Sunday, December 6, 2020

Here's what's selling at Boswell for the week ending December 5, 2020

Here's what's selling at Boswell for the week ending December 5, 2020

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse, by Charlie Mackesy
2. The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett
3. Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell
4. Homeland Elegies, by Ayad Akhtar
5. Before the Coffee Gets Cold, by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
6. Ready Player Two, by Ernest Cline
7. Deacon King Kong, by James McBride
8. Murder at the Mena House, by Erica Ruth Neubauer
9. The Cold Millions, by Jess Walter
10. Writers and Lovers, by Lily King (Register for December 9 event here)
11. The Searcher, by Tana French
12. Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid
13. Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno Garcia
14. The Knockout Queen, by Rufi Thorpe
15. Perestroika in Paris, by Jane Smiley

My reason for featuring 15 titles are twofold. As you probably guessed from how folks by for the holidays compounded with how folks buy online, our hardcover bestseller sales far outpace paperbacks. Not only do paperbacks not get media attention, but they rarely come out before the hardcover has run its course - in the old days, a paperback might be release while the hardcover was still selling strong. But you also have to go all the way to #15 to find a new title, Jane Smiley's Perestroika in Paris. As one amateur critic said to me: "It's Smiley's take on The Boy, The Mole...only with an Eiffel Tower." Reviews are great - Helen McAlpin on the NPR website called it a "delightful heartwarming tale."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. A Promised Land, by Barack Obama
2. Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson
3. Modern Comfort Food, by Ina Garten
4. A Wealth of Pigeons, by Steve Martin and Harry Bliss
5. Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
6. What It's Like to Be a Bird, by David Sibley
7. The Splendid and the Vile, by Erik Larson
8. Songteller, by Dolly Parton
9. Ottolenghi Flavor, by Yotam Ottolenghi
10. The Well Plated Cookbook, by Erin Clarke
11. The King of Confidence, by Miles Harvey
12. Vesper Flights, by Helen Macdonald
13. Salt Fat Acid Heat, by Samin Nosrat
14. Hidden Valley Road, by Robert Kolker
15. Let Us Dream, by Pope Francis

I'm not exactly sure why, but Ina Garten's last two books, Cook Like a Pro and Cooking for Jeffrey, saw sales downturns, and I wondered if this was it for her. But no, Modern Comfort Food has already almost doubled sales of her two releases and is closing in on 2012's Barefoot Contessa Foolproof. It might be the way folks order online (zeroing in on key titles instead of browsing) or it may be that Garten is, per Sophie Hanscombe in Financial Times, "Comfort Food Provider-in-Chief." And apparently many of us need that. 

Paperback Fiction:
1. Devotions, by Mary Oliver
2. Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe
3. Home Body, by Rupi Kaur
4. The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton
5. The Water Dancer, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
6. Still Life, by Louise Penny
7. This Tender Land, by William Kent Krueger
8. Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey, by Kathleen Rooney
9. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
10. The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead

We thought we'd see a lot of Intstagram poets break out in the wake of Rupi Kaur, but in the end, nobody really duplicated her success, though we had a few lesser pops. CBC's Tom Power notes on their arts show q, which airs on Wisconsin Public Radio: Kaur says while writing Home Body, the pressure to follow the success of her hit debut Milk and Honey resulted in impostor syndrome — an overwhelming belief of inadequacy that often occurs among artists and high achievers who begin to fear being exposed as a fraud.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Classic Restaurants of Milwaukee, by Jennifer Billock
2. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
3. The Yellow House, by Sarah M. Broom
4. Burnout, by Emily and Amelia Nagoski
5. Walking Milwaukee, by Royal Brevvaxling and Molly Snyder
6. Storied and Scandalous Wisconsin, by Anna Lardinois
7. The Seine, by Elaine Sciolino (Register for December 10 event here)
8. Field Guide to Birds of Wisconsin, by Charles Hagner
9. Fading Ads of Milwaukee, by Adam Levin
10. Gathering Moss, by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Seems like old times! We haven't had a regional-focused top 10 paperback nonfiction in months, but this week's top ten is half Milwaukee and Wisconsin books. The big breakout is Classic Restaurants of Milwaukee, which had its debut at a Milwaukee County Historical Society event.

Books for Kids:
1. The Assignment, by Liza Wiemer
2. Everybody's Tree, by Barbara Joosse and Renée Graef
3. Skunk and Badger, by Amy Timberlake and Jon Klassen
4. Sun Flower Lion, by Kevin Henkes
5. Elevator Bird, by Sarah Williamson
6. The Snowy Day board book, by Ezra Jack Keats
7. Dear Justyce, by Nic Stone
8. Cat Kid Comic Club, by Dav Pilkey
9. Grime and Punishment, by Dav Pilkey
10. Mysteries of the Universe, by DK, with text by Will Gater
11. Every Night Is Pizza Night, by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt and Gianna Ruggiero
12. What We'll Build, by Oliver Jeffers
13. If You Come to Earth, by Sophie Blackall
14. No Reading Allowed, by Raj Haldar and Chris Carpenter 
15. The Deep End, by Jeff Kinney

Today was kids event week, with three programs in five days. But one non-event book that had a nice week is a picture book that Amie featured in our holiday gift guide and I just presented at the Friends at the Shorewood Public Library book talk, though those sales have been logged yet. Every Night Is Pizza Night, by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, with illustrations by Gianna Ruggiero is about Pipo, who loves pizza, only to discover that other foods are equally delicious. Lopez-Alt is known for his food writing, notably in The Food Lab. Do they give Beard Awards for picture books? Kirkus Reviews called it "a delightful culinary ode to the multicultural world we live in." It's also part of the busy, busy picture book trend, with the main narrative accompanied by lots of asides.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins profiles Through This Door, a collection of poems from Wisconsin's poet laureates, assembled by Margaret Rozga and Angela C. Trudell Vasquez.

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