Sunday, May 15, 2016

What's Selling at Boswell and a little bit of why, plus how we got more signed copies of a popular title by meeting the author at a truck the Journal Sentinel book features.

Despite being gone to BEA for a few days, we had plenty of events, including some school visits that weren't on our public calendar, and due to Jane and I selling at a lunch and a brunch, we had some extra handselling going on, which definitely helped our bestsellers lists, hence a slight expansion of hardcover fiction and a breakout and tripling of our normal kids bestseller report.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Britt-Marie Was Here, by Fredrik Backman
2. The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton
3. Everyone Brave is Forgiven, by Chris Cleave (#16 on the NYT - congrats!)
4. LaRose, by Louise Erdrich (Associated Press has a review from Carla Johnson)
5. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
6. Everybody's Fool, by Richard Russo
7. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
8. Circling the Sun, by Paula McLain (Barbara Rinella's focus title at Ozaukee Family Services)
9. Eligible, by Curtis Sittenfeld
10. The Summer Before the War, by Helen Simonson
11. Zero K, by Don DeLillo
12. The Nest, by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

Thank you to Jane Hamilton, who met Lisa of Books and Company and me at the truck stop and O&H kringle stand on I-94 and Highway 20. We got more books signed as we sold out of copies at Hamilton's event. Plus our server bought a book for her mom. Plus Lisa and I bought kringles (the official pastry of Racine) - I like them more than the other brands that are sold in Milwaukee, though you don't have to go all the way to Highway 20 - they have another stand on 27th and Ryan.And that's one reason why we had an excellent week for The Excellent Lombards. The other reason is that it's a great book.

And because you're asking (I can tell) whether we have signed copies of Britt-Marie Was Here and paperback Backman backlist, we do.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Code of the Extraordinary Mind, by Vishen Lakhiani
2. The Romanovs, by Simon Sebag Montefiore
3. The Courage Solution, by Mindy Mackenzie
4. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
5. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
6. When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi
7. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
8. The Last Goodnight, by Howard Blum
9. Grit, by Angela Duckworth
10. The Heart of Europe, by Peter H. Wilson

Angela Duckworth tells how teaching seventh grade math led her to the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perserverance. The book had a good week at Boswell, following up a strong debut nationally. Here's her TED Talk. There have been lots of stories on the book, and much of the buzz about Duckworth's work started before publication, like this NPR story, where Anya Kamenetz reported on Duckworth's concerns that enthusiasm was getting ahead of the science.

Paperback Fiction:
1. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
2. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, by Fredrik Backman
3. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
4. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
5. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald (event 5/19, 7 pm, at Boswell)
6. A Spool of Blue Thread, by Anne Tyler
7. Burning Dark, by Adam Christopher
8. Girl Waits With Gun, by Amy Stewart
9. The Secret of High Eldersham, by Miles Burton
10. Death Stalks Door County, by Patricia Skalka

We've got a mystery-heavy top ten this week, though positioning might make you think otherwise. At least one person who read Girl Waits With Gun argued that the book wasn't a mystery, though the release of Lady Cop Makes Trouble this fall sort of indicates that this is a crime series. The Secret of High Eldersham is from the British Crime Library, the series from Poisoned Pen that is doing so well, and The Sympathizer not only won the Pulitzer, but the debut mystery award from the Edgars as well.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Milwaukee in the 1930s, by John D. Buenker
2. Tomas Young's War, by Mark Wilkerson
3. Bettyville, by George Hodgman
4. Kitchen Hacks, by America's Test Kitchen
5. Dead Wake, by Erik Larson
6. H Is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald
7. The Balkans, by Mark Mazower
8. The Residence, by Kate Andersen Brower
9. We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie
10. The Wisconsin Supper Club Cookbook, by Mary Bergin

America's Test Kitchen's Kitchen Hacks: How Clever Cooks Get Things Done is an impulse table pop. Claire Lower in Skillet called the book "a comprehensive, well-indexed tome of tips and tricks to help you clean, cook, store, and transport food in more efficient and clever ways, all without the use of fancy appliances. You will need some tongs though; the folks at Cook’s Illustrated seem to be obsessed with tongs." I was pleased to see the unwaxed dental floss method for cutting cakes, which for some reason, used to come up in my life with some frequency.

Picture books:
1. The Thank You Book by Mo Willems
2. Good Trick, Walking Stick, by Sheri Mabry Bestor with illustrations by Jonny Lambert
3. How to Dress a Dragon, by Thelma Lynne Godin with illustrations by Eric Barclay
4. Rain Fish, by Lois Ehlert
5. The Hula Hoopin' Queen, by Thelma Lynne Godin with illustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
6. Thunder Boy Jr., by Sherman Alexie with illustrations by Yuyi Morales
7. Snail and Worm, by Tina Kügler
8. Stories from Bug Garden, by Lisa Moser with illustrations by Gwen Millward
9. Wolf Camp, by Andrea Zuill
10Last Stop on Market Street, by Matt de la Peña with illustrations by Christian Robinson

It must be spring as there is definitely a nature theme in many of these titles, including Snail and Worm and Stories from Bug Garden. Some of these sales were from us ringing up sales from the Greedale Children's Book Festival. One highlight was definitely Thelma Lynne Godin hula hooping with the attendees for The Hula Hoopin' Queen. And the book that was most often bought outside the presentation was Sheri Mabry Bestor's Good Trick, Walking Stick.

Chapter books:
1. Rump, by Liesl Shurtliff
2. Red, by Liesl Shurtliff
3. Jack, by Liesl Shurtliff
4. Borrowed Time, by Greg Leitich Smith
5. Chronal Engine, by Greg Leitich Smith
6. Booked, by Kwame Alexander
7. The Hidden Oracle, by Rick Riordan
8. Raymie Nightingale, by Kate DiCamillo
9. Pax, by Sara Pennypacker
10. Kate Walden Directs Night of the Zombie Chickens, by Julie Mata

Liesl Shurtliff continues reimagining fairytales in Red: The True Story of Little Red Riding Hood. Kirkus Reviews called the newest a solid outing, noting: "Shurtliff brings inventive new dimensions to Granny and Red, whom readers met in the companion book, Rump. Granny, a witch, is none other than Rose Red, whose sister, Snow White, married a bear-prince. Red has powers, too, but she's been afraid to practice after a particularly disastrous spell almost killed Granny years ago."

Young Adult:
1. The Girl I Used to Be, by April Henry
2. The Body in the Woods, by April Henry
3. Blood Will Tell, by April Henry
4. The Glittering Court, by Richelle Mead
5. Soundless, by Richelle Mead
6. The Book Thief Tenth Anniversary Edition, by Markus Zusak
7. All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
8. Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead
9. The Crown, by Kiera Cass
10. Quiet Power, by Susan Cain

April Henry continues to ring up book sales from her school visits. About her newest, The Girl I Used to Be, Booklist wrote: "With her straightforward thrillers, Henry has carved a welcome niche for herself in young adult literature, thanks to her great instinct for intriguing plots, likable characters, and fast-paced action. The short chapters with cliff-hanger endings, not to mention the juicy plot, will keep readers engaged to the end."

Over in the Journal Sentinel, Mike Fischer reviews A Country Road, A Tree, a novel by Jo Baker about Samuel Beckett. which he calls a "moving, beautifully written and riveting historical novel." It's about Becket's life in Europe during World War II and Fischer notes that "Starting with her title, taken from the terse stage direction that opens Godot, Baker draws many understated parallels between Beckett's wartime experience and what would become his most famous play."

The Journal Sentinel's Jim Higgins covers the return of Siddhartha Mukherjee's new book, folowing his Pultizer-winning The Emperor of All Maladies. Higgins calls The Gene: An Intimate History "a fascinating and often sobering history of how humans came to understand the roles of genes in making us who we are — and what our manipulation of those genes might mean for our future." He later writes that "The Gene captures the scientific method — questioning, researching, hypothesizing, experimenting, analyzing — in all its messy, fumbling glory, corkscrewing its way to deeper understanding and new questions."

And finally in the print edition of the Journal Sentinel, Ed Sherman reviews The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports. Originally published in the Chicago Tribune, the book focuses on why baseball teams are so focused on pitchers (outspending football teams when it comes to paying quarterbacks), despite the high risks of injury. The problem is getting worse, and it's afflicting younger players. Sherman writes: "The Arm should be required reading for youth baseball coaches and parents with a child who appears to have a gift to throw a baseball. It also should be on the list for fans who want to understand why some of most expensive athletes in sports, pitchers, are such a fragile commodity."

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