Sunday, July 6, 2014

Boswell Sunday Bestsellers, Week Ending July 5, 2014: Galbraith and Barrett and Chast and Benson and Grove, Plus the Journal Sentinel Reviews.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Silkworm, by Robert Galbraith
2. Midnight in Europe, by Alan Furst
3. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
4. The Care and Management of Lies, by Jacqueline Winspear
5. The Vacationers, by Emma Straub

First of all, I should note that The Silkworm is greatly outsold the rest of our hardcover fiction this week. It's clear that the Hachette-Amazon controversy is driving purchasers to independent bookstores, at least for this book. 

From Madison, Wisconsin-based Bobbi Dumas, reviewing The Care and Management of Lies on NPR: It's clear that Winspear is fascinated by the ambiguities of war--and specifically World War I, so I was eager to pick up her new stand-alone novel commemorating the 100th anniversary of the war's beginning. And what Winspear does, brilliantly and poignantly, in The Care and Management of Lies, is to bring home the enormity of the war by making it personal through the intertwined experiences of four people."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant, by Roz Chast
2. Old Man Drinks, by Robert Schnakenberg
3. Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book, by Diane Muldrow
4. Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand
5. Milwaukee: Then and Now, by Sandra Ackerman (event 7/29, MPL)

From Emma Brockes in The Guardian comes a profile of Roz Chast, author of Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? She writes: "Those who know and love Chast's work think of her as the queen of family angst, a brilliant chronicler of domestic strife, and the account of her parents' last year--as they move from the apartment, to hospital, to a care home in Connecticut--is an extraordinary record of the love, fury and ambivalence that often characterises these experiences."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Dissident Gardens, by Jonathan Lethem
2. Saving Kandinsky, by Mary "Peetie" Basson
3. The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert (ticketed event 7/9)
4. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
5. Archangel, by Andrea Barrett

One book that had a nice pop on release is the paperback of Andrea Barrett's Archangel. In The New York Times review from Janet Maslin when the hardcover was published, she felt the story "The Island" really stood out. "Altogether, 'The Island' is a testament to cutting-edge scientific thought in the face of strong resistance. And Ms. Barrett has the backbone to stage such challenges credibly and compellingly. Her stories work as both fiction and as philosophy of science. And she need do no grandstanding to advance her belief in unstoppable progress. But this book does offer a powerfully human sense of the struggle it takes for new ideas to dislodge old ones

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Vodka Shot, Pickle Chaser, by David Kalis
2. Going Somewhere, by Brian Benson (event 7/24)
3. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
4. Everything that Remains, by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus
5. Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris

One nice thing about scheduling events with some lead time is that get the chance to display them and use the store to get the word out. There are four upcoming events that hit our bestseller list this week. Joshua Millburn's memoir Everything that Remains (with commentary by Ryan Nicodemus) is from their publishing operation Asymmmetrical Press. Boswellian Mel Morrow called the book "powerful and inspiring" and it seems to be touching a nerve with our customers as well. When we reordered the book the first time, we also noticed the cover had changed. Originally it was all type, but now it has the author photos on it.

 Regarding Brian Benson's Going Somewhere, it somewhat fortuitous that a bicycle book event comes along almost every summer, which becomes the focus of a display table, being that we are also usually promoting the Downer Classic. Here's a photo of our bike race ad.

Books for Kids:
1. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
2. Divergent, by Veronica Roth
3. The Glass Sentence, by S.E. Grove
4. An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green
5. The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

The Glass Sentence is continuing to win raves. Here's a review from Chelsea Philpot in the Boston Globe. "Grove’s protagonists are compelling, and she enriches her story by introducing fascinating secondary characters. A brother-sister pirate team and an eccentric royal botanist, in particular, deliver humor. In contrast, the Nihilismians, people who believe the current world isn’t real, and Lachrima, creatures who constantly weep because during the Great Disruption they 'fell into a great chasm of time,' bring darkness and horror."

In the Journal Sentinel, Mike Fischer reviews Mambo in Chinatown, by Jean Kwok, the story of a Chinese-American girl who becomes a successful dancer. He likes the story inside of the immigrant experience, but not so much the rags-to-riches-and-romance story that drives the plot.

From Jim Higgins, his review is of Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, the new novel from Chris Bohjalian. The protagonist is troubled runaway teenager, and while this is by no means a young adult novel, Higgins thinks that John Green readers would enjoy this sobering, but also awesome story.

From Colette Bancroft is a review of Liberty's Torch: The Great Adventures to Build the Statue of Liberty, first appearing in the Tampa Bay Times. Her take is that the book gives us new understanding of how the Statue of Liberty came to be.

And finally, Tish Wells from the McClatchy News Service (we're linking to the Philadelphia Inquirer website) reviews William Shakespeare's The Jedi Doth Return, from Ian Doescher. It's an entertaining end to a Shakespeare-Star Wars mashup trilogy, and don't forget to read teh afterword, where Doescher explains how he made stylistic decisions--haiku vs. rhyming quatrains, anyone?

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