Sunday, November 27, 2016

The first week of the holiday season, as retold in the Boswell bestseller lists for week ending Nov 26, 2016

Here's what sold at Boswell this past week, including the two days of the holiday weekend, because for some reason, Sunday doesn't count.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
2. Swing Time, by Zadie Smith
3. A Lowcountry Christmas, by Mary Alice Monroe
4. Moonglow, by Michael Chabon
5. The Whistler, by John Grisham
6. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
7. The Mistletoe Murders, by P.D. James
8. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
9. The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton
10. Miss Jane, by Brad Watson

It feels rare for a literary novel to be released so late in November, but it doesn't seem to have hurt coverage of Moonglow, and perhaps it even helped, being after the election. Sam Sacks offered this praise in The Wall Street Journal: "Moonglow is not a memoir but a flamboyantly imaginative work of fiction dressed in the sheep’s clothing of autobiography. The year is 1989. Like Mr. Chabon, Mike is fresh off an acclaimed debut novel, and here he joins his memories of his grandfather’s last days with colorful retellings of the man’s stories."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Thank You for Being Late, by Thomas Friedman
2. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
3. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance
4. Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen
5. My Own Words, by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
6. Women in Science, by Rachel Ignotofsky
7. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
8. Upstream, by Mary Oliver
9. Our Revolution, by Bernie Sanders
10. Speaking American, by Josh Katz

I've always said Milwaukee is a "soda" town surrounded by "pop" country and Josh Katz's linguistic maps prove it. Business Insider offers just a few of the many examples in this book about pronounciation changes, that are not always specifically north/south or east/west, in Speaking America: How Y'all, Youse, and You Guys Talk: A Visual Guide. But one thing that was odd was that "youse" wasn't on the "you guys" vs. "y'all" map.

Paperback Fiction:
1. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
2. The Sellout, by Paul Beatty
3. The Drifter, by Nick (formerly Nicholas) Petrie
4. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, by Fredrik Backman
5. The Vegetarian, by Han Kang
6. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
7. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
8. The President's Hat, by Antoine Laurain
9. The Story of a New Name V2, by Elena Ferrante
10. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay V3, by Elena Ferrante

I continue to be impressed by how effective our awards case is and I commend Jason for updating it so regularly. The Korean writer Han Kang has been selling well for The Vegetarian, which was awarded the Man Booker International Prize. Horatia Harrod profiled the author and book in The Financial Times, and discusses the South Korean's efforts to have more of their work translated into English. Of the work, she writes: "It's the story of a young woman, Yeong-hye, who is plagued by violent, bloody dreams, and decides as a result to give up meat. As she retreats into silence, and eventually starvation, her husband, brother-in-law, and sister recount their horrified, uncomprehending, and occasionally savage responses to her act of radical abnegation."

 Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Milwaukee Frozen Custard, by Kathleen McCann and Robert Tanzilo
2. We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie
3. The Power of Kindness 10th Anniversary Edition, by Piero Ferrucci
4. WTF: What the French?, by Olivier Magny
5. Best American Infographics 2016, by Gareth Cook
6. The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
7. Ocean of Insight, by Lyn Heather
8. Roughneck Grace, by Michael Perry
9. Cake Magic, by Caroline Wright
10. SPQR, by Mary Beard

A local connection probably helped pop Heather Lyn Mann's memoir about traveling the Atlantic in a small sloop, chronicled in Ocean of Insight: A Sailor's Voyage from Despair to Hope. She uses her voyage to ponder climate change,and comes at it from a Buddhist perspective. I wondered why the events were showing up in South Carolina, but figured out she decamped to Charleston. Sunflower Sangha called it " heart-pounding narrative and thoughtful inquiry of how to live in a suffering world."

Books for Kids:
1. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a screenplay by J.K. Rowling
2. March V3, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
3. I Dissent, by Debbie Levy, with illustrations by Elizabeth Baddeley
4. A Is for Activist, by Innosanto Nagara
5. Gingerbread Christmas, by Jan Brett (event next Sunday, Dec 4, 10 am, at Centennial Hall)
6. Ada Twist, Scientist, by Andrea Beaty, with illustrations by David Roberts
7. Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White, by Melissa Sweet
8. Dog Man V1, by Dav Pilkey
9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone illustrated edtion, by J.K. Rowling with art from Jim Kay
10. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets illustrated edition, by J.K. Rowling with art from Jim Kay

It's not surprising to have 3 Harry Potter books in the top 10 with the screenplay at #1 and Cursed Child trailing at #11. He had a lot of folks trying to order the original Fantastic Beasts but it's currently not available. Since it was so small, it was a bit surprising to not find it included with the screenplay. Jason says there's a new edition, written by Newt Scamander himself, planned for next year. The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay is still selling best, but there's lot of other things out, including scrap books, art of the film giftbooks, and coloring books.

Over at the Journal Sentinel TapBooks page, it's time for 100 Books for Holiday Giving. Yes, there are 100 books altogether--here are the 10 editor's picks.
1. Albert Murray: Collected Essays & Memoirs, from Library of America
2. Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton
3. The Big Book of Science Fiction, Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
4. Death’s End, by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu
5. Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre, by Jeff Pearlman
6. Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing, by Jennifer Weiner
7. Octavia E. Butler, by Gerry Canavan
8. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
9. As Good As Gone, by Larry Watson

There are lots of other categories of highlighted titles - fine fiction, compelling nonfiction, mysteries and thrillers, Wisconsin connections, visually interesting, unconventional books, musical subjects, Beatles books, sports, pop culture, and children and teens.

One last note on categorization. Adult vs. kids designations can sometimes be arbitrary, often due to which editor signed up a book and how the sales forces sell it in. This week I moved the March graphic novel from adult to kids only because it won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature and was sold into us not specifically as a kids book. But Women in Science, which is also classified as a kids book, but was published by a designation of Penguin Random House (Ten Speed) which is not part of the kids division, is still classified with our adult books. And by the way, so is March, so you might one day see it here as paperback nonfiction. Go figure!

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