Sunday, April 18, 2021

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending April 17, 2021

 Boswell bestsellers, week ending April 17, 2021

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Raft of Stars, by Andrew J Graff
2. The Hill We Climb, by Amanda Gorman
3. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
4. Early Morning Riser, by Katherine Heiny (register for May 6 event here)
5. First Person Singular, by Haruki Murakami
6. The Paris Library, by Janet Skeslien Charles (register for May 5 event here)
7. Gold Diggers, by Sanjena Sathian (register for May 12 event here)
8. Klara and the Sun, by Lauren Fox
9. Send for Me, by Lauren Fox
10. Leonard and Hungry Paul, by Rónán Hession

Our explosion of sales for Raft of Stars after three strong weeks shows that while pre-orders are now way more important for us in terms of event sales, there's still something to be said for an event convincing attendees to buy the book. We're well aware that only about 300 stores report to Edelweiss, but it's still nice to say we're #1 in sales by a large margin. And here's a note to the stores - reporting is anonymous to other bookstores and it really helps everybody!

I'm hoping to see a similar trajectory for Gold Diggers, which had a nice second week of sales, and Early Morning Riser, the second novel from Katherine Heiny, which had a great first week out of the gate. Allow me to quote Stephen McCauley, who just did our conversation with Michael Lowenthal. Using his quote is also a shout out to our FOB Margaret, who is a big fan of both authors. From McCauley: "Katherine Heiny is as warm and moving as Anne Tyler at her best, as funny as David Sedaris at his most hilarious, and one of the truly original voices in current fiction. Her wonderful second novel is a much-needed reminder that no matter how flawed, foolish, and downright annoying people can be, they’re still capable of immense kindness and outrageously unselfish love. Be forewarned: reading Earlier Morning Riser could make you believe we’re not necessarily all doomed."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. World of Wonders, Aimee Nezhukumatathil
2. Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson
3. Empire of Pain, by Patrick Radden Keefe
4. The Code Breaker, by Walter Isaacson
5. The Sum of Us, by Heather McGhee
6. Tony Lazzeri, by Lawrence Baldassaro
7. Our Team, by Luke Epplin
8. Frank Lloyd Wright's Forgotten House, by Nicholas Hayes (register for May 17 event here)
9. Dusk Night Dawn, by Anne Lamott
10. What It's Like to Be a Bird, by David Allen Sibley

Based on how much I like Say Nothing and how much I whine about not reading enough nonfiction, you'd think I would have gotten a running start on Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, but there were no advance copies to be had. Now my to-be-read list is stacked to the ceiling, and I think I'd need to have an event booked for it sneak in. That said, I read Patrick Radden Keefe's last book really last too. Here's Keefe (or maybe Radden Keefe, apologies) talking to Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air: "'One of the stories I tell in the book is about how Barry Meier, a New York Times reporter who was really one of the first to break the story about how OxyContin was not as great as the company had cracked it up to be, he dealt with these same types of threats 20 years ago. And so there's a continuity in their tactics, this tendency to throw their weight around and try and control the narrative.'"

Paperback Fiction:
1. All Adults Here, by Emma Straub
2. Open Water, by Caleb Azumah Nelson
3. The Book of Longings, by Sue Monk Kidd
4. The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett
5. Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stewart
6. Sheltering with Poems, by Bruth Dethlefsen
7. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
8. The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune
9. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
10. The Parable of the Sower, by Octavia E Butler

Congrats to Grove Atlantic, who under the Grove and Grove Black Cat (paperback original) imprints, has three of this week's top 10. Their new entry is Open Water, a first novel about "two Black artists (a photographer and a dancer) in London falling in and out of love." From Michael Donkor in The Guardian: "In its interweaving of the romantic arc with meditations on blackness and black masculinity, this affecting novel makes us again consider the personal through a political lens; systematic racism necessarily politicises the everyday experiences of black people. The police profiling that the photographer endures as a young black man moving through the city is recounted with painful emphasis on the effects of feeling constantly observed. Azumah Nelson emotively demonstrates how these pressures influence black men’s psychic lives and their forging of connections with others."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
2. Hidden Valley Road, by Robert Kolker
3. The Entangled Life, by Merlin Sheldrake
4. How to Change Your Mind, by Michael Pollan
5. The Color of Law, by Richard Rothstein
6. The Artists Way, by Julia Cameron
7. Why Fish Don't Exist, by Lulu Miller
8. Say Nothing, by Patrick Radden Keefe
9. Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing, by Lauren Hough
10. The Complete Plant-Based Cookbook, by America's Test Kitchen

I was just telling one of our our authors, who asked me to remove their day job from their bio, that working class creds have always been popular in author bios. The resume of Lauren Hough, author of Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing, includes stints as (per her publisher) an airman in the U.S. Air Force, a green-aproned barista, a bartender, a livery driver, and, for a time, a cable guy. She also grew up in the Children of God cult. From Roxane Gay: "Hough’s writing will break your heart. The ways she lays herself bare will leave you marveling at the strength it takes to reveal such delicate vulnerabilities. And when you come to the breathtaking end, you will know what it means to be entrusted with the beautifully messy truth of a person’s life."

Books for Kids:
1. The Night Diary, by Veera Hiranandani
2. Dear Teacher, by Paris Rosenthal
3. The Long Way Down graphic novel, by Jason Reynolds
4. Breathing Underwater, by Sarah Allen
5. Unicorn Day, by Diana Murray/Luke Flowers
6. Talk, by Wade Hudson/Cheryl Willis
7. How to Go Anywhere and Not Get Lost, by Hans Aschim
8. The One Thing You'd Save, by Linda Sue Park/Robert Sae-Heng
9. The Old Boat, by Jarrett Pumphrey/Jerome Pumphrey
10. The Old Truck, by Jarrett Pumphrey/Jerome Pumphrey

So many school visits! One was from Hans Aschim, author of How to Go Anywhere and Not Get Lost, a guide to using everything from trees to the stars to navigate, plus how to make a sextant and compass. Another new favorite is Dear Teacher: A Celebration of People Who Inspire Us, from Paris Rosenthal, daughter of the beloved, now-deceased writer Amy Krouse Rosenthal. As Kirkus Reviews notes, "Teaching is more than just grades."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins reviews The Kindred Spirits Social Club, the last novel from area-writer Amy E Reichert. From Higgins: "Meddling parents and an egregiously mean high school classmate ensure enough complications to make the payoff satisfying. In addition to the Dells setting, The Kindred Spirits Supper Club is suffused with Wisconsin food and drink talk, even including a recipe to help people from lesser states make old-fashioneds correctly." Register for April 19 event here.

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