Sunday, November 6, 2016

Is it too early Christmas to have a Christmas book at #1? I guess it isn't, plus more stories from Boswell's weekly bestsellers.

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

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Mistletoe Murder, by P.D. James
2. The Whistler, by John Grisham
3. The Terranauts, by T.C. Boyle
4. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
5. Rough Trade, by Todd Robinson
6. The Wrong Side of Goodbye, by Michael Connelly
7. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
8. The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton
9. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
10. Fates and Traitors, by Jennifer Chiaverini

A few books appear on this list due to events you may not connect with the author. Todd Robinson, author of Rough Trade, was one of the authors who did Noir at the Bar at Mobcraft Brewery, in advance of Saturday's Murder and Mayhem conference. Book sales will show up next week. Robinson, author of Rough Trade, won the Thunderdome author competition. And several other authors (James, Hamilton, Patchett, and Chiaverini) were part of a presentation I gave at a downtown club for an area service organization. The Mistletoe Murder, a collection of P.D. James Christmas stories, are apparently are a Christmas stocking must.

Harcover Nonfiction:
1. Gunslinger, by Jeff Pearlman
2. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
3. Herbert Hoover, by Glen Jeansonne
4. The Names of the Stars, by Pete Fromm
5. Upstream, by Mary Oliver
6. Appetites, by Anthony Bourdain
7. Daily Joy, from National Geographic
8. Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen
9. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
10. Much Ado, by Michael Lenehan (event Mon Dec 5, 7 pm, at Boswell)

Appetites is the first cookbook in ten years for Anthony Bourdain. Bad boy chef turned globetrotting media personality turned dad at 50, Bourdain told CBS This Morning, while eating pastrami, that the person he'd most like to have a meal with is Keith Richards: "I’ve been trying for years. We’d do like bangers and mash and maybe cook steak and kidney pie with Keith Richards. And talk about British naval history, which he’s a big fan of. I think that would be super cool."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Transit of Venus, by Susan Firer
2. Where We Are in This Story, by Sarah Rosenblatt
3. The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie (event for book #2 is Tue Jan 10, 7 pm)
4. The Sellout, by Paul Beatty
5. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backmann
6. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
7. The Improbability of Love, by Hannah Rothschild (book club discussion Mon Dec 5, 7 pm, at Boswell)
8. French Rhapsody, by Antoine Laurain
9. The President's Hat, by Antoine Laurain
10. The Portable Veblen, by Elizabeth McKenzie (event Jan 23, 7 pm*)

It's actually a double-dose of books into film at the Downer Theater. In addition to the long-running A Man Called Ove, American Pastoral, based on Philip Roth's novel, opened on Friday as well. The book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998. Can you believe that the film rights were first optioned in 2006? I can see someone doing a film version of The Sympathizer, but I can also see that also taking 10 years.

The NBCC award doesn't always sell books and neither does the Man Booker, but put them together and it would seem almost impossible to not get The Sellout on national bestseller lists.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Living with a Seal, by Jesse Itzler
2. The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan
3. Destiny and Power, by Jon Meacham (not sold out - walk up tickets available)
4. The Third Reconstruction, by William Barber II
5. Swimming Studies, by Leanne Sharpton
6. The Magic of Math, by Arthur Benjamin
7. Milwaukee Frozen Custard, by Kathleen McCann and Robert Tanzilo (event Tue 11/22, 7 pm)
8. Sweetness, by Jeff Pearlman
9. The Road to Little Dribbling, by Bill Bryson
10. The Residence, by Kate Anderson Brower

Though our last two bestsellers from the math shelf were Daniel picks, I'm sad to say I haven't read Arthur Benjamin's The Magic of Math. I would if I didn't have a pile of event and book club books I have to get through. Mr. Benjamin has a TED talk (video seems to drive the category, doesn't it?). From the Publishers Weekly starred review: "A look at number patterns introduces tricks for carrying out fast mental calculations; a chapter on the properties of the number nine reveals methods for easily calculating calendar dates. Without ever using the word 'statistics,' Benjamin deftly covers the basics of calculating the odds of having a winning lottery ticket or poker hand. Whether figuring out compound interest, using trigonometry to determine the height of a tree, or employing calculus to work out a shortest possible walking route, each topic is presented in the clearest, simplest way possible."

Books for Kids:
1. Stellaluna, by Jannell Cannon
2. Not a Drop to Drink, by Michael Burgan
3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #11: Double Down, by Jeff Kinney
4. Dog Man, by Dav Pilkey
5. Busy Tree, by Jennifer Ward, with illustrations by Lisa Falkenstern
6. Some Writer, by Melissa Shaw
7. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
8. Gingerbread Christmas, by Jan Bratt (event at Milwaukee Public Library, Sun Dec 4, 10 am)
9. The Girl who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill
10. I Am a Bunny, by Ole Risom, with illustrations by Richard Scarry

You can only imagine the numbers for the first week of Double Down, the 11th Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I hope to one day go to Jeff Kinney's bookstore, An Unlikely Story, which is in Plainville, Massachusetts. I've been able to add on bookstore visits on trips to see family in Worcester when I've got a car, but alas, on my most recent trip, it seemed too complicated to attempt by commuter train. I think the closest stop is Mansfield, about 7 miles away. Here's Kinney talking to CBS News about the new book...or rather, they are reporting on the television interview they did. He wanted to be a political cartoonist!

Here's what's reviewed on TapBooks page of the Journal Sentinel. Lisa Kennedy tackles Small Great Things, the new novel from Jodi Picoult, originally from Newsday. From Kennedy: "Jodi Picoult is at it again. The author of 25 enormously popular novels, including Leaving Time and My Sister’s Keeper, is adept at taking on thorny issues — medical ethics, mass shootings, the death penalty — and recasting them on a relatable human scale. Her latest plunge into the current, Small Great Things, arrives at a pointed time when institutional racism — its violence and the entitlement it confers on some — is the subject of near daily commentary."

Miami Herald's Connie Ogle reviews The Mothers, the new novel from Brit Bennett, which she calls "a bracing, heartfelt debut about family, motherhood and friendship, grief and healing and how all of these elements and our own shaky decisions constantly reshape our lives. Chosen as one of the National Book Foundation’s '5 Under 35' honorees, Bennett uses a Greek chorus of church ladies to introduce a teenage girl who has lost her mother, the pastor’s son she loves and their badly kept secret that haunts the community — and the two of them — for years." Bennett is coming to Boswell on Monday, February 6, 7 pm.

And former Boswell guest Greg Kot reviews two Beach Boys memoirs for the Chicago Tribune, I Am Brian Wilson from Wilson (of course) and Good Vibrations from Mike Love. Per Kot, "Wilson's book (written with journalist Ben Greenman) documents scattered memories and streamlines them into a series of impressions and anecdotes. Love's memoir (written with journalist James S. Hirsch) provides more chronology, context and factual information, underlined by a sense of score-settling while quoting extensively from court hearings and business meetings."

The Journal Sentinel has a profile of Jon Meacham from Bill Glauber. The ticketed event is tonight at 7 pm. Walk up tickets are available. We just closed out online tickets. Plus I don't think we mentioned in any of the Boswell news organs that I am one of the judges for the finalists of the Story Prize. Jim Higgins has the details, also in the Journal Sentinel.

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