Sunday, January 10, 2016

Here is the Annotated Boswell Bestseller list for The Week Ending January 9, 2016.

Boswell Bestsellers for the Week Ending January 9, 2016

Paperback Fiction:
1. Unbecoming, by Rebecca Scherm
2. Meet Me Halfway, by Jennifer Morales
3. A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James
4. The Martian, by Andy Weir
5. The Readers of the Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald
6. Tales of Accidental Genius, by Simon Van Booy
7. Florence Gordon, by Brian Morton
8. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck (rep production opens January 19)
9. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
10 Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay V3, by Elena Ferrante

If you didn't see Jen Stee's rec in the Boswell email newsletter of The Readers of the Broken Wheel Recommend, here it is "Coming to a small town in America may not seem like the ideal vacation for most European tourists. But for Sara, it's an ideal trip. The bookstore where Sara worked has gone out of business. It's the perfect time to leave her home in Sweden and visit her pen-pal and fellow bibliophile, Amy, in Broken Wheel, Iowa. Unfortunately, she arrives in Broken Wheel to find Amy has died and she just missed the funeral. Sara's arrival becomes the talk of the town and her new neighbors take it upon themselves to help her stay any way they can, whether she likes it or not. In return for their kindness, Sara is committed to finding just the right book for everyone in town. The best of intentions quickly lead to misunderstandings, shenanigans and self-discovery. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a book for everyone. It is a charming, light-hearted story. If you're not a booklover already, Sara and the town of Broken Wheel may just turn you into one!"

It's tough for a paperback original from Sourcebooks to find the eye of critics more drawn to FSG and Knopf, but Hope Whitmore in the UK Independent, but also note that the UK paperback was published by Chatto and Windus. I wonder if that makes a difference. Oh, I don't have to wonder - it does! Here's just a snippet of this wonderful review: "The text is littered with allusions to how stories work, comments of Terry Pratchett, Jane Austen, Harper Lee and Mark Twain, reminders that this too is a story, insinuations that therefore this is the pattern it too shall follow. It would be all too easy for such a meta technique to be gauche and irritating, but surprisingly it’s not. In Bivald’s hands the suggestions are handled so lightly, so naturally, as to seem to belong, just as Sara belongs in Broken Wheel." Read the whole review. Though I was ready to do it anyway when Jen and Jane started recommending, and the #1 Indie Bound pick too, but now I'm obsessed with reading it.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Voices from Chernobyl, by Svetlana Alexievich (in store lit group 2/1, 7 pm)
2. We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie
3. Just Mercy, by Bryan Stephenson (in store lit group 3/7, 7 pm)
4. Mindfulness Coloring Book, by Emma Farrarons
5. World War II Milwaukee, by Meg Jones
6. The Ramen Fusion Cookbook, by Nell Benton
7. Mandalas, from Stress Less Coloring
8. Riverwest, by Tom Tolan
9. How to Relax, by Thich Nhat Hanh
10. The Complete Vegearian Cookbook, by America's Test Kitchen

So you can see the in-store lit group met on Monday, based on Voices from Chernobyl and Just Mercy being our #1 and #3 nonfiction paperbacks. We had a decent turnout to discuss Unbecoming. Scherm's talk too put the book in the context of her trying to write an anti-Hitchock novel, imagining To Catch a Thief recast as the way she though it was in her childhood.

But back to nonfiction. I think this might be the first week on our bestseller list for DK's The Ramen Fusion Cookbook, written by local chef Nell Benton. Her home base is the National Cafe. Here are some of her restaurant picks in the Journal Sentinel profile from Kristine Kierzek: "I love Sanford. Justin (Aprahamian) is one of my favorite chefs. All my friends who come to visit, I take them to Buckley's. Odd Duck is good for fresh ingredients and current trends. Those are at the top of my list. If I'm not eating brunch at my own restaurant, I head to Chez Jacques. He's great. In fact, he sold me his catering van."

Hardcover Fiction:
1. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
2. War Music, by Christopher Logue
3. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
4. The Jesus Cow, by Michael Perry
5. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
6. The Japanese Lover, by Isabel Allende
7. Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee
8. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
9. The Dust that Falls from Dreams, by Louis De Bernieres
10. The Muralist, by B.A. Shapiro

No big pops of new titles, as the big date for on-sales seems to be January 12. That said congrats to Fates and Furies, who creeped back into the NYT top 15 next week. It felt like it was going to pull a Station Eleven and get a second wind after the holidays, when the merch sells slow down but the hand recs keep going, and it did. Several of the other books on the list have strong recs including The Dust that Falls from Dreams (from Conrad and Jason) and The Japanese Lover (from Scott), The Little Paris Bookshop (from Jane), and The Jesus Cow (from me). I've also got a rec up of The Muralist, but we must be the only indie bookstore that doesn't have a rec on The Nightingale.

here's Jason Kennedy's rec of Louis De Berniere's The Dust that Falls from Dreams: "This is a novel of tragedy and love told on the landscape of World War I. The McCoshes have four daughters and they are neighbors to an American family called the Pendennis and their three sons. One of the sons proposes to Rosie McCosh before he enlists in the war, along with all his brothers. To say very little, the tragedy strike particularly hard on both families. This is a war like no other before it and the scenes depicting the horrors of war are frightening. Not only are the soldiers in the trenches of France, who are constantly wet, cold and dirty, but the wives and mothers at home in England are shown to be living in a blackish world of death and loss. Louis de Bernieres is a brilliant storyteller, mixing up the characters who tell the story and giving us detailed historical detail of the period, but not too much. Now, I have to somehow wait for another story from him."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
2. Dead Wake, by Erik Larson
3. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
4. Gratitude, by Oliver Sacks
5. English and Their History by Robert Tombs
6. Young Orson, by Patrick McGilligan
7. Capital in the 21st Century, by Thomas Piketty
8. Presence, by Amy Cuddy (ticketed event 1/28)
9. Being Mortal Atul Gawande
10. Thug Kitchen, by Michelle Davis and Matt Holloway

Of course a $45 book on English history would pop in January, right? The reviews are very strong on The English and Their History, particulary in...England. Here's the opening of Sinclair McKay's review in The Telegraph: "As propositions go, this is almost absurdly timely: an epic overview not of Britain, or the British Isles – but purely of the English. Ten, 15 years ago, at the height of New Labour, this might have seemed an eccentric idea. According to historians such as Norman Davies, the development of England was inextricably intertwined with Europe. Surely even the English legend of King Arthur (a recurring leitmotif in this book) was a tapestry of myths from the Celtic lands and the Continent? But right now – with Scotland noisily asserting its own national identity and relations with a wider Europe creaking under stress – Tombs’s approach is not only pressingly necessary, but also original and enormously readable." Expect a major award on this, if it hasn't already gotten one.

It was a year ago that the Jena McGregor in The Washington Post featured Amy Cuddy's Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges as one of 12 leadership books to look out for in 2015. We are trying to remind folks that buying a book isn't a ticket to the Amy Cuddy event on January 28; you have to buy your ticket on Brown Paper Tickets. That said, if you've already bought a book elsewhere, you can take the offer of a gift card on the night of the event. But my guess is that CUddy will convince you to get a second copy to gift to someone you know who needs it. Here's an interview with Cuddy from Lane Florsheim in Marie Claire.

Books for Kids:
1. Stick Dog Tries to Take the Donuts, by Tom Watson
2. Hello?, by Liza Wiemer
3. Hedgehogs by Steve Wilson
4. White House by Robert Sabuda
5. Welcome to the Symphony, by Carolyn Sloan
6. The Story of Snowflake and Inkdrop, by Piedromenico Baccalario
7. Echo, by Pam Muniz Ryan
8 The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
9. Duck and Goose, by Tad Hills
10. Winter, by David A. Carter

Stick Dog's creator Tom Watson will be doing schools with us on January 20 for Stick Dog Tries to Take the Donuts. There's no public event this time but we're hoping when he comes back in May, we'll be able to celebrate at Boswell or an area library. The new series? Stick Cat: A Tale of Two Kitties. I was told on the Tom Watson website that this book was a secret but there's also a picture of Stick Cat. Tom Watson is messing with me! Here's a profile of Watson in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, we're thrilled that Carole E. Barrowman is as excited about The Drifter as we are. Nicholas Petrie's novel struck a chord: "While I was reading Whitefish Bay writer Nicholas Petrie's exceptional debut, The Drifter, O'Brien's book buzzed at the edges of my consciousness, casting the newer book as a thematic sequel to O'Brien's classic. Set in Milwaukee, The Drifter may be about a different war, but it's about the same hell, and in this book it's about the things a vet carries home with him."

Also in the Journal Sentinel, Mike Fischer reviews A Hard and Heavy Thing, by Matthew J Hefti: "'We're all trying to boil down our meaningless experiences to fit this tiny little conventional, three-act, linear narrative,' the disconsolate Levi says. Hefti — who was raised in Wisconsin, served in Iraq and Afghanistan and makes a cameo appearance in this novel — appears to share Levi's skepticism regarding well-meaning efforts to reduce the firsthand experience of war to credible narrative."

The third review is City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp. Ben Rawlence's review is by Jill Leovy which originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times. She writes: "Not only does City of Thorns represent hard, lonely work in a desolate place, it chooses the most difficult of subjects...That he succeeds is tribute to his commitment to reporting from the ground up."

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