Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Post-Boo Report: Annotated Boswell Bestsellers for The Week Ending October 31, 2015

You can tell we're exhausted just from scanning the bestseller lists. Exhausted, but also luxuriating in that dreamy post-event afterglow, right?

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Bream Gives Me Hiccups, by Jesse Eisenberg
2. Welcome to Night Vale, by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
3. Banquet of Consequences, by Elizabeth George
4. Slade House, by David Mitchell
5. Career of Evil, by Robert Galbraith
6. City on Fire, by Garth Risk Hallberg
7. Lake House, by Kate Morton
8. Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James (event today, 11/1, 3 pm)
9. Rogue Lawyer, by John Grisham
10. Purity, by Jonathan Franzen

One nice pop of sales came after Jane Glaser talked up The Lake House in our email newsletter. It turns out there are many other fans for Kate Morton, who actually did several events in the Milwaukee area (Books and Company and Next Chapter) for a previous novel. Catherine Mallette in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram offers: "Kate Morton’s fifth novel, The Lake House, begins with that wonderful, anticipatory sense of promise that comes at the dawn of something new and special when the world seems ripe with possibility. Unfortunately, for her heroine, Alice, life doesn’t go as she’s hoped but immediately takes a drastic turn for the worse during the Midsummer party. Fortunately, for the reader, that twist of fate is the beginning of a rich and almost magical good old-fashioned tale with themes of love, longing, relationships between mothers and daughters and dark family secrets." Does it drive journalists crazy that I smash together their two-sentence paragraphs? I just can't help it.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Binge, by Tyler Oakley
2. Cooking Like a Master Chef, by Graham Elliot
3. Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson
4. Lafayette in the Somewhat United Staes, by Sarah Vowell
5. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
6. Whispers and Shadows, by Jerry Apps
7. Witches, by Stacy Schiff
8. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
10. Notorious RBG, by Iriin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
11. Wisconsin Agriculture, by Jerry Apps
12. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, by Carrie Brownstein
13. M Train, by Patti Smith
14. My Life on the Road, by Gloria Steinem
15. Giveness of Things, by Marilynne Robinson

This week's number one non-event book is Stacy Schiff's The Witches: Salem 1692. We'll have a great review from Mike Fischer below, but here's a teaser from Nancy Rommelman's Newsday review: "Why the girls’ elders did not order them to behave – why instead the law saw the devil’s work in even the most pious community members – can be explained by the persecution complex from which the Puritans suffered, the drab toil of their lives finding relief in the theater that was the witch trials. Men of ambition, notably the minister and pamphleteer Cotton Mather, employed the devil as a convenient tool with which to amass power. If dozens of innocents died along the way, well, who was to say they were innocent? More than 300 years later, we are still examining the wounds, which Schiff, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Cleopatra and an indefatigable researcher, offers in compulsively readable form." I dare you not to keep reading!

Paperback Fiction:
1. A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James (see above)
2. Shady Hollow, by Juneau Black (event 11/4 at Boswell)
3. Again and Again, by Ellen Bravo
4. Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng
5. Lila, by Marilynne Robinson
6. Chicago Noir, edited by Joe Meno
7. Guise of Another, by Allen Eskens (event 11/21 at Boswell)
8. The Martian, by Andy Weir
9. Let Me Be Frank with You, by Richard Ford
10. Florence Gordon, by Brian Morton (book club discussion 11/2 with Daniel)

Lots of in-store book club picks in the top ten this week. In addition to our November (Let Me Be Frank With You) and December (Lila) selections for the in-store lit group, we've also got Allen Eskens The Guise of Another, which the mystery group is reading on November 23, in conjunction with Eskens's visit on Saturday, October 21, 2 pm, at Boswell. Eskens was a finalist for the Edgar for best first novel for his previous novel, The Life We Bury. Of his newest, Publishers Weekly's starred review says the second novel is "equally compelling" with "unexpected turns" and "well-crafted characters." What more could you want for those dark evenings ahead?

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Let's Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson
2. Glass, by John Garrison
3. Leaders of the Pack, by Rob Reischel (event today at 2 pm, Zablocki Library)
4. Red Eggs and Good Luck, by Angela Lam
5. Assassination Vacation, by Sarah Vowell
6. Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer
7. Enchanted Forest, by Johanna Basford
8. Mindfulness Coloring Book, by Emma Farrarons
9. Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
10. Not That Kind of Girl, by Lena Dunham

In an unusual turn, there's only one regional title in this week's top ten, Rob Reischel's Leaders of the Pack: Starr, Favre, Rodgers and Why Green Bay's Quarterback Trio Is the Best in NFL History. Reischel will be at Zablocki Library this afternoon at 2 pm (update: this event had to be cancelled, due to a family emergency), where the library will be raffling off a signed copy of Favre, one of said leaders. We'll find out at 7 pm whether the Packers can keep their undefeated record. Thank you to whomever scheduled their game on Sunday night so we could squeeze in two events. You can read an excerpt of the book on the Journal Sentinel website, which also lists the top ten quarterback trios. Who do you think is in second place?

Books for Kids:
1. Hello, by Liza Wiemer
2. Book of Dares for Lost Friends, by Jane Kelley
3. Desperate Adventures of Zeno and Alya, by Jane Kelley
4. Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell
5. The Marvels, by Brian Selznick
6. The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
7. Amazing Book is not on Fire, by Dan Howell and Phil Lester
8. Holy Moley, by Lois Ehlert
9. Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep, by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin
10. Dear Mr. Henshaw, by Beverly Cleary

Tyler Oakley is not the only YouTube celebrity with a book on our list. The Amazing Book is Not on Fire: The World of Dan and Phil, chronicles the adventures of Londoners Amazing Phil and Dan is Not on Fire. Why Binge, whose sales were almost completely driven by teenage girls, is an adult book, and Dan and Phil's is a teen novel is really a function of which editor/publisher acquires the package. It's my thought that for a book like this, pricing doesn't really matter, and the bestseller lists on the adult side have more visibility. Right now the tour seems limited to London, Nottingham, and Liverpool? What parent who is reading this post is already being asked to pack their bags?

Over at the Journal Sentinel book section, Chris Foran laughs it up with The Comedians: "In his highly readable overview of the comedy business and its colorful practitioners, comic turned showbiz historian Kliph Nesteroff chronicles the challenges of the comedy business from the days of vaudeville, when theater chain owners ruled with an iron hand; to the hip clubs of the 1950s and '60s, when the assembly-line system of comedy writers and joke-tellers was replaced by a more personal, and political, brand of humor; to the comedy-club boom of the 1980s and beyond."

Book editor Jim Higgins pages through a few speculative new releases, including Milwaukeean Patrick Tomlinson's The Ark, who will launching at Boswell next Friday, November 6, 7 pm. He writes: "An enormous generation ship approaches Tau Ceti G, the planned new home for a remnant of humanity after a black hole threatened Earth centuries ago. As if the Flip — the landing and transformation of their vessel into planetary quarters — was not daunting enough, Detective Bryan Benson's missing persons case turns into a suspicious death via airlock. The evidence and his instincts lead Benson to the control center where the privileged crew work, but he's seen more as a nuisance during the perilous Flip than as a diligent lawman."

Higgins calls the at-least-to-his-knowledge unrelated writer C.A. Higgins's debut "smart and moody." His take on Lightless: "Even in the isolation of the Ananke, an experimental space vessel, computer scientist Althea and her colleagues are subject to the discipline of the System, which tightly controls life in their part of the universe. When two possible terrorists are captured after boarding Ananke, a System interrogator arrives to grill them — and make life miserable for the crew."

Cathy Jakicic offers her views on Stephen King's newest, Bazaar of Bad Dreams: "He serves up a potent mix of stories that land in and around the horror genre. Not surprisingly, most are classic King page-turners, but the choicest finds in this bazaar are the stories behind the stories or, more correctly, in front of them." She picks her top five of the twenty, including "Bad Little Kid" and "Mile 82."

Christi Clancy has stuck with Jane Smiley through her "Hundred Year" trilogy. While not veering into King's horror territory, this described tableau from The Golden Age is still on the creepy side: "Imagine that an artist relative you've fallen out of touch with invites you to view an installation of her work. There on the gallery walls, you're surprised to find photographs of yourself that were taken when you didn't know it; maybe you are sitting on your porch drinking coffee, or wandering the aisles of the supermarket. Now imagine that there are similar photographs of many of your relatives — your aunts, uncles, cousins and parents, all caught equally unaware." Yes, one of the characters has hired a detective to take photos of her relatives, caught unawares, and hang them in a gallery. As the character says, "It didn't start out as art."

And as promised, Mike Fischer reviews The Witches, the newest from Stacy Schiff and is very enthusiastic: "...As "The Witches" demonstrates, the more attention one pays to the minute historical details the harder it is to be certain about what exactly happened and why — a problem made worse by mysterious gaps in the documentary record, including any transcripts from the actual trials. Not a problem for a super sleuth who worked with even less in giving us her widely acclaimed biography of Cleopatra; there as here, Schiff reads between the lines by examining the materials at hand, including depositions, indictments, confessions and agonized postmortems."

But wait, there's more. Jim Higgins also talks up three upcoming book festivals - the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books in Waukesha and Murder and Mayhem at the Irish Cultural Center next Saturday, run by our friends at Crimespree Magazine, and the Sterling North Festival in Edgerton. 

Print section bonus! Marion Winik reviews three rock and roll memoirs, reprinted from Newsday. I could find a link but why not just read your print copy? The books are: --M Train, by Patti Smith --Reckless: My Life as a Pretender, by Chrissie Hunde --Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, by Carrie Brownstein --

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