Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Whole Bunch of Books on Lists That Sold at Boswell, For the Week Ending October 10, 2015

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
2. Those We Left Behind, by Stuart Neville
3. After You, by Jojo Moyes
4. Purity, by Jonathan Franzen
5. The Secret Chord, by Geraldine Brooks
6. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
7. The Survivor, by Vince Flynn, as channelled by Kyle Mills
8. Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee
9. The Girl in the Spider's Web, by Stieg Larsson, as channelled by David Lagercrantz
10. Wind/Pindball, by Haruki Murakami

I know that Fates and Furies is selling very well everywhere, but I feel some sort of vindication when a little extra handselling on my part helped get the book back to #1, an unintended benefit of working two closing shifts, as we had so much going on last week. Now I just have to focus a little more on a few of my paperback picks, as I think I'm spread too thin, Our friend Sue at The Cottage Bookshop has sold double what we've done of Antoine Laurain's The Red Notebook. I will work harder.

I noticed that we've got a little inconsistency regarding these dead author series being continued by living authors. Do you put the brand author first or the effective ghostwriter, only they are actually the writer that's not the ghost, in this case? Does it make a difference whether the original writer came up with the idea? In the case of The Survivor, from Vince Flynn/Kyle Mills, this past week there was a tribute event at Saint Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights. You can read his story here, including how he self-published his first book when he couldn't get a deal.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda (event 12/2 at Boswell)
2. Courtroom Avenger, by Robert Habush and Kurt Chandler (event 10/14 at Marquette - register here)
3. Once in a Great City, by David Maraniss
4. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
5. Two Dollars a Day, by Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Shaefer
6. Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson (event 10/27 at Bowsell)
7. Four Things That Matter Most, by Ira Byock
8. M Train, by Patti Smith
9. A Common Struggle, by Patrick Kennedy
10. What the Best College Students Do, by Ken Bain
11. What the Best College Teachers Do, by Ken Bain
12. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
13. My Kitchen Year, by Ruth Reichl
14. Brief Candle in the Dark, by Richard Dawkins
15. Germany, by Neil MacGregor

While our nonfiction bestsellers are struggling, our hardcover list is going gangbusters, due not just to this past week's events, but also do breakout releases like Patti Smith's M Train, and Patrick Kennedy's A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction . Of the former, Annabel Lyon writes in The (Toronto) Globe and Mail: "You’ll read this book and wish you knew Patti Smith. Wish you could go for coffee with her (she drinks a lot of coffee), talk about books and British crime dramas, wander around with her as she takes Polaroid photographs, and generally be her friend. There’s a warmth to her on the page that the famous proto-punk, rock-star persona might seem to belie."

Of the latter, it was more news than reviews that drove sales. Michelle Smith wrote in The Associated Press (via The Detroit News) that "a new book by former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, youngest son of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, openly discusses what he says are the mental illnesses and addictions of himself and his family members, and takes on what he portrays as a veil of secrecy used to hide the problems of America’s most famous political family." It's fascinating that this book is coming out at the same time as the two biographies of Rosemary Kennedy.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Cartographer of No Man's Land, by P.S. Duffy
2. Again and Again, by Ellen Bravo
3. My Brooklyn Writer Friend, by Greg Gerke
4. The New York Stories, by Ben Tanzer
5. Lila, by Marilynne Robinson
6. A Marvel and A Wonder, by Joe Meno
7. The Martian, by Andy Weir
8. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, by Amy E. Reichert
9. Lost Canyon, by Nina Revoyr
10. My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante

Only three of these authors are not riding the momentum of recent Boswell events. You give me a call if Andy Weir, Marilynne Robinson, or whoever is Elena Ferrante want to do an event at Boswell. We've got three editions of The Martian now, not including the hardcover, which is also still available. When possible and by whim, I sometimes combine the sales of the regular and movie-tie-in cover editions for bestellers, but I keep the rack edition separate because of its different price point (and often we don't have the rack edition). It was #15 this week. The film has a 93% score on Rotten Tomatoes. That seems very high to me but I don't generally follow these things.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Best Care Possible, by Ira Byock
2. Dying Well, by Ira Byock
3. When Pride Still Mattered, by David Maraniss
4. A General Theory of Love, by Thomas Lewis
5. Policing in Milwaukee, by George L. Kelling

I know that Policing in Milwaukee: A Strategic History sounds more like an Arcadia series title, and in fact there is one called Milwaukee Police Department, but this is actually a history book from Marquette University Press. From his recent interview on Lake Effect, Kelling notes that "The more police departments adopted new technology and strategies, the more they isolated themselves...police moved from being an integral part of the community to being a response organization, riding around in cars waiting for something to happen." Read the rest of the interview here.

Books for Kids:
1. Orbiting Jupiter, by Gary D. Schmidt
2. Charlie Piechart and the Case of the Missing Pizza Slice, by Marilyn Sadler
3. The Marvels, by Brian Selznick (free event at Alverno 10/12, register here)
4. Hello?, by Liza Wiemer
5. Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell
6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, illustrated edition, by J.K. Rowling
7. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, by Rick Riordan
8. The Odds of Getting Even, by Sheila Turnage
9. Big Nate: Welcome to My World, by Lincoln Pierce (event Greenfield Public Library 10/13, 6:30)
10. Dewey Bob, by Judy Schachner

Several high-profile books for kids were released this week. On a side note, I have wobbled betweeen "kids books" and "kids' books" over the years. When I wrote kids without an apostrophe, a reader immediately chastised me. Now that we have Sarah, who know the style guides inside and out, she confirmed that you do not need an apostrophe because "kids books" means "books for kids," not "books belonging to kids." She's also got me getting on the right track for what to capitalize in titles.

Just to give a shout out to one, Rainbow Rowell's Carry On. Joanna Robinson interviewed Rowell for Vanity Fair, where she confirms that Eleanor and Park, like many YA novels, wasn't specifically written with the genre in mind. In a sense, the editor that bought it would determine the slotting (as very few editors acquire both adult and YA). Robinson notes, of her newest: "It’s a lush fantasy based on a fictional Harry Potter–esque book series, Simon Snow, that featured prominently in Rowell’s best-selling Fangirl. The titular fan girl of that book wrote hugely popular fan fiction, Carry On, Simon, based on a love story between Simon (our Harry Potter proxy) and Baz (a vampire with shades of Draco Malfoy). Rowell took her meta-textual interaction with the popular J.K. Rowling series one step further in Carry On, where Baz, Simon, and their friends Agatha and Penelope take control of the narrative."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Carole E. Barrowman reviews Brian Selznick's The Marvels. Her enthusiastic review: "The Marvels opens in 1766 with 400 pages of mesmerizing sketches presenting the story of five generations of a legendary London theatre family whose chronicle we need no words to follow. The second four hundred pages are in prose, transporting us from London of the 19th century to the city in 1990 with only a handful of clues pointing to the connections between both parts of the book. In the prose narrative, young Joseph Jervis has run away from his stifling boarding school to the Victorian mansion of his eccentric estranged uncle, a man whose heart is frozen with grief and whose life is trapped in the details of the Victorian world he's re-created inside his house. The Marvels is a book about Shakespeare and shipwrecks, families and forgiveness, but more than anything it's a book about how the stories we tell may contain more truth about the world – "its miracles and its sadness" – than anything else we do. Stories matter. They must be cared for, loved and shared." You can still register for this free event here.

Here's an on-the-fence review from Kathy Flanigan, regarding Elvis Costello's new memoir, Unfaithful Music. She writes: "Since 1979, I've carried a torch for the man based on songs that were short but complex; and lyrics so biting they touched on paranoia but were always always clever. His autobiography Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink only fuels the fire. I'm tempted to write 'Mrs. Kathy Costello' in the margins of the book."

From Mike Fischer, a Milwaukee attorney, a review of Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America, from Wil Haygood. Focused on the 1967 confirmations, Haygood uses this is a springboard to Marshall's life's work leading up to this moment, arguing 32 cases before the Supreme Court, and winning nine of them. Fischer opines: "Marshall deserves better. He's no less a hero because he's also flawed; I'd argue his profile in courage would mean still more if offset by a candid account of his failures, presented in clearer prose as part of a better organized story." Bonus! This week's On the Media focused on the Supreme Court, but then they pulled a segment. Read why here.

*In addition to reviewing books and theater.

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