Sunday, December 10, 2017

Here are the Boswell bestsellers for the week ending December 9, 2017, plus the Journal Sentinel reviews

Boswell bestsellers!

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Story of Arthur Truluv, by Elizabeth Berg
2. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
3. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
4. Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward
5. Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan
6. Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
7. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
8. The Power, by Naomi Alderman
9. Mr. Dickens and His Carol, by Samantha Silva
10. The Odyssey, by Homer, translated by Emily Wilson
11. Future Home of the Living God, by Louise Erdrich
12. Saints for All Occasions, by J. Courtney Sullivan
13. Exit West, by Moshin Hamid
14. Hum If You Don't Know the Words, by Bianca Marais
15. Devotions, by Mary Oliver

I often extend our printed bestsellers to 15 this time of year because the sales are substantially higher, but I can't lie, in this case, it doesn't hurt that I read 60% of 11-15, a much higher percentage than my reading record for books 1-10. This is when you figure out which books are easy to hand-sell, and which ones are not. It doesn't have to be a book you've read either. We had several reads on Naomi Alderman's The Power, and telling something it's got all the reviews and best-ofs (New York Times and Washington Post top ten, our buyer Jason) and awards (Bailey's Women's Prize) and it's the book for someone to read after The Handmaid's Tale, and you've got a target audience.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Book Smugglers, by David E. Fishman
2. Border Country, by Martha Greene Phillips
3. Grant, by Ron Chernow
4. Leonardo Da Vinci, by Walter Isaacson
5. Obama, by Pete Souza
6. We Were Eight Years in Power, by Ta Nehisi Coates
7. The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben
8. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
9. Counting Backwards, by Henry Jay Przybylo
10. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
11. Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann
12. Everybody Lies, by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
13. Montaigne in Barn Boots, by Michael Perry
14. Wilderness: Essays, by John Muir (Gibbs Smith edition)
15. The Driftless Reader, by Curt Meine and Keeley Keefe

W.W. Norton should be happy with this list as they have three books in our ten ten this week. In addition to this week's event book, Counting Backwards, (signed copies available) we've got the frequently present Astrophysics for People in a Hurry and the locally grown The Death and Life of the Great Lakes (signed copies available), which has had a nice surge in year-end sales. Several of our buyers this week told me they were also going to get Dan Egan's parents to sign the book.

Hand-selling update. I have found that people are taking to Seth Stephens-Davidowitz's Everybody Lies when I tell them it's my Gladwell-Freakonomics style pick. One of our customers bought the book and read it while she did her fundraiser giftwrap shift.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro (In-Store Lit Group meeting Tuesday, Jan 2, 7 pm)
2. History of Wolves, by Emily Fridlund
3. Cold Clay, by Juneau Black
4. The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn
5. The Anatomy of Dreams, by Chloe Benjamin
6. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
7. The Sun and Her Flowers, by Rupi Kaur
8. The Hamilton Affair, by Elizabeth Cobbs
9. The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden
10. News of the World, by Paulette Jiles
11. Signalman, by Seth and Charles Dickens
12. Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
13. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
14. The Last Painting of Sara De Vos, by Dominic Smith
15. Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel (Shorewood Reads event, April 10, 7 pm)

Our customers are still hungry for fresh historical fiction (and they are listening to Reese Witherspoon) and Kate Quinn's The Alice Network is filling that desire, set in both World War I and World War II. From Jean Zimmerman on the NPR website, here's the setup: "The year is 1947. Charlie's posh Bennington College existence gets derailed by an unwanted pregnancy. Her domineering French mother hauls her off to Europe, heading for a clinic that will take care of her Little Problem, as she calls her condition throughout the novel. En route, Charlie hatches an alternative plan - to track down her beloved cousin Rose, lost somewhere in France. In Europe, 'the hangover of war was still visible in a way you didn't see in New York.' Rose is a refugee amid a horde of displaced persons, a single grain of sand on a blasted, nearly obliterated beach, but Charlie is determined to solve for X and find her."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Mexicans in Wisconsin, by Sergio M. González
2. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
3. The Little Book of Mindfulness, by Patricia Collard
4. Two Dollars a Day, by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Schaefer
5. Cream City Chronicles, by John Gurda
6. Saving Capitalism, by Robert B. Reich
7. Citizen, by Claudia Rankine
8. Jane Austen Illustrated Quotations, from the Bodleian Library
9. How to Fight, by Thich Nhat Hanh
10. Danger, Man Working, by Michael Perry

Apparently of all our categories, nonfiction paperback is not generally the breakout zone, especially when there aren't hot regional titles. This is probably the reason why that top ten so rarely changes on The New York Times. If someone was paying attention, we'd make the paperback fiction list longer and shrink the nonfiction. It's so dry that I let some bulk sales seep into this. But that was no bulk sale driving Mexicans in Wisconsin to #1. We cosponsored a great event with author Sergio M. González at the Mitchell Street Branch of the Milwaukee Public Library, and it was great to find out that González grew up in the neighborhood.

Books for Kids:
1. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
2. Here We Are, by Oliver Jeffers
3. The Snowy Day board book, by Ezra Jack Keats (mail this book out with Snowy Day stamps!)
4. The Book of Dust: La Bell Sauvage, by Philip Pullman
5. The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, by Karina Yan Glaser
6. Good Night Stories of Rebel Girls, by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
7. Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green
8. Harry Potter: A Journey through a History of Magic, from the British Library
9. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls volume 2, by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
10. The Nutcracker, by Jessica Courtney Tickle
11. Wonder (both jackets), by R.J. Palacio
12. Snow and Rose, by Emily Winfield Martin
13. The Explorer, by Katherine Rundell
14. Better Together, by Barbara Joosse and Anneke Lisberg
15. Strega Nona board book, by Tomie dePaola

From Etsy shop to bestselling children's book writer, Emily Winfield Martin (whom we used to call The Black Apple) has another bestseller in Snow and Rose. Here's Martin talking to Publishers Weekly about how she connected with editor Mallory Loehr: " I’d done a book for Potter Craft, The Black Apple’s Paper Doll Primer, a very large paper doll book. It’s really a narrative, with all the characters and their likes and dislikes. Mallory saw it and saw that I had a narrative mind. Basically, the whole time I was making illustrations for stories that didn’t exist yet, unwittingly. I had also made a series of portraits of orphans, which was the catalyst for Oddfellow’s Orphanage, a vignette-y chapter book. That was the start of our work together." And yes, we still carry her greeting cards.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins reviews Becoming Kareem: Growing Up on and Off the Court: "The day after leading the Milwaukee Bucks to their only NBA championship, a young NBA star surprised sports fandom by announcing his conversion to Islam. On that day in 1971, the former Lew Alcindor became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. But his conversion and name change began years earlier, he reveals in Becoming Kareem, a memoir for readers 10 and older, written with his frequent collaborator Raymond Obstfeld. He discusses racism, religion and controversial subjects straightforwardly."

And the Journal Sentinel reprints Patti Rhule's review of The Story of Arthur Truluv, from Elizabeth Berg, which she calls "a novel for these contentious times."

Also on the TapBooks page, Higgins reviews An Uncommon Reader: A Life of Edward Garnett, Mentor and Editor of Literary Genius, by Helen Smith. He offers this recommendation: "For your bookish friend this holiday season, especially if that friend's an Anglophile, I heartily recommend Helen Smith's new biography An Uncommon Reader. Smith's book reminds me, in the best ways, of my favorite bookish book, A. Scott Berg's Maxwell Perkins: Editor of Genius." Both books began their lives as doctoral dissertations. Both profile men who found their destiny helping others succeed as writers.

On the website, another review, for Jennifer Chiaverini's latest, shows up from USA Today review as well: "Should you come upon Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini, consider yourself quite fortunate indeed. As with Chiaverini’s Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, Enchantress heralds a woman whose contributions are relatively overlooked in history. Ada Byron King was a pioneering mathematician whom some consider the first computer programmer. She overcame her unwanted celebrity as the daughter of English Romance poet Lord Byron - and the strictures on 19th century womanhood - to forge a career." Chiaverini is at the Lynden Sculpture Garden on December 18. This one's ticketed. More info here.

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