Sunday, January 23, 2022

What's selling at Boswell? Week ending January 22, 2022

Here's what's selling at Boswell this week:

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Runaway, by Nick Petrie (register for February 9 virtual MPL event here)
2. The Good Son, by Jacquelyn Mitchard
3. Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr
4. To Paradise, by Hanya Yanagihara
5. Call Us What We Carry, by Amanda Gorman
6. The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles
7. The Sentence, by Louise Erdrich
8. How High We Go in the Dark, by Sequoia Nagamatsu
9. Joan Is Okay, by Weike Wang
10. The Maid, by Nita Prose

Last week, I was speaking to an author who mentioned Kirkus's tradition of more negative reviews than the other advance trade notices (Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, and so forth). I think they've actually changed a lot, but every so often, their legacy resurfaces. For example, Sequoia Nagamatsu's new collection, How High We Go in the Dark, has gotten nothing but raves and positive reviews on Book Marks (and actually, it's almost all raves) except for that negative Kirkus. This collection, connected by the theme of how climate change unleashes an ancient virus when archeologists discover the an ancient frozen victim. From Lincoln Michel in The New York Times: "If you’re a short-story lover - as I am - you’ll be impressed with Nagamatsu’s meticulous craft. If you crave sustained character and plot arcs, well, you’ll have to settle for admiring the well-honed prose, poignant meditations and unique concepts. Hardly small pleasures."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The 1619 Project, created by Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times
2. Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner
3. The Book of Hope, by Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams
4. The Dawn of Everything, by David Graeber and David Wengrow
5. Giannis, by Mirin Fader
6. The Privatization of Everything, by Donald Cohen
7. Blood in the Garden, by Chris Herring
8. Finding the Mother Tree, by Suzanne Simard
9. Unthinkable, by Jamie Raskin
10. How Civil Wars Start, by Barbara F Walter

We first heard about Blood in the Garden: The Flagrant History of the 1990s New York Knicks  when Chris Herring mentioned his upcoming book as the interview conversation partner for Mirin Fader, the author of Giannis. January seemed so far away then, but now it's out, and I'm happy to see a top 10 sales pop, which isn't always easy for a sports book focused on a non-Milwaukee team. From Andrew R Graybill in The Wall Street Journal: "Readers need not love the Knicks - or even possess deep knowledge of professional basketball - to enjoy this book. It throbs with an insider’s perspective, giving the audience a courtside seat as the Knicks, deploying sharp elbows, stout picks and painful hip checks, took on all comers... Besides the vivid writing, what makes Blood in the Garden so successful is the depth of Mr. Herring’s research, which rests on extensive interviews with more than 200 individuals, ranging from players and coaches to front-office staff and fellow journalists, and even an 'unnamed Knicks dancer.'"

Paperback Fiction:
1. Daisy Jones and the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
2. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
3. Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell
4. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
5. How to Stop Time, by Matt Haig
6. The Drifter (both editions), by Nick Petrie
7. The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune
8. Dune, by Frank Herbert
9. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
10. Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Nothing new this week in the top 10. Taylor Jenkins Reid continues to BookTok her way to the top, with both #1 (Daisy Jones and the Six) and #2 (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo) slots. And I also find it interesting that four other titles are previous books from current bestsellers. Our buyer Jason was noting that our new and notable paperback table has more notable titles and fewer new ones - and much of that is driven by social media.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Proof of Heaven, by Eben Alexander
2. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
3. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk
4. Field Guide to Dumb Birds of the Whole Stupid World, by Matt Kracht
5. New York Times Cooking No Recipe Recipes, by Sam Sifton
6. Short History of Canada, by Desmond Morton
7. History Lover's Guide to Milwaukee, by James Nelson
8. Milwaukee Bronzeville, by Paul Geenen
9. Civil Rights Activism in Milwaukee, by Paul Geenen
10. The Best of Me, by David Sedaris

James Nelson's A History Lover's Guide to Milwaukee has been a steady seller since it came out in October. Nelson visited Milwaukee for his Educating Milwaukee book several years ago. From Dave Luhrssen's recent write up in The Shepherd Express: "As an aside, he correctly points out that many of our 75 official neighborhoods (as proclaimed by the City of Milwaukee in 1995) are little recognized, even by their residents. Fernwood anyone?" Fernwood is actually a part of Bay View. But when I looked it up, I learned that it's south of Oklahoma, east of 794 - I thought it was both sides. Many people don't know that Boswell is in the Murray Hill sub-neighborhood of the East Side.

Books for Kids:
1. The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner
2. Big Shot V16, by Jeff Kinney
3. Anatomy: A Love Story, by Dana Schwartz
4. We Are Okay, by Nina Lacour
5. Chez Bob, by Bob Shea
6. Five Worlds V5: The Emerald Gate
7. Tales of Fearless Girls, by Isabel Otter
8. The Beatryce Prophecy, by Kate DiCamillo, illustrations by Sophie Blackall
9. Here's to Us, by Becky Albertalli
10. Ain't Burned All the Bright, by Jason Reynolds, illustrations by Jason Griffin

At the Nick Petrie event, I helped Friend-of-Boswell Raya find Anatomy: A Love Story, which is new (always nice this time of year) and selling in the YA section. If we're selling it and it's not local, it's sure to be NYT bestseller bound this week, especially because it's the Reese's YA Book Club selection. Anatomy: A Love Story is set in 19th century Scotland and is, per the publisher, about "a lady who wants to be a surgeon more than she wants to marry." From the starred Booklist: "Schwartz's magical novel is at once gripping and tender, and the intricate plot is engrossing as the reader tries to solve the mystery. She doesn't miss a beat in either the characterization or action, scattering clues with a delicate, precise hand. This is, in the end, the story of the anatomy of the human heart."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins profiles Juneau Black, the writing team that is Sharon Nagel and Jocelyn Cole. I have a bit part*: "'As we were putting prices on these adorable little finger puppets, we gave all of these little animal characters names, and occupations, like you do,' Koehler said. With no one stopping them, the two women kept going, imagining the woodland village life of their critters. And then came murder."

Join us for a virtual launch on Tuesday, January 25, 7 pm. Register at

*I play the cruel boss.

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