Sunday, February 6, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending February 5, 2022

Here's what's selling at Boswell for the week ending February 5, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles
2. The Family Chao, by Lan Samantha Chang (register for February 24 virtual event with Chang-rae Lee here)
3. Free Love, by Tessa Hadley (register for February 10 Readings from Oconomowaukee virtual event here)
4. The Runaway, by Nick Petrie (register for February 9 Milwaukee Public Library virtual event here)
5. Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr
6. Violeta, by Isabel Allende
7. The Books of Jacob, by Olga Tokarczuk
8. To Paradise, by Hanya Yanagihara
9. The Sentence, by Louise Erdrich
10. Call Us What We Carry, by Amanda Gorman

I'm thrilled to have a nice first-week pop on two of my winter favorites. Both The Family Chao and Free Love have been getting great reviews. Lan Samantha Chang has four raves on Bookmarks, including the NPR website, on which Ilana Masad wrote that "The Family Chao is a riveting character-driven novel that delves beautifully into human psychology; Dostoevsky himself would surely approve." 

Free Love has even more love on BookMarks, with 8 raves and 6 positives, but one of the things about the BookMarks roundup is that books from UK writers get an almost unfair disadvantage as they have not just the Times, The Sunday Times, and The Spectator, but also the Irish Times and the Scotsman, neither of whom would review an American publication. Back in the day where American papers had a local review section, you would have seen writeups from many more regional papers contributing to the tally, but not so much anymore. From Katherine A Powers in The Wall Street Journal: "Told chiefly from three viewpoints - Phyllis’s, Colette’s and Roger’s Free Love is a penetrating, extraordinarily subtle novel about an unsubtle era. From a distance, its culture may seem to have been all surface: all sex, pot, fancy dress and political righteousness, but Ms. Hadley shows how it worked its changes into the lives and feelings of a handful of superbly conjured individuals." 

Hardcover Nonfiction: 
1. The 1619 Project, created by Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times 
2. How to Be Perfect, by Michael Schur 
3. Unthinkable, by Jamie Raskin 
4. Diary of a Plague Year, by Elise Engler 
5. Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner 
6. The Dawn of Everything, by David Graeber and David Wingrow 
7. Dessert Person, by Claire Saffitz 
8. Atlas of the Heart, by Brené Brown 
9. The Complete Maus, by Art Spiegelman (we currently don't have stock) 
10. Baking with Dorie, by Dorie Greenspan

I am amused to note that Dorie Greenspan's Baking with Dorie just got it's third publisher, or at least imprint. What started as Houghton Mifflin then became Mariner, because Houghton Mifflin Harcourt didn't allow the use of their corporate name (their education division had a booth at the WSRA conference we participated in, as did McGraw Hill and Pearson, who also once had trade book divisions) on the books they sold to HarperCollins. Harper renamed the books Mariner (the paperback line) and Clarion (the secondary kids imprint) but then decided that the lifestyle imprint would take the Harvest name (makes sense for cooking, but why for a self-help book?), which was once the paperback line for Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, and then used for an Amazon copublishing program. 

I wouldn't have minded them reviving the storied Ticknor and Fields imprint, only nobody under 50 would know what it was. Hey, it was good enough for Gloria Naylor! And as Jason noted when he was buying, Custom House hardcovers are also becoming Mariner - the CH brand (which was a nod to HarperCollins new downtown digs) was folded.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Copper Yearing, by Kimberly Blaeser
2. Shady Hollow, by Juneau Black (#12 on the MIBA bestseller list)
3. The Anomaly, by Hervé Le Tellier
4. Verity, by Colleen Hoover
5. When No One Is Watching, by Alyssa Cole
6. Circe, by Madeline Miller
7. The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
8. Love at First Spite, by Anna E Collins
9. Court of Wings and Ruin, by Sarah J Maas
10. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens

Our Romance Book Club is up and running, and its first selection (register for this virtual March 28 discussion) is Love at First Spite, by Anna E Collins, a debut from Graydon House's Anna E Collins. I am learning about tropes from Rachel and this falls into the revenge novel. All the advance reviews are good. Kirkus writes: "Dani's struggles to get over her ex are believable, and Wyatt is the perfect grumpy romance hero with a heart of gold. An enemies-to-friends-to-lovers story that's sure to delight rom-com fans."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Voices of Milwaukee Bronzeville, by Sandra E Jones
2. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
3. Maus I, by Art Spiegelman
4. Maus II, by Art Spiegelman
5. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk
6. New York Times No Recipe Recipes, by Sam Sifton
7. Consolations, by David Whyte
8. 111 Places in Milwaukee that You Must Not Miss, by Michelle Madden
9. Field Guide to Dumb Birds of the Whole Stupid World, by Matt Kracht
10. Milwaukee River Greenway, by Eddee Daniel

Bronzeville is in the Milwaukee news almost every week. Tom Daykin writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "The Bronzeville Center for the Arts will combine a renovated duplex, at 507 W. North Ave., with a glassy two-story addition built next door. The privately financed $1.5 million development will feature a gallery, workshop space, the group's office and a small warming kitchen so the center can host catered events. The 6,650-square-foot building is designed to provide more visibility for Black artists, both from Milwaukee and throughout the world, while also creating a new cultural gathering space." Sandra E Jones's Voices of Milwaukee Bronzeville highlights the area's history and renewed vitality.

Books for Kids:
1. Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre, by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
2. Turtle in a Tree, written and illustrated by Neesha Hudson
3. Dear Justyce, by Nic Stone
4. Be Strong, by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrations by Jen Hill
5. After the Fall, written and illustrated by Dan Santat
6. Be Kind, by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrations by Jen Hill
7. Dear Martin, by Nic Stone
8. The Adventures of Beekle, by written and illustrated by Dan Santat
9. Sidekicks, by written and illustrated by Dan Santat
10. My Thoughts Are Clouds, by Georgia Heard

We had a good time selling books at the Wisconsin State Reading Association conference and this list reflects our participation, as nine of the top ten titles were from featured writers except for Turtle in a Tree, by Neesha Hudson. Yes, Hudson is doing three virtual school events with Jenny, which accounts for much of the sale, but Turtle in a Tree was also our top selling title to teachers for non-appearing authors. We are #1 in sales on Edelweiss for participating indie stores, but we'd love to get some competition from other stores. Our customers are loving this book!

No book news in the Journal Sentinel, but I have to give a shout out to Kevin Kleusner, whose novel The Killer Sermon has been getting a lot of attention in the local press. Archer Parquette in Milwaukee Magazine wrote up this thriller about a killer targeting doctors who perform abortions: "The novel is an entertaining mystery and thriller for any reader, but it holds a special place for Milwaukee residents. It’s full of local details – like characters sipping a Motto Mosaic Pale Ale from Good City Brewing, grabbing a taco from BelAir, or Huebsch’s background as a wrestler for the Marquette squad."

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