Sunday, July 12, 2015

Boswell Bestsellers for the Week Ending July 11, 2015, with Annotations, Links, and This Week's Journal Sentinel Book Page.

It's another week of summer bestsellers. Upcoming events are flagged; all our at Boswell unless otherwise noted.

Hardcover Fiction
1. The English Spy, by Daniel Silva
2. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
3. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
4. In the Unlikely Event, by Judy Blume
5. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
6. Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf
7. A God in Ruins, by Kate Atkinson
8. The Dream Lover, by Elizabeth Berg
9. The Book of Speculation, by Erika Swyler
10. Uprooted, by Naomi Novik

Another book about a bookseller has taken off at Boswell. Helped along by a lot of press, good word of mouth, and Boswellian Jane Glaser's rec (which we included in this week's email newsletter), The Little Paris Bookshop had a very nice pop in sale. She reminds us that "C'est le livre pour les amateurs de livres!"

Another rec that was helped along by the email newsletter is Erika Swyler's The Book of Speculation. It's about a librarian who receives an old book which prophesies the death of women in his family from drowning, and his mom did this very thing. Now it's coming close to the anniversary and concern rises for his runaway sister, who is now working at a carnival. Boswellian Jen Steele writes: "The Book of Speculation is mysterious, dark, magical and very hard to put down!" And yes, we're do for a librarian hero table.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari
2. The Road to Character, by David Brooks
3. H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald
4. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
5. Palm Springs Modern Living, by James Schnepf (event Thu 8/27, 7 pm)
6. Believer, by David Axelrod
7. Hold Still, by Sally Mann
8. The Wright Brother, by David MCullough
9. The Crossroads of Should and Must, by Elle Luna
10. Maurice Sendak, by Justin Schiller (Sendak exhibit at MPL)

Elle Luna's The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion has a good week this week, despite the likely intention of being published for the graduation table. Author Elle Luna is profiled in The Miami Herald by Connie Ogle, where the author gives us a handle on her thesis: "'Between a job and a career and a calling, there is no one right answer,' Luna says. 'Just because we want to pursue our calling doesn’t mean we need to quit our jobs. Just because we do something for money doesn’t make that work dirty. T.S. Eliot, we think of him as an author, but he was a financial genius, he had a career in finance in London. … Keith Haring was a painter, but he was also a bus boy with an emotionally non-draining job. Maybe that’s why in front of his canvases he could give it his all.'”

I should also note that The Crossroads of Should and Must also has a staff rec, from Boswellian Todd Wellman. He writes: "Do you choose what you must do or what you should do? If you’re doing what you must, you’re probably doing things on your own terms. For should, you’re probably following rules set for you—about how people say you are supposed to be successful, about what ways others say are the right ways to live. The only 'should' Luna promotes is that everyone should do what he or she must. Will life be different? Oh yeah. Will people think you’re odd? Yep. But you’ll be closer to the real you, and when your obituary appears one day, it’ll be about a life you passionately lived, not a life you trudged through."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Meet Me Halfway, by Jennifer Morales
2. My Brilliant Friend, by Elsa Ferrante (in store lit group 8/3, 7 pm)
3. The Vacationers, by Emma Straub
4. Canada, by Richard Ford (in store lit group 8/31, 7 pm)
5. Collar Robber, by Michael Bowen writing as Hillary Locke
6. The Red Notebook, by Antoine Laurain
7. The Lives of Tao, by Wesley Chu (event Tue 7/21, 7 pm)
8. The Hundred-Year House, by Rebecca Makkai (event Thu 8/20, 7 pm*)
9. Euphoria, by Lily King
10. We Are Not Ourselves, by Matthew Thomas

*Yes, The Hundred-Year House is also for a book club. We'll be having a Spoiler-Zone book club discussion, with a short visit from Makkai, before our 7 pm event with Makkai and Aleksandar Hemon. With that and moving our September discussion of Richard Ford's Canada to August 31, due to the Labor Day holiday, I'm leading three book club discussions in August. At least I've read one of the books already.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Mindset, by Carol Dweck
2. If Nuns Ruled the World, by Jo Piazza
3. Testament of Youth, by Vera Brittain
4. Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar, by Martin Windrow
5. Milwaukee Mafia, by Gavin Schmitt (event Mon 7/13 Central Library)
6. Displacement, by Lucy Kingsley
7. Loving Lardo, by Wendy R. Olsen (event Thu 7/16, 7 pm)
8. The Romanov Sisters, by Helen Rappaport
9. What the Dog Saw, by Malcolm Gladwell
10. What's Math Got to Do with It, by Jo Boaler

We had a nice paperback pop for Martin Windrow's The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar, and if it sounds familiar, we linked this Wall Street Journal reivew when the book was in hardcover. Ben Downing writes: "A paradoxical pitfall of animal literature is that it achieves its effects too easily: Consider how quick we are to laugh when a writer so much as mentions a monkey. The good stuff, however, stands out for its refusal to push buttons or indulge in glib anthropomorphism. In this perfect book, Mr. Windrow may compare Mumble to a samurai and think of her as hurling at pigeons the owlish equivalent of a certain Anglo-Saxon expletive, but he never loses sight of what she is: Strix aluco, a beautiful alien." Perfect is high praise, but that's the word he used.

Books for Kids:
1. Opposites, by Sandra Boynton
2. The Hollow Earth, by John and Carole E. Barrowman
3. Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, by James Patterson
4. The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan
5. Star Wars Jedi Academy: The Phantom Bully, By Jeffrey Brown
6. Paper Towns, by John Green
7. Every Day, by David Levithan
8. The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate
9. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews
10. Where the Wold Things Are, by, by Maurice Sendak (MPL exhibit)

Many kids have been enthusiastic about Jeffrey Brown's series for kids, including the son of one Boswellian, with whom I had an animated discussion of Star Wars Jedi Academy: The Phantom Bully. This third book in the "trilogy" is indeed a bully who is targeting Roan during his last year at the Academy. Of the outcome, Kirkus Reviews writes "Everybody's middle school years should be as ultimately satisfying as Roan's, whether they are Jedis-in-training or not."

The biggest news of the week of course, is the release of Go Set a Watchman on Tuesday, July 14. We've got the second most holds we've had on a book, and the most since Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, but I should note we had more signage for that one. I would say our holds cover about 3/4 of our initial order, so if you want to make sure you get a book on Tuesday, call (414) 332-1181 today. I'm really not sure which is the best email to use--I'm not really in the store today so I won't be able to process it.

In the Journal SentinelJim Higgins has written a feature about Harper Lee mania that is coming with the release of Go Set a Watchman. The local Barnes and Noble stores (except for bayshore) are doing read-a-thons on Monday, if you want to be involved in that. Higgins looks at the complaint that perhaps Lee was coerced into releasing it, or at least whether she authorized it, or perhaps whether its release happened to to the ill health and subsequent passing of Lee's sister Alice. I guess we probably won't know.

Also out on Tuesdsay, and normally a candidate for #1 status, is Ernie Cline's follow-up to Ready Player One. Carole E. Barrowman raves about Armada: "With its witty, lighthearted tone, its warp speed space battles and Zack's delightfully snarky point of view (there's also a cool young female fighter, Lex), Armada will thrill sci-fi readers from middle school to infinity and beyond."

And finally, a Journal Sentinel book review from a book that wasn't poised to hit #1 this week. Mike Fischer reviews The Small Backs of Children, by Lidia Yukanavitch. Fischer sees the book, centered on a young Lithuanian girl named Menas, as "a prose poem recast as a novel and calling to mind the late work of Virginia Woolf and Clarice Lispector's short stories while also slyly rewriting Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita." He notes that Yukanavitch "cares way too much about art and how it can save us to discount artists or their work just because they exercise a will to power every time they create. But focusing on the destruction and violence intrinsic to making art dramatically raises the stakes, reminding us that every new birth is intertwined with death."

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