Sunday, October 4, 2015

Annotation Celebration: The Boswell Book Company Bestseller List for the Week Ending October 2, 2015

Hardcover Fiction:
1. This is Your Life, Harriet Chance!, by Jonathan Evison
2. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
3. The Nature of the Beast, by Louise Penny
4. After You, by Jojo Moyes
5. The Aeronaut's Windlass, by Jim Butcher
6. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
7. The Heart Goes Last, by Margaret Atwood
8. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
9. X, by Sue Grafton
10. Purity, by Jonathan Franzen

Regarding After You, The Library Journal prepub alert wrote: "In million-copy best seller Me Before You, Louisa Clark becomes caretaker to Will Traynor, wheelchair-bound after an accident and embittered enough to be planning suicide. Moyes initially had no plans to follow up, but readers kept asking what happened to Lou, and Moyes got an inspiration that she turned into this book." And the result? Well, Maureen Corrigan in Fresh Air sang it's praises on Fresh Air, starting off: "Writer Jojo Moyes has a name that lacks gravitas. To be honest, I even feel a bit silly saying her name when I recommend her novels to people — which I do, often and energetically. It's hard to imagine a 'Jojo' ever winning the Nobel Prize for Literature; but Moyes has already won a pretty good consolation prize — that is, the kind of staunch, adoring readership that will follow her novels anywhere they go."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
2. Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson
3. Pope Francis Among the Wolves, by Marco Polito
4. How We Got Barb Back, by Margaret Hawkins
5. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
6. Trisha's Table, by Trisha Yearwood
7. The Making of Milwaukee, by John Gurda
8. The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
9. Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert
10. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
11. Owls, by Matt Sewell
12. 1944, by Jay Winik
13. Once in a Great City, by David Maraniss (event 10/8, 6:30, at Centennial Hall)
14. Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari
15. $2.00 a Day, by Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Shaefer (event 10/6, 7 pm, at Boswell)

I never understand the placement of books on The New York Times bestseller list. Surely there have been other books about creativity that have gone on the nonfiction list. Somebody explain to me why The Art of Memoir is nonfiction while Big Magic is advice and how to. On a side note, Gilbert was recently profiled in The Guardian. Here's her take on her TED Talk: "I say this with all love and gratitude to the TED conference, but it’s hell. It’s terrifying. No one does anything to make it less terrifying for you either. No one hides from you that this is probably the most important speech you will ever give, in front of the most intimidating audience you will ever have. It’s scary. I mean, it’s not relaxing! And all of the other speakers I was with – apart from one guy who I think is a legitimate sociopath – each one of us felt we were the one who shouldn’t have been there. That’s a terrible feeling to grapple with."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng
2. Euphoria, by Lily King
3. Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
4. Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope
5. Dog Songs, by Mary Oliver
6. Boston Girl, by Anita Diamant
7. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, by Amy E. Reichert (event 10/6, 6:30 pm, at East Library)
8. The Martian, by Andy Weir
9. Blackhouse, by Peter May
10. Best American Poetry 2015, edited by David Lehman

We had a great day with Celeste Ng for her Everything I Never Told You visit. While we tend to work our kids' authors a bit harder, or at least the ones who are amenable to school visits, Ng was game for a trip to Nicolet High School and Mount Mary University. Here's Ng at the latter. My suggestion is that someone start a fundraiser to buy the room drapes; they need something to absorb the soundwaves. If we were a nonprofit, I would start a fundraiser campaign to fix our shared bathroom, but alas, I don't think it would pass muster with the IRS.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Center Cannot Hold, by Elyn Saks
2. Milwaukee Mayhem, by Matthew Prigge (event 10/20 at MPL's Loos Hall, 6:30 pm)
3. What's Math Got to Do With It?, by Jo Boaler
4. Yes, Please, by Amy Poehler
5. Mindfulness Coloring Book, by Emma Farrarons
6. Fields of Blood, by Karen Armstrong
7. Milwaukee Mafia, by Gavin Schmitt
8. The Enchanted Forest, by Johanna Basford
9. Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, by Karen Abbott
10. Silence (Object Lessons), by John Biguenet

Recently out in paper is Karen Armstrong's Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence, a timely book if there ever was one. James Fallows wrote in The New York Times Book Review: "Just after finishing Karen Armstrong’s new book, I happened to hear a discussion on television about the latest outbreak of violence in the Middle East. 'We have to hope that this disagreement stays on the political level, rather than becoming a religious dispute,' one of the experts said. “Political differences can be resolved. Religious ones cannot. Fields of Blood can be thought of as a long, wide-ranging and overall quite effective rebuttal to the outlook expressed in that comment."

Books for Kids:
1. Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate
2. All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds, and Brendan Kiely (event 10/14, 7 pm, at Boswell)(
3. Shipwreck Island, by S.A. Bodeen
4. The Graham Cracker Plot, by Shelley Tougas
5. Finders Keepers, by Shelley Tougas
6. Lost V2, by S.A. Bodeen
7. Archie the Daredevil Penguin, by Andy Rash
8. The Marvels, by Brian Selznick (event 10/12, 7 pm, at Alverno, now free registration)
9. Jack, by Liesl Shurtliff
10. Rump, by Liesl Shurtliff
11. Charlie Piechart and the Case of the Missing Pizza Slice, by Marilyn Sadler (event 10/5, 4 pm, at Boswell)
12. Why is This Night Different from All Other Nights?, by Lemony Snicket

You know we're heavily into our authors-in-schools program and fall event calendar when you have to go all the way to #12 to find a book that isn't a recent or upcoming event. Lemony Snicket's Why is This Night Different from All Other Nights? is the 4th (and said to be final) book in the All the Wrong Questions series. Here's an Entertainment Weekly piece on quirky author bios.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, we've got five (updated!) home-grown reviews this week, which is a treat. First up is Mike Fischer's review of Jeanette Winterson's The Gap of Time. He explains the concept: "Next year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, but he's still very much alive, with the latest evidence involving the just-launched Hogarth Shakespeare series, through which the likes of Margaret Atwood and Anne Tyler are writing novelistic riffs on selected Shakespeare plays." He calls it a "wise and wondrous novel" which is a "great opening choice."

Arts editor Jim Higgins reviews the two Rosemary Kennedy biographies just out. As you may know, Kennedy spent much of her adulthood at St. Coletta's in Jefferson. She was also the inspiration for creating the Special Olympics. He writes: "Kate Clifford Larson's biography Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter concentrates on her early years, and reads like a tragedy, with Rosemary's needs and difficulties increasingly conflicting with her parents' social and political aspirations, until her father Joe unilaterally ordered a prefrontal lobotomy for her."

Of The Missing Kennedy, which covers her later years, Higgins writes "Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff's aunt, Sister Paulus, became one of Rosemary's caregivers at St. Coletta. Koehler-Pentacoff's memoir The Missing Kennedy recounts their relationship, and the author's visits with both women. Rosemary's privacy at St. Coletta was closely guarded; this book offers details and friendly anecdotes about the late Kennedy's daily life in Wisconsin." Koehler-Pentacoff appears at the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books in November.

Special to the Journal Sentinel is Cathy Jakicic's review of The Witch of Lime Street: Seance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World, written by David Jaher. She explains: "The book is as much about spiritualism itself — a system of belief based on communication with the spirits of the dead — as it about the showdown between illusionist and medium debunker Harry Houdini and Margery, the so-called Witch of Lime Street, a Boston physician's wife who became one of the country's best-known mediums of the era." Jakicic praises the "meticulous" research and compares it favorably to the "exaggerated" version that was recently aired on The History Channel

Elfrieda Abbe contributes A House of My Own: Stories From My Life, the new memoir from Sanda Cisneros. The Journal Sentinel review notes that the collection of essays "puts a gifted storyteller at your fingertips, one who offers a panoply of life in apartments, rented rooms and borrowed houses, a journey with a curious, lively mind and reflections on cultures, families and traditions."

And from Christi Clancy, there's a review of The Secret Chord, the new novel from Geraldine Brooks. The setup is explained: "We gain access to David through the perspective of Natan, David's prophetic courtier and a lifelong 'pebble in his sandal.' The Secret Chord is the fictional "lost book" of Natan that uses the Old Testament and the scant (but well-researched, as Brooks' legion of fans will anticipate) historical record to provide the scaffolding on which Natan can probe David's complicated psyche." Clancy offers that the story is "studded with action, interesting characters, sweeping timelines and moving scenes filled with drama and conflict." If you'd like to see Geraldine Brooks on tour, she'll be at appearing for Women and Children First in Chicago on October 30. Admission is ticketed - get more information here.

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