Sunday, October 10, 2021

Boswell bestsellers, week ending October 9, 2021

Here's what's selling at Boswell for the week ending October 9, 2021

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles
2. Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr (Tickets for October 13 event here)
3. Crossroads, by Jonathan Franzen
4. Harlem Shuffle, by Colson Whitehead
5. We Are Not Like Them, by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza (Register for October 11 event here)
6. Bewilderment, by Richard Powers
7. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
8. The Every, by Dave Eggers
9. The Man Who Died Twice, by Richard Osman
10. What Storm What Thunder, by Myriam J.A. Chancy (Register for October 28 event here)

Our biggest non-event sales in this category this week is Jonathan Franzen's Crossroads, with reviews that are rather ecstatic. Constance Grady links to several of these in her Vox piece on a history of Jonathan Franzen controversies, and why he seems less controversial this time out. She didn't like to the AV Club review from Erin Somers: "Sorry to Franzen’s haters, but Crossroads is an excellent novel."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Taste, by Stanley Tucci
2. The Storyteller, by Dave Grohl
3. Peril, by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa
4. The Secret History of Food, by Matt Siegel
5. Giannis, by Mirin Fader
6. All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, by Rebecca Donner
7. The Sum of Us, by Heather McGhee
8. Home: A Celebration, by Charlotte Moss
9. A Carnival of Snackery, by David Sedaris (Tickets for December 10 event here)
10. Hero of Two Worlds, by Mike Duncan (Register for October 14 signing here)

Here come the fourth quarter memoirs! First up is Stanley Tucci's Taste: My Life Through Food, which has gotten a lot of press over Tucci's revelation that cancer has changed his sense of taste. The same thing happened to my dad. The New York Times review from Frank Bruni is mixed, but Bruni comes in with a bad taste for celebrity food memoirs, calling the genre bloated. He should read Matt Siegel! Dave Davies is more enthusiastic in the Fresh Air interview. Hey, Dave Grohl's The Storyteller also made a splash this week.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
2. People We Meet on Vacation, by Emily Henry
3. Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell
4. Payback's a Witch, by Lana Harper
5. Normal People, by Sally Rooney
6. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
7. Second First Impressions, by Sally Thorne
8. Plain Bad Heroines, by Emily M Danforth
9. A Deadly Education, by Naomi Novik
10. The Ex Hex, by Erin Sterling

If you told me that in X years, our paperback fiction list would be half genre, I would have been surprised, but the decline of literary fiction in paperback for us during COVID has opened an opportunity for romance, horror, and fantasy, some of which is paperback original but some is reprint. October brings Halloween-themed romance with Payback's a Witch and The Ex HexSimilar color palates, too. The Ex Hex has a rec from Rachel: "If you are wanting Practical Magic, Halloweentown, Hocus Pocus vibes with a huge helping of banter and off-the-charts chemistry, this is the one for you." Oh, and I should note that Erin Sterling is also YA writer Rachel Hawkins. There's a lot of YA/Romance crossover.

More romance news. Thanks to Rachel's enthusiasm, we are the #2 independent bookstore in sales on Edelweiss for Second First Impressions, by Sally Thorne.

By the way, The Night Watchman just surpassed The Round House in paperback sales, which had trumped the last few Erdrich sales, as well as the Downer Schwartz sales for a number of titles before that.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Art of Gathering, by Priya Parker
2. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
3. Voices of Bronzeville, by Sandra E Jones (Register for November 18 event here - in person or via Zoom)
4. Consumed, by Aja Barber
5. Northwest Side Community Development Corporation, by Howard Snyder
6. Milwaukee River Greenway, by Eddee Daniel (Register for October 21 event here - in person or via Zoom)
7. The Best of Me, by David Sedaris
8. Having and Being Had, by Eula Bliss
9. Walking Milwaukee, by Royal Brevvaxling and Molly Snyder
10. Ten Patterns That Explain the Universe, by Brian Clegg

Eula Biss's Having and Being Had hits our top ten after about a month floating around the new paperback tables. Considering that the book is about colluding in capitalism, she got a nice review from Emily Bobrow in The Wall Street Journal: "This book is essentially an account of Ms. Biss’s contradictions, her ambivalence as a relatively well-off consumer in a rich and richly unequal country. But instead of being humorless and apologetic, Having and Being Had is incisive, impressive and often poetic."

Books for Kids:
1. What's Inside a Flower?, by Rachel Ignotofsky
2. The Beatryce Prophecy, by Kate DiCamillo, with illustrations by Sophie Blackall
3. Chez Bob, by Bob Shea
4. Ada Twist, Scientist, by Andrea Beaty, with illustrations by David Roberts
5. Lulu and Rocky in Milwaukee, by Barbara Joosse, with illustrations by Renee Graef
6. Little Blue Truck's Halloween, by Alice Schertle, with illustrations by Jill McElmurry
7. Ghostly Tales of Milwaukee, by Anna Lardinois
8. Egg Marks the Spot V2, by Amy Timberlake, with illustrations by Jon Klassen
9. Beasts and Beauty, by Soman Chainani
10. How to Find What You're Not Looking For, by Veera Hiranandani (Register for October 20 event here)

Rachel Ignotofsky's Women in Art, Science, and Sports have been big crossovers from Crown Books for Young Readers, enough that they sister adult division, now, like the kids program, folded into the equivalent Random House division, has spun off postcards sets, calendars, and most notably, jigsaw puzzles. Ignotofsky's What's Inside a Flower?. which was released last winter but was featured in some virtual school visits from Ignotofsky, is a beautiful book that like her other titles, works for both kids and adults. Nicola Davies wrote in The New York Times: "The challenge of igniting children’s curiosity is akin to lighting a fire. You can’t put something as large as a log on a spark; you have to start with something smaller. What’s Inside a Flower?... is the best kind of tinder for little sparks. It is a highly accessible gateway to botany that doesn’t shy away from real scientific words but doesn’t overload readers with too much information."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins talked to Chris Ward of Feral House (who is nonetheless Milwaukee based) and Boswell's Jason Kennedy about the looming stock shortages in books this holiday season. We're out of Bewilderment, and you'll be hearing more of that in the coming weeks.

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