Sunday, January 21, 2018

Annotated Boswell bestsellers for the week ending January 20, 2018, including double listings from Nick Petrie, Chloe Benjamin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Madeleine L'Engle

Here are the annotated Boswell bestseller lists for the week ending January 20, 2018.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin
2. Light It Up, by Nick Petrie (event at WFB library, Tue 1/30, 6:30)
3. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
4. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
5. Munich, by Robert Harris
6. The Maze at Windermere, by Gregory Blake Smith (event 2/8, 7 pm, with Jane Hamilton)
7. Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward
8. The Complete Stories, by Kurt Vonnegut
9. The Girls in the Picture, by Melanie Benjamin
10. The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, by Denis Johnson

It was a battle between the Putnam authors for the number one spot this week and The Immortalists beat out Light it Up, but Benjamin had national momentum on her side, and Petrie (who is still building nationally) has a couple other area events coming up (one public above, and one private) which could have split the audience. But both attendance and sales for the week were surprisingly close. And yes, we have signed copies of both books.

New this week is Robert Harris's latest novel of espionage, Munich, set during the Munich conference of September 1938. I noticed that if you link to our web page for the book, you can actually listen to the NPR interview with Harris. I've never seen that before seen that from our website, whose nuts and bolts come from the American Booksellers Association. The novel got a nice write up from Anthony Quinn in The Guardian, where I think his take is good, but not his best. He sets the stage: "London, late September 1938. Slit trenches are being dug in Green Park and at home children are fitted with gas masks. Hitler is determined to invade Czechoslovakia in his scheme to reclaim lost German territory. Chamberlain is equally determined to prevent another war. Europe holds its breath as a last chance for peace goes up for grabs at a conference in Munich."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff
2. Shortcut Your Startup, by Courtney Reum and Carter Reum
3. Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann
4. We Were Eight Years in Power, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
5. The Book of Joy, by Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Carlton Abrams
6. It's Even Worse Than You Think, by David Cay Johnston
7. How Democracies Die, by Steven Levitsky
8. Leonardo Da Vinci, by Walter Isaacson
9. Craeft, by Alexander Langlands
10. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Despite the success of We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy and the continuing sales of Between the World and Me, I don't think we've often seen both books in the top ten at the same time. I'm wondering if the surge is in conjunction to the release of Black Panther, the new film from Marvel, based on the comic book character Coates wrote for, that has a wide release on February 16. Here's an interview with Drew Costley in The San Francisco Chronicle, during which Coates notes that he has a few things in common with T'Challa. Costley notes that "the film, which was directed by Oakland-native Ryan Coogler, has already broken the record for pre-sale tickets for a Marvel movie."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The P.S. Wars, by Geoffrey Carter
2. Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
3. Call Me by Your Name, by André Aciman (event Mon 2/19, 7 pm, at Boswell)
4. The Anatomy of Dreams, by Chloe Benjamin (In-Store Lit Group discussion 2/5)
5. The Drifter (trade), by Nick Petrie
6. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
7. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
8. Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
9. The Other Einstein, by Marie Benedict
10. The Women in the Castle, by Jessica Shattuck (In-Store Lit Group discussion 3/5)

The Other Einstein continues to sell well off our front table, and we're hoping that those readers jump to Benedict's new novel, Carnegie's Maid, which just came out this week. Like many books in this genre, Benedict is interested in the unsung women of history. In the case of The Other Einstein, the focus was on Mileva Maric, who also appeared in Judith Claire Mitchell's hybrid historical/contemporary, A Reunion of Ghosts, which we just talked about at Chloe Benjamin's event, as both Jen and I saw a bit of Mitchell's influence in The Immortalists. In Carnegie's Maid, Benedict focuses on the woman who might have led him to his philanthropic pursuits. Short interview here.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Waking Up White, by Debby Irving (St. John's on the Lake Reads title)
2. South and West, by Joan Didion
3. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
4. Beer Lover's Wisconsin, by Kathy Flanigan
5. Against the Deportation Terror, by Rachel Ida Buff (event Thu 2/1, 7 pm, at Boswell)
6. Janesville, by Amy Goldstein
7. No Applause, Just Throw Money, by S.D. Trav (a UWM class is reading this)
8. Wisconsin and the Civil War, by Ronald Paul Larson (event Fri 2/2, 7 pm, at Boswell)
9. Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee, by Thomas H. Fehring
10. Kitchen Smarts, from Cooks Illustrated

Just out in paperback for a few weeks, South and West: From a Notebook, is a collection of essays from Joan Didion that in hardcover hit year-end best-of lists from NPR and Harper's Bazaar. From the publisher: "Joan Didion has always kept notebooks--of overheard dialogue, interviews, drafts of essays, copies of articles. South and West gives us two extended excerpts from notebooks she kept in the 1970s; read together, they form a piercing view of the American political and cultural landscape."

Books for Kids:
1. Zenith, by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings
2. Dog Man and Cat Kid, by Dav Pilkey
3. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo
4. Here We Are, by Oliver Jeffers
5. The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black
6. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
7. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle (both paperback jackets)
8. Paddinngton's Pop-Up London, by Michael Bond
9. The Book of Dust, by Philip Pullman
10. A Wrinkle in Time Trilogy, by Madeleine L'Engle

I was looking at Bookscan numbers and saw A Wrinkle in Time racing up the national lists and we've got not one but two appearances, from the book alone and also with its sequels. Time Magazine's Eliza Berman looks at why the book took 54 years to hit the screen and how producer Catherine Hand has been planning for this release since she was ten. From the piece: "As a child, Hand assumed that the power to adapt Wrinkle rested with a single man. But it took a collective of women to finally do it: Hand, who later in life befriended the author; screenwriter Jennifer Lee, best known for writing and co-directing the Disney megahit Frozen; and Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay. Plus DuVernay’s cast. For the all-powerful trio of Mrs., she chose Hollywood’s own all-powerful: Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling. And for the young hero at the center of it all, she will introduce moviegoers to Storm Reid."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins reviews Black No More, "one of four Harlem Renaissance-era novels released this month by Penguin Classics with new introductions from contemporary writers." Higgins notes that Danzy Senna finds this "savage satire of racial relations" "more relevant than ever." Please note that because we are writing about Higgins writing about Senna writing about author George S. Schuyler, I know I'm quoting here but I'm not exactly sure whom. Here's a taste of the plot: "At the onset of the novel, black scientist Junius Crookman reveals he's invented a process that will transform black folks into white people in just three days. His former classmate Max Disher, a dapper Harlem insurance agent, is the first to undergo Black-No-More treatment. While Disher loves the physical result of the process, he finds white society itself a boring letdown..."

Also on the TapBooks page is Mike Fischer's take on The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power from the Freemasons to Facebook. Someone's not a fan of Niall Ferguson's latest: "The Square and the Tower, British historian Niall Ferguson’s latest doorstopper, takes its title from Siena, in which a tower representing secular power overshadows the adjoining marketplace. Ferguson uses that juxtaposition as a metaphor for a sweeping world history identifying a longstanding tension between hierarchies and social networks. In Ferguson’s hands, that disconnect covers everything and therefore explains nothing; his notion of hierarchy is so narrow and his definition of networks is so generic that the distinction between them becomes meaningless - particularly as Ferguson is forced to admit that 'a hierarchy is just a special kind of network.'"

And finally, from USA Today, the Journal Sentinel's sister publication, comes Mark Athitakis covering Ursula K. LeGuin's No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, which collects her blog posts since 2010. He notes: "A blogging octogenarian is the kind of thing we’re trained to see as endearing and cute, the stuff of bromides like 'you’re only as old as you think you are.' But that’s the kind of sentiment Le Guin is eager to swat away in her witty, often deeply observed collection of posts, No Time to Spare." For those who would like something fluffier there are also pieces about soft-boiled eggs and her cat.

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