By now, you have figured out that I love bestseller lists. So it was sort of a great thrill to mail an order this morning to the famous chart cruncher extraordinaire of Billboard Magazine, whose work was unparalleled in the days before the Internet made such things widespread. This hyper geeky list and analysis probably wouldn't be going on without his influence. So thanks!
1. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett 2. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr (last year's #1 and 2014's #3)
3. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead (National Book Award)
4. The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton
5. Eligible, by Curtis Sittenfeld
6. The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie (debut, on hardcover and paperback list)
7. First Comes Love, by Emily Giffin
8. Another Brooklyn, by Jacqueline Woodson
9. Noah's Wife, by Lindsay Starck (debut)
10. Everyone Brave Is Forgiven, by Chris Cleave (back to Little Bee hardcover numbers!) 11. Britt-Marie Was Here, by Fredrik Backman
12. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah (on last year's hardcover)
13. The Girls, by Emma Cline (debut, on the John Leonard shortlist)
14. The News of the World, by Paulette Jiles
15. My Name Is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout
16. Moonglow, by Michael Chabon
17. Swing Time, by Zadie Smith
18. Shaler's Fish, by Helen MacDonald (one of two poetry titles)
19. The Light of Paris, by Eleanor Brown 20. The Great Reckoning V12, by Louise Penny
21. The Nest, by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney (debut, and coming to Boswell for the paperback on Sat Apr 15, 2 pm)
22. LaRose, by Louise Erdrich
23. The Trespasser V6, by Tana French
24. The Audacity of Goats, by J.F. Riordan
25. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
26. The Mistletoe Murder, by P.D. James
27. Spill Simmer Falter Wither, by Sara Baume (debut)
28. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff (one of three titles on hardcover and paperback list)
29. Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch
30. Here I Am, by Jonathan Safran Foer 31. As Good As Gone, by Larry Watson
32. The Whistler, by John Grisham
33. The Swimmer, by John Koethe (poetry)
34. Murder on the Quai V16, by Cara Black
35. Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley
36. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi (debut, John Leonard shortlist)
37. Sisi, by Allison Pataki
38. Everybody's Fool, by Richard Russo
39. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins 40. The Mothers, by Brit Bennett (debut, John Leonard shortlist, and coming to Boswell on Mon Feb 6, 7 pm)
41. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen (debut)
42. The Forgetting Time, by Sharon Guskin
43. Two if by Sea, by Jacquelyn Mitchard
44. Barkskins, by Annie Proulx
45. The Yid, by Paul Goldberg (debut)
46. Black Widow V16, by Daniel Silva
47. The Dead Don't Bleed V1, by David Krugler (debut)
48. The Nix, by Nathan Hill (debut, John Leonard shortlist)
49. Leave Me, by Gayle Forman
50. Today Will Be Different, by Maria Semple
Ack! After a strong year for short fiction in 2015 with four entries, not a single story collection made our hardcover top 50. And while there are a number of books in translation on our paperback list, the lone entry for hardcovers is Fredrik Backman's Britt-Marie Was Here.
That said, it was a decent year for debut fiction. And it's interesting to note that 4 of the debuts that made our top 50 are up for the John Leonard Prize, awarded by the National Book Critics Circle. The ones that didn't make our yearend bestsellers are Nicole Davis-Benn's Here Comes the Sun and Max Porter's Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, which already won the Dylan Thomas Prize.
In the mystery arena, sales held steady for Louise Penny (she's within a couple units of matching 2015's The Nature of the Beast and will surely beat the number by paperback release) and jumped substantially for Tana French over 2014's The Secret Place and 2012's Broken Harbor, due to particularly strong reviews for an already well-reviewed author. Another indication that more folks are discovering French is that sales doubled in 2016 over 2015 for In the Woods.
I wound up reading 16 of our top 50 and expect I'll finish one or two more in 2017.
1. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman (translation)
2. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald (translation)
3. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen (on both lists)
4. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George (translation)
5. My Brilliant Friend V1, by Elena Ferrante (translation)
6. Arrow: The Dark Archer, by John and Carole E. Barrowman
7. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, by Fredrik Backman (translation)
8. The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie
9. The Sellout, by Paul Beatty
10. Farenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury 11. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
12. French Rhapsody, by Antoine Laurain (translation)
13. A Spool of Blue Thread, by Anne Tyler
14. The Turner House, by Angela Flournoy
15. A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara
16. Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes
17. The Exodus Code, by John and Carole E. Barrowman
18. Jade Dragon Mountain V1, by Elsa Hart
19. Death Comes Darkly V1, by David Pederson
20. The Dream Lover, by Elizabeth Berg
21. Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur (poetry) 22. The Improbability of Love, by Hannah Rothschild
23. The Fathers We Find, by Charles Ries
24. The Transity of Venus, by Susan Firer (poetry)
25. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, by Amy E. Reichert
26. The Red Notebook, by Antoine Laurain (translation)
27. Girl Waits with Gun, by Amy Stewart
28. Kitchens of the Great Midwest, by J. Ryan Stradal
29. The Story of a New Name V2, by Elena Ferrante (translation)
30. Days of Awe, by Lauren Fox 31. The Vegetarian, by Han Kang (translation)
32. The President's Hat, by Antoine Laurain (translation)
33. The Marriage of Opposites, by Alice Hoffman
34. Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf
35. The Alchemist 25th anniversary edition, by Paulo Coelho (translation)
36. Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng
37. Eileen, by Ottessa Moshfegh
38. The Story of a Lost Child V4, by Elena Ferrante (translation)
39. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay V3, by Elena Ferrante (translation)
40. Uprooted, by Namoi Novik
41. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
42. Shady Hollow, by Juneau Black (one of three collaborations, the others from the Barrowman siblings) 43. Americanah, by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie
44. All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews
45. A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James
46. Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
47. Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (translation)
48. Luckiest Girl Alive, by Jessica Knoll
49. Moonlight Over Paris, by Jennifer Robson
50. Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin
Aside from short fiction, which also doesn't show up on our paperback list, the thing we curators of the good fight root for are books in translation and that's a completely different story. Close to a third of this list was not originally written in English, helped by 4 titles from Elena Ferrante, 3 from Antoine Laurain, and 2 from Fredrik Backman.
Rupi Kaur's Milk and Honey was the only poetry collection that wasn't an event. It is not unusual for Mary Oliver to reach the top 50, but this year's entry was essays. And the mystery/thriller genre outperformed science fiction/fantasy. The only titles that I think we'd consider speculative this year are the Barrowman works, old standbys Farenheit 451 and Ready Player One, and the hand-selling success Uprooted. Dark Matter would qualify for either genre.
I have so far read 21 of our top 50 paperback fiction sellers. Up next, the week's bestsellers and then 2016 nonfiction on Monday and books for kids on Tuesday (where the numbers of books read by Daniel will be much lower).
And one last weird thing. Moonglow is still trailing Michael Chabon's last two novels in sales, but being that it came out in November, it's sure to pass The Yiddish Policeman's Union and Telegraph Avenue, which sold the same exact number of copies in hardcover at Boswell.
Two Sundays worth of Journal Sentinel book reviews and profiles!
From Jim Higgins, a take on Gerry Canavan's Octavia A. Butler, a survey of the work of the acclaimed writer whose work transcended race, gender and genre. The Higgins take: "He began his critical work with the desire to read and understand Butler specifically as a science fiction writer. But as he burrowed in deeper, Canavan became aware of Butler's desire not to be siloed or limited to a single audience. Later in her career, she pushed her publisher to court the New Age audience, wanting to add them to the circles of SF fans, African-Americans and feminists already reading her. She wanted to write bestsellers." Canavan is an Assistant Professor of English at Marquette University.
Mike Fischer offers a reflective essay on James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. He describes reading it as a teen, and again today. Fischer philosophizes: "When I first read “Portrait” – as a 16-year-old who, like Stephen, attended a Jesuit high school – I was too young to appreciate the wry, self-deprecating humor through which Joyce pokes fun at his younger self; that would come later, upon additional readings in college and especially graduate school. But I was inspired then by the teen rebel, determined to speak truth to power."
Jessie Garcia offers a column about the perils of book promotion. Her most recent book is
Going for Wisconsin Gold: Stories of Our State Olympians. From the story: "In the end, lessons I have learned on the road include: PDQ has the best hummus packs, BP has good bathrooms, a Park N Ride is a nice place to rest your eyes, a residential street is not (people will start staring); bring books on tape to pass the time, wear comfortable shoes no matter if they go with that dress or not, don’t always trust the GPS."
From Alison Sherwood, 12 coloring books to pamper your pencil and cultivate your creative crayon. Among her suggestions is a coloring book featuring David Bowie.
Also from December 18, Marion Winik review How to Survive a Plague, originally featured in Newsday. Winik's what's up: "There are two things you need to know about David France’s book How to Survive a Plague. First: It’s flawless. Masterfully written, impeccably researched, and full of feeling for the living and dead heroes of the AIDS movement." Read the review to find out the second thing you need to know.
Kathe Connai of the Star Tribune offered her criqitue ofHola and Goodbye: Una Familia in Stories. Despite some quibbles, Connai crows: "Miscolta is an effortless storyteller who lovingly depicts the comforts and constraints, jealousies and judgments, protection and pride that all families experience. Doing so from the standpoint of an immigrant family allows her to point out the limitations of a monolithic culture and make a case for accepting, inviting and celebrating our roots, wherever they may be."0
1. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
2. Moonglow, by Michael Chabon
3. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
4. News of the World, by Paulette Jiles
5. Swing Time, by Zadie Smith
6. The Trespasser, by Tana French
7. The Mistletoe Murder, by P.D. James
8. North Water, by Ian McGuire
9. Another Brooklyn, by Jacqueline Woodson
10. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
11. The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton
12. The Envelope Poems, by Emily Dickinson (New Directions)
13. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
14. Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch
15. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
16. The Whistler, by John Grisham
17. Today Will Be Different, by Maria Semple
18. The Mothers, by Brit Bennett (event Monday, February 6, 7 pm!)
19. Britt Marie Was Here, by Fredrik Backman
20. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
Books that are in common with The New York Times top 20: The Whistler (#1), The Underground Railroad(#4), All the Light We Cannot See (#10), Moonglow (#13), Commonwealth (#15), A Gentleman in Moscow (#18), Swing Time (#19), and The Nightingale (#20). Eight titles seems pretty good! Funny that both old titles that made a holiday comeback (Doerr and Hannah) are in the exact same positions. Where the national lists dwarf us is in branded mystery/thrillers.
Several nice milestones passed this week, including our 400th copy of Commonwealth, and our 200th copy of The Excellent Lombards. I was thrilled with our sales of Patchett's State of Wonder and never expected to double sales with the next book. Because our volume is dwarfed by other bookstores, our post-event sales have dropped us on the Treeline (independent bookstore) numbers, but we're still #5 nationally. For Hamilton, of course we're #1. I think that a more Patchetty cover would have helped this book at other indies and with critical reception. Can you imagine a similar package to Commonwealth (or Moonglow), only with apples instead of oranges?
Hardcover Nonfiction: 1. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
2. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
3. Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen
4. Atlas Obscura, by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Emily Morton
5. Speaking American, by Josh Katz
6. Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
7. The Undoing Project, by Michael Lewis
8. Book of Joy, by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu
9. Women in Science, by Rachel Ignotofsky
10. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance
11. In the Company of Women, by Grace Bonney
12. Upstream, by Mary Oliver
13. Gunslinger, by Jeff Pearlman
14. My Own Words, by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
15. Our Revolution, by Bernie Sanders
16. Thank You For Being Late, by Thomas Friedman
17. Hero of the Empire, by Candice Millard
18. Appetites, by Anthony Bourdain
19. Absolutely on Music, by Haruki Murakami and Seiji Ozawa
20. Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren
21. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
22. How to Bake Everything, by Mark Bittman
23. Much Ado, by Michael Lenehan
24. Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris
25. Bad Little Children's Books, by Arthur Gackley (and now we are out forever)
When it comes to the nonfiction bestseller lists, it's interesting to note that while memoirs often dominate, biographies are few and far between. And while current events can blow out, it's generally a little quieter for history (which is really current events, only in the past). Also note that this is reflected in price point difference. The categories that sell tend to stay below the $29.95 price point while history and biography often wind up higher. Does perceived demand drive down the price due to a more favorable P&L or does the price point prevent the breakout? Our big history book is clearly Hero of the Empire, by Candice Millard. We close to doubled sales of Destiny of the Republic, but that's likely due to our October event, which also generated post-event sales momentum.
Speaking of price point, we had some gifty titles dominate our lists but they were either impulse titles at $20 or less, or oversized books that were still price capped at $35. We tend to have a couple of cookbooks in our holiday top 25 and this year it was Anthony Bourdain's Appetites and Mark Bittman's How to Bake Everything. Down below was Ina Garten's Cooking for Jefferey, whose newest has dropped conspicuously in sales totals from previous titles. I'm wondering if folks are buying tickets to her March 8 show at the Riverside Theater. A book is not included, but signed copies are available to order, provided by the chain cooking store Sur La Table. Yes, we just linked you to a show where a competitor is providing the books. Go figure!
National overlap with The New York Times: The Undoing Project (#2), Born to Run (#4), Hillbilly Elegy (#5), Thank You for Being Late (#11), The Book of Joy (#12), Born a Crime (#13), and Our Revolution (#14). It's the usual folk who have more trouble (sports, conservative politics, television), with the notable exception on the last of Trevor Noah's memoir. And of course we can sell sports books if the sports are local, like Gunslinger. And on advice, there's also Appetites (#3). Note that 9 of the 15 books on the combined hardcover/paperback list are cookbooks, but some would argue that books are popping up in nonfiction that seem more like advice. I won't go into it!
Paperback Fiction: 1. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
2. The Drifter, by Nicholas Butler
3. The Sellout, by Paul Beatty (Man Booker)
4. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Pulitzer)
5. The Vegetarian, by Han Kang (Man Booker International)
6. A Child's Christmas in Wales, by Dylan Thomas
7. Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
8. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, by Fredrik Backman
9. The Idiot, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (a book club)
10. My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
11. In a Dark, Dark Wood, by Ruth Ware
12. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
13. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald
14. The Portable Veblen, by Elizabeth McKenzie (Boswell event Mon 1/23, 7 pm)
15. Best American Short Stories 2016, edited by Junot Diaz
16. The Big Book of Science Fiction, edited by Jeff and Ann Vandermeer
17. The Improbability of Love, by Hannah Rothschild
18. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
19. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
20. My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout (keep an eye out for exciting news about Strout!)
Here's our top 5: crowd pleaser, local pick, prize, prize, prize. When you combine that with sales of the NBA winner The Underground Railroad, now you know how Boswell customers shop at the last minute.
What's on The New York Times top 15?: Ove (#1), Girl on the Train (#2), Milk and Honey (#3), My Grandmother (#6), The Sympathizer (#9), The Sellout (#13), In a Dark, Dark Wood (#14), Little Paris Bookshop (#15)
1. We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie
2. Cream City Chronicles, by John Gurda
3. Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
4. Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris
5. SPQR, by Mary Beard
6. The Road to Little Dribbling, by Bill Bryson
7. Milwaukee Frozen Custard, by Kathleen McCann and Bobby Tanzilo
8. H Is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald
9. Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly
10. The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
11. Place Names of Wisconsin, by Edward Callary
12. Milwaukee in the 1930s, by John D. Buenker
13. The Invention of Nature, by Andrea Wulf
14. Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel (or Danny, if you read The Undoing Project) Kahneman
15. Hope in the Dark, by Rebecca Solnit
New York Times crossovers: Alexander Hamilton (#1), Hidden Figures (#3), We Should All Be Feminists (#5), Thinking Fast and Slow(#6), The Road to Little Dribbling (#8), The New Jim Crow (#10), SPQR (#15), plus
1. Cityblock, by Christopher Franceschelli and Peskimo
2. A Is for Activist, by Innosanto Nagara
3. Penguin and Pinecone, by Salina Yoon
4. Sleepyheads, by Sandra Howatt
5. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
This top five consists of two of our buyer Amie's holiday picks (Cityblock and Sleepyheads), one built on author visit momentum (Yoon), one title with a post-election resurgence (Nagara) and a classic.
1. We Found a Hat, by Jon Klassen
2. Penguin Problems, by Jory John and Lane Smith
3. Ada Twist, Scientist, by Andrea Betay and David Roberts
4. The Story Orchestra, by Jessica Courtney-Tickley
5. The Christmas Crocodile, by Bonnie Becker and David Small
The Christmas Crocodilewas featured on Kathleen Dunn's conversation with Nancy Pearl and myself. It's a Nancy Pearl book crush rediscovery, originally from 1998, and republished by the Two Lions imprint of Amazon.
We Found a Hat, Amie's pick for blowout, indeed did sell for us on the week before Christmas substantially higher than any other traditional picture book. Our top 3 were all featured in our holiday newsletter.
1. Under Water/Under Earth, by Daniel and Aleksandra Mizielinski
2. Rad Women Worldwide, by Kate Schatz
3. Atlas of Animal Adventures, by Lucy Letherland
4. Rad American Women A-Z, by Kate Schatz
5. Some Writer, by Melissa Sweet
Please note that this subcategory of kids books had our #1 and #2 sellers for the week! Under Water/Under Earthwas my pick for the season, and while we admittely only sold about half the copies we did of Before/After, a similar book I liked from 2014 (though the new book is definitely for an older kid, with lots more text), it was also almost twice the price. Plus I didn't pay attention to it until November.
1. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by J.K. Rowling
2. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down #11, by Jeff Kinney (#1 on Milwaukee Bookscan, for all books, not just kids)
4. The Wild Robot, by Peter Brown
5. The Sun Is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon
6. Pax, by Sara Pennypacker
7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone illustrated, by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay
8. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets illustrated, by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay
9. The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill
10. Mighty Jack, by Ben Hatke
It's Happy Potter Days, with four Rowling books in the top 10. We've got monster Wimpy Kid and then five staff picks, including two from recent visitors Kelly Barnhill's The Girl Who Drank the Moonand Ben Hatke's Mighty Jack. And yes, there's even one book for teens, The Sun Is Also a Star.
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!
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 Homegoingis 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, butSwing Timehas already surpassed our sales of NW.
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.
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 likesSweetgirl, 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 twobooks 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.
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 Monáe, 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 inThe 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.
Every year the number of best-of lists have increased. Just about every website that covers culture has one, and I love looking at them. Here are some books making a number of critic's choice lists. The first three have not sold well for us, while the last three eventually took off, due to a particularly advantageous award nom or publicity hit.
Many of these books were well reviewed, but maybe the reviews are spread out over a few weeks, or maybe I just wasn't paying attention that month. I look at the write ups for Private Citizens, by Tony Tulathimutte and I take notice. Three Stanford grads may have been given all the best opportunities, but a few years later, they are struggling. A writer, an biomedical engineer, a nonprofiter, and a Silicon Valley techie are, per Booklist, "Overeducated, underemployed, full of apathy, pain, and drugs." New York Magazine called this "the first great millennial novel."Emma Cline called it "brilliant." The Paris Review called it a "hilarious portrait of youthful self-centeredness." On the Vulture/New York, The New Yorker's Karan Mahajan pick, and Buzzfeed best-of lists. (Interesting aside--of the 19 top stores on the Above the Treeline inventory system, 18 of them are either zoned East or West. One is in the Midwest and I have a guess which store it is.)
Then there's Problems, by Jade Sharma. In it, a young New Yorker takes a job at a bookstore and spirals into an addiction of food and drug use. Oh, and she's having an affair and her mother had a debilitating illness. Publisher's Weekly's starred review said "Some readers may find the subject matter too difficult, but in Mayaas voice, Sharma has crafted a momentous force that never flags and feels painfully honest." The Rumpus said the only problem with Problems is that it ends and praised her voice. Dale Peck and David Gates offered praise. It's in the Vulture/New York top 10, as well as Publishers Weekly. Lauren Holmes in The New York Times wrote: "The book’s vulgarity is deeply and powerfully feminist. Most of Sharma’s best lines are too profane to print; Maya’s narration is crude, unsettling and often shamelessly sexy." The cover says "I am not expecting to be considered for a Pennie Pick."
Here's another -The Red Car, by Marcy Dermansky. Leah, young woman living in Queens inherits a car from Judy, her recently deceased mentor and takes off on a road trip. Shelf Awareness wrote: "Dermansky knows how to write, and wrap up, a good road trip--a Big Sur epiphany and newfound resilience. The Red Car is like a film so mesmerizing that you want to get another box of popcorn and see it again." And Buzzfeed wrote: "Funny, unpredictable, and moving, The Red Car is an irresistible book for anyone who’s ever felt stuck." And it's in Buzzfeed's best-of too. Daniel Handler in The New York Times: "There should be a literary term for a book you can’t stop reading that also makes you stop to think. I slammed down The Red Car, Marcy Dermansky’s sharp and fiery new novel, in tense fits and jumpy starts, putting down the book to ponder it, but not pondering long because I had to know what happened next."
Other books, like Han Kang's The Vegetarian, started off slow for us (2 copies in the first 4 months) and then started to take off when it won the Man Booker International Prize in May. By the time it started getting on all the best-of lists, like The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Time, Buzzfeed, and Entertainment Weekly. Booklist describes it: "When ordinary and submissive Yeong-hye becomes a vegetarian, her family treats her decision as both a disease and a betrayal. As they try to control her, their own manners deteriorate, culminating in violence, adultery, and estrangement." And Porochista Khakpor writes in The New York Times:"All the trigger warnings on earth cannot prepare a reader for the traumas of this Korean author’s translated debut in the Anglophone world."
We wound up selling a few copies copies initially of The Association of Small Bombs in hardcover (not great but also not zero), but a paperback release for awards and best-of season seems to be working. The story, of three boys who are caught in a bombing in a marketplace, and the after-effects on the survior, particularly when he becomes involved with an activist bomb maker in adulthood. Penguin got the book out for the National Book Award season where it made the shortlist. It's now on the best-of lists for The New York Times, Buzzfeed, Esquire, Time magazine, The Huffington Post, Book Riot, Vulture, and PopSugar, among others.
Garth Greenwell's What Belongs to You, did the best of these six titles in its initial release. It's about an American in Bulgaria that starts a relationshipo with a hustler. It might have had more reviews that clicked here, but I think it was also because we had a few customer champions, most notably one who discovered the book because her daughter attended school with him. Yes, a Milwaukee connection! It made best-of lists for Esquire, Slate, Vulture, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Millions, and Buzzfeed.
So what did sell? Year-end bestseller lists are only about two weeks away!
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