Sunday, January 31, 2016

Boswell Bestsellers for the Week Ending January 30, 2016.

Here are the bestseller lists for the week ending Saturday, January 30, 2016. Oops, I hit create instead of save and wound up sending the uncompleted blog to our subscribers. I can't say it's been that sort of day because it hasn't. It's been fine! I'm at a gift show in New York with our gift buyer Jen and we found a lot of great things.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Noah's Wife, by Lindsay Starck
2. The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie
3. My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout
4. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
5. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
6. Dictator, by Robert Harris
7. And Again, by Jessica Chiarella
8. Nox, by Anne Carson
9. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
10. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George

New to the list this week is Dictator, the concluding entry in Robert Harris's trilogy on the life of Cicero. Stephanie Merritt wrote in The Guradian after its UK publication last spring: "Harris’s style is a curious blend of contemporary idiom (Pompey and Crassus are said to stand for election “on a joint ticket”) with Latin vocabulary so precise it requires a separate glossary; while the modern language may jar with historical purists, the research underpinning it is so meticulous that the reader feels wholly absorbed into Cicero’s world, and this is Harris’s real achievement. Dictator is a fitting finale to a trilogy that is likely to stand alongside the works of Robert Graves and Mary Renault as an enduring imaginative vision of the ancient world." Tom Holland also had a good review in The New York Times Book Review.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Presence, by Amy Cuddy
2. When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi
3. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
4. The Road to Little Dribbling, by Bill Bryson
5. Milwaukee City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
6. Spark Joy, by Marie Kondo
7. Dark Money, by Jane Mayer
8. Gratitude, by Olicer Sacks
9. SPQR, by Mary Beard
10. The Lost Tudor Princess, by Alison Weir

Like Dictator, The Lost Tudor Princess: The Life of Lady Margaret Douglas came out on January 12, but had its best sales week two weeks later. The publisher calls her the beautiful, cunning niece of Henry VIII who influenced the succession after the death of Elizabeth I. I find it odd that though I can find Publishers Weekly and Kirkus reviews, and there are British reviews (here's the London Times, though you need to join to read it in full)I cannot locate a trade review from an American newspaper. Dare I say there might be a touch of sexism going on here? I cannot imagine this book completely snubbed were it to come from a man of Weir's stature.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Fathers We Find, by Charles P. Ries
2. Moonlight Over Paris, by Jennifer Robson
3. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald
4. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
5. My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
6. A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara
7. The Door, by Magda Szabo
8. At the Water's Edge, by Sara Gruen
9. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, by Amy E. Reichert
10. Agamemnon, by Aeschylus, translated by David Mulroy
11. The Three Body Problem, by Liu Cixin
12. God Help the Child, by Toni Morrison

What an absolutely international list this in! In addition to having two authors in the top five from Sweden, with Katarina Bivald joined by national bestseller Fredrik Backman's A Man Called Ove, we have Lin Cixin from China, Jennifer Robson from Canada, Elena Ferrante, who we assume is Italian, and Magda Szabo from Hungary. I should also note that Charles Ries told me he has duel citizenship with Luxembourg. Backman's book in particular has been a huge hit nationally, and we're excited to announce that the author will be at Boswell on Saturday, May 14, 2 pm. You'll likely see another pop next week, as I'm announcing the book will be our April in-store lit group selection.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson (in store lit group selection 3/7, at MATC 3/9)
2. Mindset, by Carol Dweck
3. The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls
4. Voices from Chernobyl, by Svetlana Alexievich
5. We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie
6. The Machete Season, by Jean Hatzfield
7. The Enchanted Forest, by Johanna Basford
8. Art Therapy Coloring Kit, by Sam Loman

Because we were a little short of paperback nonfiction that made the three copy cutoff for bestsellers in paperback, I extended paperback a little, being that these titles had sold the cutoff. I break ties by price point. I figure we've sold "more" of an expensive book than a less expensive book. That gets amusingly intricate when publishers are playing with even, 99, and 95 cent price points. We're all ready to discuss Voices From Chernobyl at the Monday, February 1 book club. I'll include the discussion in an upcoming blog. This week's bestseller lists include a few course adoptions. The Machete Season is being used by a university class, while The Glass Castle is on a high school reading list.

Books for Kids:
1. Hello, by Liza Wiemer
2. I Am a Bunny, by Ole Risom with illustrations by Richard Scarry
3. Shabanu, by Suzanne Fischer Staples
4. Hedgehugs, by Steve Wilson and Lucy Tapper
5. Mother Bruce, by Ryan T. Higgins
6. Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
7. Dill and Bizzy, by Nora Ericson
8. How to Dress a Dragon, by Thelma Lynne Godin
9. Green Bay Packers ABC, by Brad Epstein
10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Board Book, by Eric Carle

Anna and the Swallow Man debuted this week, with Gavriel Savit debuting at Boswell this Wednesday, January 3. The London Daily Mail's Sally Morris writes of this novel about a young girl who survives by walking the Russian and Polish woods with the mysterious Swallow Man, "This wonderfully original concept, enigmatic in style yet grounded in brutal reality, is written with deceptive power and grace. Although it leaves questions hanging long after you turn the last page, this is a debut that promises great books from Savit."

From Jim Higgins at the Journal Sentinel, a review of The Yid, from Paul Goldberg, a book he calls "remarkable." He notes: "Disclaimer: If swear words in Yiddish, Russian or English hurt your ears, if the occasional succinct gory description of the murder of a state-sponsored thug upsets your tummy, if putting a black man in whiteface or vice versa offends your conscience, "The Yid" may not be for you. But if you've always been fascinated by Yiddish theater, this is your novel. Goldberg draws on Levinson's past involvement in a production of King Lear to cast Stalin himself as a degraded Lear; there's even a thug improbably named Kent." I think it's interesting that Gariel Savit coincidentally has a background in Yiddish theater.

Higgins also highlights Madison writer Dean Robbins, whose new book, Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, will be featured at a February 2 event at Boswell. The talk begins at 7 pm.

And Mike Fischer reviews Darryl Pinckney's Black Deutschland, also in the Journal Sentinel. I read and enjoyed Mr. Pinckney's High Cotton years ago and enjoyed it; I wish I had enough time to keep up with so many great writers. Of the newest, Mr. Fischer wrote: "Jed makes clear that even when one is a privileged member of the Talented Tenth, race in America always gets in the way of one becoming oneself. It's no accident that this book invokes ex-pats including W.E.B. DuBois, Nina Simone and Josephine Baker — although not Richard Wright, another onetime Chicagoan who'd sought refuge in Europe, writing a novel there featuring a similarly isolated intellectual. Pinckney's writing is much cooler; Black Deutschland not only channels Isherwood, but also suggests Ellison's Invisible Man and Teju Cole's more recent Open City — each one the tale of an outsider whose sharp observations and sometimes sardonic humor are partly made possible because all three are more comfortable watching than participating."

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