Sunday, June 7, 2020

Boswell bestsellers, week ending June 6, 2020

Here are the Boswell Bestsellers for the week ending June 6, 2020. Please note that we're out of stock on a lot of the high-demand books about racial injustice. We're taking orders for when books are reprinted.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X Kendi
2. Me and White Supremacy, by Layla F Saad
3. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
4. I'm Still Here, by Austin Channing Brown
5. Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
6. The Splendid and the Vile, by Erik Larson
7. Breath, by James Nestor
8. Milwaukee Brewers at 50, by Adam McCalvy
9. Dirt, by Bill Buford
10. Educated, by Tara Westover

We've mentioned How to Be an Antiracist in previous posts, but I don't think we've highlighted Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor, which came out in January. Per the publisher, the book, inspired by an Instagram challenge and first appearing as a workbook, "leads readers through a journey of understanding their white privilege and participation in white supremacy, so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on black, indigenous and people of color, and in turn, help other white people do better, too."

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Second Home, by Christina Clancy
2. The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett
3. Mrs Lincoln's Sisters, by Jennifer Chiaverini
4. The Paris Hours, by Alex George (register for June 9 Zoom event here)
5. Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid
6. Rodham, by Curtis Sittenfeld
7. The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett
8,. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
9. The Water Dancer, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
10. The End of October, by Lawrence Wright

We hosted several launches this week, for The Second Home and Mrs Lincoln's Sisters, and we still have signed copies of each. Not bookplates, not tip-ins, actual signed copies. Our big non-event first-week sale is for The Vanishing Half, the second novel from Brit Bennett, which I'm currently reading. We wound up having a great event for The Mothers when it came out. There have been many great reviews, including this rave from Maureen Corrigan at Fresh Air: "I liked her debut novel, The Mothers -- about the long consequences of an unplanned teenage pregnancy - but I'd also faulted it for being melodramatic. Now, I'm recognizing that's how Bennett rolls as a novelist: embracing melodrama as a beguiling way to delve into difficult topics. In The Vanishing Half, Bennett takes up a subject perfectly suited to her signature melodramatic style: I'm talking about 'racial passing,' which has inspired, mostly tragic novels like Nella Larsen's Passing, as well as Douglas Sirk's grand cinematic tear-jerker, Imitation of Life." She also spoke to Mary Louise Kelly on All Things Considered.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo
2. So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo
3. The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
4. Stamped from the Beginning, by Ibram X Kendi
5. Emergent Strategy, by Adrienne Maree Brown
6. The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin
7. The Color of Law, by Richard Rothstein
8. The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz
9. The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson (preorder Caste here)
10. When the Words Suddenly Stopped, by Vivian L King

I can't do any better justice to So You Want to Talk About Race than the publisher did: "Widespread reporting on aspects of white supremacy--from police brutality to the mass incarceration of Black Americans--has put a media spotlight on racism in our society. Still, it is a difficult subject to talk about. How do you tell your roommate her jokes are racist? Why did your sister-in-law take umbrage when you asked to touch her hair--and how do you make it right? How do you explain white privilege'to your white, privileged friend?...Ijeoma Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to 'model minorities" in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michele Richardson
2. Tradition, by Jericho Brown
3. The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. This Tender Land, by William Kent Krueger
6. Station Eleven, by Emily St John Mandel
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
8. There There, by Tommy Orange
9. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
10. Dear Evelyn, by Kathy Page

Usually summer has a nice surge in sales for paperback fiction, but without browsing and travelers, that's not the case. It is also the category that would least likely see sales increases for writers in conjunction with the continuing protests over racial injustice and police brutality, though I should note that two Toni Morrison titles (Beloved and The Bluest Eye) hit our top ten, plus Jericho Brown's The Tradition continues its bestselling run. Last week I didn't do a bestseller blog but we had a very strong first week for William Kent Krueger's This Tender Land and while sales were down the second week, it still made our top ten. The book also debuted on the top ten of The New York Times. Krueger is on virtual tour, notably at my sister's home-town shop, Annie's Book Stop of Worcester, which features "today's books at yesterday's prices."

Books for Kids:
1. You Matter, by Christian Robinson
2. Stamped, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi
3. Kamala and Maya's Big Idea, by Meena Harris, with illustrations by Ana Ramirez Gonzalez
4. All Are Welcome, by Alexandra Penfold, with illustrations by Suzanne Kaufman
5. This Book Is Antiracist, by Tiffany Jewell
6. Antiracist Baby, Ibram X Kendi
7. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, by Suzanne Collins
8. Oh the Places You'll Go, by Dr Seuss
9. Something Happened in Our Town, by Marianne Celano
10. We're Different, We're the Same, by Sesame Street

I didn't expect This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work to be published by Francis Lincoln, which I think is a British publisher now owned by the Quarto Group that is also behind the Little People, Big Dreams series. Tifany Jewell spoke to Vanessa Willoughby for School Library Journal: "Talking about race, racism, injustice, and oppression is uncomfortable for many adults. We have been trained to believe we don’t see race (we do), to not talk about it, to blindly believe racist stereotypes, and support racist policies. Talking about race with children requires us, the adults, to know who we are. We need to know how our identities are understood by others, how we have been influenced by the media and the institutions we were brought up in, and where our privilege and immunity exists."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins reviews The Second Home: "It’s been a long time since I’ve read a new novel from a major publisher with so much specific detail about our fair city, with shout-outs to local joints including Shahrazad, the Urban Ecology Center and Boswell Books, and references to local history, including the cryptosporidium outbreak of 1993, which plays a role in the death of a character’s parent."

Barbara VanDenburgh of the Arizona Republic talks about Emma Straub's All Adults Here: "It’s a credit to Straub’s gifts of wit and observation that she’s made such a loving book so alive. Reading “All Adults Here,” you feel like maybe your life isn’t so small, that its minor joys and pitfalls are worthy of literature. If only Straub could be the one to document it." Here's the review. And here's an invite to the Changing Hands First Draft book club, which VanDenburgh moderates.

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