Sunday, December 11, 2016

Boswell bestsellers--Michael Lewis's "The Undoing Project" explodes, "The Underground Railroad" and "A Man Called Ove" pulls away from the pack, and how to buy a copy of "Where's Addy?"

There's nothing like December to see a bestseller list so robust that I get to list 15 titles and not feel like I shouldn't really be calling these bestsellers.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead (sales are more than double everything else on the hardcover fiction list)
2. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
3. Moonglow, by Michael Chabon
4. Swing Time, by Zadie Smith
5. The Mothers, by Brit Bennett (event at Boswell, Monday, Feb 6, 7 pm)
6. News of the World, by Paulette Jiles (I think it made a big difference to move this from spring to fall)
7. The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton
8. The Mistletoe Murder, by P.D. James
9. The Trespasser, by Tana French
10. The Thin, Bright Line, by Lucy Jane Bledsoe
11. Another Brooklyn, by Jacqueline Woodson
12. The Wrong Side of Goodbye, by Michael Connelly
13. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
14. Today Will Be Different, by Maria Semple
15. Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch

Signed copies do make a difference, at least in the case of Commonwealth, Another Brooklyn, and Dark Matter. Those are books we got signed at events, but more and publishers now regular have signed offers. Most of the time they sign a tip-in page but every so often, it's the actual full title page of the book. You never know.

Note that the only first novel in the top 15 is Brit Bennett's The Mothers. She also is one of the six writers nominated for the John Leonard Prize. The others?
--The Girls, by Emma Cline
--Here Comes the Sun, by Nicole Dennis-Benn
--Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
--The Nix, by Nathan Hill
--Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, by Max Porter

We'll have a display up as soon as I can find room! I love that the NBCC puts a comma before the "by." I picked this up from The New York Times, but I don't think they do it anymore.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Undoing Project, by Michael Lewis
2. Much Ado, by Michael Lenehan
3. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
4. Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen (outperforming all the other music memoirs and bios)
5. Upstream, by Mary Oliver
6. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance
7. Women in Science, by Rachel Ignotofsky
8. Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
9. My Own Words, by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
10. Speaking American, by Josh Katz (I LOVE this book)
11. Appetites, by Anthony Bourdain
12. In the Company of Women, by Grace Bonney
13. Gunslinger, by Jeff Pearlman
14. The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place, by Jennifer McCartney (remember when it was all about sorting your socks by color?)
15. Atlas Obscura, by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton
16. Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren
17. Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, by Carlo Rovelli
18. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda (I miss you being a new book!)
19. Charlemagne, by Johannes Fried (lots of big memoirs, but is this really our bestselling biography?)
20. The Art of the Pie, by Kate McDermott (that's two books from Countryman!)

Oh, there are lots of stories here, but the release of Michael Lewis's The Undoing Project beats all this week. We run out sometime yesterday evening and Jason brought it a whole mess of copies. We'll have more later this week so please, by all means, give us your name and number to hold a copy. And yes, you can do that through our website too.

I have to say, I wasn't paying attention at all to this until it came out and now I want to read it too. But yes, I also have to put my name on the list. Here's Tim Adams in The Guardian: "All love stories involve the science of decision making – for better or worse, richer or poorer. No romance has been as alive to the fallibility of that process as the one described in this book. Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman were both the grandsons of eastern European rabbis. Chance and fate brought them together in Tel Aviv in the 1960s. Their subsequent deep friendship and intellectual collaboration – a bromance that invented 'behavioural economics' and established cognitive rules for human irrationality – has arguably done as much to define our world as, say, the intertwining between Francis Crick and James Watson."

Paperback Fiction:
1. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
2. The Drifter, by Nick (formerly Nicholas) Petrie
3. The Sellout, by Paul Beatty
4. The Portable Veblen, by Elizabeth McKenzie (In-store Lit discussion 1/2, 7 pm, author event 1/23, 7 pm)
5. French Rhapsody, by Antoine Laurain (we just passed 700 Laurain books sold)
6. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, by Fredrik Backman
7. The Vegetarian, by Han Kang (top 10 for the year NYT)
8. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald
9. The Flood Girls, by Jen Steele
10. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
11. The Transit of Venus, by Susan Firer
12. The President's Hat, by Antoine Laurain
13. A Child's Christmas in Wales, by Dylan Thomas
14. Afterward, by Edith Wharton, with illustrations by Seth
15. The Slow Waltz of Turtles, by Katherine Pancol

Jason bemoaned the Landmark Theatres moving A Man Called Ove from the Downer Theatre to the Oriental, but it doesn't seem to have affected sales, unless having it still at the Downer would have given us a book that is outselling #2 by triple instead of double!

Books released early in the year sometimes get the short shrift at Christmas. But when I realized that nobody had picked The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend for their top 5 of 2016, despite for recs (and probably at #6 on at least two lists), we gave it a nice display up front that detailed our exciting ride with the book through rec and event photos, and yes, it popped back onto our list. I figure there are a lot of folks shopping at Boswell that come in once a year and they simply don't know about it, and it's a great book to read after A Man Called Ove. In some ways it's very different, but in some ways, in terms of it being about making wrong assumptions about people, it's spot on.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris (thanks to Theatre Gigante and Michael Stebbins for Friday's event)
2. We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie
3. Milwaukee Frozen Custard, by Kathleen McCann and Robert Tanzilo
4. Cream City Chronicles, by John Gurda
5. Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
6. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
7. Hope in the Dark, by Rebecca Solnit
8. Sit, Stay, Heal, by Mel Miskimen (turning out to be our breakout dog book for holiday 2016)
9. World Almanac and Book of Facts 2017
10. Milwaukee in the 1930s, by John D. Buenker
11. God is Round, by Juan Villoro
12. Searching for John Hughes, by Jason Diamond
13. The Magic of Math, by Arthur Benjamin
14. Best American Science and Nature Writing 2016, edited by Amy Stewart
15. Mindfulness Coloring Book #3, by Emma Farrarons (so much better than #3, apparently)

So there you go with regional books for this fall. McCann and Tanzilo's Milwaukee Frozen Custard is tops in the Arcadia/History Press category, while two other Wisconsin Historical Society Press books round out our top 15. I think Milwaukee in the 1930s might have had more of a gift impact in a paper over board hardcover, released in the fall, but honestly, who knew then that there would be little to fill the void. I know that in the general market, Jeff Pearl's Gunslinger is the top regional title - last week it was #3 on the Milwaukee Metro Bookscan list.

Picture Books for Kids (through age 8)
1. Gingerbread Christmas, by Jan Brett
2. Where's Addie?, by Donna Luber
3. We Found a Hat, by Jon Klassen
4. The Mitten board book, by Jan Brett
5. The Animal's Santa, by Jan Brett
6. The Mitten 20th anniversary edition, by Jan Brett
7. Gingerbread Baby board book, by Jan Brett
8. A Is for Activist board book, by Innosanto Nagara
9. The Night Before Christmas book and DVD set, by Jan Brett
10. The Story Orchestra, by Jessica Courtney-Tickle
11. I Dissent, by Debbie Levy with illustrations by Elizabeth Baddeley
12. Gingerbread Baby, by Jan Brett
13. Christmas Trolls, by Jan Brett
14. The Twelve Days of Christmas, by Jan Brett
15. The Mitten oversized board book, by Jan Brett

Did I mention that Jan Brett was in town last Sunday?

No, maybe Where's Addie? is our breakout dog book for this holiday. This children's book is inspired by Donna Luber's son Michael and his companion dog Addie, focusing on how Addie once went missing during a thunderstorm. You probably read about this book in Jim Stingl's column in the Journal Sentinel. And yes, we have copies and when we run out, we'll be getting more. You can put your copy on hold through our website.

Chapter Books through YA, and at least One Picture Book That's Nonetheless for Kids 8+:
1. Scythe V1, by Neal Shusterman
2. Challenger Deep, by Neal Shusterman
3. The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill
4. Under Water/Under Earth, by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski
5. The Inquisitor's Tale, by Adam Gidwitz (Conrad's kids pick for the holidays)
6. Dog Man V1, by Dav Pilkey
7. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a play by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
8. Ghost, by Jason Reynolds
9. Some Writer: The Story of E.B. White, by Melissa Sweet
10. Double Down V11, by Jeff Kinney
11. Unwind V1, by Neal Shusterman
12. Ms. Rapscott's Girls, by Elise Primavera
13. March V2, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
14. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a screenplay by J.K. Rowling
15. Lucy, by Randy Cecil

We took some time from helping folks find books for the holidays with a Neal Shusterman talk at the Shorewood Public Library. What a great talk! We don't always sell backlist in quantity at these events, but his discussion of both Challenger Deep and Unwind had folks clearing out our display table. Hollywood Reporter reported on Scythe's film adaptation. We have signed copies of Scythe.

I almost did a separate list for all those oversized books from Wide Eyed Editions and Big Picture Press. Expect to see more entrants in this field - these are working. My favorite this fall is Under Water/Under Earth, from Mizielinskis, a Polish couple who won a prize at the Bologna Children's Book Fair for their newest.

I'm doing a separate post for the Journal Sentinel's top 10s. It deserves its own headline. Plus there is already a lot in this column to digest.

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