Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Sunday Bestseller Recap of Boswell Book Company for the Week ending June 28, 2014.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. In Liberty's Name, by Eva Rumpf
2. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
3. The Silkworm, by J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith
4. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
5. The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison

I have mentioned in the past that sometimes it takes some time to process offsite sales. Eva Rumpf appeared at a fundraiser for Youthaiti and we've finally processed the sales of In Liberty's Name. You'll also see that David Sheff appeared at Serb Hall for an event with St. Charles Youth and Family Services.

Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See continues to get strong reviews. Christine Pivovar notes in the Kansas City Star that this is a war novel without letting the usual war-is-ugly sentiment overpower  the narrative.  "Every incident and detail seems tailor-made for this sense of the world as both magical and cruel, fated and random, and speaks to one of the book’s central tensions: Can legends be true, or are our circumstances merely controlled by chance? Can we believe in the happy ending while the city is being demolished around us?"

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. World War 3 Illustrated: 1979-2014, edited by Peter Kuper
2. The Bully Pulpit, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
3. Jerusalem, by Yottam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
4. The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses, by Kevin Birmingham
5. The Making of Milwaukee, by John Gurda

Two week's ago's Journal Sentinel review topic is this week's bestseller. Kevin Birmingham, a lecturer in history and literature at Harvard, chronicles, as Louis Menaud puts it, "how modernism brought down the regime of censorship" in The Most Dangerous Book. In this review in the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune, Patricia Hagen calls the work "an engaging, fast-paced read about a time when literature mattered deeply" though she does claim that Mr. Birmingham's facts are sometimes wrong. I'll leave the two of them to argue this out.

Paperback Fiction
1. The Dog Year, by Ann Garvin
2. Saving Kandinsky, by Mary Basson
3. The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer
4. The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert (event is 7/9)
5. My Struggle, volume one, by Karl Ove Knausgaard

 It's only ten days to our event with Elizabeth Gilbert in conversation with Lake Effect's Bonnie North (co-sponsored by WUWM) for The Signature of All Things, and needless to say, I'm obsessing a bit over it. While the publisher knows that being the author of Eat Pray Love is a strong calling card, I think the cover treatment is meant to recall recent novels from Barbara Kingsolver and Ann Patchett. It was Kingsolver herself who reviewed the book in the Sunday New York Times. She wrote: "The prose is modern and accessible, leaning on plot rather than language to draw readers in. Gilbert has established herself as a straight-up storyteller who dares us into adventures of worldly discovery, and this novel stands as a winning next act. The Signature of All Things is a bracing homage to the many natures of genius and the inevitable progress of ideas, in a world that reveals its best truths to the uncommonly patient minds." Buy tickets here!

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Clean, by David Sheff
2. Beautiful Boy, by David Sheff
3. Knocking on Heaven's Door, by Katy Butler
4. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
5.  Studying Wisconsin, by Martha Bergland and Paul Hayes

Our top five nonfiction titles is a post-event sweep, with three, four, and five continuing their momentum week's after the authors appeared. For the week ending July 6, The Boys in the Boat is #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List, one of eight authors in the nonfiction top 20 who appeared at Boswell for their most recent books. In addition to Brown there is Malcolm Gladwell, David Sedaris, Jeannette Walls, Eben Alexander, Cheryl Strayed, Rebecca Skloot, and Jim Gaffigan. That's a cool statistic, no? 

Books for Kids:
1 The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
2. Wonder, by R.J. Palacio
3. Paper Towns, by John Green
4. The Pilot and the Little Prince, by Peter Sís
5. The Glass Sentence, by S.E. Grove

Here's our buyer Amie Mechler-Hickson's recommendation of The Glass Sentence, which is one of the reasons why the book has now been on our bestseller list for two weeks: "The whole world has gone through the Great Disruption, with different geographical areas shifted into varying time periods, prehistoric to the far future. Almost one hundred years after the Great Disruption we meet Sophia, who is living with her Uncle Shadrack, a master cartologer. When her Uncle is kidnapped, seemingly for his knowledge, she and her friend Theo set off on a dangerous and amazing adventure to rescue him and find out secrets of the time rift. A bit of magic, mystery, adventure, through a wonderfully crafted world-this is one of my favorite books this year."

The featured book review in the Journal Sentinel's book page in the Tap section is Mike Fischer's take on Song of the Shank, the Jeffery Renard Allen novel whose event timing was already documented here, and by documented, I mean "wish it happened when the book was officially released but when it comes to an author of that talent, I'd probably say yes to a 2 AM reading." Fischer writes "In Jeffery Renard Allen's phenomenal, difficult, exhilarating, exhausting, glorious and unforgettable Song of the Shank--a Faulknerian tour-de-force in which Tom's history is continually bent, heightened and remade--the prodigy's prowess knows no bounds."

Fischer ends with a warning, but even that turns out to be high praise: "I no more understood all Tom is trying to say than do those around him. And there were many times in this book--which makes frequent and abrupt shifts in time and voice--where I lost my bearings. Which meant I was right at home, in a novel that foregrounds how our blinders thwart our ability to read the world." I think we still have some signed first editions. They may be paperback, but the paper quality is that of a literary hardcover. Just sayin'.

Also featured is Valerie Miner's review of China Dolls, first published in the Los Angeles Times. Miner notes "See brings together considerable research skill with vivid scene setting to depict the paradoxical world of Asian women performing for mostly White audiences." My link is to the Portland Press Herald, as I think of the town as Milwaukee's now hipster cousin who once wore braces and orthopedic shoes. Where do you think Portland's suburb Milwaukie comes from, anyway?

From the Tampa Bay Times, Colette Bancroft notes that while "The Cuckoo's Calling was very good crime fiction; The Silkworm is even better. There's a real sense of Rowling enjoying herself, and that might well be a result of its setting: London's publishing world, which she satirizes gleefully."

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