Thursday, June 21, 2018

Book Club Morning, Noon, and Night--Our New Selections (plus Kathleen Rooney on June 26)

Six things to say about our Summer-Fall 2018 reading group recommendation list.

1. Deadlines! While I hoped to have our new book club flier out in May, I wound up procrastinating until June, but I had a good number of reasons:
--We weren't out of winter-spring fliers
--Several  important books were coming out June 5
--My true deadline was our dual book club talks on June 26. Please ignore the detail that I did a book club lunch at the Woman's Club of Wisconsin on June 13.

2. Lops-sided releases! While you would think we'd do another major update in June, it's usually more of a tune-up. There are so many paperback releases between January and June and so few between July and December. The new flyer is pastel green (you know color is important to me) and we should have them available in the store tomorrow. Since you're reading this on our blog, you probably don't need the handout, but, well, just let's say that not everybody reads our blog.

3. Stats! We had an unusual amount of changeover this list, partly because I would have normally cut-off the new releases on the first week of May, meaning the late May and June releases would not have shown up on our checklist until fall. A full 17 of the 24 titles are new. There are six nonfiction titles (about average). There is one traditional mystery, though others cross over into genre. There is one collection of stories, though the publisher did not indicate them as such. There are seven first novel, though one of them is veteran fiction writer George Saunders.

3. Book jackets! One thing I  noticed is that is that there were very few changes of cover treatment from hardcover to paperback. Only four titles had major revised covers: Ginny Moon, The Long Haul, Pachinko, and Saints for All Occasions.  All but The Long Haul added people to the cover, which generally is a pitch for a more commercial audience. The Pachinko cover is artier than the others and while I liked the hardcover too, that paperback is pretty beautiful. I would have liked to have seen a new cover for The Leavers and maybe The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane. I think it's hard to tell that the former is more than a red cover. For the latter, don't laugh, but I would have played up the tea more. So much tea!

Two hardcovers had minimal changes - the same image, but background color change. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk went from off-white to light blue, and Anything Is Possible went from dark blue to light blue.  Lesson: who doesn't love light blue? 

I love the way Sing, Unburied, Sing and Hum If You Don't Know the Words look together. I'm sort of shocked that Hum's cover didn't change, but that's not because I don't like it. I do! 

Yes, I'm going to do color wheel stats. Here is the dominant color of each book on the list. 
red - two
blue - twelve
yellow - zero
green - two
orange - two
purple - zero
black - two, including Manhattan Beach, which is debatable
white - four (three of which are nonfiction)

Some might say the aqua tone popular for comic novels is more green than blue, but to my thinking, these titles are all screaming, "Please don't call me green."

4. I am really fixated on the idea of reading books in pairs, and I was kind of taken by how many books read well together. Either the books can be read in succession, or one of them can be assigned as extra credit, so to speak. For our In-Store Lit Group, I paired The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane with Jenny Zhang's Sour Heart (not on the list) for two contemporary takes on being Chinese American.

The walking books - Pair Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk with Flaneuse. Author Rooney is a student of flâneurs and flâneuses.

The water books - Manhattan Beach and The Death and Life of the Great Lakes are two books fixated on water

The gutting of the middle class books - Janesville, Anything Is Possible, and The Long Haul are all fixated on the stresses on the middle class.

Adoption novels - The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane and The Leavers are both about Chinese children adopted by Americans. For another book that also includes the adoptive parent perspective, add Ginny Moon

Old New York - Pair Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk with Manhattan Beach.

I've long suggested that folks read Exit West along with The Underground Railroad. Without reading either, I wondered whether The Underground Railroad would pair well with Underground Airlines. Now that I've read both, I stand by the pairing!

5. I was just talking to former Boswell bookseller Jocelyn who told me that comedies are trending in romance, and look at that, a comic novel just won the Pulitzer Prize. I was also thrilled to hear Stephen McCauley featured on Terry Gross's Fresh Air for My Ex-Life. I've been feeling that fiction has been taking a back seat to cable and streaming television, and it was glorious to have a comic novel featured. Maybe what we need is a full year of comic fiction - with Less and On Turpentine Lane, we've got you started.

And how many of you noticed that both Greer and Lipman's novels have upside down tropes on their cover. Let's fact it, upside down is funny!

6. Here is a complete list of our summer-fall book club recommendations.

7. Two events book club events with Kathleen Rooney. On Tuesday, June 26, 2 pm, we'll be at the Frank L. Weyenberg Library in Mequon. At 6:30 pm, we'll be joined by librarian Paulette Brooks at the Elm Grove Library. I'll be talking more about these books, and librarians will join in with their picks, followed by a presentation about Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk.

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