Sunday, June 11, 2017

Boswell's Annotated Bestseller Lists, week ending June 10, 2017, plus links to the Journal Sentinel TapBooks reviews

Here are our bestsellers for the week. Due to our event with Al Franken today at 1 pm, the store will be closed off to browsing between 12 noon and 3, and may not be open to the general public for part of that time.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Ministry of Utmost Hapiness, by Arundhati Roy
2. The Leavers, by Lisa Ko (event at Boswell Mon 6/12, 7 pm)
3. Camino Island, by John Grisham
4. The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry
5. The Magpie Murders, by Anthony Horowitz
6. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
7. Do Not Become Alarmed, by Maile Meloy
8. Grief Cottage, by Gail Godwin
9. Beartown, by Fredrik Backman
10. Lonesome Lies Before Us, by Don Lee (event at Boswell Thu 6/15, 7 pm), which I have never heard of before, offers a link to reviews of Arundhati Roy's long-awaited novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happinessv. The Irish Times review, in particular, was characterized as hatchet job.

Another high-profile release is John Grisham's Camino Island. He's also doing his first author tour in 25 years. Traditionally he signed copies for the few stores that hosted him when he self-published A Time to Kill. Here are the lucky stores.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Option B, by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
2. Theft by Finding, by David Sedaris
3. The Rules Do Not Apply, by Ariel Levy
4. Al Franken, by Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken (ticketed signing, Sun 6/11, 1 pm)
5. Give a Girl a Knife, by Amy Thielen
6. Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg
7. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
8. Strengths Finder 2.0, by Tom Rath
9. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
10. The New Midwestern Table, by Amy Thielen

Ariel Levy's The Rules Do Not Apply was David Sedaris's recommended title at Wednesday's event. He's a huge fan of her work and she is accompanying him on select dates of his tour. I recently read her profile of Elizabeth Strout in The New Yorker.

From Ann Hulbert in The Atlantic: "A bold and bookish girl growing up in Westchester, New York, in a pre-9/11 world, she thrived throughout her 20s and into her 30s on “a compulsion to thrust myself toward adventure.” She had male and female lovers. She traveled to far-flung places. Her journalistic specialty was 'stories about women who are too much.' Levy counted herself among that undaunted company. She still qualifies, even after being buffeted by deep grief in marriage and pregnancy, and chastened to learn how much in life eludes control. Levy has the rare gift of seeing herself with fierce, unforgiving clarity. And she deploys prose to match, raw and agile. She plumbs the commotion deep within and takes the measure of her have-it-all generation."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton
2. Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley (book club discussion Mon 8/7, 7 pm)
3. The Drifter V1, by Nick Petrie
4. The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn
5. The Dead Don't Bleed V1, by David Krugler
6. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
7. Burning Bright V2, by Nick Petrie
8. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
9. Enchanted Islands, by Allison Amend
10. Fathers Day, by Simon Van Booy (book club discussion Mon 7/10, 7 pm)

Jane Hamilton did an excellent job interviewing Sheryl Sandberg this past Monday, and we had a nice pop in sales for The Excellent Lombards as a result. It's a 1-2 punch for Grand Centeral, as our August book club selection, Before the Fall, was picked up by a number of folks who discussed Homegoing on Monday. I figured a smart thriller was just the thing for August.

I didn't know much about Kate Quinn's the Alice Network. The publisher sets up this historical novel: "Two women--a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947--are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption." Jean Zimmerman writes on the NPR blog: "At the heart of Quinn's telling is the true story of the covert Alice Network, through which courageous men and women infiltrated the German lines in rural France."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Think Skinny, Feel Fit, by Alejandro Chaban
2. Ruthless, by Ron Miscavige
3. Heretics!, by Steven Nadler and Ben Nadler
4. Creating Cultures of Thinking, by Ron Ritchhart
5. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
6. The Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee, by Thomas Fehring
7. Cream City Chronicles, by John Gurda
8. Dark Money, by Jane Mayer
9. Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris
10. How to Be an Indian in the 21st Century, by Louis V. Clark

It's an event driven list this week. Even The Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee and the Engineers Who Created Them had its launch event at Historic Milwaukee last Tuesday. And probably John Gurda spoke somewhere!

Books for Kids:
1. Firefly Hollow, by Alison McGhee
2. Percy: Dog of Destiny, by Alison McGhee
3. Someday, by Alison McGhee
4. Maybe a Fox, by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee
5. Julia Gillian and the Art of Knowing, by Alison McGhee
6. Little Boy, by Alison McGhee
7. Bink and Gollie Two for One V2, by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee
8. Bink and Gollie Best Friends Forever V3, by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee
9. Bink and Gollie V1, by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee
10. Oh, the Places You'll Go, by Dr. Seuss

Alison McGhee spent the day at an area school and they obviously had a good time. At least Dr. Seuss cracked the top ten with Oh, the Places You'll Go. After all, we're thick into graduation season. But at age 27, we're hoping this book is at least graduating with advanced degrees.

Here are the book reviews from the TapBooks page.

From Jim Higgins comes an essay about Hunger, the new memoir from Roxane Gay. He writes: "Hunger is also a coming-of-age story, often a painful one, about a shy young woman coping with the aftershocks of her violation, grappling with her compulsive eating and its consequences, and discovering her voice as a writer. As a Haitian-American, she comes from a culture that prizes thinness, making her size a family issue. In pointed detail, she describes attending with her father an intake seminar for possible gastric bypass surgery, an experience that shook both of them. (Her account won't show up in the surgeon's press kit anytime soon!)"

We've had a lot of inquiries as to whether Gay is coming to Milwaukee. We're not on the tour but if you want to see here, why not hit up one of the great stores that are hosting her. Not sure if tickets are still available for the Chicago Humanities Festival event on June 19.

Chris Foran takes on Alan Alda's new memoir, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? I still remember working our Alda event back with Schwartz at Alverno College. I was working the parking lot, guiding folks to the theater and got to tell Alda where to go. Foran offers: "In 2009, Alda founded the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University in New York. Combining academic research with theater training, the center has trained more than 7,000 scientists and doctors to communicate better. A lot of it centers on an appreciation of the power of empathy. Sharing stories of acting and improv exercises — including some he conducted at Ten Chimneys in Genesee Depot, where he led a master class in 2013 — Alda shows how making a human connection is 'the bedrock of communicating.'"

I was particularly curious to read Mike Fischer's thoughts on Allegra Goodman's newest, as I also read it. You'll find my recommendation in an email going out next week. Here's what Fischer says: "Can Emily Dickinson compete with World of Warcraft? That’s among the intriguing questions raised by Allegra Goodman in The Chalk Artist, featuring a 23-year-old teacher trying to win the hearts and minds of her students in a high school that 'had a reputation for out of the box kids – those who were artistic, or autistic, those with learning differences, or special gifts, or both at once.'” Which wins out in the novel, gaming or poetry? You'll have to read the novel to find out.

And finally, in the print edition, is a review of Scott Turow's Testimony. He'll be at the Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center on Sunday, June 25, 2 pm. Tickets are $30, including the book. Jocelyn McClurg, originally writing in USA Today, wrote that the book centers on the midlife crisis of Bill ten Boom, who takes a case at the Hague, investigating "the possible massacre of 400 gypsies in a refugee camp after the Bosnian war." She's not crazy about the sex scenes with Esma Czarini, the Russian legal advocate, but notes that "Testimony is a fun ride, an odd thing to say about a novel that casts new light on Bosnian war atrocities and sketchy American arms deals, as well as midlife crises among smart (but stupid) white guys.

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