Sunday, April 10, 2016

You Probably Guessed From Yesterday's Post That "Gumption" Is Our #1 Book for the Week, but There Are Lots of Other Books to Talk About on This Week's Boswell Annotated Bestsellers.

Happy bestseller day!

Hardcover Fiction:
1. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
2. Miller's Valley, by Anna Quindlen
3. Journey to Munich, by Jacqueline Winspear
4. The Story of Kullervo, by J.R.R. Tolkien
5. Spill Simmer Falter Wither, by Sara Baume
6. The Summer Before the War, by Helen Simonson
7. The Little Red Chairs, by Edna O'Brien
8. Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
9. The Yid, by Paul Goldberg (event June 6, 7 pm with Joel Berkowitz)
10. Fool Me Once, by Harlan Goben

J.R.R. Tolkien shouldn't be still churning them out, but HMH found another early manuscript in The Story of Kullervo. I rarely link to bad reviews because I just don't think it's appropriate for us as booksellers. That said, it will be hard to upset him at this point so here's what John Semley in the Toronto Globe and Mail wrote: "Imagine a character in Ulysses pausing to recite verbatim all the cetological minutiae and history of whaling stuff in Moby-Dick, then nestle that in an extended monologue from William Gaddis’s JR, and you’re still nowhere close to imagining the exhausting, mind-numbing tedium of reading this, one of The Hobbit author’s first forays into prose writing."

Well I can't leave you with that! Here's a nice writeup from Publishers Weekly about Lilac Girls, the World-War-II historical novel from Martha Hall Kelly about a wealthy New Yorker volunteering at the French consulate, a Polish woman working for the Resistance, and a German doctor whose orders are to experiment on patients: "Despite some horrific scenes, this is a page-turner demonstrating the tests and triumphs civilians faced during war, complemented by Kelly’s vivid depiction of history and excellent characters."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Fierce Optimism, by Leeza Gibbons
2. People Get Ready, by Robert McChesney and John Nichols
3. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
4. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
5. Gumption, by Nick Offerman
6. Fifty for Your Future, by Tavis Smiley
7. Becoming Wise, by Krista Tippett
8. Paddle Your Own Canoe, by Nick Offerman
9. Lauren Conrad Celebrate, by Lauren Conrad with Leslie Bruce
10. The Rainbow Comes and Goes, by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt

You'll know Krista Tippett from her NPR show On Being. If you're really paying attention, you'll remember that Tippett's last book, Einstein's God, had a number of appearances on our paperback bestseller list. It was a big hit for us! Her new Becoming Wise: An Inquiry Into the Mystery and Art of Living, is off to a good start. The Publishers Weekly Staff Pick review from Seth Satterlee notes that she uses her vast store of conversations with various sages to investigate the nature of wisdom: "Pulling together and going beyond the accumulated knowledge of her interviews, Tippett's book is an incantatory trip into the paradoxical and profound."

Paperback Fiction:
1. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman (event May 14, 2 pm, 7 pm)
2. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
3. The Turner House, by Angela Flournoy
4. Listen and Other Stories, by Liam Callanan
5. All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews
6. Luckiest Girl Alive, by Jessica Knoll (event April 19 with Carole E. Barrowman, 7 pm)
7. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald
8. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, by Fredrik Backman (see above)
9. A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara
10. My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante

Among the other big releases of April 5 was the paperback edition of the second U.S.-published novel, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, from Fredrik Backman. Terri Schlichenmeyer wrote in the Asheboro Courier-Tribune: "Did you ever read a novel that was so captivating that when it was over, you felt a little adrift? That’s how I was when I finished My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. It's about a little girl who is sent on a treasure hunt by her dying grandmother. And guess who plays a bit part in the story? Britt-Marie, who Elsa calls the "nag-bag" neighbor, who is the protagonist of the third novel, Britt Marie Was Here. Join us on Saturday, May 14, 2 pm, for Backman's appearance.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Gumption, by Nick Offerman
2. Paddle Your Own Canoe, by Nick Offerman
3. H is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald (event sold out, alas)
4. I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai
5. The Perpetural Guest, by Barry Schwabsky
6. Martyrdom, by Hallie Fryd and Julia Gfrorer
7. The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
8. Dead Wake, by Erik Larson
9. If These Walls Could Talk Milwaukee Brewers, by Bill Schroeder with Drew Olson
10. Between You and Me, by Mary Morris

While coloring books are not dominating the lists the way they did six months ago (perhaps because you don't have to go so far to get a good selection - I'll be they are at your local convenience store, next to the fruit-flavored mini-cigars, which are somehow legal. It's the first time on our list for Martyrdom: The Coloring Book, by Hallie Fryd and Julia Gfrorer. It's a very graphic interpretation of the lives of the Saints, published by Zest Books, a San Francisco publishing company that specializes in nonfiction. Hey, there's Emma on the about us page, who used to be at Algonquin. Hi, Emma!

Books for Kids:
1. The Haters, by Jesse Andrews
2. Seven Wonders: Colossus Rises V1, by Peter Lerangis
3. Hello?, by Liza Wiemer (event May 18 at Weyenberg Library, 6:30 pm)
4. Seven Wonders: Legend of the Rift V5, by Peter Lerangis
5. Seven Wonders: Lost in Babylong V2, by Peter Lerangis
6. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews
7. Seven Wonders: Tomb of Shadows V3, by Peter Lerangis
8. Seven Wonders: Curse of the King V4, by Peter Lerangis
9. Tomquest: Amulet Keepers V2, by Michael Northrop
10. I Am a Bunny, by Ole Risom with illustrations by Richard Scarry

As I've mentioned before, we've hosted Peter Lerangis in the past with public events but this time we didn't have a slot for him, as we were a last minute school addition, substituting for a market where it turned out everyone was on spring break. Fortunately this year most breaks in Milwaukee were after Easter (with the exception of a few private schools we work with) so we were able to schedule a full day. And how could we turn Lerangis down? He's really great with kids and the series delivers - among its fans are our buyer Amie's daughter. Oh, and he's part of Milwaukee history, having done seasons with the legendary Melody Top Theater in the 1980s. It's about four kids who have to go back in time to retrieve seven magic Loculi, which together can save their lives. Oh, and they're lost among the ruins of The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Get it? We have signed copies of the series, including the newest, Legend of the Rift.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Mike Fischer reviews The Red Parts, the memoir from Maggie Nelson, whose book The Argonauts was a critical hit. He opens the review: "In November 2004, poet and critic Maggie Nelson learned that the Michigan State Police would soon arrest a suspect in the never-solved 1969 murder of Nelson's aunt. The police had been working the case for five years — the time Nelson herself had spent writing a soon-to-be-published poetry book about the murdered Jane, dead before Nelson was born. Nelson's description of this uncanny coincidence opens The Red Parts, originally published in 2007 and now being issued in paperback." He calls the book "brave" and compares Nelson's work to Joan Didion.

Also at the Journal Sentinel, Chris Foran reviews Simon Callow's the third volume of his continuing biography, Orson Welles: One Man Band. The Foran assesment: "In many ways, the period covered in One-Man Band shows Welles at his most interesting, and most frustrating. He was on his own, free at last. Unfortunately, getting the financing to make that viable was as big a challenge as the work itself, and it didn't help that his need to be larger than life made him as many enemies as it did admirers. Like many of the people and players in Welles' orbit, Callow wrestles with his fascination with Welles, in whom flashes of genius are balanced against really, really bad behavior — like a king in exile 'who still considered himself king,' according to one Hollywood director Welles worked with, Richard Fleischer."

And because we're just about at Orson Welles's 100th birthday, Foran also reviews Citizen Kane: A Filmmaker's Journey, by Harlan Lebo. A little Foran-alysis: "The result is an engaging synthesis of just about everything written about Kane, with expertly drawn conclusions that feel like, when you read them, the arguments are over."

And finally, a profile of Kate DiCamillo, whose novel Raymie Nightingale is due out any second. The Journal Sentinel printed a story from Laurie Hertzel, first in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. From Hertzel: "Kate, her brother and her mother had moved to Florida when Kate was five in hopes that the warm climate would improve her frail health. Her father promised to sell his orthodontist practice in Philadelphia and join them, but he never did. DiCamillo sees a silver lining in this abandonment: 'I’ve always written about missing parents,' she said. 'This is part of why I became a writer.' The theme of absent parents runs through much of her work and is at the heart of her new novel for children, Raymie Nightingale."

Laurie Hertzel's review of Lee Smith's Dimestore is also reprinted. Hertzel quibbles with Smith's decision to write a memoir in essays instead of a continuous narrative, but in the end, she writes "Smith’s details are so piercingly remembered, so vividly set on the page, that I felt wrapped in a great blanket of familiarity. Her memoir is a warm, poignant read about a lost time and place, a love of books and a celebration."

1 comment:

Martha Kelly said...

Thanks for the Lilac Girls shoutout. Much appreciated!