criminal is undone by Rebus' recognition of a Hockney print on the wall. In The Dean Curse, the DI scoffs at Dashiell Hammett's novel The Dain Curse, but soon finds himself in a confusing tangle of his own. In 'Trip Trap,' Rebus uses an incorrect crossword puzzle answer to prove a nasty old fellow was pushed down the stairs."

Mike Fischer reviews The Automobile Club of Egypt. He writes "Automobile Club unfolds in the post-World War II years preceding another upheaval: the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 that overthrew King Farouk and ended Britain's occupation. The Club of Al Aswany's title — part DMV and part exclusive preserve for the foreigners owning most of the country's cars — embodies everything that made Gamal Abdel Nasser's revolution necessary." He's not crazy about the characterizations, but notes that "what's ultimately most interesting about the 1940s Egypt presented in this novel is its insights regarding Egypt today"

On the retirement of Sonia Monzano, who played Maria on Sesame Street for 44 years, Erin Kogler reviews Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx. She writes that "Manzano's book is a sincere, thought-provoking coming-of-age story about a girl growing up in turbulent times and in a home filled with chaos, violence, poverty, but also love."

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