Sunday, May 2, 2021

Boswell bestsellers, week ending May 1, 2021

The Boswell bestsellers for the week ending May 1, 2021

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Vines, by Shelly Nolden
2. The Hill We Climb, by Amanda Gormanv 
3. The Paris Library, by Janet Skeslien Charles (register for May 5 event here)
4. First Person Singular, by Haruki Murakami
5. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
6. Death Washes Ashore, by Patricia Skalka
7. Fugitive Telemetry, by Martha Wells
8. Raft of Stars, by Andrew J Graff
9. The Five Wounds, by Kirstin Valdez Quade (register for May 13 event here)
10. Whereabouts, by Jhumpa Lahiri
11. Gold Diggers, by Sanjena Sathian (register for May 12 event here)
12. A Man Named Doll, by Jonathan Ames (Register for May 5 event here)

Whereabouts, by Jhumpa Lahiri is her first novel in a decade, and in a unique twist, she wrote the book in Italian and then translated it into English. It's a series of vignettes that Ron Charles in The Washington Post noted tried to capture depression, only he felt Anita Brookner did it better. I'm only paraphrasing because he used Anita Brookner in a review - I normally don't cite mixed reviews. So I should note in that in the Star Tribune, Jim Carmin wrote that "In the end, this reviewer's sole regret is that he wishes Whereabouts was longer so he could linger a bit more with Lahiri's meditative and lyrical prose."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner (register for May 4 event here)
2. The Power of Ritual, by Casper, Ter-Kuile
3. How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X Kendi
4. World Travel, by Anthony Bourdain
5. Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
6. How Y'all Doing, by Leslie Jordan
7. Frank Lloyd Wright's Forgotten House, by Nicholas D Hayes (register for May 17 event here)
8. Bomber Mafia, by Malcolm Gladwell
9. Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson
10. What Happened to You?, by Oprah Winfrey

I'm kind of surprised by how low our first week of sale was for The Bomber Mafia, and I think our buyer was too. Jason really liked the book, but it should be noted that it is much more like his Revisionist History podcast than it is like his previous books and maybe people took his advice and already listened to it - it was an audio first. Instead of lots of smaller stories that create one big thesis, it's one big story that carries its own revelation, but it's not the kind of book that would lead to business breakthroughs.*

From Thomas E Ricks in The New York Times: "Gladwell is a wonderful storyteller. When he is introducing characters and showing them in conflict, The Bomber Mafia is gripping. I enjoyed this short book thoroughly, and would have been happy if it had been twice as long. But when Gladwell leaps to provide superlative assessments, or draws broad lessons of history from isolated incidents, he makes me wary. Those large conclusions seemed unsubstantiated to me."

Paperback Fiction:
1. An American Marriage, Tayari Jones
2. The Kindred Spirits Supper Club, by Amy E Reichert
3. The Last Bookshop in London, by Madeline Martin
4. The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
5. The Children's Bible, by Lydia Millet
6. The Long Petal of the Sea, by Isabel Allende
7. A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara
8. Gun Island, by Amitav Ghosh
9. Red, White, and Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston
10. The Parable of the Sower, by Octavia E Butler

Time to update our Boswell-run book clubs page, as both The Children's Bible (to be discussed June 7) and Gun Island (to be discussed June 21) make the list. Several people have asked when our book clubs will be back in the bookstore. We have three problems with that - 1) We don't have chairs in the store 2) We're not open past 6 pm and 3) It's hard to control the group size. We'll keep you posted. The Children's Bible was a National Book Award finalist and also made the ten best books of 2020 for The New York Times. From their assessment: "Millet delivers a wry fable about climate change, imbuing foundational myths with new meaning and, finally, hope."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Recalculating, by Lindsey Pollak
2. So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo
3. We Want to Do More Than Survive, by Bettina Love
4. The Year 1000, by Valerie Hansen
5. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk
6. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
7. ABA Field Guide to Birds of Wisconsin, by Charles Hagner
8. Classic Restaurants of Milwaukee, by Jennifer Billock
9. 111 Places in Milwaukee That You Must Not Miss, by Michelle Madden
10. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond

With three titles listed in the nonfiction subcategory loosely under "things to do around town", life might be getting back to normal in paperback nonficiton. I'm hoping to do a promotion on Walking Milwaukee soon and that should give us another pop for that book.

New this week is Recalculating, by Lindsey Pollak, just out in paperback in March and the feature title for the Alverno Career Studio Summer Book Club. From their write up: "As Lindsey Pollak makes clear, the pandemic merely accelerated career and hiring trends that have been building. Changes that were once slowly spreading have been rapidly implemented across all industries. This means that the old job hunting and career success rules no longer apply. Job seekers of all generations and skill sets must learn how to thrive in this 'new normal.'”

Books for Kids:
1. I Love You Mommy, from DK
2. Llama Llama Loves His Mama, by Anna Dewdney
3. Goodnight Moon board book, by Margaret Wise Brown
4. Mamasaurus, by Stephan Lomp
5. Mommy, by Leslie Patricelli
6. Barnyard Dance, by Sandra Boynton
7. Jungle Night with Yo Yo Ma soundtrack, by Sandra Boynton
8. Becoming, adapted for young readers, by Michaelle Obama
9. If You Go Down to the Woods Today, by Rachel Piercey
10. Rock from the Sky, by Jon Klassen

Happy Mother's Day next week. While the Bookscan numbers are generally packed with Mother's Day titles, our sales are there, but they don't usually show up like this. A group is buying Mother's Day books to give out to kids.  

It's the second appearance in our top ten for Jungle Night, the new book from Sandra Boynton with two audio downloads from Yo Yo Ma. The publisher notes its "A fun bedtime story featuring a snoring elephant who disrupts the peaceful sleeping in the jungle, creating havoc and humor." I can't figure out why there are no advance reviews from the trades (Publishers Weekly, Booklist) and I can't figure out why the book is not available for media mail shipping when music also qualifies! I did however learn that a crocodile says "snorkle-ooo" when it is sleeping. I remember the days when a Sandra Boynton greeting card was just about the only thing I would send! Scott Simon talks to Keith Boynton on NPR Weekend Edition.

*If anyone's paying attention, I'm hoping to pull a Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood on Leonard and Hungry Paul, out in paperback on May 11.

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