Sunday, January 28, 2018

Boswell bestsellers, week ending January 27, 2018--posthumous sales for Sue Grafton and Denis Johnson, the perfect timing for Daniel Pink, school visits with Benjamin Ludwig and Eliot Schrefer, and a Marquette talk from Clayborne Carson, plus Journal Sentinel's TapBooks reviews, including a rave for Dave Eggers

Here's what was selling at Boswell during the past week. Because I was at Winter Institute in Memphis, it all feels like a dream!

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Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin
2. Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward
3. Light It Up, by Nick Petrie (event 1/30, 6:30 pm, WFB Library)
4. The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, by Denis Johnson
5. Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan
6. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
7. The Maze at Windermere, by Gregory Blake Smith (event 2/8 7 pm at Boswell, more below in Journal Sentinel review)
8. The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn
9. Y Is for Yesterday, by Sue Grafton
10. Munich, by Robert Harris

Two authors have posthumous top ten placements this week on hardcover fiction. Sue Grafton's Y Is for Yesterday has picked up since she passed away in late December, while Denis Johnson's short story collection just released. He passed away in May. The Largesse of the Sea Maiden has still been the subject of a series of events around the country, with folks working with other writers who are Denis Johnson fans to read and discuss his work. From William Giraldi in The Washington Post: "All necessary writers have something ineffable animating their work, but I’m certain that that something results from the counter-reliance of subject and utterance. It is here that Johnson achieves his magisterial effects. His chief concern is the language of the sublime, the embrace of awe, how to transcend the quotidian crush of our lives. He will come to be lauded not only as the holy stylist he’s always been, but as a gnostic seer shaking between damnation and deliverance. He is gone now, but his breed of humane beauty dies hard."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff
2. How Democracies Die, by Steven Levitsky
3. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter, by Margareta Magnusson
4. The Square and the Tower, by Niall Ferguson
5. Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann
6. The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity, by Nadine Burke Harris
7. Leonardo Da Vinci, by Walter Isaacson
8. Victoria and Albert, by Daisy Goodwin
9. When, by Daniel H. Pink
10. Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell, by David Yaffe

Our REDgen-cosponsored event with Nadine Burke Harris on Saturday, February 10, 3 pm for The Deepest Well at Marquette's Varsity Hall is completely full but there are tickets for overflow seating in Weasler Auditorium. Here is the ticket link. Though free, you will need to check in for this event.

Speaking of Winter Institute (and I was, at the beginning), one of the keynote speakers was Daniel Pink, whose new book is When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. It was the kind of talk where everyone was bringing it up in various situations. I am now going to avoid afternoon meetings and going before a judge right before lunch.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Ginny Moon, by Benjamin Ludwig
2. Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
3. Call Me by Your Name, by André Aciman (event 2/19, 7 pm, at Boswell)
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
6. The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn
7. Go Went Gone, by Jenny Erpenbeck
8. Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
9. The Drifter, by Nick Petrie (reminder, event 1/30 at WFB, 6:30 pm)
10. The Enigma Variations, by André Aciman (see above!)

I'm told we had a nice day with Benjamin Ludwig, including what I'm also told is his first school visit for Ginny Moon, as well as an event at Boswell, which despite some snowfall, went on as planned. Here's Ludwig in The Irish Times with an essay about how adoption is learning to love a stranger.

Caroline may be gone (we hope to have her back as an author for her first work of fiction) but her rec lingers on. Go, Went, Gone hits our bestseller list. She begins: "As a retired classics professor, Richard is accustomed to order and routine. His days are cushioned by predictability, that is until one fateful day when he passes a group of hunger strikers in Berlin's Alexanderplatz. He learns that they are African refugees protesting under the slogan "We become visible," a demand that compels him to investigate further. The novel unfolds and the retired professor adapts to a new routine, one that includes regular German lessons at their makeshift housing facility, and sitting with the men to record their stories."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Martin's Dream, by Clayborne Carson
2. No Applause, Just Throw Money, by S.D. Trav
3. Waking Up White, by Debby Irving
4. Spaces of Spaces and other Pieces, by Georges Perec
5. Janesville, by Amy Goldstein
6. Freedom Writers Diary, by Erin Gruwell
7. Wisconsin and the Civil War, by Ronald Paul Larson (event Fri 2/2, 7 pm at Boswell)
8. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
9. Long Way Gone, by Ishmael Beah
10. Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader, edited by Clayborne Carson

We sold books for Clayborne Carson at a special event at Marquette University honoring Martin Luther King Jr on Thursday. We would have helped promote it but by the time we were working with the coordinators, it was fully registered, something that often happens with the On the Issues events at Marquette Law School. Carson's bestselling book was Martin's Dream: My Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Here's a BBC interview with Carson from pub date. I can't play it because I'm hitting that familiar wall where I get a notice that I need to load Flash even though I have Flash. You know the message!

Books for Kids:
1. The Lost Rainforest: Mez's Magic, by Eliot Schrefer
2. Endangered, by Eliot Schrefer
3. The Journey, by Francesca Sanna
4. Partly Cloudy, by Gary Soto
5. Monster, by Walter Dean Myers
6. Red Pencil, by Andrea David Pinkney
7. Dog Man and Cat Kid, by Dav Pilkey
8. A Friend Is Someone who Likes You, by Joan Walsh Angland
9. Love, by Matt De La Peña, with illustrations by Loren Long
10. Melana's Jubilee, by Elliott Zegga, with illustrations by Aaron Boyd

Last week we also hosted school visits for National Book Award finalist Eliot Schrefer, whose new book is The Last Rainforest: Mez's Magic, a new middle grade animal fantasy series. Of the book, Kevin Delecki in Bookpage writes: "Filled with well-developed and extremely likable characters, Mez’s Magic is a fast-paced and broad-reaching first entry in a new series. Animal lovers and fans of adventure tales will get caught up in the tense and twisting action." We should still have some signed copies available.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins is stoked about the "riveting" new Dave Eggers, The Monk of Mokha, which is sort of a continuation of the series of books that began with What Is the What and continued with Zeitoun in 2009. It's the story of Yemeni immigrant Mokhtar Alkhanshali, and it goes well beyond Dave Eggers's normal audience, with Higgins keeping a checklist of potential lovers of this book: "People who love coffee, because the book is filled with fascinating details on the subject; people from Yemen; fans of Eggers' writing, of course; and in particular, anyone who has ever dreamed of starting a business, especially an international one." I don't normally say this when I read reviews, because I have a lot of books on my plate, but Jim, you sold me! I'm buying my copy as soon as it's on sale.

Originally from the Seattle Times and now available in the print edition comes a profile of Jesmyn Ward from Nicole Brodeur. The local connection is that before Ward's two novels and her Macarthur Genius Grant, she was an intern at Seattle's Pacific Northwest Ballet. Brodeur writes: "Ward is used to Mississippi everything, which is why her books - including her latest and third novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing - are steeped in the spirit, struggle and vernacular of the Black South. More composed than written, Ward's books are filled with characters that readers embrace for their humanity, flaws, and heart - and the promise that can be seen in the faces of children." You can see that the original article was tied to Ward visiting for a Seattle talk.

And finally, someone who is coming to Milwaukee! The print edition features a review from Zack Graham, which originally appeared in Newsday. His introduction: "When one thinks of Newport, R.I., what comes to mind? Lifestyles of the rich and famous. Heirs and heiresses and high society, private clubs and mansions and yachts. Few would say that Newport symbolizes America or American history. And yet The Maze at Windermere, Gregory Blake Smith's ambitious forth novel, examines race, class, gender, sexual identity, war, and love in America through the lens of Newport's history." Don't forget, Smith will be in conversation with novelist Jane Hamilton on Thursday, February 8, 7 pm, cosponsored by the Milwaukee Carleton Club.

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