Sunday, February 5, 2017

Boswell's annotated bestsellers: the new Ian Rankin arrives, the New York Times Magazine John Edgar Wideman profile, a Journal Sentinel feature on punk and new wave, and a chalk drawing for Lois Ehlert, plus lots of review links

Here's what's on this week's Boswell bestseller list.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Burning Bright V2, by Nick Petrie
2. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
3. 4 3 2 1, by Paul Auster
4. Rather Be the Devil V21, by Ian Rankin
5. The Mothers, by Brit Bennett (event 2/6, 7 pm, at Boswell)
6. Moonglow, by Michael Chabon
7. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
8. Everything You Want Me to Be, by Mindy Mejia (event 2/13, 7 pm, at Boswell)
9. The Afterlife of Stars, by Joseph Kertes
10. Difficult Women, by Roxane Gay

Several years ago we were honored enough to host a visit with Scotland's Ian Rankin for one of his John Rebus novels. We'll never forget that! Now Rebsus is back in Rather Be the Devil, which has a first-week pop in sales at Boswell. The new book has a nice review from Jonathan Elderfield in the Associated Press, which has been featured in papers around the country. Our link is from the Stamford Advocate, which reprints Elderfield's take: "As always, Ian Rankin leads the reader to Rebus' regular Edinburgh stops, and he sends the story down some false paths, all the while telling a complicated tale of financial crime, gambling, mysterious Russians, rival crime bosses and fading musicians." I am not sure this review would bring in new readers to the series as much as alert fans to a new installment, but anything helps!

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Krazy, by Michael Tisserand
2. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
3. T. Bone Burnett, by Lloyd Sachs
4. Tools of Titans, by Timothy Ferriss
5. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance
6. Writing to Save a Life, by John Edgar Wideman
7. When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi
8. Tears We Cannot Stop, by Michael Eric Dyson
9. The Death of Expertise, by Tom Nichols
10. Rad Women Worldwide, by Kate Schatz, with illustrations by Miriam Klein Stahl

John Edgar Wideman's storied career continues with Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File, the story of Emmett Till's father, who was executed by the United States Army during World War II. The book came out in November, but it's this profile in The New York Times Magazine from Thomas Chatterton Williams that likely stirred sales this week. One quote: "The drama of Wideman’s personal history can seem almost mythical, refracting so many aspects of the larger black experience in America, an experience defined less by its consistencies, perhaps, than by its many contradictions — the stunning and ongoing plurality of victories and defeats."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Mutual Admiration Society, by Lesley Kagen
2. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
3. 1984, by George Orwell
4. The Drifter, by Nick Petrie
5. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
6. The Sellout, by Paul Beatty
7. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, by Phaedra Patrick
8. Everybody's Fool, by Richard Russo
9. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
10. The Intuitionist, by Colson Whitehead

It's great to see a sales pop for The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper. Harlequin's Mira division (now re-imagined as Park Row Books) has done so much to try to break out this book, from a meet the bookseller tour to a recent trip to Winter Institute and an aggressive mailing campaign. We've had numerous reads (one bookseller's spouse said it was the best book she read in 2016) and the book is currently on our book club flier, where we focus on 24 titles that we think make for great discussion. Here's a review of the book in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star from Drew Gallagher.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Brick Through the Window, by Steven Nodine, Eric Beaumont, Clancy Carroll, David Luhrssen
2. Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly
3. Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
4. 84 Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff
5. The Elements of Style, by William Strunk and E.B. White
6. You Are a Badass, by Jen Sincero (ticketed event at Boswell, 4/25/17)
7. Hope in the Dark 2e, by Rebecca Solnit
8. The Rainbow Comes and Goes, by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt
9. Yes, Please, by Amy Poehler
10. My Two Elaines, by Martin Schreiber

Normally our Journal Sentinel Tap Book links would be at after the kids books, but why wait to talk about Brick Through the Window: An Aoral History of Punk Rock, New Wave and Noise in Milwaukee, 1964-1984," which has a front page of Tap feature from Jim Higgins. It's an expanded version of Steven Nodine's The Cease Is Increase. Higgins notes: "For anyone who experienced part of this era, as I did, reading Brick Through the Window may trigger nostalgic memories of shows at Starship or Zak's, or the thrill of discovering new vinyl by the Red Ball Jets or the Haskels. But Reading this book also deepened my awareness of how different those days were, of how much effort it took in the pre-internet era both for bands to promulgate their music and for listeners to discover it." We hosting the authors on February 17. We sold out of our first order and we're waiting for more books to be printed! Yes, you can order or place a copy of the next printing on hold at the store.

Books for Kids:
1. Heart to Heart, by Lois Ehlert (event Sat 2/11, 2 pm)
2. Dog Man V1, by Dav Pilkey
3. Egg, by Kevin Henkes
4. Before You, by Rebecca Doughty
5. March v1, by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell
6. Dog Man Unleashed V2, by Dav Pilkey
7. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
8. Hammer of Thor v2, by Rick Riordan
9. The Inquisitor's Tale, by Adam Gidwitz
10. Ada Twist, Scientist, by Andrea Beaty with illustrations by David Roberts

I think the best gift we got from a publisher in the last year was from Workman, who was promoting Valerie McKeehan's The Complete Book of Chalk Lettering, and yes, we carry a number of different Lil and Val products. But since we've gotten it, we've discovered that several of our booksellers are quite talented at chalk drawing. Take this promotion for Lois Ehlert's Heart to Heart sign shown here. The new book is just adorable, and works for just about anyone you love, whether child, grandchild, niece or nephew, or significant other. Our event is this Saturday, February 11, 2 pm, at Boswell.

There are more reviews in the Journal Sentinel Tap Books page, including two essays from Mike Fischer. The first tackles Autumn, the "zany, moving, beautiful, and soul-affirming new novel" from Ali Smith. He writes: "Set in post-Brexit Britain during the summer and fall of 2016, Smith's novel mentions Trump and is alive to the disheartening and ugly moment we now inhabit" but Smith also notes that Smith "helps us see our best selves, even in the worst of times. We've never needed her more."

The second review covers Amiable with Big Teeth, a newly discovered novel from Claude McKay. Mike Fischer explains: Completed in July 1941, it was rejected by McKay's publisher and then lost, until being discovered by graduate student Jean-Christophe Cloutier in a box of Columbia University papers in 2009...It's primarily interesting for sociological rather than aesthetic reasons." For a more positive take, Time Magazine's Sarah Begley says the book lives up to McKay's reputation.

Also featured in the print edition is Joanna Faber and Julie King's How to Talk So Little Kids will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2-7. Faber is the daughter of Adele Faber, who along with childhood friend Julie King, "were guinea pigs for Faber's mother's parenting techniques when they were growing up in Nassau County," says Beth Whitehouse of Newsday. Faber's book How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk was a long-time bestseller at Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops.

Here's one more book feature off the book page! The Journal Sentinel's Jim Stingl profiles David H. Mathews, whose book, Lemons and Lemonade, chronicles his adventures in online dating. He'll be at Boswell on Wednesday, February 8, 7 pm, for a talk. From Stingl: "Readers who like a happy ending will be pleased. In 2006, Mathews was matched up with Clare, an artist around his age, and they both fell hard. He dedicated the book to her and devotes the last third of the book to their courtship, including many verbatim emails back and forth."

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