Sunday, December 1, 2019

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending November 30, 2019

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending November 30, 2019

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern
2. The Water Dancer, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
3. The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett
4. Exhalation, by Ted Chiang
5. Olive, Again, by Elizabeth Strout
6. The Topeka School, by Ben Lerner
7. Under Occupation, by Alan Furst
8. A Better Man V15, by Louise Penny
9. The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood
10. The Age of Anxiety, by Pete Townsend

This time of year, it always seems like someone is celebrating rock and roll Christmas and only giving music star memoirs out as gifts, but it tends to be a little quiet with us. I asked Jason about this (aside from the issue that none of these superstars are scheduling celebrity signings at our store) and he thought our music section is strong, but people tend to buy broadly, with a rare book dominating the category. Pete Townshend's novel, The Age of Anxiety, did hit our top ten this week. He spoke with Raina Douris on NPR World Cafe: "I really wanted to write a proper fiction novel, at last. I was warned by my editor that if I went too far into general fiction, people would lose "me." I am a celebrity; I am known for what I do in a rock band, so with this book, I tried to stay in familiar territory. I'm not taunting people to try and find me in this. If they try and find me in this — they might, they might not, but I don't think I'm really there."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Gift of Our Wounds, by Arno Michaelis and Pardeep Singh Kaleka
2. The Body, by Bill Bryson
3. Talking to Strangers, by Malcolm Gladwell
4. The Yellow House, by Sarah M Broom
5. Blowout, by Rachel Maddow
6. Crime in Progress, by Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch
7. Educated, by Tara Westover
8. Atlas Obscura 2E, by Dylan Thuras, Joshua Foer, Ella Morton
9. Say Nothing, by Patrick Radden Keefe
10. Brilliant Maps for Curious Minds, by Ian Wright

While the fiction year-end picks are all over the place (The Topeka School hit the NYT and Washington Post top 10, but wasn't even a National Book Award Finalist), The Yellow House also hit both year-end top tens, but it won the National Book Award as well. From Lauren LeBlanc in The Atlantic: "Sarah M. Broom was writing long before Hurricane Katrina. What would ultimately become her memoir, The Yellow House, started as a collection of notes and essays on the house she grew up in, her family, her neighbors, and her local community in New Orleans. She began in the late 1990s after leaving home for college, and it eventually became impossible for her to see the work as anything other than a book project: a family portrait and a history of New Orleans, which would explore the larger social narrative of the United States."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Flights, by Olga Tokarczuk
2. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
3. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
4. Severance, by Ling Ma
5. The Winter Soldier, by Daniel Mason
6. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michele Richardson
7. Milwaukee Noir, edited by Tim Hennessy
8. The Apple Tree, by Daphne DuMaruier, with illustrations by Seth
9. The Spiral of Silence, by Elvira Sanchez-Blake, translated by Lorena Terando
10. Killing Commendatore, by Haruki Murakami

One of the books from our translation event last Tuesday hit our top ten, but I should note that many translated titles still don't advertise as such on their front jackets. For example, Murakami's Killing Commendatore is translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen. For some reason, this is not the kind of book that was highlighted in the National Book Awards translation category. All were for authors not yet well known in the United States. I'm sure everyone else knows, but I'm not sure if the award is for the translation or the book itself.

The New York Times review from Hari Kunzru actually wasn't particularly positive, but it was interesting: " The low-key tone of Murakami’s narrators, which in earlier books like Norwegian Wood scanned as hipster cool, has in recent years come to feel more like depersonalization and isolation, a malaise not unlike that associated with hikikomori, the young shut-ins who have become a symbol of contemporary spiritual crisis. In Killing Commendatore, the narrator’s dreaminess mainly feels unfocused, and a story that might have been engaging at 300 or 400 pages is drawn out to almost 700. This is a novel in which no character can go to meet a friend at a restaurant without a description of the route and the traffic conditions."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
2. From Brokenness to Community, by Jean Vanier
3. Calypso, by David Sedaris
4. Getting to Yes, by Roger Fisher, William Ury, Bruce Patton
5. Classic Krakauer, by Jon Krakauer
6. Putting Government in Its Place, by David R Riemer
7. Think Little, by Wendell Berry
8. Democracy without Journalism, by Victor Packard
9. Field Guide to Birds of Wisconsin, by American Birding Association
10. Making Comics, by Lynda Barry

First published in 1972, this repackaged edition of Think Little: Essays is part of the new Counterpoints series. Per the publisher, the collection is an "evergreen, ever-urgent, and now pocket-sized argument for focused and inclusive climate change activism. Designed and priced for point-of-sale (editor's note - that means it's inexpensive and can go on the equivalent of our impulse table), the Counterpoints series will feature essays, poems, and stories from Wendell Berry, Gary Snyder, Mary Robison, Betty Fussell, MFK Fisher, and many more." Hey, it worked!

Books for Kids:
1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Wrecking Ball V14, by Jeff Kinney
2. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, by Robert Frost, with illustrations by Susan Jeffers
3. Dog Man: For Whom the Ball Rolls, by Dav Pilkey
4. Guts, by Raina Telgemeier
5. Little Penguins board book, by Cynthia Rylant, with illustrations by Christian Robinson
6. The Mitten board book, by Jan Brett
7. Winter Is Here board book, by Kevin Henkes with illustrations by Laura Dronzek
8. The Night Before Christmas, by Clement C. Moore, with illustrations by Roger Duvoisin
9. The Velocity of Being, by Maria Popova
10. The Story Orchestra: The Nutcracker, by Jessica Jessica Courtney Tickle

I know that the board book version of children's books aren't the real thing, but they are quite popular and the fact that they are effectively mini-versions plays with my emotions. They literally are baby books. This week in addition to Jan Brett's The Mitten, out in board since 2014, we have two other titles, the popular Winter is Here from Kevin Henkes and Laura Dronzek (we might have some signed editions of the traditional picture book) and Little Penguins, which has delightful illustrations from Christian Robinson, who made the NYT Best Illustrated Childrens Books list this year for Another.

The grand dames dominate the Journal Sentinel Book Page. First is Janet Evanovich, whose Twisted Twenty-Six hit #1 on the national lists. Associate Press's Hillel Italie spoke to her: "'I collected rejections for 10 years,' recalls Evanovich, best known for her Stephanie Plum crime novels. 'At the end they were in a big cardboard packing crate. It was full of rejections. I had a rejection that was on a bar napkin, written in lipstick.' With her children nearing college age, and her husband’s salary as a college professor not enough to support them, she found a job as a secretary, burned all the rejection notices and resigned herself to a traditional working life. Then came the tearful plot twist."

And then there's Mary Higgins Clark, who with her latest, Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry, is still publishing into her nineties. From Jenny Cohen at USA Today: "'As a writer, I want to create a story about a topic people are interested in and talking about at the time the work is being published,' Clark says in an interview via email. 'I also wanted to add an additional element to the MeToo stories that have received so much publicity. ... The MeToo storyline provided a wealth of plot opportunities.'"

Emily Gray Tedrowe reviews Michael Crummey's latest, also for USA Today: "Two children, orphaned at a young age, alone on a barren cove of the Newfoundland coast. Michael Crummey’s harshly beautiful new novel The Innocents takes this brutal scenario – based on a true story – as a starting point, but what begins as a gripping survival tale deepens into a psychological inquiry into intimacy, conflict and what it means to be alone together in the world."

Event round up tomorrow.

No comments: