Sunday, January 5, 2020

Here's what's selling at Boswell for the week ending January 4, 2020 - one last week of Saturdays* before post-holiday sets in.

Here's what's selling at Boswell for the week ending January 4, 2020

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid
2. The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern
3. The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett
4. Circe, by Madeline Miller
5. Complete and Original Norwegian Folktales of Asbjornsen and Moe, by Peter Christen Asbjornsen and Jorgen Moe, translated by Tiina Nunnally
6. Trust Exercise, by Susan Choi
7. The Topeka School, by Ben Lerner
8. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
9. The Water Dancer, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
10. Full Throttle, by Joe Hill

It took until Saturday, but Such a Fun Age edged out The Starless Sea for the number one spot. I know that social media has been all over the book, and I think that it also helped that it was a very light release week, but we still had a lot of traffic between Christmas and New Year's Day. Reid's novel was actually scheduled for January 7 and was moved pretty late in the game. Was it for the Reese Witherspoon book club or perhaps it was shrewd date positioning. I heard that week is tough for publishers because the invoices sort of land between two years.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Martini Cocktail, by Robert Simonson
2. Milwaukee Rock and Roll, 1950-2000, by David Luhrssen, Phil Naylor, Bruce Cole
3. Climbing My Mountain, by Sheldon B Lubar
4. Blue Zones Kitchen, by Dan Buettner
5. Salt Fat Acid Heat, by Samin Nosrat
6. The Years That Matter Most, by Paul Tough
7. Quit Like a Woman, by Holly Whitaker
8. The Beautiful Ones, by Prince
9. The Education of an Idealist, by Samantha Power
10. Say Nothing, by Patrick Radden Keefe

Political books in 2019 tended to pop and then quiet down quickly, but one book with legs is Samantha Powers's The Education of an Idealist, which has been on and off our top ten since its September release. I love that on the Book Marks program, which tabulates traditional reviewers from Rave to positive to mixed to pan, it listed several pans among the raves, but one of them was for the New Republic and the pull-out quote was "vivid and engaging prose." Imagine when that reviewer likes something! In any case, I mention the book not because it's in our top ten this week but because Power is mentioned in another top ten regular, The Yellow House. It was she who advised Sarah M Broom to go to Burundi to work.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
2. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
3. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, by Abbi Waxman
4. The Drifter V1 (two editions), by Nick Petrie (event at Boswell Mon Jan 13, 7 pm)
5. Killing Commendatore, by Haruki Murakami
6. Ohio, by Stephen Markley (probably too late to start for In-Store Lit Group on Jan 6!)
7. The Tattooist of Auschwitz, by Heather Morris
8. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michele Richardson
9. The Librarian of Auschwitz Special Edition, by Antonio Iturbe
10. Red, White and Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston

We've been selling Red, White and Royal Blue (I am bowing to the publisher and leaving out the Oxford comma, but ampersands play havoc with writing in HTML so I'm spelling out "and") steadily, out of both new releases, fiction, and Margaret's rec shelf, so I thought I'd see how we stack up against other stores. Sales at indies are nothing short of astounding, with many stores in the triple digits and one that went full quadruple. It's a romantic comedy that imagines the son of the President of the United States (a woman from Texas) falling in love with Prince Harry. Library Journal has this review from Milwaukee Public Library's Jessica Moore: "With a diverse cast of characters, quick-witted dialog, and a complicated relationship between two young people with the eyes of the world watching their every move, McQuiston's debut is an irresistible, hopeful, and sexy romantic comedy that considers real questions about personal and public responsibility."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference, by Greta Thunberg
2. Better World Shopping Guide, sixth edition, edited by Ellis Jones
3. Paris 1919, by Margaret MacMillan
4. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
5. The Fifth Risk, by Michael Lewis
6. American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Wisconsin, by Charles Hagner
7. Leadership, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
8. Just Mercy (two editions), by Bryan Stevenson
9. The Library Book, by Susan Orlean
10. Health Justice Now, by Timothy Faust

Large book clubs are driving sales of several titles this week. The award-winning Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World, is being used by UWM's Osher continuing education program this winter. The Chicago Tribune wrote: "For anyone interested in knowing how historic mistakes can morph into later historic problems, this brilliant book is a must-read.”

One of our larger private book clubs is tackling Doris Kearns Goodwin's Leadership: In Turbulent Times. One thing to note is that books, particularly fiction, are known to transition from a text jacket in hardcover to one with an illustration in paperback. Washington Black is a particularly successful example of this. But going from an illustration in hardcover to text in paperback is so rare, but that's what Leadership did. The paperback jacket doesn't exactly look finished either, like they lost the rights to the painting at the last minute (or otherwise decided it was inappropriate) and never found a substitution.

Books for Kids:
1. Guts, by Raina Telgemeier
2. A to Z Menagerie, by Suzy Ultman
3. Fetch-22: Dog Man V8, by Dav Pilkey
4. The Toll V3, by Neal Shusterman
5. Greta's Story, by Valentina Camerini
6. The Crossover graphic novel, by Kwame Alexander/Dawud Anyabwile
7. Thunderhead V2, by Neal Shusterman
8. 365 Days of Wonder: Mr Browne's Precepts, by RJ Palacio
9. The Snowy Day board book, by Ezra Jack Keats
10. Bad Guys V1, by Aaron Blabey

It's not a secret that it's become very popular to turn traditional novels, particularly books for young readers, into graphic novels. Like adapting for film, the resulting books usually need to trim their text and sometimes plotlines, or the book would be 500+ pages. The Crossover is a fall 2019 release that has hit our top 10 several times. Illustrations are by Dawud Anyabwile, who previously completed a similar project for Walter Dean Myers's Monster. Here's a link to his original, Brotherman, which he put together with his brother Guy Sims.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Lynn Elbers of the Associated Press tackles Mo Rocca's Mobituaries. From the interview: " I think a lot of people confuse ‘past’ with ‘backward’ and, I’ll be transparent here, I’ve chosen to be generous with the past. I do think we need to cut the past some slack because the tendency is to disqualify people for their imperfections. I think that people are messy, and I really sought in this to embrace not only the messiness of people, but eras."

Jeff Rowe, also writing for Associated Press, reviews Heidi Blake's From Russia with Blood: The Kremlin’s Ruthless Assassination Program and Vladimir Putin’s Secret War on the West. From the review: "Heidi Blake lays out a sturdy case that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a cold, treacherous thug who runs his country like a criminal cartel. But European and Asian leaders were so eager to welcome Russia into the family of free nations – and to buy Russian gas and oil – that they looked the other way as Putin consolidated his power and his opponents started turning up dead."

Barbara VanDenburgh writes for USA Today (through Gannett's Arizona Republic), and this week she has a round-up of new releases and what Kirkus says. The books are Lost Hills, by Lee Goldberg (he's visiting Boswell on Feb 5), Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid, The Wives, by Tarryn Fisher, Tiny Habits, by BJ Fogg, and Love Lettering, by Kate Clayborn. More here.

*I like to say that during the holiday break, post-Christmas is hardly like pre-Christmas in volume; it's more like a Saturday every day.

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