Sunday, October 22, 2017

Boswell bestsellers - our top tens for the week ending October 21, 2017

Here's what's selling at Boswell.

I guess it was the right move to put off the paperback release of A Gentleman in Moscow. I was selling books at a literary luncheon in Brookfield and the attendees were selling the book to each other. I didn't have to even be involved.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
2. Devotions, by Mary Oliver
3. Origin, by Dan Brown
4. Uncommon Type, by Tom Hanks
5. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders (Man Booker Prize)
6. Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
7. It Devours, by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
8. Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
9. The Trust, by Ronald H. Balson (event 10/24, 7 pm, at Boswell)
10. Complete Stories, by Kurt Vonnegut

A caveat on It Devours, the new Night Vale novel, which has a great recommendation from Olivia S. at Boswell. Officially the classification of the book is paper over board, so you might also see it on paperback bestseller lists. But our customers definitely see it as a cheap hardcover, and we generally don't have the time to explain the binding variation, nor do most of them care. But some do, which is why I'm mentioning it here.

Mary Oliver's Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver, has a strong week at Boswell, as does every release of hers going back to the Schwartz days. From Danny Heitman in The Christian Science Monitor: "Like Henry David Thoreau, who famously did a lot of traveling in Concord, Oliver’s poems have mostly been inspired by her long walks within the woods and shoreline of Provincetown, Mass., a coastal community where she lived and worked for more than half a century before moving to Florida after the death of her longtime partner, photographer Molly Malone Cook. Oliver is perhaps the most peripatetic poet since William Wordsworth, whose rambles on foot around England’s Lake District deeply informed both the pastoral sensibility and rhythm of his verse."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Janesville, by Amy Goldstein
2. Leonardo Da Vinci, by Walter Isaacson
3. Grant, by Ron Chernow
4. Death of an Assassin, by Ann Marie Ackermann
5. We Were Eight Years in Power, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
6. Duck Season, by David McAninch
7. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
8. What Happened, by Hillary Rodham Clinton
9. Illusion of Justice, by Jerome F. Buting
10. The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben

It felt like last holiday season I was scavenging around for a good biography to sell at the holiday season, but this year, between Ron Chernow's Grant and Walter Isaacson's Leonardo Da Vinci, I feel we are in good hands. Of Walter Isaacson's latest, Walter Della Cava writes in USA Today: "Calling all living geniuses. Your mission is to find a way to keep author Walter Isaacson alive for the next 100 years so that he can keep writing about dead geniuses. There's just something about the way that the onetime Time magazine editor-turned-Aspen Institute leader manages to bring historical giants into vivid, 3D life that makes it worth extending the man's lifespan by a century."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Sun and Her Flowers, by Rupi Kaur
2. How to Change a Life, by Stacey Ballis
3. The Hamilton Affair, by Elizabeth Cobbs
4. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
5. Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
6. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
7. Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro (Nobel Prize winner)
8. Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
9. It, by Stephen King
10. The Drifter, by Nick Petrie (now up to six award noms with one win, so far)

We had a lovely evening with Stacey Ballis, who was in conversation with Amy Reichert for the release of How to Change a Life. It was not just enjoyable but informative, as I learned the secret of the famous chocolate cream pie of Eloise, the private chef that is at the center of this romantic comedy. It turns out the recipe is that of Milwaukee's Honeypie. Ballis asked owner and recipe keeper Valerie Lucks if she could use it in the book and she gave her permission. Ballis, a Chicago-area writer, has a number of Milwaukee food obsessions. She brought another to the event for us to share - the mini crullers from Grebe's Bakery, which you can find at many area supermarkets (and after this recommendation, you might look a little more carefully). Here's an essay from Ballis on food and cooking from Signature Reads.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Little Book of Mindfulness, by Patricia Collard
2. Urban Preparation, by Chezare A. Warren
3. Really Important Stuff My Cat Has Taught Me, by Cynthia L. Copeland
4. Cry Rape, by Bill Lueders
5. Live and Let Live, by Evelyn M. Perry
6. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
7. Basketball and Other Things, by Shea Serrano
8. Tales of Two Americas, by John Freeman
9. The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs
10. No Is Not Enough, by Naomi Klein

Where do you categorize anthologies that mix together both fiction and nonfiction? We've had recent appearances from The Driftless Reader, as well as John Freeman's Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation. Booklist's starred review noted that " Freeman believes that we need a new framework for writing about inequality, and construction is well underway in this anthology of masterful and affecting stories, essays, and poems by 36 writers profoundly attuned to the sources and implications of social rupture. These are sharply inquisitive and provocative works, from Richard Russo's working-class lament to Karen Russell's account of living above a homeless shelter to Manuel Munoz's portrait of his hardworking immigrant father to Rebecca Solnit's searing piece about gentrification, racism, and police shootings, and Claire Vaye Watkins' and Sandra Cisneros' looks back on very different impoverished childhoods."

Books for Kids:
1. My Book of Beautiful Oops, by Barney Saltzberg
2. Going Wild V1, by Lisa McMann
3. Beautiful Oops, by Barney Saltzberg
4. Predator Vs. Prey V2, by Lisa McMann
5. My Life as a Ninja, by Janet Tashjian
6. The Sidekicks, by Will Kostakis
7. Sticker Girl V1, by Janet Tashjian
8. Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green
9. One of Us Is Lying, by Karen M. McManus
10. Sticker Girls Rule the School V2, by Janet Tashjian
11. Going Wild V1 (hardcover), by Lisa McMann
12. The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage V1, by Philip Pullman

A downside of a kids book coming out in the midst of our school event madness is a lower showing in rank on our bestseller list. Between current appearances from Karen McManus, closed out events where we got final numbers from Barney Saltzberg, Lisa McMann, and Janet Tashjian, and advance sales from Will Kostakis (he's with Jen Lancaster at Grafton's River Room this Tuesday, October 24, 6:30 pm), it pushed Philip Pullman's new Book of Dust series opener, La Belle Sauvage, out of the top ten, while just a few weeks ago he might have been #1 on this list. This long-awaited release is part of a companion series to His Dark Materials. And yes, it had a special Thursday release. Here's Andrew Liptak in The Verge writing more about Pullman and his works.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins talked to Kate DiCamillo, the author of many books for kids, including two Newbery winners. She's turned her hand to a picture book collaboration with Jaime Kim, and I hope all of you know she'll be at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts next Sunday, October 29, 2 pm, for a ticketed talk. Detail on that here.

Read the conversation here, where DiCamillo explains how the story came about.

Also in TapBooks, Chris Foran reviews Justice for All: Selected Writings of Lloyd A. Barbee, edited by Daphne E. Barbee Wooten. He notes: "The message that rings through Justice for All is that Barbee never stops fighting. Barbee recounts his campaign over a half decade in the Legislature to toughen the state's anemic fair housing laws. 'This, among other matters, earned me the reputation as a person who stayed on the job until it was completed as planned.'"

Plus there's a roundup of new (sometimes in paperback) fall nonfiction picks from the Seattle Times's Moira Macdonald.

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