Sunday, September 5, 2021

Boswell bestsellers, week ending September 4, 2021

Boswell bestsellers, week ending September 4, 2021

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Madness of Crowds, by Louise Penny
2. Lightning Strike, by William Kent Krueger
3. The Last Thing He Told Me, by Laura Dave
4. A Slow Fire Burning, by Paula Hawkins
5. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
6. The Final Girl Support Group, by Grady Hendrix
7. The Comfort of Monsters, by Willa C Richards
8. Raft of Stars, by Andrew J Graff
9. Shoulder Season, by Christina Clancy
10. Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir

The top debut this week is Paula Hawkin's A Slow Fire Burning, following Into the Water and the megahit Girl on the Train. To me, four years is a long time for thrillers, but she can't beat Gillian Flynn. It's been nine years since Gone Girl. Malcolm Forbes called her latest a "compulsively readable whodunit" in the Star Tribune. The story focuses on three women who might have killed the man in the houseboat, repeated stabbed with a smile carved into his face. As Forbes notes, "The source of its narrative force is its compellingly unpredictable characters. As Miriam (one of the protagonist/suspects puts it, 'We all have our monstrous moments.'"

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, by Rebecca Donner (Register for this now-virutal September 23 event here)
2. Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson
3. Giannis, by Mirin Fader
4. Refugee High, by Elly Fishman
5. Hero of Two Worlds, by Mike Duncan
6. Weekday Vegetarians, by Jenny Rosenstarch
7. Four Thousand Weeks, by Oliver Burkeman
8. The Afghanistan Papers, by Craig Whitlock
9. How the Word Is Passed, by Clint Smith
10. Finding the Mother Tree, by Suzanne Simard

Published on the date of the final withdrawal, The Afghansitan Papers: A Secret History of the War, is written by three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Craig Whitlock of The Washington Post. The book was reviewed with Carter Malkesian's American War in Afghanistan in The New York Times by Fredrik Logevall. He writes: "The two volumes constitute a powerful one-two punch, covering as they do the key developments in the war and reaching broadly similar conclusions, but with differing emphases. Malkasian provides greater detail and context, while Whitlock’s United States-centric account is fast-paced and vivid, and chock-full of telling quotes. Both authors paint a picture of an American war effort that, after breathtaking early success, lost its way, never to recover."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich (Book Club authorless discussion on October 4)
2. People We Meet on Vacation, by Emily Henry
3. Dune (two paperback editions), by Frank Herbert
4. Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
5. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
6. Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe 
7. The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune
8. Lakewood, by Megan Giddings
9. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
10. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong

Several authors on the paperback top ten have new releases coming this fall. Louise Erdrich's The Sentence is a ghost story mystery set in an independent bookstore in Minneapolis, much like the real-life Birchbark Books. It comes weeks after the In-Store Lit Group discusses The Night Watchman. The follow-up to Richard Powers's The Overstory is Bewilderment, a story about an astrophysicist set in Madison, Wisconsin. Pub date for that one is September 21, just two weeks away! Also out that day is Under the Whispering Door, the next novel for adults by TJ Klune, author of the bestselling The House in the Cerulean Sea, is about a newly dead man who is given a week to live out his life before crossing over. I think I got that right - we already have a great rec from Boswellian Jen Steele.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Indigenous People's History of the United States, by Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz
2. Banned Book Club, by Kim Hyun Sook
3. Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
4. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
5. Life in Short, by Dasha Kelly
6. The Vapors, by David Hill
7. The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls
8. Epic Hikes of the World, by Lonely Planet
9. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk
10. American Nations, by Colin Woodard

Speaking of the In-Store Lit Group, which hasn't met in store for the last 18 months, our November selection is The Vapors: A Southern Family, the New York Mob, and the Rise and Fall of Hot Springs, America's Forgotten Capital of Vice, a nonfiction book (I like to include at least one narrative nonfiction title) by David Hill. It is crime history of Hot Springs, which once looked like it might be the Southeast equivalent of Las Vegas, but it's also a family story, so in that way, it reminds me of Rich Cohen's work (Sweet and Low et al). 

From Jonathan Miles's New York Times review which convinced me to read it: "Most mob stories — even The Godfather — are essentially business stories, their dramatic conflicts arising from structure, succession and competition (and their appeal, I suspect, deriving from their portrayal of capitalism without its inert ingredients). In The Vapors, Madden and Harris’s rise is fueled by palm-greasing, ballot-stuffing, judge-bribing, loophole-hunting and various other tricks and ploys designed to keep the feds and rival mobsters at bay. The closest we get to a mob hit is when Frank Costello, the New York crime boss, visits the Maddens for dinner, and, after a single taste, insults Agnes Madden’s spaghetti and meatballs. 'Agnes did not hesitate,' Hill writes. 'She picked up the bowl and dumped it right on Costello’s head.' Southern hospitality has its limits."

Books for Kids:
1. Stamped, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi
2. Ghostly Tales of Milwaukee, by Anna Lardinois (Register for October 2, 11 am outdoor event)
3. Rite of Passage, by Richard Wright
4. Egg Marks the Spot V2, by Amy Timberlake/Jon Klassen (Register for September 15, 2 pm virtual event with Timberlake)
5. Skunk and Badger V1, by Amy Timberlake/Jon Klassen
6. Mindful Mr Sloth, by Katy Hudson
7. Tomatoes for Neela, by Padma Lakshmi
8. Any Way the Wind Blows V3, by Rainbow Rowell
9. Ace of Spades, by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
10. Take Me With You When You Go, by David Levithan

The kids numbers are still a bit low before school starts and our schedule is crowded with virtual (and one in-person) school visits, but Ace of Spades has been selling consistently well since its spring release to deserve special mention. Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé is a contemporary YA thriller (and Indie Next pick) about two students attempting to confront an anonymous bully. School Library Journal noted in their star review that "readers will love this thriller-mystery reminiscent of Gossip Girl and Get Out. The plot keeps readers guessing."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Book and Arts Editor Jim Higgins profiles two book about Marquette, Black Marquette: In Their Own Words, and Linked by Ink: Marquette Journalism Grads Reflect on Six Decades.

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