Monday, December 17, 2018

Boswell bestsellers, week ending December 15, 2018

Here are the Boswell bestsellers for the week ending December 15, 2018.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
2. The Winter Soldier, by Daniel Mason
3. Paris by the Book, by Liam Callanan (signed copies available)
4. Kingdom of the Blind, by Louise Penny (just got signed copies in - they will go fast)
5. There There, by Tommy Orange (just ran out of signed copies)
6. Unsheltered, by Barbara Kingsolver
7. The Witch Elm, by Tana French
8. The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai (signed copies available)
9. The Friend, by Sigrid Nunez
10. My Sister the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite
11. Circe, by Madeline Miller
12. Dear Mrs. Bird, by AJ Pearce
13. Washington Black, by Esi Edugyan
14. American Marriage, by Tayari Jones (I think we're out of signed copies)
15. The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin (signed copies available)

Chicken and egg question - does my reading more than half the books on this top 15 mean that my reading has influence, or is Boswell the kind of store where I want to read the books we sell? Who's to know? But I'd still like to read both The Overstory and Washington Black by the end of the year. The odds seem unlikely, but that's why people have best-laid-plans stacks of books by their bedside. I wish I could go back to tabulate the Harry W. Schwartz Bestseller lists from 1985 to be sure, but since I was tabulating the lists at Schwartz by 1988 when his second novel came out, I can say with certainty that Richard Powers never had a hit like The Overstory and probably never hit one on our bestseller list, even when he won the National Book Award for The Echo Maker. It's not just #1 - it's 50% ahead of #2. Sam Jordison writes about The Overstory in a recent piece in The Guardian.

Hardcover Nonfiction
1. Becoming, by Michelle Obama
2. Milwaukee: A City Built on Water, by John Gurda
3. The Making of Milwaukee 4e, by John Gurda
4. Educated, by Tara Westover
5. Gmorning Gnight, by Lin-Manuel Miranda
6. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
7. Ottolenghi Simple, by Yotam Ottolenghi
8. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Jane De Hart
9. Leadership, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
10. Let's Go (So We Can Get Back), by Jeff Tweedy
11. How to Change Your Mind, by Michael Pollan
12. Sister Pie, by Lisa Ludwinski
13. Churchill: Walking with Destiny, by Andrew Roberts
14. The Library Book, by Susan Orlean
15. Almost Everything, by Anne Lamott

One Obama replaces another - last year Pete Souza's Obama was on top of our bestseller list for this week. And talk about domination - Becoming sold at the rate of five times what our second best-non-event book recorded, which was Educated, which might have gotten a little boost when Michelle Obama said that's what she was reading. We haven't had a book with this kind of holiday traction since 2015, when Gurda's Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods came out, and that was both regional and limited by a lack of online supply. I actually went through our bestsellers since 2009 and it's definitive - this is a phenomenon we haven't seen in fiction or nonfiction since we've been open. OK, the opening week of Go Set a Watchman. But by the second week, it was down to good but not record-breaking levels. I'm not going to discuss kids, because I haven't done a thorough Potter investigation.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Nothing to Lose, by Kim Suhr
2. Hotel Silence, by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir
3. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman
4. Best American Short Stories 2018, edited by Roxane Gay
5. The Tattooist of Auschwitz, by Heather Morris
6. Less, by Andrew Sean Greer
7. Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
8. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
9. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, by Kathleen Rooney
10. The Milkman, by Anna Burns
11. Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
12. Bluebird, Bluebird, by Attica Locke
13. Hope Never Dies V1, by Andrew Shaffer
14. The Odyssey, by Homer, translated by Emily Wilson
15. The Color of The Sun, by Douglas Armstrong

There were years when the Man Booker Prize (or perhaps it was then The Booker Prize) didn't sell, but despite a more traditional pick (not American) from an independent press (Graywolf), Anna Burns's The Milkman charted both nationally and at Boswell. I also don't remember seeing advance copies, but the one we got probably went into someone's box. Ron Charles in The Washington Post notes that it is one of the most challenging books of the year, with unnamed characters in an unnamed place, though likely Belfast in the 1970s.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. 100 Things Bucks Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die, by Eric Nehm
2. From the Emerald Isle to the Cream City, by Carl Baehr
3. Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann
4. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
5. Cream City Chronicles, by John Gurda
6. Call Them by Their True Names, by Rebecca Solnit
7. Countries of the World in Minutes, by Jacob F. Field
8. Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari
9. Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee, by Thomas H. Fehring
10. The Color of Law, by Richard Rothstein

When you look at books like Sapiens, Evicted, and Killers of the Flower Moon, you see books that had a good hardcover run that exploded even more in paperback. I only see one sure thing that's likely to have years of bestseller sales, no matter how long they wait in hardcover, and that would be Educated. But one book that is a paperback original that's now had two weeks on our list is Countries of the World in Minutes. Cambridge research associate Fields's book comes out from Quercus, once an UK indie with an American division but now a subsidiary of Hachette with everything coming out of the UK. From the publisher: "For each of the 195 officially recognis(z)ed countries of the world, a mini-essay clearly and concisely explains its key history, characteristics and social and political structures. Alongside, an outline map shows each country's global location, main geographic features and capital city, whilst (while) a table of essential data details its population, political system, languages, major religions, currency, gross domestic product, main industries, and much more."

Books for Kids:
1. Tomorrow I'll Be Brave, by Jessica Hische
2. Lulu and Rocky in Milwaukee, by Barbara Joosse, with illustrations by Renée Graef
3. National Parks of the USA, by Kate Siber (we're #3 on Treeline for this book, despite not being near a national park!)
4. Winter Is Here, by Kevin Henkes, with illustrations by Laura Dronzek (signed copies still available)
5. Chomp Goes the Alligator, by Matthew Van Fleet
6. Anthology of Intriguing Animals, from DK Publishing
7. Atlas Obscura's Guide for the World's Most Adventurous Kid, by Dylan Thuras and Rosemary Mosco
8. The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo
9. The Wall in the Middle of the Book, by Jon Agee (I think we ran out of signed copies on this one!)
10. Carmela Full of Wishes, by Matt de la Peña, with illustrations by Christian Robinson (also signed copies)
11. Harbor Me, by Jacqueline Woodson
12. There's a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor, by Wade Bradford, with illustrations by Kevin Hawkes
13. A Parade of Elephants, by Kevin Henkes (also signed copies)
14. Dreamers, by Yuyi Morales
15. Into the Forest, by Laura Baker

Sales are skewing particularly young for the holidays, with just two novels for older readers - Harbor Me and The Poet X, which is likely getting crossover adult action with its National Book Award win and a week's worth of signed copies. No more alas. One of Barb's picks, There's a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor, about a gentleman named Mr. Snore who is shown to various hotel rooms, only to encounter animal adversaries. Publishers Weekly notes: "The bellhop’s unflappability comically contrasts the hotel guest’s escalating exasperation as they climb the stairs to one room after another, encountering dangling spiders, giraffes, and a mazelike hamster colony." It's A Gentleman in Moscow for little ones.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins and Carole E. Barrowman pick their best books for 2018.

From Higgins:
Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction, by Alec Nevala-Lee
The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal
The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War, by Joanne B. Freeman
The Library Book, by Susan Orlean
Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know: The Fathers of Wilde, Yeats, and Joyce, by Colm Tóibín
Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion, by Michelle Dean
My Sister, the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite
There There, by Tommy Orange
Milwaukee: A City Built on Water, by John Gurda

From Barrowman:
A Jar of Hearts, by Jennifer Hillier
The Line That Held Us, by David Joy
The Cabin at The End of the World, by Paul Tremblay
My Sister, The Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite
November Road, by Lou Berney.
Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi
The Disappearing, by Lori Roy
The Book of M, by Peng Shepherd
Tangerine, by Christine Mangan
Leave No Trace, by Mindy Mejia

Follow the links to read more about each book. How about that tonal similarity of The Calculating Stars and The Book of M.

Limited supply of signed copies available.

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