Saturday, December 21, 2013

Saturday Holiday Round Up (From Our Email Newsletter)

There's no question that the holidays are the most exciting time to be working in a bookstore. It's the time when you can really make suggestions to customers, and several of the titles that seemed dead all year come to life in December. "So that's where the customer for that book," you think.

While pundits are noting that there's not one or two must-have titles that are driving traffic (see Julie Bosman's piece in The New York Times for more on this topic), there are a lot of great books out there. Here is a list of recommendations from the experts.

Local critics Jim Higgins, Mike Fischer, and Carole E. Barrowman pick their favorite books of the year (a modest way of saying "best") in the Journal Sentinel. You'll see a few Boswell visitors on this list, including Mohsin Hamid's How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia.

Similarly the mainstay New York Times critics Janet Maslin, Michiko Kakutani, and Dwight Garner pick their favorites. Note that Boswell visitor Kate Atkinson made the list for Life After Life here too.

Over in the New York Times Book Review (yes, the Sunday and daily editions treat books separately), a consensus approach offers the annual ten best books of 2013.

At The Washington Post, they've also picked their best of the year. Mysteries don't always make the cut on these things, but Louise Penny's How the Light Gets In made the grade.

Entertainment Weekly also offers their top ten fiction and nonfiction books for 2013, while Stephen King offers his own list. The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer, made both--she'll be coming to Boswell for the paperback tour, on Thursday, April 24.

On the Boswell website, Stacie put together each of our favorite books for 2013, which you can view here. I don't think it would be easy for Boswellians to do a consensus top ten, but I would note that both Burial Rites and The President's Hat have kept up their strong sales at the holidays, helped by multiple staff recs.

You can see many of these titles overlap lists. Some, like Rachel Kushner's The Flamethrowers, showed up on the National Book Awards shortlist. Others, like Anthony Marra's A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, the 2013 favorite from both our buyer Jason and writer/bookseller Ann Patchett, seem due for an NBCC or Pultizer nod, or at least shortlist.

On a recent show with Kathleen Dunn on Wisconsin Public Radio, we discussed what was selling, as well as some of the best-of lists (including Dunn's, all nonfiction of course).

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