Sunday, January 2, 2022

Boswell bestsellers, for the week ending January 1, 2022

Here's what you wanted, but didn't get for Christmas. Boswell bestsellers, week ending January 1, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Call Us What We Carry, by Amanda Gorman
2. The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles
3. The Sentence, by Louise Erdrich
4. Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr
5. Oh William, by Elizabeth Strout
6. The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois, by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
7. Termination Shock, by Neal Stephenson
8. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro
9. Our Country Friends, by Gary Shteyngart
10. Mary Jane, by Jessica Anya Blau

I did a little research and found not one but two titles that had nice sales in 2021 but never before hit our top 10, so they fall under the category of what did you really want, don't you think? The first is a book that Margaret and I have been pushing, Mary Jane for months. It's been a hit with a number of Friends of Boswell. It had a number of weeks ranked in the teens, but this was its top ten breakthrough. We had a great conversation with Jessica Anya Blau, which you can watch here.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Atlas of the Heart, by Brené Brown
2. The 1619 Project, created by Nikole Hannah Jones and The New York Times
3. Giannis, by Mirin Fader
4. The Storyteller, by Dave Grohl
5. Finding the Mother Tree, by Suzanne Simard
6. These Precious Days, by Ann Patchett
7. The Book of Hope, by Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams
8. The Dawn of Everything, by David Graeber and David Wengrow
9. Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner
10. North American Maps for Curious Minds, by Matthew Bucklan and Victor Cizek

Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience has been solidly in our top ten since its release, but sometimes a #1 ranking after Christmas is not about a sales surge, but watching the competitition slow down. I thought I maybe had five emotions - who knew? Brown did. From Belinda Muscombe in Time: "In surveys taken by 7,000 people over five years, Brown and her team found that on average people can identify only three emotions as they are actually feeling them: happiness, sadness and anger. For Brown, who made her name by illuminating the finer contours of humans’ emotional landscape, this is not nearly enough. So, in Atlas of the Heart, she sets out to map 87 different emotions, pointing out the distinguishing features of each."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune
2. Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell
3. The People We Meet on Vacation, by Emily Henry
4. Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno Garcia
5. My Year of Rest and Relaxation, by Ottessa Moshfegh
6. The Glass Hotel, by Emily St John Mandel
7. Detransition, Baby, by Torrey Peters
8. Leonard and Hungry Paul, by Rónán Hession
9. How to Stop Time, by Matt Haig
10. Homeland Elegies, by Ayad Akhtar

I double-checked twice to make sure this wasn't a bulk sale, but TJ Klune leaps to the top with The House in the Cerulean Sea, an after-Christmas treat. While we've been having solid sales on most of these, I was curious about the pop on My Year of Rest and Relaxation, which while is a regular seller for us, doesn't generally hit our top 10 two years after paperback release. No, it wasn't a bulk sale. No, it's not from a book club registered with Boswell. No, I didn't spot anything that would cause a sales pop from internet news, thought I didn't check social media trending, like on BookTok? Or maybe it's a non-registered book club. Maybe you'll let me know!

I know why Homeland Elegies had the pop, having done the recommendation that led to the titles section.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
2. Ordinary Girls, by Jaquira Diaz
3. Great Cholesterol Myth, by Jenny Bowden
4. ABA Field Guide to Birds of Wisconsin, by Charles Hagner
5. Open Secret, by Rumi
6. Entangled Life, by Merlin Sheldrake
7. We Keep the Dead Close, by Becky Cooper
8. Badass Habits, by Jen Sincero
9. Slouching Towards Bethlehem, by Joan Didion
10. Miseducation, by Katie Worth

This has been a particularly sad December for the passing of revered authors. It will be a while before we have decent stock on Joan Didion (1934-2001) titles, but we sold enough copies of Slouching Towards Bethlehem for it to make the top 10. My guess is that we'll see more appearances of bell hooks, E.O. Wilson, Didion, and even Desmond Tutu when we have stock.

When talking to a book club that's had enthusiasm for these history/true crime hybrids like Killers of the Flower Moon and Say Nothing, I had suggested We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence, which had been recommended for me by Jason and Madi, and had a good 2020 holiday of sales in hardcover for us.In some ways it felt like a more traditional true crime title (perhaps that's the packaging), regarding the murder of Jane Britton, unsolved for fifty years, but just look at the reviews and you'll see that Cooper takes it to another level - plus it was a finalist for the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize. I don't think I had even caught that Vanguard won the history prize!

Books for Kids: 
1. Firekeeper's Daughter, by Angeline Boulley
2. Beasts of Prey, by Ayana Gray
3. When Stars Are Scattered, by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, with illustrations by Iman Geddy
4. Cat Kid Comic Club: Perspectives V2, by Dav Pilkey
5. Furia, by Yamile Saied Méndez
6. Aaron Slater, Illustrator, by Andrea Beaty, illustrations by David Roberts (okay, here's one)
7. Witches Steeped in Gold, by Ciannon Smart
8. Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor
9. A Fierce and Subtle Poison, by Samantha Mabry
10. The Snowy Day board book, by Ezra Jack Keats (and here's sort of another - plus the traditional hardcover is #11)

Christmas is over when the picture books apparently disappear from our top 10. Part of this is that we're back to fulfilling school orders. Let me give a shout out to Witches Steeped in Gold, being that it is a more recent release, having been published in 2021 (I think I already wrote up Beasts of Prey). From Kirkus Reviews: "A Jamaican-inspired fantasy about a matriarchy maintained by magic and marred by manipulation. Jazmyne Cariot is a 17-year-old witch of the Alumbrar order and next in line to rule as doyenne of her island of Aiyca, though she has yet to inherit her magical powers. Iraya Adair is an 18-year-old Obeah witch and the rightful heir to the Aiycan throne, newly free after 10 years of imprisonment. Historical tensions position these two witches as enemies, both possessing plans to remove the current doyenne." It's a "richly realized tale!"

From the Journal Sentinel, reporting on book restoring with Jennifer Rude Klett: "If anyone understands the emotional attachment of books in the home, it's James Twomey, who perhaps has the most unusual combination of occupations in Wisconsin. Twomey is a professional restorer of antiquarian books and maps. He is the owner of Book Restoration Co., with locations in LaFarge and Kenosha. He is also a livestock farmer for a herd of heritage Tunis sheep at his Sandstone Ridge Farm in LaFarge, part of the hilly Driftless Area."

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