Sunday, September 4, 2016

A nice first week for Louise Penny, Sabaa Tahir, and newcoming Nathan Hill, plus more of Boswell's annotated bestsellers, week ending September 3, 2016, plus the Journal Sentinel TapBooks page

Well, guess who just walked in? It's the annotated Boswell bestseller lists.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Great Reckoning V12, by Louise Penny
2. Ghost Talkers, by Mary Robinette Kowal
3. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
4. The Nix, by Nathan Hill
5. Another Brooklyn, by Jacqueline Woodson (event 10/21 at Centennial Hall)
6. Black Widow, by Daniel Silva
7. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
8. Heroes of the Frontier, by Dave Eggers
9. Surrender New York, by Caleb Carr
10. Heavenly Table, by Donald Ray Pollock

It appears that the current literary harbinger of fall is the appearance of the new Louise Penny mystery, and The Great Reckoning, Boswellian Sharon explained to me, is a reset, a great place for new readers to start, with Inspector Gamache coming out of retirement to clean up the Surete Academy du Quebec. Marilyn Stasio praised the series immense charm in her NYTBR writeup and fellow Boswell bookseller Anne wrote: "Thank you, Louise Penny - I couldn't turn the pages fast enough!!!"

Every publisher tries to break out a first novel, but Knopf seems to do this particularly well, partly because you know The New York Times generally follows their lead. Teddy Wayne in The New York Times Book Review calls their latest priority a love child between Thomas Pynchon and David Foster Wallace, writing: "The Nix, Nathan Hill’s ambitiously panoramic and humane debut novel, oscillates between the poles of the 1968 Chicago protests and 2011. Its backdrop includes Occupy Wall Street, insipid pop singers and a reactionary, ­revolver-carrying Wyoming governor ready to run for president. Hill zeros in on the failures and discarded idealism of the boomers, a generation that pivoted, in less than two decades, from motorcycles to minivans, from socialism to sushi."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
2. City of Thorns, by Ben Rawlence (event 9/13 at USM)
3. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
4. The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, by Amy Schumer
5. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance
6. Mamaleh knows Best, by Marjorie Ingall (event 11/10 at Congregation Sinai)
7. My Son Wears Heels, by Julie Tarney (event 9/21 at Boswell)
8. John Bascom and the Origins of the Wisconsin Idea, by J. David Hoeveler (event 9/7 at Boswell)
9. Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide, by Darryl DMC McDaniels
10. Seinfeldia, by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong (ticketed event 9/12 at The Soup House)

Well, you can see that our upcoming nonfiction event schedule is making an impact, with full half our top ten represented with upcoming event (and I should note that DMC will be back at Clicks on Capitol Drive this coming week for another Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide signing. We'll have more info in our next email newsletter). While most of the events are free, our Jennifer Keishin Armstrong event is ticket with a bowl of soup at The Soup House, and we're about 2/3 of the way to our 85 person capacity). Here's a nice piece about Seinfeldia on Flavorwire by Lara Zarum.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
2. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
3. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
4. The Dust that Falls from Dreams, by Louis De Bernieres
5. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
6. The Heart Goes Last, by Margaret Atwood
7. Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf
8. The Lake House, by Kate Morton
9. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald
10. The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie

Jane and I did a presentation to another book club this week and even though it was relatively small, the results were enough to affect the bestseller list. For one thing, Jane's pitch on The Dust that Falls from Dreams was a winner. With reads now from Jane, Conrad, and Jason, I'm thinking we could outdo what was a rather strong hardcover sale. We've well outsold De Berniere's previous novel, The Partisan's Daughter (which Jason noted is a republished older book), but we've got a bit to go before we match the Downer Schwartz's sale on Birds Without Wings and it would be rather unlikely to catch up to the blockbuster of Corelli's Mandolin (or Captain Corelli's Mandolin if you drive a lorry).

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. LGBT Milwaukee, by Michail Takach
2. The Residence, by Kate Andersen Brower
3. Cream City Chronicles, by John Gurda
4. The Edge of the World, by Michael Pye
5. M Train, by Patti Smith
6. Gumption, by Nick Offerman
7. Sit Stay Heal, by Mel Miskimen (event 9/14 at Boswell)
8. Wasting Time on the Internet, by Kenneth Goldsmith
9. Conservative Counterrevolution, by Tula Connell (event 10/17 at Boswell)
10. Dog Medicine, by Julie Barton

Conceptual artist Kenneth Goldsmith argues in Wasting Time on the Internet that you are in fact not wasting time at all. Here's the original New Yorker article that probably led to the book contract. And here's his interview with Quentin Hardy in The New York Times when the book was released in August.

Books for Kids:
1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling with John Tiffany and Jack Thorne
2. A Torch Against the Night V2, by Sabaa Tahir
3. Stories from Bug Garden, by Lisa Moser with illustrations by Gwen Millward
4. I Am a Bunnny, by Ole Risom with illustrations by Richard Scarry
5. The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt, with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers
6. An Ember in the Ashes V1, by Sabaa Tahir
7. Dog Man, by Dav Pilkey (event 10/24 at Greenfield Peforming Arts Center)
8. The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, by Michelle Cuevas, with illustrations by Erin Stead
9. Booked, by Kwame Alexander
10. The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill (event with Brian Farrey on Sept 16, registration requested)

Sabaa Tahir's long-awaited follow up to An Ember in the Ashes is just out and A Torch Against the Night is getting great reads, including from Boswellian Jen. Tahir spoke to Neda Ulaby on NPR's Weekend Edition. From the story: "There's an insatiable appetite, it seems, for books about young people killing each other in made-up militarized societies. And according to author Sabaa Tahir — whose new book, A Torch Against the Night, continues that trend — if you look at today's headlines, the genre's popularity makes sense: After all, the news is where she found her inspiration." And she goes on to note that more of her inspiration came from the motel her parents ran on the Mojave Desert while she was growing up.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins offers highlights from the fall event season, including the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books in Waukesha and the Murder and Mayhem Mystery Conference at the Irish Cultural Center. A number of our events are included (thank you!), including the ticketed Sunday evening event with Jon Meacham for the paperback release of Destiny and Power, his biography of George H.W. Bush, on November 6. There are some authors you'll take whenever you can get them. We made a proposal for Jonathan Safran Foer at 2 in the morning but alas, we didn't make the cut.

Speaking of that author, the Journal Sentinel also features Mike Fischer's review of his new novel, Here I Am, which goes on sale September 6. Fischer calls it "moving, maddening, and messy" and whether I agree with that or not, I do love me some alliteration. The story is both an intimate one of one couple and a bigger canvas story of an earthquake in Israel, which both get to his themes about our inability to appreciate an imperfect world and instead dwell on those imperfections. Did I get that right? Eh, close enough.

Also in the print edition is a review of Harmony, the new novel by Carolyn Parkhurst, best known for The Dogs of Babel. It's about a family's ill-fated trip to a communal camp in New Hampshire, and Parkhurst draws on her background as parent to a child on the Autism Spectrum. Ogle's take, first printed in the Miami Herald: "Parkhurst has always been an engaging and thoughtful writer, but the beautifully written. Harmony is her best work, a haunting, creepy but ultimately moving story of love and family."

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