Sunday, March 20, 2016

Boswell's Annotated Bestsellers for the Week Ending March 19, 2016, Plus Journal Sentinel Book Links.

Here's our bestsellers for the week.

Hardcover Fiction (and Poetry):
1. The Swimmer, by John Koethe
2. Spill Simmer Falter Wither, by Sara Baume
3. My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout
4. Two if By Sea, by Jacquelyn Mitchard (event today at 3 pm!)
5. The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie
6. The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, by Stephen King
7. A Doubter's Almanac, by Ethan Canin
8. Noonday, by Pat Barker
9. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
10. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr

We've had a particularly good post-sale week for Sara Baume's Spill Simmer Falter Wither, perhaps due to St. Patrick's Day publicity for an Irish author. Here's Lynn Neary talking to Baume on NPR's Morning Edition.

Several established authors have been doing well with their new books, including Pat Barker's Noonday. Noonday follows Life Class and Toby's Room in Barker's World War II trilogy, following three students in the Slade School of Art. Elaine Kanner in the Miami Herald writes: "Barker may be exhibiting battle fatigue, but as ever, her depiction of war is searing and spot-on. She grounds Noonday with historical fact and offers telling physical detail, from the 'mean, sneaky smell' of a gas leak to Elinor noticing — and drawing — the weeds pushing up through the ruins of her bombed-out city. There is 'no crack so narrow, no fissure so apparently barren, it couldn’t support . . . life.' Glimmering moments like these make fans look forward to what Barker will write next."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
2. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
3. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
4. All the Ways We Kill and Die, by Brian Caster
5. The Violet Hour, by Katie Roiphe
6. Listen, Liberal, by Thomas Frank (event at Boswell, Tue 3/22, 7 pm)
7. When Breath Becomes Air, by Paula Kalanithi
8. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
9. The Making of Milwaukee, by John Gurda
10. The Legends Club, by John Feinstein

Just in time for March Madness, John Feinstein is back with The Legends Club: Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano, and an Epic College Basketball Rivalry. It's about three coaches from North Carolina's Research Triangle, a basketball hotbed. Ed Sherman in the Chicago Tribune writes: "Feinstein's relationship with all three coaches gave him the intimate details that form the backbone of the book. One story leads quickly to another story in this fast-moving account of a memorable era in college basketball."

Paperback Fiction (and Poetry):
1. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
2. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald
3. Dark Sparkler, by Amber Tamblyn
4. The Knife, by Ross Richell
5. My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
6. Planetfall, by Emma Newman
7. The Fold, by Peter Clines
8. A Hard and Heavy Thing, by Matthew Hefti
9. Euphoria, by Lily King
10. Sisterland, by Curtis Sittenfeld (ticketed MPL lit lunch, 5/3)

Swedes rule this week's list and should be selling well for weeks to come. National bestseller of A Man Called Ove Fredrik Backman is at Boswell on May 14 (2 pm) for his new novel, Britt-Marie Was Here, while Katarina Bivald will be at Boswell on May 19 (7 pm) during her American tour. We also had a pop in backlist sale for Curtis Sittenfeld, who is the featured speaker at the Milwaukee Public Library Literary Lunch for her new novel, Eligible, the Pride and Prejudice entry in the Jane Austen Project. Buy lunch tickets here.

Boswell's science fiction book club met this week, which means that Planetfall, their May 9 selection, had a nice pop in sales. Emma Newman's book had a starred Publishers Weekly review: "Newman (The Split Worlds) begins with the high stakes of a new colony and raises the risk to every human life as events unfold. She carefully manages her pacing until events make each revelation as inevitable as it is destructive." Oy, the perils of space colonies.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie
2. Just Mercy, by Bryan Stephenson
3. Cream City, by John Gurda
4. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
5. H is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald (ticketed event 4/12 at Schlitz Audubon)
6. Boost Your Brain, by Majid Fotuhi
7. Coloring for Contemplation, by Amber Hatch
8. World War II Milwaukee, by Meg Jones
9. Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
10. White Dresses, by Mary Pflum Peterson (event Tue 3/29, 7 pm, at Boswell)

John Gurda's got three titles in our top tens this week! The Shepherd Express featured the paperback edition of Cream City Chronicles, originally published in 2007. David Luhrssen remarks, on these Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columns: "Many of the articles were originally timely, giving historical context to the news of the day, but Gurda revised them with an eye toward extending their shelf life. He excels at telling stories about the city’s early years, its people, businesses, festivals and changing seasons."

Books for Kids:
1. Whose Hands Are These?, by Miranda Paul
2. Tru and Nelle, by G. Neri
3. Water is Water, by Miranda Paul
4. Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter, by Beth Fantaskey
5. Far From Fair, by Elana Arnold
6. One Plastic Bag, by Miranda Paul
7. Will Wilder: Relic of Perilous Fall, by Raymond Arroyo (event 3/22, 7 pm, at St. Monica Parish)
8. The Book Thief Tenth Anniersary Edition, by Markus Zusak
9. I Am a Bunny, by Ole Risom, illustrated by Richard Scarry
10. When Spring Comes, by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek

This was a big event-driven week but two school visits from the Middle Grade Mania authors were not able to have a public event. The authors all have signed copies at the store. Here is a little bit about each book:
--G. Neri's Tru and Nelle is a fictional take on the friendship between Harper Lee and Truman Capote
--Beth Fantaskey's Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter is a historical mystery about a newsie in 1920s Chicago who wants to be a reporter
--Elana Arnold's Far from Fair, a young girl's life is upended when her family decides to take off in an RV. We've got signed copies of all three books.

Over in the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins reviews The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, Ken Liu's new collection of stories from Saga Press, the new science fiction imprint of Simon and Schuster. He writes: "To call his book one of the best collections of speculative fiction I've ever read is simply to begin my praise. Other sci-fi/fantasy story collections in my personal hall of fame, such as Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles and Cordwainer Smith's The Rediscovery of Man are made up largely of brilliant stories written in a single style or mode. Liu's book compiles brilliant stories written in several different, overlapping modes, a technically dazzling collection of compulsively readable narratives, presenting characters with agonizing moral dilemmas and never forgetting the heart."

Also at the Journal Sentinel, Mike Fischer reviews Syria Burning: A Short History of a Catastrophe. His take: "Like so much writing about the Middle East, Glass's book is nostalgic; he's not shy about stating outright that Syrians were better off under the Ottomans — or even under the pre-2011 Assad regime. He has no illusions about who Assad is. But he also seconds the view expressed by a Syrian friend: "I don't like the dictatorship. But these people are showing themselves worse." These people" are the Islamic fundamentalists who hijacked an initially peaceful revolution, transforming another hopeful iteration of the Arab Spring into this never-ending Syrian winter. Glass runs the numbers: more than 300,000 dead and 11 million refugees or displaced persons — more than half of Syria's prewar population of 22 million." And I should note that Glass was taken hostage by Shi'a militants in Beirut in 1987.

In the Paging Through Mysteries column, Carole E. Barrowman recommends four new titles.

The Big Rewind, by Libby Cudmore, is "a witty riff on the '80s and '90s told from the delightfully damaged, self-deprecating point of view of Jett Bennett. Set in present-day Brooklyn, Bennett's close-knit hipster neighborhood is a 'paradise of art-house baristas, record store clerks' and social vampires — 'sympathy sucking leeches living everyday like it's their own private reality show.' Despite her sociological scoffing, these are Jett's people. Barrowman sees it as a female High Fidelity that also channels Jane Austen.

The Watcher in the Wall by Owen Laukkanen is his newest thriller featuring Minnesota FBI agents Carla Windermere and Kirk Stevens. "From Minnesota to Florida, Indiana to Kentucky, the agents race to catch a killer soliciting vulnerable teenagers to commit suicide." Starred Kirkus for this one, which they called "a fast-paced thriller" with a strong African American female co-protagonist.

Goodbye to the Dead is the latest by former Boswell author Brian Freeman, the latest in his Duluth series. From Barrowman: "Stride's mean streets may be Superior, Lake and Canal, but with his heightened moral code, he remains one of my favorite fictional detectives time has not mellowed." Booklist gave this a starred review: "Freeman skillfully weaves together diverse story lines, from the old murder to a sex-slavery operation, with twists that build suspense, in this fine, character-driven addition to a strong series. It sure is a different Duluth than the one I read about in Lucy Amundsen's Locally Laid.

And finally, there is Fiona Barton's The Widow, the story of a hairdresser whose banker husband is killed after standing trial. Barrowman writes: "Set in the UK, Barton explores the crime and its punishment from intersecting points of view, including Jean's, a reporter's, and the police detective in charge of the original investigation." AV Club gave this an A+, calling it "right out of the Lifetime movie playbook...but Barton executes her trashy concept with style, producing a highly compelling guilty read."

On the front page of Tap, I was excited to see a roundup of some great spring author events! We knew it was a good list worth sharing.

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