Boswell's bestsellers for the week ending September 16, 2016.
1. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
2. The Great Reckoning, by Louise Penny
3. Here I Am, by Jonathan Safran Foer
4. The Nix, by Nathan Hill
5. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
6. Nutshell, by Ian McEwan
7. Jerusalem, by Alan Moore
8. The Nightingale, by Krisin Moore
9. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
10. The Light of Paris, by Eleanor Brown
Our ticketed event with Ann Patchett is probably going to sell out today. Don't forget that you must buy a ticket for our event - purchasing a book will not allow entry, but you can leave your book with us to get signed.
Nutshell, the newest novel from Ian McEwan that riffs on Hamlet as an embryo, has gotten some amazing reviews, such as Michiko Kakutani's in The New York Times, which she says is "a small tour de force that showcases all of Mr. McEwan’s narrative gifts of precision, authority and control, plus a new, Tom Stoppard-like delight in the sly gymnastics that words can be perform."
Not all agree. Christopher Tayler in The Financial Times writes: "All the same, the high-wire act doesn’t really come off. McEwan’s usual strengths — imaginative precision, narrative placement and control of story dynamics — can make even slim works like On Chesil Beach oddly resonant. Nutshell relies instead on pure voice and quickly collapses into a mishmash of pentameter-ridden sentences and half-baked wordplay. An uncharitable reading would see its eccentric set-up as a way of refreshing some essentially banal observations. But perhaps it’s more a case of a bored master-carpenter trying his hand at embroidery."
And of course we go back to the well of Shakespeare, because you can't be caught doing this to 20th century works (past 1923) for fear of copyright infringement. Are we ever going to see another book or play go into public domain?
1. The Intimidation Game, by Kimberley Strassel
2. The Upside of Inequality, by Edward Conrad
3. Seinfeldia, by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
4. City of Thorns, by Ben Rawlence
5. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
6. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
7. My Son Wears Heels, by Julie Tarney (event 9/21, 7 pm at Boswell)
8. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
9. The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, by Amy Schumer
10. The Year of Voting Dangerously, by Maureen Dowd
One program that has been rising in importance for books has been university common reads. While students didn't buy the books from us, there is probably still some spin-off sales of Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me, which was named UWM's Common Read for 2016-17. And at UW-Madison, the common read is Matthew Desmond's Evicted.
1. Arrow: The Dark Archer, by John Barrowman
2. 1984, by George Orwell
3. Cinnamon Girl, by Lawrence Kessenich
4. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
5. Walking the Dog, by Elizabeth Swados
6. These Honored Dead, by Jonathan Putnam
7. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
8. Jade Dragon Mountain, by Elsa Hart
9. The Tiger Claw, by Shauna Singh Baldwin
10. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
Fates and Furies is now out in paperback. The publisher took the unusual tack of releasing it in just about a year, which is very unusual for popular book nowadays. More common is 8-10 months, and it is not unusual for a book like Hannah Rothschild's The Improbability of Love or Elizabeth Mckenzie's The Portable Veblen (with an event just scheduled at Boswell for the paperback on Monday, January 23, 7 pm ) to start out at 12 months and pretty close to pub date move up to 10. And of course the other option is three months before the film is released, which is the equivalent of "until we have to." That was the case for The Girl on the Train and seems to be in place for All the Light We Cannot See. The three months before film release seems to be contractual.
1. Sit Stay Heal, by Mel Miskimen
2. Reluctant Rebellions, by Shauna Singh Baldwin (event 12/12, 7 pm at Boswell)
3. Known and Strange Things, by Teju Coates
4. Camera Lucida, by Roland Barthes
5. SPQR, by Mary Beard
6. Selma of the North, by Patrick D Jones
7. LGBT Milwaukee, by Michail Takach
8. Light on Yoga, by BKS Iyengar
9. Milwaukee in the 1930s, by John D Buenker
10. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
Shauna Singh Baldwin's first book of nonfiction, Reluctant Rebellions, is published by the Centre for Indo-Canadian Marriage at the University of Fraser Valley in British Columbia. She recently spoke to an AAUW Book Club and we were able to source some copies, but we'll have more for a Boswell event on December 12.
Here's another list where you can see the influence of course adoption at the store. The numbers are relatively small for the amount of textbooks that are sold each semester to Milwaukee-area college (and even high school) students. Most of the business at UWM has gone to the new official web store since the UWM Bookstore closed, but there are still outliers that come to the bookstore when their professor or instructor registers with us or more commonly, Woodland Pattern.
Books for Kids:
1. The Girl who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill
2. The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse, by Brian Farrey
3. The Witch's Boy, by Kelly Barnhill
4. Norbert's Big Dream, by Lori Degman (event 9/21, 4 pm, at Shorewood Public Library)
5. Cock a Doodle Oops, by Lori Degman
6. 1 Zany Zoo, by Lori Degman
7. The Vengekeep Prophecies, by Brian Farrey
8. Ghosts, by Raina Telgemeier
9. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by JK Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
10. Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson (event 10/21, 6:30 at Centennial Hall)
That three months before pub date seems to be in place even happens for relatively inexpensive YA novels, which was why The Hunger Games and its sequels had such a strange paperback release track. You also saw it for The Fault in Our Stars. I would have expected that to be the case for Eleanor and Park, but apparently an IMDb update noted that rights were returned to the author and the film is no longer in development. I know that there have been some disappointing YA adaptations but I think it would do great, as long as it was a good adaptation and didn't blow out the budget.
But that said, Brown Girl Dreaming's paperback release is October 11, just before our October 21 event for Another Brooklyn. I don't think there's a movie coming out in January, but it would be great if there was!
Over at the Journal Sentinel, Christi Clancy reviews The Virginity of Famous Men, the new collection of short stories by award-winner Christine Sneed. She writes: "You get the sense that the characters, even though they’ve been battered, haven’t given up entirely on their desire to connect with other people in a deep and sustained way. They long to get close enough to someone to ask, 'how’d you lose your virginity?' But the power in Sneed’s stories comes from what they seem to want most of all: to turn that question on themselves." Sneed appears at Boswell with Gina Frangello on Friday, September 23, 7 pm.
From Jim Higgins, book editor of the Journal Sentinel, comes a review of Fates and Traitors, the new novel from Jennifer Chiaverini. From Higgins: "Just as she does in her previous novels in this sequence, in Fates and Traitors Chiaverini depicts the constraints on women's autonomy in this era — and of how shrewdly women worked through or around those constraints. Booth's courtship of Lucy reminds us how many Confederate sympathizers lived in Washington during the war. Her book also makes clear how easy it can be for a young woman, excited by the attention of a handsome, charismatic man, to minimize the harsh notes in his personality."
Chiaverini is doing two events in Southeast Wisconsin. She's at the Menomonee Falls Library on September 24, 2 pm, with sales from Books and Company, and at the Kenosha Public Library Northside branch, 1500 27th Ave, on Wednesday, September 28, 6:30 pm.
And finally, Carole E Barrowman's Paging Through Mysteries column is back at the Journal Sentinel, with four great new mystery/thrillers highlighted.
Our current favorite Elsa Hart is touted for book number two, The White Mirror. Barrowman writes: "Hart imagines life in 18th century China with measured grace in her pacing and elegance in her prose. Her main character Li Du was once the Imperial Librarian, but was exiled and now journeys with a caravan on a path between empires of Tibet and China." You can spot Jade Dragon Mountain on this week's paperback bestseller list.
Pick #2: "Ian Hamilton’s The King of Shanghai is set in contemporary Asia, particularly the Bund in Shanghai, a storied street where the Chinese government first “permitted foreigners to live and work.” The sights and sounds of the city are palpable; however, it’s the verisimilitude of the relationships among the three main female characters (including Chinese-Canadian superhero accountant Ava Lee) that’s the most compelling aspect of the book."
Manitou Canyon is the newest "gripping" novel from Minnesota writer and Edgar winner William Kent Kreuger. Barrowman's: "Steeped in the mythology of Native American tribes of Minnesota and Wisconsin, the novel opens after one of Cork’s neighbors, a wealthy businessman, disappears during a fishing trip in the Boundary Waters."
Looking for a great read when you like George Pelecanos or Walter Mosley? Barrowman's suggestion: "Set in Atlanta in 1948, Thomas Mullen’s Darktown pits two rookie black cops against too many crooked white cops in a city where Jim Crow upholds two different versions of justice...This novel is hard to read, and even harder to put down."
Teen Thursday (10/27/16)
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