Sunday, March 6, 2016

Annotated Boswell Bestsellers for the Week Ending March 5, 2016.

There are fiction weeks and there are nonfiction weeks. This is a nonfiction week.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
2. City of Thorns, by Ben Rawlence
3. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
4. Crowns, photographs by Michael Cunningham
5. When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi
6. Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, various authors including Peter Hatch
7. At the Existentialist Café, by Sarah Bakewell
8. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
9. Dark Money, by Jane Meyer
10. Pugs in Costumes, by Virginia Woof

More on Evicted:
--Gabriel Thompson in The San Francisco Chronicle writes that "Evicted is that rare work that has something genuinely new to say about poverty. Desmond makes a convincing case that policymakers and academics have overlooked the role of the private rental market, and that eviction 'is a cause, not just a condition, of poverty.'"
--Right here on Lake Effect, an interview with Desmond
--Gillian B. White in The Atlantic offers an interview --And someone remembers that Jason DeParle wrote the last groundbreaking book on Milwaukee and poverty, American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation's Drive to End Welfare, back in 2004. He reviews the book in The New York Review of Books.

Desmond will be on Kathleen Dunn's show on Wisconsin Public Radio tomorrow, Monday, March 7, 2 pm Central.

Another pop in sales is for At the Existentialist Cafe, from Sarah Bakewell. Karen Long reviewed the book in the Los Angeles Times: "Bakewell, a former London book curator who studied philosophy at the University of Leeds, likes wordy subtitles. Here she plunks one on her fourth work of nonfiction: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails with Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Edmund Husserl, Karl Jaspers, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Others. She isn't kidding about the others —- the book finishes with a roll call 'Cast of Characters' that runs 79 names long. Even the screenplays of Terrence Malick, with their heavy doses of Martin Heidegger, swing briefly into view. She draws on each one, symphonically, to make a case for existentialism as more pertinent to the 21st century than a nostalgia for black turtlenecks, booze, cigarettes and rebellious alienation."

Hardcover Fiction:
1. My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout
2. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
3. Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf
4. Georgia, by Dawn Tripp
5. Arcadia, by Iain Pears
6. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
7. The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie
8. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George

Not only is our hardcover fiction list a little thin, but half the books that did make it are more than six months old, with Mr. Doerr being of particularly older vintage. One new title that popped on is Iain Pears's Arcadia. He's been making waves since An Instance at the Fingerpost came out in 1998 and his newest book comes with an app. Here's what The Independent had to say: "In the year 2222, rebellious low-tech renegades refuse to be happy under the Scientific Government that runs a planet of 30 billion drugged serfs in the wake of catastrophic climate change. Well, the marketing of Arcadia brought out the renegade in me. Yes, a beautifully designed app (by Touchpress) allows readers to trace many alternative paths through this novel's three intersecting storylines. That privilege, however, comes at the cost of obedience to the embryonic version of Scientific Government controlled by Apple Inc." I'm a little confused as to why this review does not have a byline - it's possible it's just promotional copy." The Guardian review is also positive, with caveats, and it's from a real person, Steven Poole.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. We Gotta Get Out of This Place, by Craig Werner and Doug Bradley
2. First They Killed My Father, by Loung Ung
3. A Rich Spot of Earth, by Peter J Hatch
4. Lucky Child, by Loung Ung
5. Hope in the Dark, by Rebecca Solnit
6. Tunnel, Smuggle, Collect, by Jeffrey Gingold
7. H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald (ticketed event 4/12 at Schlitz Audubon)
8. Lulu in the Sky, by Loung Ung
9. Cream City Chronicles, by John Gurda
10. Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow

After ten years, John Gurda's Cream City Chronicles just came out in paperback. When it came out in hardcover, Bobby Tanzilo wrote in "This book of newspaper columns penned by Gurda is a perfect complement to The Making of Milwaukee. Instead of trying to tell it all, these essays focus on the interesting, the unique and the important. Fascinating tidbits that can be read sporadically or in one sitting." One decade on, it's the perfect compliment to Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald (event 5/19, 7 pm)
2. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman (event 5/14, 2 pm)
3. The Loss of All Lost Things, by Amina Gautier (event 3/11, 7 pm)
4. My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante (no, she's not coming)
5. The Life of Elves, by Muriel Barbery
6. Uprooted, by Naomi Novik
7. Me Before You, by JoJo Moyes
8. Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng
9. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, by Amy E. Reichert
10. You Have Never Been Here, by Mary Rickert

We had a nice paperback pop on Naomi Novik's Uprooted. On the NPR Books site, Amal Eh-Mohtar wrote: "I've read a staggering number of excellent books recently, and it has done things to my head. I'm not sure the human brain was meant to read so many brilliant books in such short order — even less sure that swinging my reading-pendulum from Hannu Rajaniemi's collected science fiction stories to Naomi Novik's sword-and-sorcery fantasy novel is at all wise. By all rights I should have tumbled into Uprooted feeling disoriented and confused, dissonant and harsh in my criticism — but no. Uprooted has leapt forward to claim the title of Best Book I've Read Yet This Year." It's a title, which is why the words are capitalized.

Boswellian Pam Stilp is also a fan, who wrote: "This timeless story which reads like a fairy tale of old, is set in a fictional Eastern European land, where a blood-thirsty woods surrounds a valley of peaceful villagers." The rest of her recommendation is on our website.

Books for Kids:
1. Forest of Wonders, by Linda Sue Park
2. Mary Jemison: Native American Captive, by Jane Kelley writing as E.F. Abbott
3. Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, by Hena Khan
4. Night of the Moon, by Hena Khan
5. I Am a Bunny, by Ole Risom with illustrations by Richard Scarry
6. When Spring Comes, by Kevin Henkes, with illustrations by Laura Dronzek
7. Pax, by Sara Pennypacker, with illustrations by Jon Klassen
8. Big Nate Blasts Off v8, by Lincoln Peirce
9. Firelight, volume 7 of Amulet, by Kazu Kibushi
10. I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak (event 3/11)

This week the top four are driven by event sales, but you may not know about that, because they were all from school visits. Linda Sue Park would have made a great public event, but we hosted her on the 1st day of sale for Forest of Wonders, the first volume in the Wing and Claw series, and they needed the evening to get Park to her next destination. It's a switch-up from historical fiction to fantasy, and all the advance reviews are positive. Kirkus offers a starred review: "With its engaging hero, talking animals, arcane magic, moral issues, and unresolved plot, this first of a proposed trilogy promises more exciting forest wonders." And yes, we have signed copies!

Some of you might be wondering why I Am the Messenger hit our top 10 but not The Book Thief. We're getting the new 10th anniversary editions in both hardcover and paperback and they don't arrive till Tuesday.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Helen Oyeyemi's new collection, What is Not Yours is Not Yours, is reviewed by Mike Fischer on the Book Page. He calls the collection "breathtakingly bold and original." He notes: "Reading and being read by these stories, one's discoveries are shadowed by all that remains tantalizingly unknown, within any story daring to be original and stay true to its most rare vision."

Jim Higgins offers information on Bryan Stevenson's visit to MATC on Wednesday, March 9 for Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. His talk is entitled "American Injustice: Mercy, Humanity and Making a Difference."

On a similar note, the print edition has Karen R. Long's Newsday review of Incarceration Nation: A Journey to Justice in Prisons Around the World, by Baz Dreisinger. Long's take: "Readers who can stomach bombast will be rewarded with a comparative look at the systems that have locked away 10.3 million human beings, including 2.3 million in the United States. The range of arrangements is dizzying."

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