Sunday, February 18, 2018

"One dollar bid, now two, now two, will you give me two? Sold!" The report on Boswell sales for the week ending February 17.

"One dollar bid, now two, now two, will you give me two? Sold!" The report on Boswell sales for the week ending February 17.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Light It Up, by Nick Petrie
2. The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin
3. The Glass Forest, by Cynthia Swanson
4. The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah
5. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
6. Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward
7. The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn
8. The Philosopher's Flight, by Tom Miller (event Tue 2/20, 7 pm)
9. Asymmetry, by Lisa Halliday
10. The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman

Though Putnam still takes the top two, this is Simon and Schuster's week for fiction. We have three books in our top ten from the Simon division and two more from Scribner (Touchstone is under Scribner). One highlight that should have a higher placement next week is Tom Miller's The Philosopher's Flight. Miller's debut novel has gotten great reads from current bookseller Olivia S. and former bookseller Kelli. And here's a great review from Liz Bourke on the Tor website (which is not part of Simon and Schuster): "This is a measured, compelling, and well-paced novel, full of character and incident. Miller has written a very accomplished debut, and I seriously look forward to seeing what he does next."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Promise Me, Dad, by Joe Biden
2. Enlightenment Now, by Steven Pinker
3. The Deepest Well, by Nadine Burke Harris
4. Everything Happens for a Reason, by Kate Bowler
5. We Were Eight Years in Power, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
6. I Am I Am I Am, by Maggie O'Farrell
7. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
8. Obama, by Pete Souza
9. Schlitz: Brewing Art, by Paul Bialas
10. Grant, by Ron Chernow

I heard some interesting interviews this week with this week's top ten and I'm guessing that our customers heard them too, which is why they are in the top ten. Steven Pinker's had a lot of press on Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. Here's Andrew Anthony in The Guardian: "It’s safe to say that few of us stop and marvel at the extraordinary progress that humankind has made in the past couple of hundred years – a mere blink of the eye in evolutionary terms. Instead we’re more likely to lament the state of the world, deplore the ravenous nature of humanity, rage at the political and financial elites and despair at the empty materialism of consumer society. What we do to combat poverty: that’s far more important than reducing inequality. But for Pinker, that’s an indulgence we can no longer afford. His book is a sustained, data-packed argument in favour of the principles promoted by the Enlightenment." I heard him talking, but now I can't find the interview I heard.

No such problem with Maggie O'Farrell, who might be known to Boswell customers by recommendations from Jane at Boswell. Terry Gross spoke to Maggie O'Farrell on Fresh Air about her memoir I Am I Am I Am: 17 Brushes with Death: "The book was inspired, in part, by O'Farrell's daughter, who was born with severe eczema and life-threatening allergies. O'Farrell says she wanted to understand what happens to people when they come back from the brink. 'These experiences always take up residence inside us,' she says. 'We're different people afterwards. We're wiser, we're a little bit sadder — but also we value what we have.'"

Paperback Fiction:
1. American Dervish, Ayad Akhtar
2. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
3. American War, by Omar El Akkad
4. Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
5. Call Me by Your Name, by André Aciman (event Mon 2/19, 7 pm, at Boswell. Come early!)
6. Tying the Scot, by Jennifer Trethewey
7. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
8. The Drifter, by Nick Petrie (mass and trade combined)
9. The Women in the Castle, by Jessica Shattuck
10. Ru, by Kim Thúy (event Thu 2/8 7 pm, at Boswell, with Alliance Française)

When you add up the pre-event, post-event, and book club sales, you're left other books to talk about in this top ten. We had a great time with Omar El Akkad, and it was very exciting to learn that we actually set up his first high school talk for American War (signed copies available, both hardcover and paperback). In January, we similarly set up Benjamin Ludwig's first high school talk for Ginny Moon, but in that case, we have to exclude his local school. If you are a high school teacher, librarian, or principal and you'd like to get on our pitch list for school events, you should contact Jenny.

The Financial Times profiled Omar El Akkad in November. When asked what book would you give your own child to introduce them to literature, he mentioned Robert Munsch's Love You Forever. "It’s the only story I’ve ever read that I can honestly describe as timeless." Read the interview here.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Species of Species and Other Pieces, by Georges Perec
2. Mexicans in Wisconsin, by Sergio González
3. Just Kids, by Patti Smith
4. Janesville, by Amy Goldstein
5. World War II Milwaukee, by Meg Jones
6. Waking Up White, by Debby Irving
7. The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilklerson
8. The Devil's Bargain by Joshua Green
9. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
10. The French Art of Not Giving a Sh*t, by Fabrice Midal

If you're wondering why The Species of Species has been making regular appearances on our bestseller list, a class is reading it and well, students are still picking it up. We really don't do textbook sales, but we have a few professors and lecturers who have students read trade books and send them to Boswell to pick them up. Thank you! More about the book and author: "Georges Perec, author of the highly acclaimed Life: A User's Manual, was only forty-six when he died in 1982. Despite a tragic childhood, during which his mother was deported to Auschwitz, Perec produced some of the most entertaining essays of the age. His literary output was deliberately varied in form and style and this generous selection of Perec's non-fictional work, the first to appear in English, demonstrates his characteristic lightness of touch, wry humor, and accessibility."

Books for Kids:
1. Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire, by John August
2. Strongheart, by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann
3. The Word Collector, by Peter H. Reynolds
4. Love, by Matt de la Peña with illustrations by Loren Long
5. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
6. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
7. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
8. Little House in Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder (hardcover)
9. All We Can Do Is Wait, by Richard Lawson
10. The Valensteins, by Ethan Long

It's our last hurrah for Valentine's Day books but some books will certainly live on through the rest of the year, like Matt de la Peña and Loren Long's Love. From the signed Kirkus review: " Love is at the core of family and at the back of sorrow and in the very bones of this book. If it’s possible to shout quietly, then de la Peña has mastered the technique. His lyrical prose roars with gentle (and deceptive) simplicity to uncover the everyday and unexpected places where love and sometimes pain reside, giving rise to resilience."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Barrowman's back! Here are her latest mystery picks.

Tango Down (available by special order), by Chris Knopf, which features a PI and cabinet maker. From Barrowman: "Knopf ‘s writing crackles with energy, but one of the elements I appreciate most about this series is that Knopf isn’t afraid to slow down and linger on small emotional moments. For Sam “life is an intricate waltz you have with other human beings.” Sometimes you get trampled, sometimes you don’t. Sam may be a cynic and a skeptic, but he’s not a pessimist. He keeps dancing."

A Dangerous Crossing, by Ausma Zehanat Khan, whose series protagonist is a Canadian police inspector who is also an observant Muslim. Barrowman: "The novel presents a highly personal and heartbreakingly profound view of the Syrian refugee crisis. But the dangers of the crossing and the details of life in the camps are not just backdrops for this story, they are the story, and what struck me most when I finished reading was that the shocking conspiracy Khattack and Getty uncover really is fiction."

The Innocents (available by special order) by David Putnam, starring Los Angeles Sheriff Bruno Johnson. Barrowman: "Crafted from the clay of Putnam’s own experiences in law enforcement, this series’ authenticity is undeniable. In his author’s note, Putnam describes how he went from idealizing men and women wearing the badge to experiencing a 'slow decline of that high moral expectation.'"

From USA Today, Jocelyn McClurg reviews Amy Bloom's White Houses: "Historical fiction about “forgotten women’s lives” has become a comfortably familiar, if not always scintillating, literary form. Leave it to Amy Bloom to give the genre a swift kick in the knickers with White Houses, her irresistibly audacious re-creation of the love affair between Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena 'Hick' Hickok." On sale Tuesday - also has a great review from Boswell's Jen.

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