Sunday, June 19, 2016

What's selling at Boswell? The annotated bestseller lists for the week ending June 18, 2016 (plus the links to the Journal Sentinel book page)

Here's what's selling at Boswell this week:

1. The Girls, by Emma Cline
2. Murder on the Quai, by Cara Black (event 6/28, 7 pm)
3. Barkskins, by Annie Proulx
4. LaRose, by Louise Erdrich
5. As Good as Gone, by Larry Watson (event 6/21, 7 pm, with Mitch Teich)
6. Kitchens of the Great Midwest, by J. Ryan Stradal
7. The Fireman, by Joe Hill
8. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
9. Hero of France, by Alan Furst
10. The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie

Though everyone (NYT) does not seem to be on the Barkskins train, Ron Charles at The Washington Post has a lot of great things to say about Annie Proulx's new book: "At more than 700 pages, covering three centuries, Barkskins is an awesome monument of a book, a spectacular survey of America’s forests dramatized by a cast of well-hewn characters. Granted, your interest in forests may not extend to 700 pages, or even — to be honest — to seven, but such is the magnetism of Proulx’s narrative that there’s no resisting her thundering cascade of stories."

Similarly The Girls has had mostly but not all (The New Yorker) raves and I thought that she and her publisher had added new stakes to the triple crown, by getting a daily review (from Alexandra Alter), Sunday review (from Dylan Landis), and two features, also from Alter plus one about writing in her garden shed in the Magazine. But the daily review was more of a roundup so i don't feel comfortable calling it whatever one would call it...the Grand Slam (referencing tennis)?

Update: One of our friends reminded me that The New York Times did have a negative review of The Girls from Dwight Garner, but try is I might, I couldn't seem to get it to come up on my search engine. Now of course, it did. Here it is. So that makes...five features?

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Meathead, by Meathead Goldwyn
2. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
3. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
4. The Gene, by Siddhartha Mukherjee
5. But What if We're Wrong, by Chuck Klosterman
6. The View From the Cheap Seats, by Neil Gaiman
7. Grunt, by Mary Roach
8. Cure, by Jo Marchant
9. Hamilton, by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
10. Witness to the Revolution, by Clara Bingham

What indeed is the story behind Cure: A Journey Into Mind Over Body, the new book from British science writer Jo Marchant about rejecting the dichotomy between traditional and non-traditional medicine. Jennifer Senior writes in The New York Times: "Ms. Marchant, the author of Decoding the Heavens and The Shadow King, wants to acknowledge the alternative therapies that have withstood the scrutiny of Western peer review. More broadly, she wants to acknowledge the important and influential role of the mind in our overall health. What follows her introduction is a 12-chapter tour d’horizon, with the author crisscrossing the globe to make a detailed relief map of the latest mind-body research. Virtual reality therapy in Seattle! Hypnosis in Northern England! Placebo studies in Italy and Germany!"

Paperback Fiction:
1. Kitchens of the Great Midwest, by J. Ryan Stradal
2. The Exodus Code, by John and Carole E. Barrowman
3. The Fearless Flag Thrower of Lucca, by Paul Salsini
4. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
5. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
6. A Spool of Blue Thread, by Ann Tyler
7. Girl Waits With Gun, by Amy Stewart
8. My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
9. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald
10. The Lake House, by Kate Morton

I'm always interested in sales trends and one thing I've noticed is that Anne Tyler's latest has taken off in paperback in a much bigger way than her last three did at Downer Avenue. This store selling more than three times what we did of copies of Digging to America (2007), Noah's Compass (2011) and The Beginner's Goodbye (2013). The book also blew out the numbers on hardcover, with the store seeing a large drop between Digging and Noah's, and building back since then. Digging was the last novel I read from Tyler (and up till then I read everything) but I'll be back on track as we're discussing Spool on July 11.

Tyler's is just one book we recommended at the Elm Grove Library book club night, featuring J. Ryan Stradal and Kitchens of the Great Midwest. Other books that had a major pop were The Little Paris Bookshop (of course) and Girl Waits With Gun, which looks like it might be turning into a book club favorite.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Happy Felsch, by Thomas Rathkamp
2. Milwaukee in the 1930s, by John D. Buenker
3. Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow (the legendary Tony Awards pop!)
4. My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me, by Jennifer Teege
5. World War II Milwaukee, by Meg Jones
6. Just Mercy, by Bryan Stephenson
7. Exoneree Diaries, by Alison Flowers
8. Untethered Soul, by Michael Singer
9. The Residence, by Kate Anderson Brower
10. Your Favorite Band is Killing Me, by Steven Hyden (event 6/24, 7 pm, at Cactus Club)

A few more books from the Elm Grove night hit because of Jane's talking up, notably The Residence and My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me. I still miss having Deutsche Welle on my cable channel as I used to watch the German video show with some regularity. I also might have seen Teege interviewed. Here's the print version, where Teege talks about being the granddaughter Amon Göth, notorious from Schindler's List. The book was called Amon in German, because that's really all you'd need to say over there.

From DW: "Through her book and research, Teege is facing her family history. She looks through pictures of her grandmother, who temporarily lived with Amon Göth in his concentration camp villa. She often travels to Krakow to the scene of her grandfather's crimes. She meets with historical witnesses who remember the horrors of the past. She reads everything she can find about the Nazi past and talks to psychologists to help process it all. 'You think that if you don't talk about something, then it won't have any impact on you. But in my case the silence had a destructive effect,' she said."

Books for Kids:
1. Hollow Earth, by John and Carole E. Barrowman
2. Goodnight Moon board book, by Margaret Wise Brown
3. Pat the Bunny, by Dorothy Kunhardt
4. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin Jr, with illustrations by Lois Ehlert
5. Oh the Places You'll Go, by Dr. Seuss
6. Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown
7. Thank You Book, by Mo Willems
8. The Problem With Forever, by Jennifer Armentrout
9. Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney
10. Thunder Boy, Jr, by Sherman Alexie with illustrations by Yuyi Morales

If you want to see the original art for Barbara Cooney's Miss Rumphius, it is supposedly displayed at Bowdoin College in Maine.

We had a nice post-event pop on The Problem With Forever this week, but searching the internet, I do not know why. I think those signed copies were just calling out to be bought.But alas, I think we're now out of them.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Mike Fischer reviews Vinegar Girl, Anne Tyler's brand new take on The Taming of the Shrew, part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series, casting Kate as a preschool teaching assistant living with her family in (where else?) Baltimore. He writes: "As with the best stage productions of Shrew, love creates a fundamental equality between the pair at the center of Tyler's novel; critics apt to castigate Shakespeare's play for its supposed sexism repeatedly miss this underlying truth."

Book editor Jim Higgins profiles Kathie Giorgio, whose new collection of stories is Oddities and Endings. He notes: "Like her hero Ray Bradbury, Giorgio creates fiction in many moods and emotional colors, from quirky comedy to the darkest nights of the soul. What many of those tales share is Giorgio's skill in depicting characters shaped or stunted by their loneliness. Doris, the Catholic heroine of 'Limbo's Gates,' anguishes for decades about the eternal fate of her baby, dead from SIDS before being baptized. In a lighter tone, Audrey of 'In Your Company,' having never acquired a husband, applies her relationship skills to Newt, her pet iguana."

Lauren Patten reviews Being a Beast: Adventures Across the Species Divide in the Journal Sentinel. Charles Foster tries to show what life is from a beast's perspective. Patten's take: Foster nearly convinces us that such shape-shifting is possible in the way he lyrically tells his stories — uncensored, intensely descriptive and often hysterical — and by referencing literary works and undisputed physiological facts. He structures the book around the four elements of Western culture. Through Foster, we become a badger and red deer (living below or on the earth), an urban fox (the fire of city lights), an otter (water) and a swift (air). We burrow in a Welsh hillside and eat earthworms, become hunted by a bloodhound and nearly die of hypothermia, sleep on London's streets and narrowly avoid arrest, catch fish in our teeth and follow the migration route from England to Africa, riding thermals two miles above earth."

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