Sunday, October 9, 2016

Annotated Bestsellers including the new Tana French, a publishing memoir from Robert Gottlieb, a new film at the Downer, and a whole bunch of events

Greetings from Boswell at the end of a very exciting week. Here are our annotated bestsellers.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Mercury, by Margot Livesey
2. The Trespasser, by Tana French
3. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett (event sold out)
4. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
5. Another Brooklyn, by Jacqueline Woodson (event 10/21, 6:30 pm, at Centennial Hall)
6. Here I Am, by Jonathan Safran Foer
7. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
8. The Wonder, by Emma Donohue
9. Rain in Portugal, by Billy Collins
10. Perfume River, by Robert Olen Butler

In retrospect, we were lucky to host Tana French back at Boswell (at the Shorewood branch, I went!) for one of her early crime novels, as we've been told she no longer tours to the United States. Her new release, The Trespasser, has this excellent review from Mark Lawson in The Guardian that also explains her process: "In the closest that French has got to a conventional followup, The Trespasser allows a second successive case to Detectives Antoinette Conway and Stephen Moran, who investigated the killing of a teenage boy within the grounds of an exclusive girls’ private school in The Secret Place, the book that gold-plated French’s reputation in both the UK and US.Typically, though, the novelist now hands the narrative from Moran to Conway, so that the partnership is viewed through a fresh lens."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Hero of the Empire, by Candice Millard
2. Is This the End?, by David Jeremiah
3. Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen
4. As You Wish, by Cary Elwes
5. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
6. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance
7. Avid Reader, by Robert Gottlieb
8. The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, by Amy Schumer
9. In the Coumpany of Women, by Grace Bonney
10. My Own Words, by Ruth Bader Ginsburg

We have another good week with Bob Gottlieb's publishing memoir, Avid Reader. Whereas books about books tend to do pretty well in bookstores, I think this took us a bit by surprise. Thomas Mallon's New York Times Book Review essay writes "The long Simon and Schuster chapter, a love song that is the best stretch of the book, includes Gott­lieb’s great editorial successes with Jessica Mitford’s gleeful muckraking of the funeral industry (The American Way of Death) and Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 — “still the book I’m most closely associated with,” one whose author showed a “total lack of defensiveness” while being edited."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
2. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
3. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
4. Eileen, by Ottessa Moshfegh (book club discussion 11/7, 7 pm)
5. The Improbability of Love, by Hannah Rothschild (book club discussion 12/5, 7 pm)
6. Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
7. Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, by Bradley Beaulieu
8. My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
9. The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie
10. The Japanese Lover, by Isabel Allende

Down the block at the Downer Theater is the film version of A Man Called Ove, or in Swedish, En man som heter Ove. Alissa Simon in Variety notes: " Music Box Films, which has spun popular Swedish literature-into-film fare such as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window And Disappeared into box office gold, surely has another winner here. In Sweden, the pic netted more than 1.6 million admissions, making it the fifth most popular local feature of all time." She notes that the acting is excellent, particularly that of the character playing Ove and his Iranian neighbor Parvaneh. And we've also been getting great feedback from attendees coming into Boswell after seeing the film.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. As You Wish, by Cary Elwes
2. Ottoman Endgame, Sean McMeekin
3. The Road to Character, by David Brooks
4. Sheet Pan Suppers, by Molly Gilbert
5. Swimming Studies, by Leanne Sharpton
6. Destiny of the Republic, by Candice Millard
7. Why not Me?, by Mindy Kaling
8. Old Farmers Almanac 2017
9. Flying Couch, by Amy Kurzweil
10. The River of Doubt, by Candice Millard

The Riverside Theater hosted Cary Elwes as part of their screening of The Princess Bride, with Elwes in conversation afterwards with Lake Effect's Mitch Teich. Salon's Gary M. Kramer profiled Elwes and his memoir, As You Wish, on the hardcover's release. Of the film, he wrote: "When it was released in 1987, The Princess Bride may not have stormed the box office like the film’s characters storm the castle, but this charming, timeless adaptation of William Goldman’s novel has become a cult favorite, one that exceeded everyone’s expectations. It also defies some classification. Most folks tend to think of it as a children’s film, but it is one of those films adults love perhaps more than their kids." I worked at Warner when they published Adventures in the Screen Trade and the novels The Color of Light and Heat, and I read all three, but I've never read this. I did see Marathon Man, however, and I don't want to talk about it.

Picture and Board Books for Kids:
1. Click, Clack, Surprise, by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin
2. Duck for President, by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin
3. Animals and Their Young, by Pamela Hickman
4. Click, Clack, Moo, by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin
5. Click, Clack, Peep, by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin
6. I Took a Walk, by Henry Cole
7. When Winter Comes, by Nancy Van Laan, illustrated by Susan Gaber
8. The Story of Snow, by Mark Cassino
9. Nobody Likes a Goblin, by Ben Hatke
10. Room on the Broom board book, by Julia Donaldson

One of the nice things about school visits is that it really does give everyone something to talk about afterwards. A librarian who was helping coordinate a visit from Laurie Halse Anderson told me that her son had become a big fan of Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin, reading Duck for President aloud to the family. And as a reception for Margot Livesey, another writer told me that her son went to our Trenton Lee Stewart school visit and then back to the public event (with his Dad, Mom went to Livesey) as he's a big fan of the series and is likely now a fan of The Secret Keepers. We have signed copies of both books, and also Click, Clack, Surprise.

Middle Grade and YA Books:
1. Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye, by Tania Del Rio and Will Staehle
2. The Secret Keepers, by Trenton Lee Stewart
3. Ashes V3, by Laurie Halse Anderson
4. Chains V1, by Laurie Halse Anderson
5. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
6. Fever 1793, by Laurie Halse Anderson
7. Forge V2, by Laurie Halse Anderson
8. The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart
9. Holding up the Universe, by Jennifer Niven
10. Mighty Jack, by Ben Hatke

This list is 100% event driven, including #1's Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye, written by Tania Del Rio and illustrated by Will Staehle. The author/illustrator team visited three schools in Whitefish Bay, Greenfield, and Wauwatosa (actually two schools, who gathered at the library) and charmed close to 1000 kids. Of the book, which was released in late 2015, George O'Connnor wrote in The New York Times Book Review: "Tania del Rio, who is best known for writing and drawing an impressive run of over 40 issues of Sabrina the Teenage Witch gives Warren and his friends an engaging mystery to unravel, with a few nice twists and surprises along the way...As drawn by his creator, Will Staehle, Warren the 13th is a grotesque yet appealing creature, a gaptoothed gargoyle dressed like Buster Brown, complete with luxuriant blond curls." For those who'd like to preorder #2 from us, here's info about Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods.

Over at the Journal Sentinel TapBooks page, Mike Fischer reviews Much Ado, Michael Lenehan's chronicle of the American Players Theatre's "stellar production of the 2014 production of Much Ado About Nothing. He writes: "Early chapters set the stage, giving us a brief overview of APT; succinct but informative biographies of leads Colleen Madden and David Daniel; and background on “Much Ado” itself, presented without fuss or pretension. That’s true of this wonderful book as a whole, which is written in clear, accessible prose and takes nothing for granted. One need not be an APT fan, Bard lover or theater geek to enjoy it (although all will). Lenehan describes what theater artists do much as one might describe athletes engaged in a similarly collaborative quest to field a winning team with defined characteristics."

Don't forget, Michael Lenehan will be at Boswell discussing Much Ado on Monday, December 5, 7 pm.

In the print edition (original published in Newsday), Marion Winik offers a review on Emma Donoghue's The Wonder. The review opens: "Again with the room! As in her 2010 best-seller Room, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and turned into an Oscar-nominated film, Emma Donoghue has confined the action of a novel within four close walls — and again, she has populated that little universe with a sharply contrasting assortment of moral types, ranging from pure as the driven snow to nasty as can be. Unlike Room, The Wonder is historical fiction, inspired by accounts of fasting girls over the centuries."

And also original from Newsday, the print edition also boasts an interview with Anne Trubek, author of The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting. Here's his take: "Anne Trubek gives a compelling and entertaining history of humanity’s relationship to the physical act of writing, and points toward where it may be headed. Trubek — an author, publisher and academic — draws connections between writing’s growth and the evolution of the idea of the self, with historical asides about the lives of monks, scribes and scriveners. It’s an extremely readable book on a subject you didn’t know you were interested in."

And from October 6's Green Sheet, the Journal Sentinel's Jim Higgins reviewed Susan Quinns's Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair that Shaped the First Lady. From the review: "Interest in Hick, as friends called her, has grown since the FDR Presidential Library opened the Eleanor Roosevelt-Hickok correspondence to researchers in 1978. Quinn frequently quotes from letters in which they freely expressed affection for each other." For another take, Stacy Schiff in The Washington Post wrote: "Quinn has produced an intimate book, tender and wise. She is strangely silent on only one count: She offers no sense of what, if anything, FDR knew or whether it mattered."

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