Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday Bestseller Wrap-Up-a Palooza, for the Week Ending March 24, 2014.

Greetings from Worcester, where I am visiting family before I head to New York for the big BEA convention. I should be continuing to blog during the week...or so I think at this point, before I am overwhelmed. I am clearly thinking I can take on anything, which is why I'm listing our top tens this week (instead of the normal five).

Hardcover Fiction:
1. To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, by Joshua Ferris
2. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
3. The Serpent of Venice, by Christopher Moore (signed copies available)
4. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
5. Lovers at the Chameloeon Club Paris 1922, by Francine Prose
6. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin
7. Beowulf, by J.R.R. Tolkien
8. The Skin Collector, by Jeffery Deaver
9. The Target, by David Baldacci
10. The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd

One of the reasons why I moved to a top ten is that I noticed that four of our top ten fiction titles are from Hachette--To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (which was an event and yes, we have signed copies), The Goldfinch, The Skin Collector, and The Target. I assumed that Amazon customers would simply move to another website when their favorite Little, Brown and Grand Central titles were not available, but it's possible some might be moving to bricks-and-mortar stores. Of course Amazon hopes that their customers will just switch to another title, but while that's true for browsers, Amazon's customer base is very title driven. Just like we often lose the sale when we're not in stock, it's likely that they do too.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Capital in the Twenty First Century, by Thomas Piketty
2. Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book, by Diane Muldrow
3. No Place to Hide, by Glenn Greenwald
4. Delancey, by Molly Wizenberg
5. Sons of Wichita, by Daniel Schulman
6. Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant, by Roz Chast
7. Jesus, by James Martin
8. This is Water, by David Foster Wallace
9. Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook, by Josh Kilmer-Purcell Brent Ridge, and Sandy Gluck
10. Stress Test, by Timothy Geithner

Speaking of Hachette, let me point out that five years after release, David Foster Wallace's graduation book, This is Water, is still one of the titles that sells off the table best. I probably could have sold at least one more copy of the Roz Chast (at least to me) as my sister told me she's interested in reading Can't We Talk About Something More Interesting? I should also note that a customer came in and asked us if Thomas Piketty was coming, because we had so many copies on hand, which I guess is a bit unusual for us outside of the holiday season. The obvious reply? "I wish."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer
2. TransAtlantic, by Colum McCann
3. Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent
4. A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki
5. Saving Kandinsky, by Mary Basson
6. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
7. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, by Anthony Marra
8. Montana 1948, by Larry Watson
9. A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin
10. A Delicate Truth, by John LeCarre

I just learned that the same editor at Crown is responsible for Gone Girl and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, or so it appeared from my invite to meet the editor on Wednesday (and coincidentally next to each other on the list). Actually I am sort of super-excited as I think me and my fellow booksellers might be sitting down with three of the most talented editors in publishing.

Several of the books on this week list popped from a book club presentation that I did with Jane Glaser--five of the ten titles, including The Interestings, TransAtlantic, Burial Rites, and A Tale for the Time Being, our top four. We're happy to do one of these in the store for your group of five or more people, but we ask that you commit to buying at least a good amount of your books from us.

Paperback Nonfiction.
1. A Hidden History of Milwaukee, by Robert Tanzilo
2. America's Romance with the English Garden, by Thomas Mickey
3. Studying Wisconsin, by Martha Bergland and Paul G. Hayes (event at MPL on June 9, 6 pm)
4. All God's Dangers, by Theodore Rosengarten
5. The Righteous Mind, by Jonathan Haidt
6. Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon
7. Show Your Work, by Austin Kleon
8. The Widows' Handbook, edited by Jacqueline Lapidus
9. Strength for the Struggle, by Joseph Ellwanger
10. Graduates in Wonderland, by Rachel Kapelke-Dale and Jessica Pan (our event is Wed. May 28, 7 pm with Claire Hanan)

Several of the contributors to The Widows' Handbook are doing talks around the Milwaukee area, mostly senior housing. If you are interested in having them visit, contact me and I'll pass on the info. Summer is time for regional books and this week's list sure represents that. We'll be putting up a nice regional table after I come back from New York. I expect that our recent visitors Bobby Tanzilo and Joseph Ellwanger will be doing more events in the area.

Books for Kids:
1. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
2. I am a Bunny, by Ole Risom with illustrations by Richard Scarry
3. The Wheels on the Bus, by Paul Zelinsky
4. The Thickety: A Path Begins, by J.A. White
5. Three Times Lucky, by Sheila White
6. Love Your Forever, by Robert Munsch
7. The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt, with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers
8. Oh the Places You Go, by Dr. Seuss
9. Insurgent, by Veronica Roth
10. We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

I do a few book fairs at St. John's on the Lake every year and this Friday, I spent a few hours chatting with the residents and recommending titles. Our #1 book was no surprise, The Hidden History of Milwaukee, but though I try, it's hard to exactly figure out what folks want. Among our sales were Three Times Lucky and The Day the Crayons Quit. One thing I have figured out is that the residents want boxed cards and in season, calendars, but not so much journals and anything else I have tried. My favorite transaction? A charmer who walked up Cathleen Schine's Fin and Lady who said to me, "I always find a gem whenever you visit."

You've probably noticed all our enthusiasm for The Thickety (there might be a dedicated blog post on this later) but one book I haven't mentioned to date is E. Lockhart's We Were Liars. Our #1 author John Green has given the book a great quote: ""Thrilling, beautiful, and blisteringly smart, We Were Liars is utterly unforgettable." It's about a girl's summer on Cape Cod.

On the Journal Sentinel book page, the big news is a talk with Roxane Gay, whom you've certainly been reading about everywhere, including this blog. Here's a bit from Jim Higgins' profile:

"Roxane Gay's breakout year should give readers hope that serious writers still have a place in the hot mess of today's publishing industry. Gay's recently released debut novel, An Untamed State, the story of a young mother kidnapped for ransom by a Haitian gang, earned a glowing review from Holly Bass in The New York Times Book Review. Comparing it to dark Brothers Grimm tales, Bass wrote that the novel's 'complex and fragile moral (is) arrived at through great pain and high cost.'"

There's a chance that Gay is coming back for her next book, the essay collection Bad Feminist. Read more here.(Note: the link is fixed!)

And here's Mike Fischer on Revolution, a book he's crazy about. Here's just a tease from the Journal Sentinel review:

"The setting is a sleepy Southern town, in which little has changed since Reconstruction. The season is summer, in which the weather is muggy and fans useless. The protagonist is a headstrong and vocal girl who doesn't remember her mother, reveres her father and admires her athletic older brother. The action toggles between daring childhood adventures and a seismic rupture in long-settled race relations."

"I could be describing Harper Lee'sTo Kill a Mockingbird, but I'm actually referring to Deborah Wiles' Revolution, during which 12-year-old Sunny Fairchild recalls the summer of 1964, when her town of Greenwood became the epicenter of efforts to register Mississippi's long-disenfranchised black population so that it could vote for change.

And Christi Clancy reviews Emma Straub's change-of-pace novel, The Vacationers. "Straub's prose is bright and breezy, and her vivid, sensual depictions of Mallorca offer a pleasant escape. "The Vacationers" makes for good, light vacation reading, albeit with a reminder of the personal baggage we can't help but bring when we try to get away..." She has some quibbles, but hey, it's vacation reading!

And finally, here's the Journal Sentinel's summer reading preview. 96 books! I'm going to read 96 books. Read, read, read, read. OK, I am hit with a memory of listening to a 45 (that's a vinyl single, kids) by ? and the Mysterians that I inherited from my older sister, most likely the Arizona one, not the Massachusetts one I'm with today.

I think the 96 books are going to be featured in a different blog post this week. This one is already too long, and I'm due to have lunch with my mom.

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