Sunday, March 19, 2017

Boswell Bestsellers: Peter Heller's detective, James Crawford's buildings, Kwame Alexander's poetry, NBCC's award winners, plus the Journal Sentinel book review links.

Don't forget that Boswell is closing at 4 pm today for a staff meeting, followed by sales rep presentations in Oconomowoc. We normally do this at 5, but we needed an additional hour to get ourselves out to Books and Company. We'll be back to serve you with even more book knowledge on Monday morning at 10 am.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid
2. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
3. The Hearts of Men, by Nickolas Butler
4. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
5. Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman
6. Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult
7. Celine, by Peter Heller
8. Morning Paramin, by Derek Walcott
9. In This Grave Hour V13, by Jacqueline Winspear
10. Swing Time, by Zadie Smith

We had two reads on Celine, the third novel from Peter Heller. If you are browsing Boswell, you might notice a poster for our event for The Dog Stars, drawn by Nick Berg. Of the new book, Lisa Shea in Elle Magazine writes: "Like Mark Twain and Toni Morrison, Heller has a rare talent that hooks both literary and commercial readers. The book's irresistible suspense springs from the dynamic between his elegant, visionary imagination as it immerses you in the wilderness of the American West and its sleek-and-scruffy small towns, and his unerring instinct for writing classy, edge-of-your-seat, page-turning whodunits."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Eyes Wide Open, by Isaac Lidsky
2. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan (event Wed 3/22, 7 pm, at Schlitz Audubon)
3. Flock Together, by B.J. Hollars
4. From the Mouths of Dogs, by B.J. Hollars
5. Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari
6. The Little Book of Hygge, by Meik Wiking
7. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
8. Fallen Glory, by James Crawford
9. Identity Unknown, by Donna Seaman (event at Boswell Thu Mar 30, 7 pm)
10. In the Company of Women, by Grace Bonney

New to the list is James Crawford's Fallen Glory: The Lives and Deaths of History's Greatest Buildings, which like Celine, came out March 7. It's about 20 buildings now not among us, from the Tower of Babel to the Pruitt-Igoe public housing in Saint Louis, to New York's Twin Towers. The Scotsman had a review from Stuart Kelly, who wrote: "Each building and city with which it is associated is a keyhole into a panorama of the times, with some assured and enlightening essayistic notes on their continuing meaning and what they tell us about history"

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
2. All the Missing Girls, by Megan Miranda
3. Americanah, by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie
4. Windy City Blues, by Renée Rosen (event at Boswell Tue Mar 21, 1 pm, with Osher)
5. The Japanese Lover, by Isabel Allende
6. Everyone Brave is Forgiven, by Chris Cleave
7. Britt-Marie Was Here, by Fredrik Backman
8. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
9. Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
10. North Water, by Ian McGuire

Quietly Isabel Allende's The Japanese Lover has exceeded her recent predecessor novels' sales at Boswell. It's sold 2-3 times what we sold of Ripper and Maya's Notebook, likely stemming from a publisher change, which generally infuses a little more energy into publication on both sides, and also due to a staff rec from Boswellian Scott Espinoza, which has kept the book at the front of the store for much longer than it normally would be. Her newest novel, set at senior housing, was praised by Ron Charles in The Washington Post: "The Japanese Lover may be furnished with oxygen tanks and painkillers, but it blasts along like a turbocharged wheelchair."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
2. Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren
3. Live and Let Live, by Evelyn M. Perry (event Fri 3/31 at Woodland Pattern)
4. Brick Through the Window, by Steven Nodine, Eric Beaumont, Clancy Carroll, and David Luhrssen
5. Polygyny, by Debra Majeed
6. New American Hagaddah, by Jonathan Safran Foer/Nathan Englander
7. Spain in Our Hearts, by Adam Hochschild
8. You Are Here, by Jenny Lawson
9. Cream City Chronicles, by John Gurda
10. How to Watch Soccer, by Ruud Gullit

Congratulations to Evicted and Lab Girl, which both won National Book Critics Circle Awards. The fiction winner was Louise Erdrich's LaRose. All three have staff recs from Boswell booksellers, which is an extra cool thing. Melissa Cronin in Popular Science wrote: "Hope Jahren’s Lab Girl reminds us that, in ways, we are strikingly like our blossoming brethren." Listen to Hope Jahren on the "On Point" show, which airs here on Wisconsin Public Radio.

 Books for Kids:
1. Throwing My Life Away, by Liz Czukas
2. Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli
3. Toothpaste Millionaire, by Jean Merrill
4. Music of Dolphins, by Karen Hesse
5. Out of Wonder, by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjorie Wentworth
6. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
7. Almost Everything Book, by Julie Morstad
8. Triangle, by Mac Barnett, with illustrations by Jon Klassen
9. Bee, by Britta Teckentrup
10. A Funny Thing Happened at the Museum, by Davide Cali, with illustrations by Benjamin Chaud

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets received a starred review in Booklist: "...Here, in this beautiful book, along with his coauthors, poets Chris Colderly and Marjory Wentworth, Alexander offers a collection of 20 poems. The hook? All are written in tribute to well-known poets, such as Maya Angelou, e. e. cummings, Sandra Cisneros, Robert Frost, Gwendolyn Brooks, and William Carlos Williams, among others." Here's Kwame Alexander talking to Rachel Martin about the book on NPR's Morning Edition.

The Journal Sentinel has an extra big collection of book review this week, with so many that some of them leaked out of the TapBooks section.

First up is Dan Egan's The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, reviewed by John Hildebrand. Hildebrand offers his observations: "In his marvelous new book The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, Dan Egan shows the lakes as a single ecosystem in which we are the keystone species, the one with the heaviest footprint, the scariest thing around. That’s quite a charge considering the cast of grotesques to enter the Great Lakes in the past century — sea lamprey, toad-faced round goby, zebra and quagga mussels, bighead carp — except that we, inadvertently, let them through the door."

A little drama from Mike Fischer, who in addition to books, reviews theater for the Journal Sentinel. His take on Rosalind: A Biography of Shakespeares Immortal Heroine, the new work from Angela Thirlwell: "What’s best in these discussions is Thirlwell’s anecdotes, supplemented by numerous interviews, involving actors who’ve played Rosalind during the past half century. It’s telling, for example, to hear from Adrian Lester, Rosalind in an all-male 1991 production in which he spent early rehearsals 'trying to play a woman.'"

From editor Chris Foran comes a review of Ike and McCarthy:Dwight Eisenhower's Secret Campaign Against Joseph McCarthy, from David A. Nichols. Foran reports: "Ike and McCarthy is Nichols' third book seeking to reassess — and upgrade — history's appreciation of Eisenhower's political ad leadership savvy in an area where some have thought Ike was lacking: 2011's Eisenhower 1956 details his role in foreign affairs, tamping down the Suez crisis before it turned into World War III, while 2007's A Matter of Justice repositions the 34th president as being more progressive on civil rights than previous biographers have suggested." Golf-loving naif? This book says no.

But wait, there's more! It's time for Carole E. Barrowman's Paging Through Mysteries column. This week two books are featured. First up is Jess Kidd's Himself, "a fabulously imaginative, darkly comic Irish tale set 'in the arse-end of beyond' in a village called Mulerigg." Barrowman offers that Kidd has taken a Tom Jones-like character and put him in the world of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Add murder and serve!

Also reviewed by Barrowman is Lola, the first novel from Melissa Scrivner Love, a noted television writer. Her story of a gang leader's girlfriend who is actually the brains behind the operation (and has 46 hours to get them out of a double cross or she will die brutally) is called "achingly beautiful" by Barrowman, and she compares Lola to Lisbeth Salander, as both "are damaged from years of sexual abuse."

Act now and you can also read this feature in the Fresh section, featuring 13 new garden books to "inspire, inform, and charm," selected by Joannee Kempinger Demski. I think it's an indication of gardening's move to niche status in publishing that none of these titles come from the large, traditional publishers, or even the traditional imprints like Workman's Storey or Sterling's Lark, let alonng Penguin Random House's Clarkson Potter. The good news is that it makes room for entrepreneurial newcomers.

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