Sunday, November 8, 2015

Annotated Boswell Bestsellers for the Week Ending November 7, 2015

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Christmas Bells, by Jennifer Chiaverini (signed copies available)
2. A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James (also paper)
3. The Crossing, by Michael Connelly
4. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
5. Slade House, by David Mitchell
6. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
7. Lobster is the Best Medicine, by Liz Climo
8. Mountain Shadow, by Gregory David Roberts
9. The Rogue Lawyer, by John Grisham
10. A Banquet of Consequences, by Elizabeth George

The Mountain Shadow is the sequel to the very popular Shantaram, a novel published in 2003 about an Australian fugitive working for the Bombay mafia. Roberts also has an interesting backstory, as he was formerly a bank robber who spent a number of years in prison. Of the new book, Tim Roberts of the Financial Times put it in the company of The Alchemist, Eat, Pray, Love, and earlier, the works of Carlos Castaneda, as those kind of books popular with gap year students as they go on their travels. He writes: "Ten years in the writing, The Mountain Shadow is the first of three proposed sequels to Shantaram, and continues its mission to transmit as many conclusions about the universe as the author can get his hands on." The Publishers Weekly review was more upbeat: "This series of robust, retro capers with contemporary trappings will have readers feverishly turning the pages."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda (event 12/2)
2. Dickey Chapelle Under Fire, by John Garofolo
3. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, by Sarah Vowell
4. Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook, 2001-2016, by America's Test Kitchen editors
5. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
6. 100 Recipes, by America's Test Kitchen editors
7. Binge, by Tyler Oakley
8. My Kitchen Year, by Ruth Reichl
9. The Witches, by Stacy Schiff
10. The Giveness of Things, by Marilynne Robinson

My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Changed My life, is Ruth Reichl's first cookbook (to my knowledge), and it is very much a memoir as well as a collection of recipes. I know your are thinking, "No, what about the Gourmet cookbooks?" but in fact they were edited by Reichl but they weren't her recipes. Ironically, Reichl was out promoting the second Gourmet cookbook when Conde Nast made the decision to shut down the magazine. The next year was spent in her Hudson Valley home, and it was the impetus for this book. Amy Scattergood in the Los Angeles Times reviewed it, and noted: "Did the book turn out to be a coping mechanism, a survival handbook, a long object lesson? Sure, it's all of those things. It's also a fun read."

Paperback Fiction:
1. A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James
2. Shady Hollow, by Juneau Black
3. The Ark, by Patrick Tomlinson
4. Lila, by Marilynne Robinson
5. The Book of Night Woman, by Marlon James
6. My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
7. Women Who Did, edited by Angelique Richardson
8. Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker, by Jennifer Chiaverini
9. The Martian, by Andy Weir
10. Symbiont, by Mira Grant

Five event books this week including Marlon James mania (signed copies of the paperback of A Brief History of Seven Killings still available), but then there's Mira Grant's newest in paper, and how can I resist a series about a society battling a tapeworm takeover? Symbiont is the second book in the Parasitology series has SymbioGen implanting tapeworms as a sort of biotechnology variation of a FitBit. Needless to say, the tapeworms take over and their hosts become zombielike creatures. I was very excited to discover a Scientific American review, but it turned out to be just a plot summary. Publishers Weekly wrote that "Grant allows the moral debate to slow the story's movement following the meeting of Banks and Cale, but the richness of the plot sustains the reader's interest in how the characters will negotiate this strange new world."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Holocaust Representations in History, by Lisa Silverman
2. Milwaukee Mayhem, by Matthew Prigge
3. Ghettoside, by Jill Leovy
4. Just Mercy, by Bryan Stephenson
5. Mindfulness Coloing Book, by Emma Farrarons
6. How to Relax, by Thich Nhat Hanh
7. How Can It Be Gluten Free V2, by America's Test Kitchen Editors
8. The Birth of the Pill, by Jonathan Eig
9. Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook, by America's Test Kitchen Editors
10. Complete Cooks Country TV Show Cookbook, by Cooks Country Editors

Ghettoside has been sitting on our dining room table for a year now, so it was nice to imagine that this kind of important placement can pop a book onto a bestseller list. Am I veering too much into magical thinking? Now out in paperback, Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America, is Jill Leovy's investigation of one young black man's murder in Los Angeles, distinctive only because he was the son of a police detective. She was part of the team who won the Pulitzer Prize for the original newspaper series in the Los Angeles Times. Jennifer Connerman in The New York Times Book Review observes that "Leovy’s relentless reporting has produced a book packed with valuable, hard-won insights — and it serves as a crucial, 366-page reminder that 'black lives matter,' showing how the 'system’s failure to catch killers effectively made black lives cheap.'"

Books for Kids:
1. Hello?, by Liza Wiemer
2. Need, by Joelle Charbonneau (event at East Library 11/18)
3. All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
4. Old School, Jeff Kinney
5. I Really Like Slop, by Mo Willems
6. When I Was the Greatest, by Jason Reynolds
7. Iqbal, by Francesco D'Adamo
8. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay
9. The Sword of Summer, by Rick Riordan
10. Turnip, by Jan Brett

Yes, we're still selling books to the students who went to see Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely on October 14, and Liza Wiemer's goal to visit 100 schools in the school year, will likely keep Hello? on our bestseller lists for a while. Coming up is Need, the new YA thriller from Joelle Charbonneau, the author of The Testing trilogy. She'l be doing a few schools with us the week after next, as well as a public event at the East Library. Beyond that is the newest in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. In Old School, Greg Heffley asks the town to take the electronics-free challenge, but complications ensue. Rumor has it that our first shipment is signed by the author.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins profiles Rainn Wilson, author of the new memoir, The Bassoon King, in conjunction with the Thursday event at the Pabst theater. As Higgins notes, "Wilson will visit Milwaukee's Pabst Theater on Thursday for an evening of talk moderated by Victor DeLorenzo, widely known as the former drummer of the Violent Femmes. Wilson calls himself a 'huge Violent Femmes fan' and was delighted to connect with DeLorenzo for the show." DeLorenzo's musical group Nineteen Thirteen opens the show. Tickets still available for the show, at the Pabst Theater.

Mike Fischer reviews The Big Green Tent, a novel from Ludmila Ulitskaya. He writes: "The novel's center ring is occupied by three Muscovite friends from Ulitskaya's own generation: born during World War II, coming of age during the brief thaw following Stalin, and then enduring the endless, sordid twilight of the Brezhnev era." The novel was published in Russian in 2010 and has now been translated by Polly Gannon.

The paper also gives a shout out to the Woodland Pattern annual fundraiser, this year featuring Alice Notley.

In the print edition., Yvonne Villareal profiles Mindy Kaling for Why Not Me. This interview first appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

And there's also a profile of the Welcome to Night Vale creators, from Kirtin Tillotson of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She discusses the book, the podcast itself, and the cultural phenomenon behind it: "Then came a happy lesson in the capriciousness of online culture. The podcast began picking up fans with lots of social media followers, including actor Wil Wheaton and musician John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats. After chatter about it reached a Tumblr tipping point, downloads spiked and a star was born. In July 2013, Night Vale even beat out Ira Glass — Supreme Ruler of the Pods for This American Life — as the No. 1 podcast download from iTunes. The author-creators will be in conversation with Patrick Rothfus this Tuesday, November 10, at Turner Hall Ballroom.

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