Monday, December 19, 2016

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending December 17, 2016: first novels, profiles of promient women, state-of-the-state settings, math and teen movie projects, and a breakout cat picture book

This was a very exciting week, bookended by two large storms. I think this is the first December that we've had two substantial snowfalls in December since we've been open. I know that 2008 was a tough Christmas season (my last year working at Schwartz) and another bookseller noted that 2000, the year she bought a house and had to shovel, had a snow-accumulating December as well.  That said, we sold something!

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
2. Swing Time, by Zadie Smith (did the late release help this?)
3. Moonglow, by Michael Chabon (see above)
4. Commonwealth, by Anne Patchett
5. Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch (Murder and Mayhem helped give this book a second life)
6. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
7. The Trespasser, by Tana French
8. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
9. The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton (the fall events helped Hamilton's holiday sales)
10. News of the World, by Paulette Jiles
11. A Christmas Carol, the original manuscript from Charles Dickens
12. Today Will Be Different, by Maria Semple
13. The Secret History of Twin Peaks, by Mark Frost
14. The Wrong Side of Goodbye, Michael Connelly
15. The Nix, by Nathan Hill (seems like it's doing better than City on Fire, which I sort of put in the same slot, the fall 2017 push book from Knopf/Doubleday which started its marketing in January)
16. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
17. North Water, by Ian McGuire
18. War and Turpentine, by Stefan Hertmans
19. The Mistletoe Murder, by P.D. James
20. The Whistler, by John Grisham

It looks like Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing is our best-ranked first novel this week. Also up for the John Leonard Award from the National Book Critics Circle is The Nix, from Nathan Hill. We've also been having a good fall with Brit Bennett's The Mothers (and no stock issues, as we're hosting her on February 6). The other three titles up for the award are Emma Cline's The Girls, Nicole Dennis-Benn's Here Comes the Sun, and Max Porter's Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, which already received the Dylan Thomas Prize.

Here's another interesting factoid. We were wondering whether Michael Cahbon and Zadie Smith were benefitting from second half of November releases or not. Coincidentally both authors' previous novels came out in 2012, on the same release date of September 11. Moonglow has a bit of work to catch up with Telegraph Avenue at Boswell, but Swing Time has already surpassed our sales of NW.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
2. Born to Run, by Bruce Springstreen
3. The Undoing Project, by Michael Lewis
4. Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
5. In the Company of Women, by Grace Bonney
6. Atlas Obscura, by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thomas, and Emily Morton
7. Gunslinger, by Jeff Pearlman
8. The Book of Joy, by the Dalai Lama
9. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance
10. Speaking American, by Josh Katz
11. Women in Science, by Rachel Ignotofsky
12. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
13. The Daily Show: The Book, by John Stewart
14. Hero of the Empire, by Candice Millard
15. Dark Money, by Jane Mayer
16. Upstream, by Mary Oliver
17. When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi
18. Rad Women Worldwide, by Kate Schatz
19. Tools of Titans, by Timothy Ferriss
20. The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben
21. Much Ado, by Michael Lenehan
22. Appetites, by Anthony Bourdain
23. My Own Words, by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
24. Thank You for Being Late, Thomas L. Friedman
25. Our Revolution, by Bernie Sanders

One of the theme's you can spot among this week's bestsellers are profiles of interesting women. Our top 25 has three -- Grace Bonney's In the Company of Women, Rachel Ignotofsky's Women in Science, and Kate Schatz's Rad Women Worldwide. Another theme might be books from Daily Show hosts, with both Trevor Noah's Born a Crime and John Stewart's The Daily Show: The Book. But despite the runaway success of Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run, there don't seem to be a stream of music books traveling in The Boss's wake. We're not seeing too much success with this year's crop of music memoirs.

Paperback Fiction:
1. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
2. The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie (Wisconsin, so yes, signed copies available!)
3. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald (Iowa)
4. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen (California)
5. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, by Fredrik Backman
6. The Vegetarian, by Han Kang (the only book translated from a language besides Swedish)
7. The Improbability of Love, by Hannah Rothschild
8. The Sellout, by Paul Beatty (also California)
9. A Child's Christmas in Wales, by Dylan Thomas
10. The Flood Girls, by Richard Fifield (Montana)
11. Jade Dragon Mountain, by Elsa Hart
12. Sweetgirl, by Travis Mulhauser (Michigan, see below)
13. Best American Short Stories 2016, by Junot Diaz
14. Girl Waits with Gun, by Amy Stewart (New Jersey)
15. The Signalman, by Charles Dickens with illustrations by Seth
16. My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
17. In a Dark, Dark Wood, by Ruth Ware
18. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
19. A Marriage of Oppostites, by Alice Hoffman
20. The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, by Ken Liu (one of two story collections on this list)

Looking for a wintery novel? It looks likes Sweetgirl, from Travis Mulhauser, might be the thing. The publisher calls it "a blistering debut about a fearless sixteen-year old girl whose search for her missing mother leads to an unexpected discovery, and a life or death struggle in the harsh frozen landscape of the Upper Midwest." And then I realized that I don't really know what "blistering" means. I looked up several books that have been described as "blistering," including Paul Beatty's The Sellout, and two books from Piece of Cake PR, which might say more about the copywriter than the books themselves. Intense, vehement, and often fast-paced, to quote three variations of "blistering," Mulhauser's novel is set in northern Michigan and has been compared to Ron Rash.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Reluctant Rebellions, by Shauna Singh Baldwin (signed copies available)
2. We Should All Be Femininsts, by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie
3. Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris
4. Milwaukee Frozen Custard, by Kathleen McCann and Robert Tanzilo (and it is frozen indeed)
5. Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
6. Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly
7. Cream City Chronicles, by John Gurda
8. Adventures in Human Being, by Gavin Francis
9. March V3, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
10. March V2, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
11. Known and Strange Things, by Teju Cole
12. The Road to Little Dribbling, by Bill Bryson
13. A General Theory of Love, by Thomas Lewis
14. WTF, by Olivier Magny
15. The Next American Revolution, by Grace Lee Boggs

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race had a quick hardcover sale as the publisher wanted to get the book out in paperback before the film release. From Cara Buckley's profile in The New York Times: "The book garnered an early burst of attention because its movie version, starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle MonĂ¡e, is scheduled for a year-end release and set for an Oscars run. The movie rights were snapped up weeks after Ms. Shetterly sold her book proposal in 2014, and well before she started writing the book in earnest, a disorientingly fast, if exhilarating, turn."

Picture Books, Including Board Books
1. Because of Thursday, by Patricia Polacco
2. Keeping Quilt, by Patricia Polacco
3. Fiona's Lace, by Patricia Polacco
4. The Blessing Cup, by Patricia Polacco
5. The Mitten board book, by Jan Brett
6. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
7. Tucky Jo and Little Heart, by Patricia Polacco
8. Where's Addie, by Donna Luber
9. The Story Orchestra, by Jessica Courtney-Tickle
10. The Gingerbread Christmas, by Jan Brett
11. We Found a Hat, by Jon Klassen (signed copies available)
12. They All Saw a Cat, by Brendan Wenzel
13. I Dissent, by Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley
14. Before Morning, by Joyce Sidman
15. Ada Twist, Scientist, by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts
16. ABC Animals, by Rufus Butler Seder
17. Little Blue Truck's Christmas, by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry
18. Madeline's Christmas, by Ludwig Bemelmens
19. The Thank You Book, by Mo Willems
20. Sleepyheads, by Sandra J. Howatt

Our buyers make a lot of decisions well in advance when they are buying books for the season, but sometimes they get excited about a book after it's been in the store for a while, just like regular folk. That's definitely the case with Brendan Wenzel's They All Saw a Cat, which Amie has started handselling. Kathie Meizner wrote in The Washington Post: "Wenzel uses colored pencils and pastels, charcoal and acrylic paint to create a layered, funny and fascinating visual lesson in seeing and interpreting. It’s a delightful experience in multiple perspectives and changing points of view. As the cat ambles, a dog sees a slinking, sly creature; a child sees a rounded, soft-furred pet; a goldfish sees a blurry pair of glowing eyes; a mouse sees danger incarnate. But what might the cat see in a reflecting pool of water? What could a cat look like, to a cat?"

Chapter Books and More Titles for Kids 7 and Up:
1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
2. Under Water/Under Earth, by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski
3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by J.K. Rowling
4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Illustrated, by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay
5. Some Writer: The Story of E.B. White, by Melissa Sweet
6. The Wild Robot, by Peter Brown
7. The Atlas of Animal Adventures, by Lucy Letherland
8. City Atlas, by Georgia Cherry and Martin Haake
9. The Natural World, by Amanda Wood
10. When the Sea Turned to Silver, by Grace Lin
11. The Inquisitor's Tale, by Adam Gidwitz
12. The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill
13. Dog Man, by Dav Pilkey
14. The Way Things Work Now, by David Maccaulay
15. The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicolas Yoon

The Sun Is Also a Star, is not just a favorite of Boswellians Jen, Barb, and Scott, but is the #1 Indie Next Pick for winter 2017 for kids books. It's also a National Book Award finalist and is destined for film. Mike Fleming, Jr writes in Deadline: "Warner Bros and MGM have teamed to acquire The Sun Is Also A Star, the YA bestselling novel by Nicola Yoon. Tracy Oliver has been set to write the script. Alloy Entertainment’s Les Morgenstein and Elysa Dutton will produce. Novel is the second by Yoon, whose debut Everything Everything was turned into a film by MGM, Warner Bros and Alloy, dated for May 19, 2017 release. The new novel, a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award, has a timely premise: Two teens fall in love on one fateful day as she fights against her family’s deportation." And yes it made Bookish's roundup of best book covers of 2016.

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