Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Daniel on Wisconsin Public Radio's Larry Meiller Show - A list, a link, and a lot of notes

On Monday, I spoke to Larry Meiller on Wisconsin Public Radio about summer reading. I had a great time and I hope you enjoy the show too. Here are some observations.

1. Apparently I think summer means sisters. No less than four of the ten books I recommended at sisters at the center of the stories, including The Lager Queen of Minnesota which comes out today. It's a good thing The Grammarians isn't coming out until September. For heightened effect, authors like books about twins or near-twins. There's another word for that, but I kind of don't like using it anymore (even though it doesn't seem to be an issue in books published right now - I'm wondering if we'll soon see it as an ethnic slur).

2. While as a bookseller, I pride myself as someone who can recommend titles I haven't read, and in fact, sometimes it's better for me not to have read them, I decided that I should probably have read all the books on my list. When I decided that my theme would be road trip, and knowing that Where the Crawdads Sing was the bestselling book of the year on Bookscan to date, I spent this weekend reading this. Not a bad choice, as we still had an extreme heat warning. Now I kind of get the book better.

3. Wow, that's an awfully long car ferry. My road trip idea came from Margaret's front window idea (below - one day we'll figure out how to take nice pictures of this window without the glare). She made a map of the United States and found a book for each state. Not only do we have a lot of events coming up this can tie into, but we actually have a book coming up from Dan Kois called How to Be a Family: The Year I Dragged My Kids Around the World to Find a New Way to Be Together. Now alas, these are also probably places that are beyond driving distance. In any case, I couldn't not mention Vintage 1954, one of my favorite books of the year. So there's Paris. And South Africa for Bianca Marais? We had just spent a lovely afternoon with Marais and the event glow still resonated as I was working on my list.

4. I thought I was done recommending Michael Koryta (the first murder takes place on a campus that's either Bates or Bowdoin in Maine) but my sisters read If She Wakes in quick succession and both of them really liked it, and that put it on my radar.

5. Aside from Vintage 1954, my other mission book on the list is We're All in This Together. Being that it's a Canadian import, I don't think it's gotten the traction it deserves. It's another book, like The Improbability of Love, that was recommended to us by Jason Gobble*. We're currently the #1 bookstore for this book on Treeline, so we're actually competing against ourselves for book sales. I hand-sold a copy one day and Chris followed that up by selling three, including two to two sisters. This book is so good - my friend John sent me a note after I begged him to read it and he wrote back with the subject heading: "I'm in Love." Message: "with Amy Jones." This is a fine message for any bookseller to receive and I recommend that customers send them more often. Not as loved: "Biloxi just didn't do it for me." Sender will remain anonymous. Note to Ms. Miller: It should be clear from this that I tried.

6. Hot and sticky - road trip? I really wanted books for places like Michigan and other states you go to in the summer. I hoped to read something set in New York's North Country. But instead I'm suggesting going to Alabama, North Carolina, and Tallahassee Florida. I'm sweating just thinking about it. But on the other hand, I'm going to South Carolina in September and that should still be quite hot.

7. Fall is coming! I wanted to mention Colson Whitehead's The Nickel Boys because of that feat of being our bestselling out-of-the-gate non-event fiction book for 2019 so far. But when I thought about it, this book is really the first fall title of 2019. It just feels like fall - important and award-y. He doesn't even have his genre mashup that often happens in his novels. But then Jason noted that historical fiction is a genre. So there, I think.

8. Just missed the list. I offer a list, but one missed. In the past, I have included too many books, but ten really is the right amount for about 45 minutes. The only book that didn't get mentioned is The Most Fun We Ever Had. It's doing great on its own - a solid placing on The New York Times bestseller list and continued strong showing on the Milwaukee Bookscan top 50. And it's very Chicago-y, and we have a lot of customers who are from our neighbor to the south. And what a great event we're going to have for Claire Lombardo on August 6, a book presentation from Jason Gobble, the same rep who introduced us to We're All in This Together. I did notice that he dominated this list too, with four of these ten picks coming from his sales bag.

9. Why do I travel to Madison for a 45 minute show when I could just call in? I just think it's a better show in person. I've done them both ways.

10. I tried not to go to heavy on our event programming, but the three authors I did highlight are also visiting other stores in Wisconsin. Casey Cep will be at Room of One's Own in Madison, J. Ryan Stradal will be at InkLink in East Troy, and Claire Lombardo will be at Books and Company in Oconomowoc. You can do a key word search to easily find out more info. And our upcoming events page is here.

And while I'm thinking about it, you can listen to the Larry Meiller show here.

11. Here's the complete list, alphabetized by title (drop the article, library style), and with the appropriate state, province, or country destination:
-For the Good of the Game, by Bud Selig (Wisconsin)
--Furious Hours, by Casey Cep (Alabama)
--If She Wakes, by Michael Koryta (Maine)
--If You Want to Make God Laugh, by Bianca Marais (South Africa)
--The Lager Queen of Minnesota, by J. Ryan Stradal (Minnesota, of course)
--The Most Fun We Ever Had, by Claire Lombardo (Illinois)
--The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead (Florida)
--Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens (North Carolina)
--Vintage 1954, by Antoine Laurain (France)
--We're All in This Together, by Amy Jones (Ontario)

Want to order a book? Many of our past event books are signed, and you can request to get an upcoming event book signed too.

*Jason also convinced me to read Washington Black for our In-Store Lit Group. We are discussing it on August 5.

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