Sunday, October 12, 2014

Boswell's Annotated Bestsellers, Week Ending October 11, 2014, Plus the Journal Sentinel Reviews and Profiles.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Lila, by Marilynne Robinson
2. The Children Act, by Ian McEwan
3. The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters
4. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
5. Some Luck, by Jane Smiley
6. To Dwell in Darkness, by Deborah Crombie (event 10/15 at Boswell)
7. Wayfaring Stranger, by James Lee Burke
8. Deadline, by John Sandford
9. The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, by Hilary Mantel
10. A Sudden Light, by Garth Stein

While there were several high-profile releases this week, the strongest pop this week on the adult side was definitely for Marilynne Robinson's Lila. Our bookseller Anne writes: "A very moving story, told in a fascinating voice, one that challenges the reader to the same honesty." On whether she originally envisioned a series, she told Kevin Nance in the Chicago Tribune: "I really didn't. I always thought that sequels, or writing anything that looked like a sequel, was not anything I was interested in doing. But then these characters stayed so much on my mind. I don't think of it formally as a trilogy. I just think of it as an unfolding, as one big book rather than three books."

And if you haven't read the Boswellians interview with Sarah Waters, you can do so here.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Sense of Style, by Steven Pinker
2. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
3. How to Cook Everything Fast, by Mark Bittman
4. Not that Kind of Girl, by Lena Dunham
5. Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book, by Diane Muldrow
6. The Flavor Bible, by Karen Page
7. The Innovators, by Walter Isaacson
8. The America's Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook,  by editors of Cooks Illustrated
9. Rebel Yell, by S.C. Gwynne
10. Political Order and Political Decay, by Francis Fukuyama

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt bought the Wiley cookbook list in 2012; two years later, the star of that list has released How to Cook Everything Fast. Tim Carman in the Washington Post: "Here’s my quick takeaway from “Fast”: No matter how bumpy the ride may be, Bittman gets you there in the end. That caramelized cod? Tart, sweet and delicious. The Classic Breakfast Burritos that I spent 45 minutes preparing one early afternoon? Allow my food taster to answer: 'I don’t even like breakfast burritos,' she told me, 'and I love that.'”

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Christianity Without God, by Daniel Maguire
2. Coming of Age in El Salvador, by Jim Winship
3. Dear Mrs. Griggs, by Genevieve McBride and Stephen Byers
4. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
5. Milwaukee Rock and Roll, by Larry Widen
6. Zealot, by Reza Aslan
7. The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
8. The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, an American Legend, by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin
9. November's Fury: The Deadly Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913, by Michael Schumacher
10. Unlikely Heroes, by Jennifer Holland (alas, our event today is cancelled)

Thank you to the authors in our top three for their talks this week. But the book I'm featuring this week is Bob Drury and Tom Clavin's biography of Red Cloud in The Heart of Everything That Is. Renee Montaigne talked to the authors on Morning Edition about how Red Cloud was not born into the role of a great warrior: "A huge drawback that Red Cloud had was that his father died of alcoholism when Red Cloud was only five years old. And so that was a huge disadvantage, because with being a patriarchal society where you were able to advance thanks to your father's position and anything your father did that was of a heroic nature, Red Cloud had to go it on his own. He had to show that he was braver than everybody else, that he was stronger than everybody else."

Books for Kids:
1. Scrambled States of America, by Laurie Keller
2. The Bowling Alley Bandit, by Laurie Keller
3. Arnie the Doughnut, by Laurie Keller
4. Open Wide, by Laurie Keller
5. The Blood of Olympus, by Rick Riordan
6. The Invasion of the UFOnuts, by Laurie Keller
7. I Want my Hat Back, by Jon Klassen (event 10/14)
8. Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen (same)
9. The Dark, by Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen
10. This is not my Hat, by Jon Klassen
11. I am a Bunny, by Ole Risom and Richrad Scarry
12. The Young Elites, by Marie Lu
13. Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories, by Dr. Seuss
14. Sisters, by Raina Telgemeier
15. A Halloween Scare in Wisconsin, by Eric James and Marina La Ray

Hidden in our sales for the recent Laurie Keller visit our upcoming event with Jon Klassen and Mac Barnett is our biggest traditional sale of the week, for Rick Riordan's The Blood of Olympus. It's volume five of The Heroes of Olympus and boy were kids (and adults) chomping at the bit. My favorite was one young FOB (friend of Boswell), who came into the store after school, bought the book, and sat down and read for two hours. As you can from Riordan's calendar, his tour is pretty much sold out. Take that, Lena Dunham!

This week in the Journal Sentinel, Jon Gilbertson reviews Special Deluxe: A Memoir of Life and Cars. "He isn't kidding about the cars: he writes about seemingly every car his parents owned, then several cars he's owned, plus trucks and buses. He draws or traces 42 of them literally to illustrate his vehicular rhapsodies and lamentations."

From Carole E. Barrowman, a take on Deborah Crombie's newest, To Dwell in Darkness. She writes: "Along with her deeply compelling characters, Crombie's series puts place up front. London's architecture, its urban bricks and mortar, are the landscapes of her books." She's got some problems with the plot turns on this one, but "Crombie's center holds. Her characters and the places they inhabit are enough for me." As we've noted above, Deborah Crombie will be at Boswell on Wednesday, October 15, 7 pm.

In the print editon, the Journal Sentinel features the Laurie Hertzel profile of Maureen Corrigan, So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures which was originally published in the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune. On her reading Gatsby fifty times: "Well, The Great Gatsby is short, after all! I try to get up early — 5 a.m., sometimes 4 a.m. — to have that golden time of uninterrupted reading. I love what I do and most people can’t say that about their jobs. I frequently think about my mother’s mother, who was a Polish immigrant and cleaned houses and offices day and night for most of her working life. I’m lucky that I get to read for a living."

For those who love profiles (like me), the Journal Sentinel also reprinted the Los Angeles Times from Carolyn Kellogg of John Darnielle, author of Wolf in White Van. You might know Mr. Darnielle from his band, The Mountain Goats. On the difference between book and music performance: "The book-tour shows have been ridiculously well-attended and really fun. I've done three so far and they've been spectacular. The music we [the Mountain Goats] play, there's a real cathartic release. We get up there and turn the energy and the volume up, and the idea is to push ourselves and everyone else in the room through a bottleneck with us. It's an exciting release. Our shows are like dance parties – not everybody dances, but you spend a lot of energy, leave a lot of it in the room. Readings are more like weaving a tapestry. Possibly people are getting a cathartic release – but music is physical. Music pummels you. It's got a beat, it's loud. Whereas this is more cerebral."

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