Sunday, December 12, 2021

Boswell bestsellers, week ending December 11, 2021

Here's what is selling at Boswell this week.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Wish You Were Here, by Jodi Picoult (signed tip-in copies available)
2. The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles
3. Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr
4. Harlem Shuffle, by Colson Whitehead
5. The Sentence, by Louise Erdrich
6. The Ballerinas, by Rachel Kapleke-Dale (Register for in-December 15 in-store or broadcast event here)
7. The Invisible Life of Addie Larue, by VE Schwab (2 editions)
8. Small Things Like These, by Claire Keegan
9. The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
10. State of Terror, by Hilary Clinton and Louise Penny
11. Clark and Division, by Naomi Hirahara
12. Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir
13. Our Country Friends, by Gary Shteyngart
14. Oh William!, by Elizabeth Strout
15. The Kindest Lie, by Nancy Johnson

I decided to expand fiction this week, mostly because I like these four runners up - I read four of the five. Both Clark and Division and The Kindest Lie are novels set partly in Chicago, which might be why I gravitated to them. Johnson recently told me that she is working on her next book, which is exciting. And I should note that it's recommended by Jodi Picoult, this week's #1: "The Kindest Lie is a deep dive into how we define a family, what it means to be a mother, and what it means to grow up Black. This beautifully crafted debut will keep asking you these questions and more."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Carnival of Snackery, by David Sedaris
2. Giannis, by Mirin Fader
3. The 1619 Project, created by Hannah Nikole-Jones and The New York Times
4. These Precious Days, by Ann Patchett
5. Atlas of the Heart, by Brené Brown
6. Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner (our signed copies have taken off!)
7. The Midwest Survival Guide, by Charlie Berens (we're out through Christmas if you haven't already ordered this)
8. North American Maps for Curious Minds, by Matthew Bucklan and Victor Cizek
9. The Storyteller, by Dave Groh
10. Atlas of the Invisible, by James Cheshire
11. The Wisconsin Supper Clubs Story, by Ron Faiola
12. How the Word Is Passed, by Clint Smith
13. Best Wishes, Warmest Regards, by Dan Levy and Eugene Levy
14. History Makers, by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
15. All About Me, by Mel Brooks (I think this also might be gone for the season)

This time of year I'm caught between reading ahead (what's good for the book) and reading 2021's highlights that I missed. On the fiction list, I caught up with Oh William! and Small Things Like These. Yes, you can call out that they are both relatively short books, but reading them has helped me sell them, particularly Keegan. On the nonfiction side, I spent part of my day finishing Clint Brown's How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slaves Across America. I liked that it was structured as a travel narrative, with Smith visiting places like Monticello, Angola Prison, and a walking tour of lower Manhattan.

Follow up to last week - I learned that Matthew Bucklan of North American Maps for Curious Minds lives in the Milwaukee area! Nobody tells me anything.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Anomaly, by Hervé Le Tellier
2. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
3. The Thursday Murder Club V1, by Richard Osman
4. Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell
5. Dune, by Frank Herbert
6. The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
7. Once and Future Witches, by Alix E Harrow
8. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
9. Hercule Poirot's Christmas, by Agatha Christie
10. When We Cease to Understand the World, by Benjamin Labatut, translated by Adrian Nathan West

When We Cease to Understand the World is one of The New York Times's top 10 books of 2021 and was shortlisted for the National Book Award for translated literature. Per the publisher, it's "a fictional examination of the lives of real-life scientists and thinkers whose discoveries resulted in moral consequences beyond their imagining." From The New York Times review by Corinna da Fonesca-Wollheim: "In any case, the individual characters are merely vehicles for Labatut. His true subject is the ecstasy of scientific discovery and the price it exacts — from the individuals who sacrifice everything in its pursuit, and from the human species, which gains ever more powerful tools to master a world that keeps eluding comprehension."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Best of Me, by David Sedaris
2. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
3. Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris
4. On Story Parkway, by Jim Cryns
5. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk
6. Calypso, by David Sedaris
7. When You Are Engulfed in Flames, by David Sedaris
8. Cain's Jawbone, by Edward Powys Mathers
9. Milwaukee River Greenway, by Eddee Daniel
10. Theft by Finding, by David Sedaris

Guess who came to Milwaukee? Thanks to Mr. Sedaris (who actually did bring snacks to his event, a lovely and quite large box of chocolates), I was able to keep the nonfiction paperback list to ten slots. The list is a couple of regional titles (On Story Parkway, Jim's biggest hit at Boswell), Milwaukee River Greenway, a couple of national standards that continue to work at Boswell (Braiding Sweetgrass and The Body Keeps the Score) and one sleeper (Cain's Jawbone), which might well be selling at bestseller levels (not the first week on this list) but the NYT is probably excluding it because it's a puzzle - that advice list is brutal.

Books for Kids - Picture Books and Board Books
1. Dream Street, by Trista Elam Walker, with illustrations by Ekua Holmes
2. The Snowy Day board book, by Ezra Jack Keats
3. Norman Didn't Do It, by Ryan T Higgins
4. Change Sings, by Amanda Gorman and Loren Long
5. Tiger Tiger Burning Bright, edited by Fiona Waters
6. The 1619 Project: Blood on the Water, by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson, illustrated by Nikolas Smith
7. The Mitten Board Book, by Jan Brett
8. Aaron Slater Illustrator, by Andrea Beaty with illustrations by David Roberts
9. Lulu and Rocky in Milwaukee, by Barbara Joosse with illustrations by Renée Graef
10. The Story Orchestra: The Magic Flute, by Jessica Courtney Tickle (and Mozart, sort of)

Named one of the New York Times best books of the year, Dream Street is, per the publisher "a magical story from the critically acclaimed author of Nana Akua Goes to School and a Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award winning illustrator. Illuminating this vivid cast of characters are vibrant, joyful illustrations that make this neighborhood - based on the Roxbury neighborhood in Boston where the author and illustrator grew up together as cousins - truly sing." We just hosted a virtual event with Walker.

Books for Kids - Middle Grade, Graphic Novels
1. Clarice the Brave, by Lisa McMann
2. The Unwanteds V1, by Lisa McMann
3. The Beatryce Prophecy, by Kate DiCamillo with illustrations by Sophie Blackall
4. Kaleidoscope, by Brian Selznick
5. Pony, by RJ Palacio
6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Big Shot V16, by Jeff Kinney
7. Cat Kid Comic Club: Perspectives V2, by Dav Pilkey
8. Bird and Squirrel on the Run V1, by James Burks
9. Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea, by Ben Clanton
10. Tales of Fearless Girls, by Isabel Otter, with illustrations by Ana Sender

I had YA categorized with middle grade/graphic novel, only to realize that there were no YA, graphic or otherwise, in our top 10. I find that adults get a little nervous buying books for teens, and I've also noticed there is nothing hot that's crossing over to us at the moment. The section almost always has people browsing it, but it looks like, at least for us, they are not coalescing around anything in particular as in past years.

Both The Beatryce Prophecy and Kaleidoscope might cross over to the younger demos of YA, so that's something. Kaleidoscope, the latest from Brian Selznick, is one of Amie's picks. Here's what the publisher had to say about this one: "A ship. A garden. A library. A key. In Kaleidoscope, the incomparable Brian Selznick presents the story of two people bound to each other through time and space, memory and dreams. At the center of their relationship is a mystery about the nature of grief and love which will look different to each reader." It's hitting a number of best-of-the-year lists. Still remember that magical night we hosted Selznick - it's so long ago I think it was at Alverno College, back when they had the Alverno Presents series.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, we've got the top books of the year from Jim Higgins and Carole Barrowman. Jim's picks include two of my favorites, Send for Me and Squirrel Hill. Access the whole list here.

Carole's got a great selection of mysteries and thrillers including two books I really liked, which I read at her suggestion - Clark and Division and Razorblade Tears. plus Kent Krueger's Lightning Strike, which we recently recommended not once but twice on Larry Meiller's recent Wisconsin Public Radio show.

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