Sunday, May 24, 2015

Boswell's Bright-Eyed Bestsellers for the Week Ending May 23, 2015: Here's What Our Customers Are Reading with Bonus Journal Sentinel Book Review Links.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. I Regret Nothing, by Jen Lancaster (signed copies available)
2. The Road to Character, by David Brooks
3. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
4. H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald
5. The Horror of it All, by Adam Rockoff
6. Earth, 2nd edition, from DK Publishing
7. Hold Still, by Sally Mann
8. Missoula, by Jon Krakauer
9. Milwaukee Wisconsin: A Photographic Portrait, by Anne Bingham
10. Small Victories, by Anne Lamott

Sally Mann continues to wow with her memoir, Hold Still. This profile from Maria Browning in the Knoxville News Sentinel offers lots of insight: "Hold Still is structured around a literal excavation of the past in the form of ancient boxes of family photographs and keepsakes. These artifacts serve to anchor the narrative, which covers the lives of Mann's parents and a couple of generations of their antecedents, as well as Mann's own story from infancy onward. Many of the photos and letters are reproduced and embedded in the text, accounting for a sizeable number of the 400-plus images in Hold Still."

Hardcover Fiction:
1. There's a Man with a Gun Over There, by R.M. Ryan
2. A God in Ruins, by Kate Atkinson
3. Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson (ticket link for Fri Jun 5)
4. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
5. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
6. Death at Gill's Rock, by Patricia Skalka (Event with James DeVita on Sun Jun 14, 3 pm)
7 The Green Road, by Anne Enright
8. The Book of Aron, by Jim Shepard (event Thu Jun 18, 7 pm)
9. The Bone Tree, by Greg Iles
10. The Scarlet Gospels, by Clive Barker

We were just having a conversation about the storied tradition of popular horror writing (may have been inspired by our visit from Adam Rockoff, author of The Horror of It All) and how publishers see the genre name as a dirty word. Much like mystery writers are rebranded as fiction so that mass merchants will buy the book, and romance writers, when they break out, shed their genre origins, horror is likewise de-genred, or sometimes renamed dark fantasy. And then I see the quote from Quentin Tarantino, for Clive Barker's The Scarlet Gospels which reads "To call Clive Barker a 'horror novelist' would be like calling the Beatles a 'garage band'" and I understand the effort to push the qualifier away. But whatever you call it, Barker has a dark vision of the world that seems in accordance with the traditions. For those who love Barker, or should, here's a very revealing interview with him by Sean T. Collins in Grantland.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
2. Essential, by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus
3. The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert
4. Elephant Company, by Vicki Croke
5. A Spy Among Friends, by Ben Macintyre
6. The Art of War Visualized, by Jessica Hagy
7. At the Table, by Elizabeth Crawford
8. David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
9. So We Read On, by Maureen Corrigan
10. Sundown, by Judith Harway

So were just thinking we needed to order more books from the Minimalists, having had a wonderful event with them last year, and with their books continuing to sell after the event, and when contacted, they said, hey, you need to carry our new book too, which is why Essential is #2 on our bestseller list this week. Alas, the title is wrong on our website (I've asked Ingram to update the feed) but the basic idea is that it's their best essays collected.

Another paperback pop is Ben Macintyre's A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal. The book did very well in hardcover, thanks in part to great reviews, like this Washington Post review from David Ignatius. The columnist writes "Philby emerges from “A Spy Among Friends” as a supremely perverse antihero, remarkable for his sheer guts and tenacity in concealing for more than 30 years his treason against his country and class. He was arguably the most gifted liar in intelligence history, a man who, despite what sounds like almost constant drunkenness, never really cracked, even as the evidence against him became overwhelming."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Almost Crimson, by Dasha Kelly (signed copies available)
2. Euphoria, by Lily King (open book club discussion at Boswell, Mon Jun 1, 7 pm)
3. The Red Notebook, by Antoine Laurain
4. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
5. The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd
6. Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng
7. Delicious, by Ruth Reichl
8. Lydia's Party, by Margaret Hawkins
9. Shotbun Lovesongs, by Nickolas Butler
10. Dry Bones in the Valley, by Tom Bouman

It never gets old pointing out how many of our bestsellers are former event authors. In the case of this week's fiction, we're at 6 of the top ten (and I should note, the same was the case for the nonfiction list above). The holdouts are Donna Tartt, Celeste Ng, Ruth Reichl, and Tom Bouman. Of course several authors came for previous books--Lily King was at Boswell for Father of the Rain, a wonderful novel that also won the New England Book Award for Fiction.

Speaking of awards, Dry Bones in the Valley won the Best First Novel Edgar but it's sustained sales at Boswell are much do to Anne McMahon's enthusiasm: "The sense of place is strong and wonderful. Bouman's characters are like people we might know--at once simple and complicated--as they struggle to cope without side influences that are changing a rural way of life which has existed for generations in northeastern Pennsylvania. "

Books for Kids:
1. Nerd Camp, by Elissa Brent Weissman
2. Nerd Camp 2.0, by Elissa Brent Weissman
3. Short Seller, by Elissa Brent Weissman
4. Standing for Socks, by Elissa Brent Weissman
5. Pete the Cat's Groovy Guide to Life, by James Dean
6. Cosmoe's Wiener Getaway, by Max Brallier
7. Oh, the Places You'll Go, by Dr. Seuss
8. I don't Like Koala, by Sean Ferrell
9. Listen, Slowly, by Thanhhà Lai
10. Ms. Rapscott's Girls, by Elise Primavera

Did you catch from our bestseller list that Elissa Brent Weissman was in Milwaukee, appearing at a local school? And while Elisa Primavera wasn't in town, Amie was showing me her beautiful note after meeting the author of Ms. Rapscott's Girls. The book is on the Kids' Indie Next list for Spring 2015. Here's Jessica Sweedler DeHart's recommendation from Bookpeople of Moscow, Idaho: "Finally, a book that pokes hilarious fun at the results of busy parents everywhere! Nestled inside a lighthouse, Great Rapscott School for the Daughters of Busy Parents is the perfect destination for readers who adore Amelia Bedelia, Mary Poppins, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Roald Dahl, and Pippi Longstocking. All will appreciate the irresistibly feisty spirit evident throughout this book which is sure to charm.”

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins reviews Michael Perry's first novel for adults, The Jesus Cow, a frenetic tale about a small town in Wisconsin where a cow is born with the image of Christ noticeably depicted on the animal's skin. He writes: In the midst of this comedy, Perry does at least two serious things very well: He chronicles daily life in rural Wisconsin communities, and he writes knowledgeably and respectfully about the ways ordinary people experience, practice and question religious faith. The latter is not always easy to find in mainstream American fiction." The Journal Sentinel notes that Perry will be at Books and Company in Oconomoowoc on Thursday, June 11 (solo) and at Boswell along with Dean Bakopoulos, author of Summerlong, on Friday, June 19.

Mike Fischer reviews Kent Haruf's last novel, Our Souls at Night. He begins: "Set in 2014 in Holt — the small, fictional town on the eastern Colorado plains where most of Haruf's stories unfold — Our Souls at Night reads like a coda to Benediction, which revolves around...the dying owner of a hardware store looking back over his life." The theme, per Fischer, is "no matter how old we are, we always have the chance to begin anew." We have several fans on staff for this one; Jannis Mindel writes "This is a beautiful meditation on companionship, love, death and family. What a gift Kent Haruf has left us in this final posthumous novel! "

And finally, here's Gina Barton, criminal justice reporter at the Journal Sentinel, who won a Polk award for her coverage of Derek Williams. She reviews Jill Leovy's Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America. Here's a taste of her review: "Jill Leovy's Ghettoside is about homicide in the inner city of Los Angeles, but it could just as easily be about Milwaukee or any number of other American cities. Leovy, a police reporter at the Los Angeles Times, embedded with homicide detectives in one of the city's toughest neighborhoods and got to know the people whose lives are affected by murders there. In the vein of David Simon, longtime Baltimore police reporter and creator of The Wire, Leovy paints nuanced portraits of cops and victims, witnesses and perpetrators."

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