Sunday, August 3, 2014

Boswell's Sunday Bestseller Post, Week of August 2, 2014--Links, Asides, Newly Added Events, and The Journal Sentinel Book Page.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. California, by Edan Lepucki
2. Tigerman, by Nick Harkaway
3. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
4. The Book of Life, by Deborah Harkness (event 8/4)
5. The Silkworm, by Robert Galbraith
6. The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd
7. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
8. The Vacationers, by Emma Straub
9. The Stories of Jane Gardam, by Jane Gardam
10. Lucky Us, by Amy Bloom

Two non-Hachette books sneak into the top five. Nick Harkaway's debut, Tigerman, got some extra momentum from former Boswellian Hannah, who offered the Tigerman personality quiz and celebratory cupcakes on the day of release, while Harkness is still building momentum for her event tomorrow for The Book of Life, on August 4. Don't forget, it's free but we'll close doors when we reach capacity.

The Stories of Jane Gardam has been out for several months, and finally got the well-deserved review in The New York Times Book Review today. Christopher Benfrey writes: "Gardam’s sly and bighearted stories will give Americans another welcome opportunity to become familiar with her varied body of work. In their finely tuned mastery of Shorty Shenfold’s chosen form, but missing the nastiness, they should inspire a well-deserved double take."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Milwaukee Then and Now, by Sandra Ackerman
2. The Mockingbird Next Door, by Marja Mills (event just added, 9/4!)
3. Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant, by Roz Chast
4. Preparing the Ghost, by Matthew Gavin Frank
5. The Museum of Mysteries, by Elea Baucheron
6. David and Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell
7. The Elephant Company, by Vicki Croke
8. How Now to Be Wrong, by Jordan Ellenberg (event 8/19)
9. A Spy Among Friends, by Ben Macintrye
10. The Tastemakers, by David Sax

Our buyer Jason's instinct to feature Elea Baucheron's The Museum of Mysteries, was right on the money, with the book hitting this week's bestseller list. I asked him why we got the books relatively late, and it turned out he waited for the publisher's freight program to kick in. Those books are heavy!

Two return appearances on the bestseller list this week are now for upcoming events. Both Jordan Ellenberg, Madison mathematics professor, and Marja Mills, Chicago journalist who was also born in Madison, are coming to Boswell, Ellenberg for How Not to be Wrong on August 19 and Mills for The Mockingbird Next Door on September 4. Both books are also national bestsellers, and both events are free. How exciting! Now I just need to get Roz Chast to start following our bestseller lists.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Saving Kandinsky, by Mary Basson
2. The Illusion of Separateness, by Simon Van Booy (event 9/30)
3. A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki
4. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
5. The Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness (event 8/4)
6. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
7. Vampires in the Lemon Grove, by Karen Russell
8. The Cuckoo's Calling, by Robert Galbraith
9. The Valley of Amazement, by Amy Tan
10. Fear, by Gabriel Chevalier

I was just writing to some friends in Nashville about Mary Basson's Saving Kandinsky, as Pompidou-curated show moves there for the fall, after a very successful run in Milwaukee. Our two best-selling Kandinsky titles after Basson's novel is Barb Rosenstock's The Noisy Paint Box and Kandinsky's own Concerning the Spiritual in Art. The show continues here through August.

One book that has popped onto my radar is Gabriel Chevallier's Fear: A Novel of World War I, republished by NYRB Classics and translated by Malcolm Imrie. Thomas Kenneally wrote in The New York Times Book Review: "Chevallier’s narrative remains radioactive with pure terror, frightening in a way later accounts don’t quite manage. It’s hard to believe, given the powerful, almost American casualness of his voice, that this is its first American appearance. His tone is so inveigling and so amiable as he inducts us like witnesses into that great European madness with which the past century began, decades before most who will read this translation were born. It’s also hard to believe, once we’re deeply engaged with the book, that Chevallier is dealing with events that are nearly a hundred years in the past, deploying prose that’s almost as old. We are lucky his voice came through."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand
2. Cooked, by Michael Pollan
3. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
4. Pretty Good Joke Book, by Garrison Keillor
5. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou

The top 3 this week is pretty much what any bookseller would recommend to customers looking for lively nonfiction. The problem of course is what to offer when they've read these. This week I've tried a little Turn Right at Macchu Picchu, and a helping of The Girls of Atomic City. I always think of The Boys in the Boat as more of a World War II story, or maybe adventure, but we actually have it shelved in sports, a la Born to Run, and if truth be told, a lot of folks who came to our event were connected to crew, which makes me think that the initial audience for this book would have looked there to find it. It really doesn't matter now that it's on the front table, but eventually we'll probably have to argue that one out.

Books for Kids:
1. President Taft is Stuck in the Bath, by Mac Barnett (event 10/14 with Jon Klassen)
2. A World without Princes, by Soman Chainani
3. Wonder, by R.J. Palacio
4. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
5. The Noisy Paint Box, by Barb Rosenstock with illustrations by Mary GrandPre
6. The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers
7. Numberys, by William Joyce and Christina Ellis
8. Four: A Divergent Collection, by Veronic Roth
9. Graduation Day, by Joelle Charbonneau
10. The Glass Sentence, by S.E. Grove

The illustrations from President Taft is Stuck in a Bath are by Chris Van Dusen, but he's not part of our October 14 event. Maybe another time! Meanwhile, we had a nice pop for William Joyce and Chritina Ellis's Numberlys, the new picture book that tells of a world with no letters, only numbers. Needless to say, our five heroes have this feeling that something is missing from their lives and get to work solving it.

In the Journal Sentinel book pages, the featured story is an interview by Polly Drew, with recent visitor Katy Butler, author of Knocking on Heaven's Door. Drew writes: "Today most people state that they want to die at home but fewer than half do. Many of us will end our lives in a web of tubes and emotional wreckage that will be left for loved ones to untangle. Even those who enter hospice must be doctor-determined to have a life expectancy of less than six months. How did we go from dying with great attention paid to the actual passage to having one's death assigned to the artificial state of medical intervention?"

There's also a nice write-up about Roxane Gay's visit on Friday, August 8th for her essay collection, Bad Feminist.

Connie Ogle writes about the new novel from Jojo Moyes. "The delightful, comic One Plus One is as likable a book as you will come across this summer, light and funny, with surprisingly subtle commentary on how the income gap separates people emotionally as well as financially." This review originally appeared in the Miami Herald. Of course you know Moyes from her national (and Boswell) bestseller Me Before You.

From the Los Angeles Times, David Ulin is dazzled by the graphic novel, Lena Finkle's Magic Barrel, by Anya Ulrich. While some might compare the work to Marjane Satrapi and Harvey Pekar, Lena Finkle's Magic Barrel has no antecedents, that it transcends its influences so thoroughly it creates a form, a language, all its own."

And don't forget about the Journal Sentinel piece earlier this week about the Milwaukee County Zoo, written by Darlene Winter, Elizabeth Frank and Mary Kazmierczak. "While not a definitive history of the institution, Milwaukee County Zoo is a browsable look at a popular venue. Families who visit the zoo regularly may enjoy it as a virtual substitute on the days they can't visit, and as a starting point for discussions about the purpose and mission of zoos."

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