Sunday, June 15, 2014

Tales From an Oh-so-Weekly Bestseller List: Boswell Books Recap for Week Ending June 14, 2014

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Jacob's Oath, by Martin Fletcher
2. Written in my Own Heart's Blood, by Diana Gabaldon
3. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
4. Mr. Mercedes, by Stephen King
5. No Book but the World, by Leah Hager Cohen
6. China Dolls, by Lisa See
7. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
8. Midnight in Europe, by Alan Furst
9. Shotgun Lovesongs, by Nickolas Butler
10. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin

You may wonder if Martin Fletcher was just in Milwaukee. He was indeed, only not this past week, talking about his newest novel, Jacob's Oath. Some offsites, like Fletcher's at the JCC, take a bit of time to be registered. Most of the  other titles in the top 10 are either former events or were already mentioned in our new-on-Tuesday post. The exception is Diana Gabaldon's Written in My Own Heart's Blood. Sharon reminded me that the Outlander series is about to debut on Starz network, on August 9. The Christian Science Monitor has a profile of Gabaldon by Molly Driscoll. And no, this is not the last Outlander novel, despite the five-year wait between volumes.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The New Persian Kitchen, by Louisa Shafia
2. Hard Choices, by Hillary Rodham Clinton
3. The Making of Milwaukee, by John Gurda
4. Capital in the Twenty-First Century, by Thomas Piketty
5. David and Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell
6. A Fighting Chance, by Elizabeth Warren
7. Shakespeare Insult Generator, by Barry Kraft
8. The Novel, by Michael Schmidt
9. Plenty, by Yotam Ottoleghi
10. Sons of Wichita, by Daniel Schulman

I think the only book that hasn't been mentioned in the blog to date is the Shakespeare Insult Generator: Mix and Match More than 150,000 Insults in the Bard's Own Words . We're sort of between Shakespeare promotions, having just hosted Christopher Moore for The Serpent of Venice, and being still in the planning station's for Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven, which has several elements of the Bard running throughout this post-apocalyptic story. September 22! September 22!

Speaking of generators, Time Magazine was inspired to create a "Political Memoir Title Generator," based on the release of Hillary Clinton's just released Hard Choices Plug in your own name and find out what yours would be. Mine turned out to be Audacious Gumption. I'll let you know it's release date when I find out. Also after I write it. Also after I'm involved with politics.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Apart at the Seams, by Marie Bostwick
2. The List, by Martin Fletcher
3. Saving Kandinsky, by Mary "Peetie" Basson
4. The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, by Joël Dicker
5. A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki
6. The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer
7. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
8. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
9. And Sons, by David Gilbert
10. The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion

Our event with Graeme Simsion for The Rosie Project is this Wednesday, June 18, 7 pm. I was chatting with my sisters, both on their way to China, with an emergency. Claudia wanted one more book for the trip and had her heart set on The Rosie Project. "It's the one with all the different jackets," she noted. "Oops, those were all the different jackets from versions around the world. Look for the yellow one." We finally found it (I felt like I was also on the quest, as I stayed on the line) at the second bookstore at the San Francisco airport. This jacket thing can get confusing. One of our local news organs occasionally pulls jackets from the we that aren't don't match the current American format (no, not the Journal Sentinel!), and I noticed that this writeup of Graeme Simsion for his Tuesday event has one of the foreign jackets pictured. I can't complain; I like this one too.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
2. Studying Wisconsin, by Martha Bergland and Paul G. Hayes
3. Walking Israel, by Martin Fletcher
4. The Woman Behind the New Deal, by Kirsten Downey
5. The Widows' Handbook, edited by Jacqueline Lapidus
6. Lawrence in Arabia, by Scott Anderson
7. Dear Mrs. Griggs, by Genevieve McBride and Stephen Byers
8. Orange is the New Black, by Piper Kerman
9. Those Angry Days, by Lynne Olson
10. Dad is Fat, by Jim Gaffigan

It's rare that history or biography pop onto our nonfiction paperback list without having a run on the hardcover side, but I really don't remember Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941 popping onto our list in cloth. We wound up a decent amount in hardcover, with the oddity that our best month was August, though the book was released in March. The paperback has a local book club reading it. Jordan Michael Smith in The Boston Globe counterpoints Those Angry Days against Philip Roth's fictional The Plot Against America, noting that "no fictional characters are included, and none are needed. Schlesinger was a man who saw the violent political debates surrounding McCarthyism and the Vietnam War, but he called the quarrels from 1939 to 1941 the worst he ever saw."

Books for Kids:
1. Tales from a Not-so-Glam TV Star V7, by Rachel Renée Russell, Erin Russell, and Nikki Russell
2. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
3. OMG: All About me Diary, by Rachel Renée Russell
4. Tales from a Not-so-Fabulous Life V1, by Rachel Renée Russell
5. Tales from a Not-so-Happy Heartbreaker V6, by Rachel Renée Russell
6. Tales from a Not-so-Popular Party Girl V2, by Rachel Renée Russell
7. How to Dork Your Diary V3.5, by Rachel Renée Russell
8. Tales from a Not-so-Graceful Ice Princess V4, by Rachel Renée Russell
9. Tales from a Not-so-Smart Miss Know it All V5, by Rachel Renée Russell
10. Where's Waldo: The Totally Essential Travel Collection, by Martin Handford

So you're probably wondering why the first Dork Diaries diary had a volume number (3 and a half) while the second one did not. The Russells told me that the volume did not register well on web searches, so they decided to leave it out of OMG: All About Me Diary. I still call it 6.5 unofficially. I think we can officially say that the Greenfield Public Library/Boswell event was the longest Dork signing ever, running close to five hours --four hours, 45 minutes, as the first 15 minutes was a presentation by the Russells. We learned how the first books were penned by Rachel Renée Russell, while the newer books came to be co-written by Erin and illustrated by Nikki. Thanks to everyone for helping make this happy, particularly our rockin' librarians.

The Journal Sentinel celebrates the 100th anniversary of Dubliners today, and recommends the new Graphics Deluxe edition with an intro by Colum McCann. Mike Fischer writes "Joyce never comes right out and tells us that things are as bad as my account suggests; Dubliners refuses to tip its hand by ever preaching or telling us what to feel. Packed with telling details and earthy dialogue, these stories are naturalistic and spare, reflecting a scrupulously maintained control."

Also as part of the Bloomsday celebration, Jim Higgins reviews The Sixteenth of June, a novel by Maya Lang where the action is also confined to a single day. Leopold, Nora and Stephen get together for a funeral and then have a Bloomsday party. Higgins has a link to other Circadian novels, which he put together in 2010. Plus there's Kevin Birmingham's The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses, which "recounts the stormy legal history of the book, including an obscenity trial in 1933."

From Jim Higgins in the Journal Sentinel, we get a review of Dance of Death: The Life of John Fahey, American Guitarist, by Steve Lowenthal. Higgins observes that "out of elements of classical, country, folk and blues, Fahey (1939-2001) wove a style of acoustic guitar playing that he dubbed 'American primitive'; my former guitar teacher John Stropes and other scholars refer to it as finger-style guitar. Fahey played a bass line with his thumb (that big E that Kottke talked about it) while spinning a melody with his other fingers."

Back to Mike Fischer for a review of Dave Eggers' Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?. Eggers felt the wrath of Michiko Kakutani for this one in The New York Times, but Fischer in The Journal Sentinel sees the logic in the structure and the ideas in the writing. He writes: "As is always true with Eggers, those ideas--laid out here in quasi-Socratic dialogue--are inherently interesting. I can think of few contemporary American writers who convey such a sense of urgency about the mess we're in--or how important it is that we, like the Israelites surrounding Zechariah, resurrect the once-glorious Temple."

In the print edition only is a profile of Emily Giffin from Jill Vejinoska (from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, which is memoirs only for viewing book reviews), whose newest is about Shea Rigsby, who works in the sports information department of a Texas College. The One and Only has blurbs from former NBA Hall of Famer Ralph Sampson and current coaching great Jim Boeheim. Next time you run into them, ask them about that big twist in chapter four and see what they thought.

Next week is Summerfest Preview week, which means no book section, which might partly explain why this week's paper is a cornucopia of literary delights. The final book-releated piece is on our upcoming panel with regional fantasy favorites Mary Robinette Kowall and Katherine Addison, whom you also might know as Sarah Monette. Our event is Sunday, June 22, 3 pm. These are two of of Higgins' favorite writers, which is why we chased them down to do this together, particularly since we had such a great time with Kowal last year. And for a little tidbit on why Monette became Addison in Notes from the Labyrinth.

Monette's first novel as Katherine Addison is The Goblin Emperor. Mary Robinette Kowal's newest is Valour and Vanity.

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