Sunday, June 25, 2017

Now in Boswell-vision, the annotated bestsellers for the week ending June 24, 2017

The Boswell bestsellers brought to you through Boswell-vision.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Murder in Saint Germain, by Cara Black
2. The Magpie Murders, by Anthony Horowitz
3. Here and Gone, by Haylen Beck (Stuart Neville)
4. Camino Island, by John Grisham
5. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
6. Testimony, by Scott Turow (ticketed event today at JCC, 2 pm. Walkups available)
7. Force, by Don Winslow
8. The Silent Corner, by Dean Koontz
9. The Little Paris Bistro, by Nina George
10. Men Without Women, by Haruki Murakami

Don Winslow may have picked up extra buzz for his newest, The Force, by taking out a full page ad in The New York Times criticizing the government's war on drugs. John Wilkens of the San Diego Union-Tribune, profiled area resident Winslow: "Winslow, 63, has spent almost 20 years researching and writing about drugs — America’s appetite for them, the Mexican cartels that torture and kill each other to control distribution, the police on both sides of the border who try to stem the tide or corruptly become part of the flow. His books The Power of the Dog and The Cartel are violent, searing and critically acclaimed epics about the cost and futility of the war" Wilkens explained that the newest ties into this as well: "Winslow is currently on a tour promoting his newest book, The Force, which came out Tuesday. It’s about the leader of an elite New York Police Department unit caught up in corruption while fighting the influx of drugs and guns to the city."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken
2. You Don't Have to Say You Love Me, by Sherman Alexie
3. Theft by Finding, by David Sedaris
4. Hunger, by Roxane Gay and Adam Grant
5. Option B, by Sheryl Sandberg
6. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
7. Janesville, by Amy Goldstein
8. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil deGrasse Tyson
9. Milwaukee City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
10. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance (on Megyn Kelly tonight on NBC)

For the second week in a row, a review from Jim Higgins presaged a strong showing on our bestseller list the following week (and it was nice to see when I clicked on the Toledo Blade story, it was the Higgins review). There's more about Sherman Alexie's long-awaited memoir, You Don't Have to Say You Love Me. At his local paper, Claudia Rowe in The Seattle Times writes: "There is a guileless, everything-but-the-kitchen sink quality to these pages that sometimes feels as if we are leafing through Alexie’s private notebooks. We see Alexie as a boy, born brutally poor on the Spokane Indian Reservation to parents so desperate, they sometimes sold their blood for food money." Interesting that the book came out the same month as the Sedaris diaries, from the same publisher too.

I always have a sense of accomplishment when I've read a good amount of books on a list. My best showing is usually on paperback fiction (and indeed I read six of this week's ten) but this week I also had a nice showing on hardcover nonfiction, with a completion score of five out of ten. My nonfiction paperback score is not bad either (four) but let's not talk about hardcover fiction.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Portrait, by Antoine Laurain
2. Lilac Girls, by Marth Hall Kelly
3. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
4. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
5. Murder in the Marais, by Cara Black
6. My Favorite Thing is Monsters, by Emil Ferris
7. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
8. Burning Bright, by Nick Petrie
9. Noise of Time, by Julian Barnes
10. My Name Is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout

It may be an older title, but that hasn't stopped fans from picking up just-released-in-the-United-States Antoine Laurain's latest, The Portrait, once again translated by Jane Aitken and Emily Boyce. His very first novel is about a man who sees a painting and realizes he looks just like the person in this heirloom work. So he purchases it, hiding it in his apartment, but weirdly enough, nobody else can see the resemblance. Is there something going on? Yes, there is! Wilda Williams in Library Journal called it a "delightful literary soufflee." OK, she also said "slight," but honestly, were you expecting Pynchon? I kind of love the Goodreads page as many of the reviews are not in English. Use the translate function! And also note that we once again have an assortment of Antoine Laurain books in French.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Preservation, by Christina Ward
2. Hot Pants in Hollywood, by Susan Silver
3. Borchert Field, by Bob Buege
4. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
5. Seinfeldia, by Jennifer Keisha Armstrong
6. We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, by Samantha Irby
7. North Point Historic Districts, by Shirley DuFresne McArthur
8. Live and Let Live, by Evelyn Perry
9. Wisconsin Literary Luminaries, by Jim Higgins
10. Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee, by Thomas H. Fehring

We have a big fan of Samantha Irby's New York Times bestselling We Are Never Meeting in Real Life in Sharon, who wrote "This is not the book for your Aunt Joan if she is put off by profanity or descriptive sexual detail. I found it hilarious as well as touching." We hosted Ms. Irby for her last collection, Meaty, back when she still lived in Evanston, and we've heard that Meaty will also be reissued by Vintage, her new publisher. Sharon's in great company, as other big fans include Roxane Gay, Rainbow Rowell, and Lindy West.

Books for Kids:
1. The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors, by Drew Daywalt with illustrations by Adam Rex
2. Amina's Voice, by Hena Khan
3. Ghost, by Jason Reynolds
4. Playbook, by Kwame Alexander
5. Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes, by Rick Riordan 6. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
7. Dog Man Unleashed, by Dav Pilkey
8. Dragons Love Tacos 2 The Sequel, by Adam Rubin with illustrations by Daniel Salmieri
9. Be True to Me, by Adele Griffin
10. Real Friends, by Shannon Hale

When we inquired at the publisher why Hena Khan's first novel, Amina's Voice, took place in Milwaukee, we learned that Khan has not lived here but her husband's family does. Khan got a very nice writeup in her local paper, The Washington Post, with Mary Quattlebaum noting that "the novel, about a Pakistani American Muslim sixth-grader who struggles to stay true to her family’s culture while fitting in at school, is the first title in a new imprint, Salaam Reads, from Simon and Schuster. The imprint, whose name means “peace” in Arabic, focuses on stories featuring Muslim characters." Khan also wrote It's Ramadan, Curious George, which hit our bestseller list last year.

This year the Journal Sentinel takes its annual Summerfest book break, but Jim Higgins still has a review for Afterland, a new collection of poems from Mai Der Vang. He writes: "Growing up in a Hmong family that practiced shamanism accustomed Mai Der Vang to seeing things in both a literal and figurative way at the same time. She brings that experience with overlapping realities to Afterland, a collection of poems about the Hmong experience, from 17th-century China through the secret war in Laos and ultimately to resettlement as refugees in the United States. It won the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets in 2016."

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