Sunday, March 12, 2023

Boswell bestsellers, week ending March 11, 2023

Boswell bestsellers, week ending March 11, 2023

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus
2. Tina, Mafia Soldier, by Maria Rosa Cutrufelli, translated by Robin Pickering-Iazzzi
3. Birnam Wood, by Eleanor Catton
4. Pineapple Street, by Jenny Jackson (Register for March 22 virtual event here)
5. Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver
6. The Adventures of Amina Al Sirafi, by Shannon Chakraborty
7. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin
8. The London Séance Society, by Sarah Penner
9. Old Babes in the Woods, by Margaret Atwood
10. I Have Some Questions for You, by Rebecca Makkai (MPL April 27 lit lunch info here)

This week's top debut was Birnam Wood, Elenaor Catton's follow-up to the Booker Prize-winning The Luminaries, from back in 2013. Lit Hub has 11 raves, three positives, a mixed, and a pan, from the Los Angeles Times. Many have noted how different the current novel is from the last, but lest you fear that Catton was resting on her laurels, she also adapted the 2020 film Emma, whose theatrical run was interrupted by COVID (and nevertheless has an 86% score on Rotten Tomatoes). One of the raves is from Ron Charles in The Washington Post, who writes, "With terrifying intensity, Catton propels these characters to a finale that prefigures the very apocalypse they’re all trying to forestall. It’s a wry indictment of all the poor players who strut and fret their hours upon this stage and then are heard no more."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Devil's Element, by Dan Egan
2. While Time Remains, by Yeonmi Park
3. Profit with Presence, by Eric J Holsapple
4. A Tree a Day, by Amy Jane Beer
5. BFF, by Christie Tate
6. It's Okay to Be Angry About Capitalism, by Bernie Sanders
7. The Creative Act, by Rick Rubin
8. Saving Time, by Jeny Odell
9. Spare, by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
10. The Intimate City, by Michael Kimmelman

I thought we might have an event washout with the Thursday-night-through-Friday-morning snowfall, but both events and our offsite didn't see much fallout. The Christie + Christi event for B.F.F.: A Memoir of Friendship Lost and Found (signed copies available) featured several folks who help put together A Mighty Blaze. If you missed our program, you can watch this interview with Tate talking to Megan McCafferty at the Princeton Public Library.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Daisy Jones and the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
2. Groundskeeping, by Lee Cole
3. Night of the Living Rez, by Morgan Talty (Info on Boswell book clubs here)
4. The Maid, by Nita Prose
5. Ms. Demeanor, by Elinor Lipman
6. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishigruo
7. The Employees, by Olga Ravn, translated by Martin Aitkin
8. A Marvellous Light, by Freya Marske
9, The Paris Apartment, by Lucy Foley
10. Bookworm, by Robin Yeatman

It is somewhat unusual to see a New Press fiction book on our bestseller list, but The Employees is not just any book - it's shortlisted for the International Booker Prize and the Ursula K. Le Guin Prize and longlisted for the National Book Award for translated literature. Ravn is also known for editing several books by Tove Ditlevsen. Book Marks has two raves, a positive, and a pan from The Atlantic. From Laura Miller in The New York Review of Books: "The most striking aspect of this weird, beautiful, and occasionally disgusting novel is not, as its subtitle implies, its portrayal of working life on the spaceship. Most of Ravn’s characters are too obsessively inward-looking to get up to much in the way of office politics or banter. Rather, it’s the objects themselves - impossible to visualize or fully imagine, so unlike any form of known life that not everyone on board the Six Thousand Ship is sure they’re alive at all. They are utterly alien, and yet for most of the crew members the objects are also comforting, even familiar."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. For the Good of the Game, by Bud Selig
2. In Order to Live, by Yeonmi Park
3. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
4. Active Hope, by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone
5. Brewtown Tales, by John Gurda
6. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
7. South to America, by Imani Perry
8. Aftermath, by Harald Jähner
9. All About Love, by bell hooks
10. Owning Grief, by Gael Garbarino Cullen

It's the second week out in paper and the second week on our bestseller list for South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation, by Imani Perry, winner of the National Book Award. Book Marks had 5 raves, two positives, and a mixed. I learn of new review organs all the time - one of the raves comes from On the Seawall from regular reviewer Mark Athiakis. From the review: "Imani Perry’s rangy, observant book, South to America, is in large part an attempt to undo that reflex, to expose multiple Souths. Indeed, she argues, conventional wisdom has it exactly backward: the resistance to the diversity of the South reveals a racist instinct to apply uniformity that has infected the rest of the country. Rural Floridians are not Alabamans are not Appalachians are not Black Belters, but north of the Mason-Dixon line, the scapegoating instinct is the same. 'I have learned in the course of my travels that there are ‘Souths,’ plural as much as singular,' she writes."

Books for Kids:
1. When Sea Becomes Sky, by Gillian McDunn
2. The Golden Egg Book (two editions), by Margaret Wise Brown
3. Honestly Elliott, by Gillian McDunn
4. The Assignment, by Liza Wiemer
5. Queen Bee and Me, by Gillian McDunn
6. Peekaboo Moon, by Camilla Reid, illustrations by Ingela P Arrhenius
7. How Do You Live, by Genzaburo Yoshino
8. Goodnight Moon board book, by Margaret Wise Brown
9. Leeva at Last, by Sara Pennypacker
10. Hot Dog, by Doug Salati

We were lucky enough to work with Gillian McDunn on a day of schools visits for When Sea Becomes Sky. This heartfelt middle grade book had starred reviews from Bookpage and nice writeups from everywhere else. Like Just Harriet and Harriet Spies, this is a mystery set on an island, though Pelican Island is on the North Carolina marsh. Kirkus writes: "The pages shine with love, loss, and a sense of place; autobiographical ties to the story are explained in the author's note. Atmospheric illustrations help bring to life the island setting. A mystery that, as it is uncovered, becomes something much more profound."

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