Sunday, July 15, 2018

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending July 14, 2018

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending July 14, 2018

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Rip the Angels from Heaven V2, by David Krugler
2. My Year of Rest and Relaxation, by Ottessa Moshfegh (event Wed 7/18, 7 pm, at Boswell)
3. Clock Dance, by Anne Tyler (just in case you missed the Anne Tyler blog)
4. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
5. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
6. There, There, by Tommy Orange (register for event Tue 9/25, 7 pm, at Boswell here)
7. An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones (register for event Fri 7/20, 7 pm here)
8. The Seas, by Samantha Hunt
9. Us Against You, by Fredrik Backman
10. Island of the Mad, by Laurie R. King

It's not that our event schedule is more packed than normal, just that it includes such high-profile great writers. Tayari Jones is already at 269 people registered. If you're thinking about walking up that night, please consider registering, as we're probably going to be checking in folks. If there's room just before the event, we'll let standbys in until we hit room capacity. I should also note that while Ottessa Moshfegh is not registration, we're getting a lot of calls for this event, partly because of our underwriting on our Wisconsin Public Radio cosponsor, but also because this is a big deal.

But the truth is it's not all about events, though it can seem that way when the person in charge of the events is also writing the bestseller blog. Samantha Hunt is definitely not coming to Boswell (famous last words) for her beautiful reissued novel The Seas (after her second, The Invention of Everything Else, well, made waves. She recently recommended other books that include magical elements in The New York Times By the Book column: " I teach a ghost story course at Pratt Institute and recommend all its readings: Maggie Nelson’s Jane: A Murder, Kelly Link’s The Summer People, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Cristina Rivera Garza, Amparo Dávila, Mary Shelley, Mariana Enriquez, George Saunders, and W. G. Sebald."

While the new edition is from Tin House, The Seas was first published by MacAdam/Cage in hardcover, with the paperback coming from Picador.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Milwaukee: A City Built on Water, by John Gurda
2. The Fall of Wisconsin, by Dan Kaufman (event Tue 7/24, 7 pm, at Boswell)
3. City of Devils, by Paul French
4. Indianapolis, by Lynn Vincent
5. Calypso, by David Sedaris
6. Monarchy of Fear, by Martha C. Nussbaum
7. Rendezvous with Oblivion, by Thomas Frank (event Thu 7/19, 6:30 pm, at Shorewood Public Library)
8. Room to Dream, by David Lynch
9. The Perfectionists, by Simon Winchester
10. The Bone and Sinew of the Land, by Anna Lisa Cox (event Mon 7/23, 7 pm, at Boswell)

Three more upcoming events in this top ten, four if you include Gurda, who will be back at the Milwaukee Public Library on October 1. But let's focus on someone who's not visiting, Paul French, whose book City of Devils: The Two Men Who Ruled the Underworld of Old Shanghai, came out July 3. I's getting a lot of reviews, such as Maura Elizabeth Cunningham's review in The Wall Street Journal: "Those nostalgic for the Shanghai of old depict it as a city of hot jazz and cold Champagne, swanky nightclubs and sleek autos. Author and longtime Shanghai resident Paul French shares this interest in the city’s historical glitter but is even more captivated by its grit." As Shanghai is one of the few international cities I have visited, and that visit included a walking tour of The Bund, how can I not single this book out?

Paperback Fiction:
1. Any Man, by Amber Tamblyn
2. Less, by Andrew Sean Greer
3. Eileen, by Ottessa Moshfegh (still coming! Wed Jul 18 with WPR's Doug Gordon)
4. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman
5. Girl Waits with Gun V1, by Amy Stewart (event Wed 8/22, 7pm, at Boswell - tickets include your choice of book)
6. Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan
7. Saints for All Occasions, by J. Courtney Sullivan
8. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, by Kathleen Rooney
9. Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
10. Hope Never Dies, by Andrew Shaffer

Speaking of events, we're either hosting or hosted (in two cases for the hardcover edition) nine of the top ten here. Crazier still, I read eight of the nine--I'm afraid I left Any Man (signed copies available) to four other Boswellians to read and recommend. So am I saying here that we're selling what I read or I'm reading what I sell. I'd love to think the former but I know it's more of the latter. More notable is that it's true that in many cases, author appearances have a lingering effect on sales, long past the visit. Hoping some publishers read that!

But if I want to focus on something new, I should highlight Hope Never Dies, the first in a new series from Quirk by Andrew Shaffer. Here's the over-the-top premise from the publisher: "Vice President Joe Biden is fresh out of the Obama White House and feeling adrift when his favorite railroad conductor dies in a suspicious accident, leaving behind an ailing wife and a trail of clues. To unravel the mystery, 'Uncle Joe' re-teams with the only man he's ever fully trusted: the 44th president of the United States. Together they'll plumb the darkest corners of Delaware, traveling from cheap motels to biker bars and beyond, as they uncover the sinister forces advancing America's opioid epidemic." The reviews are good!

Here's a snippet from Booklist: "Shaffer could have jumped on this opportunity to parody Biden and Obama, but, instead, he presents them as real people, pretty much the way we imagine them to be (allowing, of course, for literary license); and the mystery is genuinely suspenseful and satisfying, not merely a framework for a bunch of silliness. It should be noted, too, that the relationship between Biden and Obama is carefully and skillfully developed and has moments of genuine emotion. An ambitious and completely successful novel."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann
2. The Color of Law, by Richard Rothstein
3. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
4. Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari
5. Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
6. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
7. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance
8. Hunger, by Roxane Gay
9. Ancient World in Minutes, by Charles Phillips
10. Lost Milwaukee, by Carl Swanson

After five weeks of creeping along, The Ancient World in Minutes from Charles Phillips pops off our impulse table. There are no reviews or write ups of this book. It's just pure impulse. Here's the publisher's copy: "From the first cities of Sumeria and Babylon around 3500 BCE to the fall of the Rome and the bloody demise of the Aztecs, here--in 200 mini essays - are the critical leaders and wars; ideas and inventions; myths and religions, and art and architecture of the first 5000 years of recorded history." Over 400 pages for $12.95, a good deal! Speaking of impulse, I should call out another book that just missed the top ten that is being driven from our front table, a new edition of William Carlos Williams's The Red Wheelbarrow and Other Poems. See, it's not just cats.

Books for Kids:
1. A Is for Activist, by Innosanto Nagara
2. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
3. Life on Mars, by Jon Agee
4. Grumpy Monkey, by Suzanne Lang, illustrated by Max Lang
5. The Lost Continent V11, by Tui T. Sutherland
6. Kids First Big Book of Things That Go, by National Geographic
7. A Torch Against the Night V2, by Sabaa Tahir
8. Looking for Alaska, by John Green (a Great American Read book)
9. Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor
10. Royal Wedding: Harry and Meghan Paper Dolls, no author or illustrator cited, though props for the unicorn onesies

Whereas adult paperback fiction takes off in the summer, our kids bestsellers grow a little quiet. It seems like children's book publishing is even more seasonal than adult, with lots of books in fall and spring, and much less in summer (and to a less extent, winter). One guesses its mirroring the school year. One picture book that's finding an audience at Boswell is Grumpy Monkey, written and illustrated by Suzanne and Max Lang. From the Publishers Weekly review: "After Jim Panzee wakes up on the wrong side of the tree, nothing seems right: 'The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and the bananas were too sweet.'" Norman tries to cheer him up, to no avail, but eventually, well, a lesson is learned.

Journal Sentinel book page recap
1) Steph Cha on The Banker's Wife, the new thriller from Christina Alger: "Alger delivers an addictive dose of suspense and intrigue with a surprisingly believable plot. And all power to the bad girls, the gone girls, the difficult female characters — but it’s nice to remember that women don’t have to be unlikable to be nuanced, or to take down villainous men."

2) Steph Cha on Any Man, the #1 paperback fiction title this week - she didn't like it, saying that Tamblyn favored style over substance. We had three great reads of the book at Boswell. I'm not sure what the fourth person thought.

3) Brian Truitt on four new YA titles:
--The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik, by David Arnold
--Neverworld Wake, by Marisha Pessl
--Furyborn, by Claire Legrand
--Undead Girl Gang, by Lily Anderson

All are originally published in USA Today.

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