Sunday, January 18, 2015

What's Selling at One Little Corner of Milwuakee? Boswell's Annotated Bestseller Lists for the Week Ending January 17, 2015.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
2. The First Bad Man, by Miranda July
3. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
4. Lila, by Marilynne Robinson
5. Honeydew, by Edith Pearlman
6. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
7. Lydia's Party, by Margaret Hawkins (event for paperback 1/28)
8. Redeployment, by Phil Klay
9. The Bishop's Wife, by Ivie Mette Harrison
10. Outline, by Rachel Cusk

Hooray for new blood! While Anthony Doerr continues to dominate fiction (he's #1 on The New York Times as well), a bunch of January releases dominate the list, starting with another Scribner release, The First Bad Man, from Miranda July. The actress/filmmaker hasn't had a book since her successful short story collection (which I loved, but that was back when I read a lot) No One Belongs Here More Than You. Read this Portland Oregonian review/profile which says the book celebrates her "Portland stripper days."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Digital Destiny, by Shawn Dubravac
2. Moving the Needle, by Joe Sweeney
3. The Kindness Diaries, by Leon Logothetis
4. Is There Life After Football, by James Holstein, Richard Jones and George Koonce, Jr.
5. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
6. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
7. Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant, by Roz Chast
8. How to Tie a Scarf, from Potter Style
9. America's Bitter Pill, by Steven Brill
10. The Keillor Reader, by Garrison Keillor

Events dominate the list (with a corporate order for the new Dubravac) with many 2013 favorites taking up the second half of the list. I am fascinated to still see nice movement for The Keillor Reader as I thought our resurgence of signed copies was more of a gift thing (we still have a few left). I am also fascinated by the pop for How to Tie a Scarf on our impulse table, which started at the holidays and continues into January. It's so old-school Crown, the kind of book they would have published way back when they were an independent publisher. Of course I can't remember any examples, but maybe they will come to me later.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Istanbul Passage, by Joseph Kanon (event 3/11)
2. Doc, by Mary Doria Russell (event 3/5)
3. The Illusion of Separateness, by Simon Van Booy
4. Mount, by Carol Emshwiller
5. The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion
6. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
7. The Hollow Land, by Jane Gardam
8. The Resurrection of Tess Blessing, by Lesley Kagen (event 1/19)
9. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin
10. The Undertaking of Tess, by Lesley Kagen (see above)

Periodically Anne and I will pick upcoming author's books for book club discussion and you can see why, as the books are our top sellers this week. Joseph Kanon is coming for Leaving Berlin; the mystery group discusses Istanbul Passage on 2/23. Mary Doria Russell is coming for Epitaph; the in-store lit group discusses Doc on February 2. Now we just have to get a great science fiction for Jason so his group can discuss a backlist title.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Sundown, by Judith Harway
2. The Boys on the Porch, by June Nilssen Eastvold
3. Riverwest, by Tom Tolan
4. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
5. Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
6. How to Sit, by Thich Nhat Hanh
7. Danubia, by Simon Winder
8. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett
9. Networking is a Contact Sport, by Joe Sweeney
10. A Little History of Literature, by John Sutherland

Hey, I wasn't even paying attention to John Sutherland's A Little History of Literature, which I read in hardcover. Here's an amusing column from Malcolm Forbes in The Daily Beast, who notes that Sutherland argues that "Luxembourg, Monaco, and even the multi-national European Union would be unable to create epic literature." The United States is also missing its great epic, perhaps having come to the table to late in the age of literature. I read Sutherland's book too long ago to remember his string of reasoning; you'll have to find out for yourself.

Books for Kids:
1. The Hollow Earth, by John and Carole E. Barrowman
2. The Bone Quill, by John and Carole E. Barrowman
3. Looking for Alaska, tenth anniversary edition, by John Green
4. The Boy in the Black Suit, by Jason Reynolds (event 4/13 at East Library)
5. Once Upon an Alphabet, by Oliver Jeffers
6. Before After, by Mathias Arégui and Anne-Margot Ramstein
7. All the Right Places, by Jennifer Niven
8. A Perfectly Messed-up Story, by Patrick McDonnell
9. Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms, by Katherine RUndell
10. Diary of a Wimpy Kid V9: The Long Haul, by Jeff Kinney

Yes, you're probably wondering where is The Book of Beasts, the third volume in the Hollow Earth series, which came out in the UK last summer. I've been told that it's scheduled for this summer. And I should also note that it's another upcoming event book that we are reading for in-store lit group. We've never read a young-adult novel, so we're going with The Boy in the Black Suit for March 2 (7 pm), with the event following on April 13, this time at the new East Library.

In the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins reviews the new story collection by Megan Mayhem Bergman. He writes: "The title she chose, Almost Famous Women, correctly describes the Q score of the historical figures in her book. But Bergman fictionalizes their lives — often as seen by a sister, admirer or lover — as too wild and too intense to be forgotten. The stories revolve around such folks as Daisy and Violet Hilton, Butterfly McQueen, and Joe Carstairs.

Speaking of Carole Barrowman (and we were, as her books were on our kids' bestseller list), her new mystery column is out. This month's featured titles:
--The Unquiet Dead, by Ausma Zehana Khan, the first in a series of novels about two Muslim detectives in Canada investigating a war criminal. This is definitely Barrowman's pick for the month. It's "exceptional."
--The Bishop's Wife, by Mette Ivie Harrison, a novel about Sister Wallheim, who is indeed the mother of five and wife of an LDS bishop.
--The Devil You Know, by Elisabeth de Mariaffi, is about a rookie journalist with panic attacks charged with investigating the disappearance of some young girls.

And Chris Foran reviews Driving the King, the new novel from Ravi Howard, the author of Like Trees, Walking. Set in 1945 Birmingham, the story's jumping-off point is when Nat King Cole is attacked by a group of White men onstage and Nat Weary, the man who stops the assault. Foran writes: " In an easygoing style, with Weary as his guide, Howard pokes into under-viewed corners of the fight (for civil rights) while never losing sight of the humanity of both the cause and its effects."

Plus, a piece from the Associated Press about Haruki Murakami's website, Mr. Murakami's Place, where he is taking questions through January 31. Only one caveat: it's in Japanese. Get out your translator app!

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