Sunday, February 14, 2016

The annotated Boswell bestsellers for the week ending February 13, 2016

Here come the bestsellers!

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Forgetting Time, by Sharon Guskin (signed copipes available)
2. The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie
3. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
4. Georgia, by Dawn Tripp
5. My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout
6. Ancient Mistrel, by Jim Harrison
7. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
8. The Complete Stories, by Clarice Lispector
9. The Secret Chord, by Geraldine Brooks
10. The Expatriates, by Janice Y.K. Lee

Who would have ever guessed that a Brazil table would sell books, but it has been doing so. The idea was to tie into Carnival, an international variation on a Mardi Gras table with New Orleans books. But it seems like Brazil has been in the news of late, and that has piqued interest and that's probably one reason why The Complete Stories from Clarice Lispector hit our bestseller list.

I wish I could say that every time I link to the Journal Sentinel reviews and say "and now for next week's bestsellers" that I was prescient, but this week, we in fact had a pop on Dawn Tripp's Georgia, a novel based on the life of Georgia O'Keeffe, and we're pretty sure the review drove sales--our initial buy was minimal.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi
2. Dark Money, by Jane Mayer
3. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
4. In Other Words, by Jhumpa Lahiri
5. Bettyville, by George Hodgman
6. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
7. Gratitude, by Oliver Sacks
8. The Road to Little Dribbling, by Bill Bryson
9. My Life on the Road, by Gloria Steinem
10. The In$ane Chicago Way, by John Hagedorn (event Fri 2/19, 7 pm, at Boswell)

I like to make sure we have hardcover editions when we do a paperback event but sales vary dramatically. I have had large events without a single hardcover sold and smaller smaller events with much better sales, but whatever the format, sales for Bettyville were strong, despite it being 7 degrees outside. Another memoir of sorts, Bill Bryson's The Road to Little Dribbling, continues to get review appreciation. Alida Becker in The New York Times Book Review writes: "Although he’s now entering what he fondly calls his dotage, the 64-year-old Bryson seems merely to have sharpened both his charms and his crotchets. As the title of The Road to Little Dribbling suggests, he remains devoted to Britain’s eccentric place names as well as its eccentric pastimes, calling our attention to the likes of the Society for Clay Pipe Research, the Pillbox Study Group and the inexplicably popular Roundabout Appreciation Society.

Paperback Fiction:
1. A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara
2. Medium Hero, by Korby Lenker
3. White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga
4. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay V3, by Elena Ferrante
5. My Brilliant Friend V1, by Elena Ferrante
6. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald
7. Boston Girl, by Anita Diamant
8. Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
9. Blood on Snow, by Jo Nesbo
10. Agamemnon, by Aeshcylus, translated by David Mulroy

One of the things we have noted in the past is that very long novels tend to have a harder time breaking out in paperback, but for the second time in months, one has made the cut. Following A Brief History of Seven Killings, Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life has been firmly in the top realm of the bestseller list. It's one of those books that is expected to make every awards shortlist, and when it doesn't, some critic writes a column questioning it. Here's one of the very strong reviews that jumpstarted the book's momentum, from Jon Michaud in The New Yorker: "Yanagihara’s novel can also drive you mad, consume you, and take over your life. Like the axiom of equality, A Little Life feels elemental, irreducible - and, dark and disturbing though it is, there is beauty in it."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Bettyville, by George Hodgman (signed copies available)
2. Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson (in store lit group Mon Mar 7, 7 pm)
3. The Big Short, by Michael Lewis
4. World War II Milwaukee, by Meg Jones
5. Grace and Style, by Grace Helbig
6. Finding Zero, by Amir D. Aczel
7. And Goodnight to All the Beautiful Young Women, by Joel Kriofske (event Wed Feb 24, 7 pm, at Boswell)
8. The Mafia in Italian Lives and Literature, by Robin Pickering-Iazzi (event Wed Feb 17, 7 pm, at Boswell)
9. We Gotta Get Out of This Place, by Craig Werner and Doug Bradley (event Mon Feb 29 7 pm, at Boswell)
10. Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Charnow (I wish!)

Hey, why can't we have a book club read Finding Zero? One of the groups that registers with us knew to schedule their discussion for when Amir Aczel's book came out in paperback - kudos to them! This math book got a great write up in The New York Times from Amir Alexander when the book came out in hardcover, explaining the setup: "It is zero, Dr. Aczel points out, that makes our place-value number system possible. Without it, there is no way to distinguish among 48, 480 and 4,080. Zero is indispensable for our familiar arithmetical operations, and it is half of the binary language of modern computers. And yet, even though we can hardly imagine life without it, Europeans had no concept of zero until the 13th century, when they referred to it as and Indian or Arabic numeral. Where then did this epoch-making concept originate Determined to find out, Dr. Aczel turns to the East." that Aczel's story is "gripping, filled with the passion and wonder of numbers." Alexander praises the book as "gripping, filled with the passion and wonder of numbers."

Books for Kids:
1. Masterminds V2: Criminal Destiny, by Gordon Korman
2. Masterminds V1, by Gordon Korman
3. Ungifted, by Gordon Korman
4. I am a Bunny, by Ole Risom with illustrations by Richard Scarry
5. Pax, by Sara Pennypacker
6. Silly Wonderful You, by Sherri Duskey Rinker, with illustrations by Patrick McDonnell
7. Whisper, by Pamela Zagarenski
8. Bad Luck, by Pseudonymous Bosch
9. Masterminds V1 (hardcover), by Gordon Korman
10. Mary Jemison: Native American Captive, by Jane Kelley

Guess who visited this week? If you guessed Gordon Korman, you are correct. But there are more student sales to ring in, so expect to see his books pop up again. And while she didn't visit, we had a nice pop for Sara Pennypacker's Pax, which is illustrated by the award-winning-and-once-visited-Boswell Jon Klassen. Boswellian Barbara Katz is a big fan,, who wrote "Pax takes a powerful look at the consequences of war on both people and animals. In beautiful prose, the book is told in alternating chapters between Peter, and the fox, Pax, who he raised. Tension builds as Peter goes on a three hundred mile quest to find Pax and bring him home, while Pax strives to find Peter. Heart-stopping adventures await Pax and Peter, as both change and mature when they meet other memorable characters. Pax provides compulsive reading and much to think about."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins reviews William Shatner's Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man. His take?: "Readers accustomed to William Shatner's punchy, pugnacious style on Twitter may be surprised by "Leonard," his relaxed, warmhearted appreciation of Leonard Nimoy, his "Star Trek" co-star and friend who died in 2015." According to Shatner, the creation of Spock might have had its origins in The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

There are more reviews of Samanth Hunt's Mr. Splitfoot, reviewed by Connie Ogle, originally in the Miami Herald, and Alexander Chee's Queen of the Night, by Katherine A. Powers, from Newsday.

1 comment:

Tim McCarthy said...

This is such a great lineup! Diverse and intelligent. And fun! Thanks Daniel!