Sunday, September 12, 2021

Boswell bestsellers - week ending September 11, 2021 - lots of new releases!

Boswell bestsellers for week ending September 11, 2021

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Beautiful World, Where Are You?, by Sally Rooney
2. Matrix, by Lauren Groff
3. The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All, by Josh Ritter (another debut)
4. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
5. The Madness of Crowds, by Louise Penny
6. The Magician, by Colm Tóibín (another debut)
7. We Were Never Here, by Andrea Bartz
8. In the Middle of Others, by Leila Slimani
9. The Nature of Middle Earth, by JRR Tolkin
10. The Heron's Cry, by Ann Cleeves (another debut)

Five debuts in hardcover fiction this week in our top 10. This is where the action is. Topping the newcomers is Sally Rooney's third novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You? It's unusual to see a publisher change after a breakout. Sometimes the new contract was already signed. There's always the case that an Irish author is more closely tied to the UK than the American publisher and FSG's publisher is Mitzi Angel, who came from Faber and Faber, Rooney's UK publisher. Who knows? I'm just watching from the peanut gallery. Over 50 reviews are indexed for this at Bookmarks.

Lauren Groff's Matrix has fewer reviews on Bookmarks (16), but it looks like that is due to an American launch, rather than a worldwide one. She does have a lot of raves. Ron Charles writes in The Washington Post: "Though Matrix is radically different from Groff’s masterpiece, Fates and Furies, it is, once again, the story of a woman redefining both the possibilities of her life and the bounds of her realm... Although there are no clunky contemporary allusions in Matrix, it seems clear that Groff is using this ancient story as a way of reflecting on how women might survive and thrive in a culture increasingly violent and irrational."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Giannis, by Mirin Fader
2. Feed the Wolf (Register for September 30 virtual event here)
3. All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days (Register for September 23 virtual event here)
4. On Freedom, by Maggie Nelson
5. The Afghanistan Papers, by Craig Whitlock
6. Poet Warrior, by Joy Harjo
7. Misfits, by Michaela Cole
8. History Makers, by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
9. American Experiment, by David Rubenstein
10. Noise, by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, Cass R. Sunstein

Actually half this list is debuts as well, only the numbers at the top are lower than fiction for the newcomers and the Journal Sentinel's History Makers Bucks chronicle isn't first-week new - it's just as fast as we could get it (Call to order it). Three-term poet laureate Joy Harjo's Poet Warrior gets six reviews, all but one raves, but it strikes me that four of the six are the trades (PW, Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus) and the only traditional review is from Marion Winik in the Star Tribune. Don't know why, though I must acknowledge the heavy release schedule. Gabino Iglesias on the NPR website calls the memoir "a wonderful hybrid text that mixes memoir, poetry, songs, and dreams into something unique that opens a window into the most important events of Harjo's life and invites readers to reconnect with themselves - as well as with the land and the knowledge of their people."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
2. Dune (two editions), by Frank Herbert
3. Circe, by Madeline Miller
4. Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart
5. Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
6. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
7. Send for Me, by Lauren Fox (Register for September 28 event here)
8. People We Meet on Vacation, by Emily Henry
9. Dune Messiah, by Frank Herber
10. Thursday Murder Club, by Richard Osman

Not a lot of turnover here, but even without the once grand pops of paperback releases (the paperback prices are creeping up faster than hardcovers, making paperbacks less of a deal, exacerbated at Boswell because we discount a lot of hardcovers, but not many paperbacks), there's also the issue that publishers tend to release high profile paperback reprints from January to July more than in the fall. We close to hosting a virtual event for Richard Osman, but our format fell apart when Osman's schedule was condensed. Alas. Rochelle O'Gorman writes of The Thursday Murder Club in the Christian Science Monitor: "Humor is everywhere, and it is very British - smart and a little prickly - but it would not be lost on an American audience. The wit and the plot will bring readers back for more of this series." This paperback release was August, the traditional slot for a series whose hardcovers come out in September (The Man Who Died Twice). Lately we're seeing them faster, but this is the way they used to do them, with the paperback coming out 30-60 days in advance of the next hardcover.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Displaced, edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen
2. My Meteorite, by Harry Dodge
3. Milwaukee River Greenway, by Eddee Daniel
4. The Best of Me, by David Sedaris (Tickets for Riverside appearance on December 10 here)
5. The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls
6. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
7. Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
8. Undocumented Americans, by Karla Corneyjo Villavicencio
9. Built for This, by The Athletic
10. Reaganland, by Rick Perlstein

We've got an actual first-week pop in paperback nonfiction with David Sedaris's The Best of Me, with his new release, A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries (2003-2020), coming out in October. Hey, it's another paperback 30 days in advance! As noted, the Sedaris appearance at the Riverside now looks firm at December 10, 2021. It was originally scheduled for 2020 spring. In addition to this rescheduling, there are a lot of new dates - my friends at fellow bookstores have been promoting. From Andrew Sean Greer writing about The Best of Me in The New York Times Book Review last year: " Is Amy here? Yep. His mom? His dad? The Rooster who becomes The Juicester? Bien sûr. In fact, this book is all about his family and … all right, I’ll say it: love."

Books for Kids: 
1. Willodeen, by Katherine Applegate
2. The First 100 Words, by Priddy
3. Everywhere Babies, by Susan Meyers
4. Giraffes Can't Dance, by Giles Andreae
5. Baby Faces, from DK
6. Fallout, by Steve Sheinkin (Register for September 14 virtual school visit here - open to the public)
7. Indigenous People's History of the United States for Young People, by Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz
8. Fast Pitch, by Nic Stone
9. Eyes of the Forest, by April Henry
10. It's Not the Stork, by Robie H Harris

I wish a switch was thrown and on the first of September, families streamed into Boswell to buy our favorite kids books in bestseller quantities, but that's not the case. However, something does happen, which is that our school visits (all but one virtual this fall) start having an impact. Like regular author tours, these school visits are scheduled by publishers not just to have the initial pops but to prime many of these titles for holiday sales later. Our first big appearance was for Katherine Applegate, whose new book is Willodeen. Booklist writes: " You know you're in for a treat with an Applegate fantasy, but when she dreams up hummingbears - tiny, winged bears that nest in bubbles - it's instantly catapulted into irresistible territory. For Willodeen, who happens to have a flightless hummingbear as a pet, her heart is far more occupied with the welfare of unlovable creatures, namely the widely detested screechers - grumpy combo of skunk (odor), warthog (snout, tusks), beaver (tail), and porcupine (quills)."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, I missed giving a shout out to Jim Higgins' piece on which Wisconsin writers appear in the New Yale Book of Quotations. 

Coming up next, four Boswell events on the docket.

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