Sunday, August 27, 2017

Annotated Boswell bestsellers, week ending August 26, 2017: Sometimes a prize nominee is a big deal, and other times, winning it is not as good as a book club discussion. Plus, "Put an Eiffel Tower on it, part 700." Plus the Journal Sentinel TapBooks page.

Presenting the annotated Boswell Bestsellers for the week ending August 26, 2017

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Y Is for Yesterday, by Sue Grafton (and what after Z?)
2. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
3. The Readymade Thief, by Augustus Rose
4. Mrs. Fletcher, by Tom Perrotta
5. Meddling Kids, by Edgar Cantero
6. Home Fire, by Kamila Shamsie
7. Sulfur Springs, by William Kent Krueger
8. Stay with Me, by Ayobami Adebayo
9. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
10. Hum if You Don't Know the Words, by Bianca Marais

Kamila Shamsie's latest, Home Fire, is already longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Rick Simonson from Elliot Bay in Seattle wrote for his Indie Next review: "One of the finest writers at work in English today, Kamila Shamsie has written her most heartbreaking, beautiful, necessary book yet.” And Vanessa Thorpe writes in The Guardian: "Inspired by the conflict between love and moral duty in Sophocles’s play Antigone, it tells of a tightly knit trio of orphaned siblings, sensible elder sister Isma and the headstrong twins Aneeka and Parvaiz, who are divided by romance, sex and the vampiric forces of Islamist fundamentalism."

Once again, I'm a big fan of this Riverhead book jacket.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan (Egan at On the Issues Wed Sep 6 at Noon. May be room left)
2. Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken
3. Theft by Finding, by David Sedaris (Sedaris was on Paula Poundstone's podcast Aug 5)
4. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance
5. Why Buddhism Is True, by Robert Wright
6. When Breath Becomes Air, by Paula Kalanithi
7. Surfaces and Essences, by Douglas Hofstadter
8. Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari
9. Wisconsin Supper Clubs: Another Round, by Ron Faiola
10. The World Broke in Two, by Bill Goldstein (event Mon Sep 11, 7 pm, at Boswell)

Here's a recommendation for Bill Goldstein's The World Broke in Two from Boswell's Conrad Silverberg: "Some years mark a stark division, separating what comes before from what comes after in uncompromising and irreversible terms: 1776, 1865, 1945 are obvious examples. For literature, 1922 is such a year. Bookended by the February publishing of James Joyce's Ulysses, considered by many to be the single greatest novel in the English language, and the translation of Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time in the fall, the year marks a clean break from traditional forms of linear narrative storytelling, and plunges us deep into the psychological explorations and innovative structures of modernist writing. As Willa Cather reflected in 1936, 'The world broke in two in 1922 or thereabouts.' Goldstein's book is a lively, nuanced, and utterly enthralling tale of how this break affected four writers in particular: Virginia Wolff, TS Eliot, EM Forester and DH Lawrence, who all struggled with and found renewed inspiration from this new world."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
2. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
3. Do Not Bring Him Water, by Caitlin Scarano
4. Funhouse, by Robert Vaughan
5. Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
6. News of the World, by Paulette Jiles
7. Still Life, by Louise Penny (two formats)
8. Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue (more below)
9. Karolina's Twins, by Ronald H. Balson (Two events Tue Oct 24 at Ovation Chai Point 3 pm, and Boswell 7 pm)
10. The Sarbonne Affair, by Mark Pryor

You know the old saying: "Put an Eiffel Tower on the jacket and it twice as likely to sell at Boswell." And so I call attention to The Sorbonne Affair, the first mystery novel featuring Hugo Marston since The Bookseller, Pryor's debut, to feature the edifice, and the first in my knowledge to hit our top ten for the week. The series hook is that Hugo Marston is head of security for the U.S. Embassy in Paris. Several of the plots reviolve around authors, bookstores, and libraries - the previous book in the series is The Paris Librarian. David Hendricks in The San Antonio Express-News wrote "Pryor’s easygoing prose style and the witty, smart dialogue makes the story compelling and entertaining."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
2. The Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee, by Thomas H. Fehring
3. Against Everything, by Mark Greif
4. Stop Anxiety from Stopping You, by Helen Odessky (event with REDgen Sun Sep 17, 3 pm)
5. Blood in the Water, by Heather Ann Thompson (event at Turner Hall Mon Nov 6, 7 pm)
6. At the Existentialist Cafe, by Sara Bakewell
7. Writers Market 2018: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published, by Writers Digest
8. A Crowded Hour, Kevin Abing
9. Preservation, by Christina Ward
10. Live and Let Live, by Evelyn M. Perry

After a nice hardcover run, At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Others has a nice pop in sales for the paperback. Bakewell also wrote How to Live, a book about Montaigne we're featuring for Michael Perry's event for his Montaigne in Barn Boots on November 14, 7 pm, at Boswell. Janet Maslin in The New York Times called Bakewell's work "a bracingly fresh look at once-antiquated ideas and the milieu in which they flourished" and it went on to be one of their ten best books of 2016.

Books for Kids
1. Such a Pretty Face, by Ann Angel
2. The Book of Dares for Lost Friends, by Jane Kelley
3. Things I'll Never Say, by Ann Angel
4. The Desperate Adventures of Zeno and Alya, by Jane Kelley
5. Nature Girl, by Jane Kelley
6. The Girl Behind the Glass, by Jane Kelley
7. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
8. Octo-Man and the Headless Monster, by Jane Kelley
9. Sol-Ray Man and the Freaky Flood, by Jane Kelley
10. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

Milwaukee-raised author Jane Kelley had a new early chapter book series from Grosset and Dunlap this spring called The Escapades of Clint McCool. The first two in the series are Octo-Man and the Headless Monster and Sol-Ray Man and the Freaky Flood. This week we had an order for the library binding (effectively hardcover) editions of the books for a school, but that's a great opportunity to give a shout out for the paperbacks, which I've linked to above. In the first book, Clint McCool runs into Octo-Man on the set of his new movie and has lot of ideas to improve the project, but gets a valuable lesson in processing one idea at a time.

Here's what's happening on the TapBooks page of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Book editor Jim Higgins is a fan of the young adult edition of Far From the Tree: How Children and Their Parent Learn to Accept One Another...Our Differences Unite Us. Higgins writes: "Published in 2012, Far From the Tree won a National Book Critics Circle award and other honors for its seriously researched exploration of how families raised children with disabilities and differences, including deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome and autism. Now Simon and Schuster has published a young-adult edition of Solomon's valuable book. Working with adapter Laurie Calkhoven, an experienced writer for children, Solomon has slimmed the text and moved the extensive footnotes and bibliography sections online." Read this enthusiastic recommendation for this new edition of Solomon's book.

Charisse Jones writes about Rabbit: The Autobiography of Ms. Pat, the memoir of comedian Patricia Williams written with Jeannine Amber. In this review that was originalliy published in USA Today, Jones writes "With deadpan humor and more than a little profanity, Williams introduces us to the cast of characters that peopled her itinerant childhood in Atlanta." The message is to aim for the stars: "No matter what kind of hard times you face, remember you can do anything and be anything you want in life. All you have to do is dream."

And finally, here is Laurie Hertzel interviewing Imbolo Mbue about her novel, Behold the Dreamers, which is not just an Oprah's Book Club Pick, but the winner of the Pen/Faulkner Prize (which, by the way, was knocked off the front of the jacket once Oprah came a calling). Here's Mbue talking about how her image of America has changed: "My view of America before coming here was fairly naive, largely informed by movies and TV shows. It didn’t take long after I arrived here to learn that most people did not have the kind of wealth I saw on Dallas or Dynasty. That said, I still very much believe that this is a country of tremendous opportunity — that is the reason why millions around the world aspire to someday arrive here to achieve their dreams." To me, the most interesting aspect of the article, originally from the Star Tribune, is learning that Barnes and Noble, at least in Edina, is now doing true ticket-with-book events. I've seen "must by ticket to get on the signing line" but not this. Did they close the store for the event? Must find out!

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