Sunday, July 2, 2017

Pogo sticking our way through Boswell's annotated bestseller lists for the week ending July 1, 2017

Here's what's been hopping out the door at Boswell.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Testimony, by Scott Turow
2. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
3. The Magpie Murders, by Anthony Horowitz
4. The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry
5. The Force, by Don Winslow
6. Into the Water, by Paula Hawkins
7. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
8. Anything Is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout
9. The Little French Bistro, by Nina George
10. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, by Matthew Sullivan

Geoff Shandler's Custom House imprint has a big hit right out of the box with The Essex Serpent, the novel by Sarah Perry. A Cost Book Award finalist, it was also named the British Book Awards Fiction Book of the Year. It's the story of a 19th century widow who heads to Essex with her young son and nanny, who becomes intrigued by the tale of a legedary creature roaming the marshes, recently returned, having taken the life of a young man. Jennifer Senior in The New York Times called it: "wonderfully dense and serenely self-assured. I found it so transporting that 48 hours after completing it, I was still resentful to be back home." I am a fan of several of her fiction recommendations, and am now feeling bad that I haven't read it.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Hunger, by Roxane Gay
2. The Soul of Vietnam, by Lawrence D'Attilio
3. You Don't Have to Say You Love Me, by Sherman Alexie
4. Theft by Finding, by David Sedaris
5. Option B, by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
6. Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken
7. Churchill and Orwell, by Thomas E. Ricks
8. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance
9. The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben
10. Dream Hoarders, by Richard V. Reeves

I finally read Hunger for a summer reading program that's airing on Lake Effect next week, but I don't think I can take credit for the sales pop. I'm thinking it might be the recent New Yorker profile from Doreen St. FĂ©lix. She notes: "Gay, who rejects the ideal of '(th)inner woman' while also wishing that she could herself be smaller, has drawn the ire of fat-acceptance advocates, who presumably wish that Gay were a less equivocal role model. In Hunger, she writes candidly of her position, returning to the theme of contradictions: 'I have been accused of being full of self-loathing and being fat-phobic. There is truth to the former accusation and I reject the latter.'"

Paperback Fiction:
1. Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue
2. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
3. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
4. Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
5. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
6. News of the World, by Paulette Jiles
7. Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
8. The Portrait, by Antoine Laurain
9. A Girl Called Sidney: The Coldest Place, by Courtney Yasmineh
10. The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell

Oprah's latest book club pick kicks in with a nice first week sale for Imbolo Mbue's Behold the Dreamers, even at Boswell. Publishing insiders often play "guess the title," which is released to us small fry accounts with blinders. That said, one curious soul noticed that just as the Oprah book was scheduled for 6/26 (Monday), The paperback release of BTD was pushed back from 6/27 to 2018. One should also note that the novel, about a young Cameroonian immigrant couple in New York, recently was awarded the PEN Faulker award. As Ms. Winfrey notes in her video, "It's got everything!"

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Becoming Wise, by Krista Tippett
2. Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus, by Stefanie Chambers
3. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
4. Live and Let Live, by Evelyn M. Perry (event 7/17 at Boswell with Mitch Teich)
5. No Is Not Enough, by Naomi Klein
6. Launch, by John Spencer
7. One Pan and Done, by Molly Gilbert
8. Dark Money, by Jane Mayer
9. The Beast Side, by D. Watkins
10. How to Bake Pi, by Eugenia Cheng

A local book club is reading Krista Tippett's Becoming Wise: An Inquiry Into the Mystery and Art of Living, which came out in paperback earlier this year. Her public radio program On Being airs on Milwaukee Public Radio twice on Sundays, at 6 am and 8 pm. Did you know the project manager of the show grew up in Milwaukee? The New York Times profile from Anand Giridhaaradas noted that the show works to see "whether people can talk across apparently unscalable walls. In a new book, Becoming Wise, she mines her interviews on theology, neuroscience and everything in between to reflect on the prospects for such wall-scaling in a divided age." This was written in April 2016 so it appears there's more scaling to do.

Books for Kids:
1. A Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee
2. A Study in Charlotte, by Brittany Cavallaro
3. Posted, by John David Anderson
4. Amina's Voice, by Hena Khan
5. Funny Girl, by Betsy Bird
6. To Catch a Cheat V2, by Varian Johnson
7. Flying Lessons and Other Stories, edited by Ellen Oh
8. Rooftoppers, by Katherine Rundell
9. Ghost, by Jason Reynolds
10. The Great Greene Heist V1, by Varian Johnson

For those who have been wondering when the next book in the Track series is coming, the follow up to Ghost (making another appearance on our bestseller list) is due on August 29 and being that it's called Patina. It focuses on Patina (no surprise), also known as Patty, who with her sister, were started a "fancy shmancy" school and no longer live with their mom, who has The Sugar. I haven't read it yet, but you know I will, especially because there's a chance Mr. Reynolds will be coming back to Milwaukee for this book. Meanwhile,

The Journal Sentinel TapBook page is back this week and the lead review is Jim Higgins taking on The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story, from Edwidge Danticat. He writes: "The Haitian-American novelist's succinct book is the 13th in a long-running series published by Graywolf Press exploring issues in literary writing. But the way she engages her subject makes this a book almost everyone can appreciate. While Danticat analyzes death scenes and writers' reflections on mortal moments from Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston to Albert Camus and Haruki Murakami, her mother's life and death ground her book."

In the print edition, you can read Katherine A. Powers's take on The Essex Serpent, originally from Newsday. The news from Powers: "These psychological insights combined with a sense of the substance and feeling of late 19th-century ideas in bloom - make this a fine novel, both historical and otherwise."

You can also check out Joseph Peschel's review of The Jane Austen Project, a debut novel from Kathleeen Flynn, originally published in the Raleigh News and Observer. His observation: "Flynn's story is an appealing speculation about Austen's life through the eyes of Rachel, a neo-modern woman who is subjected to 19th-century circumstances."

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