Sunday, July 19, 2015

Boswell's Annotated Bestseller Lists for Week Ending July 18, 2015--Would You Believe We Sold a Lot of "Go Set a Watchman?"

Are you surprised?

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee
2. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
3. Armada, by Ernie Cline
4. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
5. Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson
6. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
7. Festival of Insignificance, by Milan Kundera
8. The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters
9. The Truth According to Us, by Annie Barrows
10. Let Me Be Frank with You, by Richard Ford (ticketed event for paperback, Thu Oct 15)

At one point, HarperCollins told me only five people in house had read Go Set a Watchman. Now hundreds of thousands of people have, if not millions. Jim Higgins at the Journal Sentinel reviewed it this week, and says it's "not a very good novel" but "worth reading as a historical and literary artifact." If nothing else, Go Set a Watchman is proof that a good editor can bring out the best in a writer.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
2. Hold Still, by Sally Mann
3. Strengths Finder 2.0, by Tom Rath
4. Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari
5. H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald
6. Strong Inside, by Andrew Maraniss
7. The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough
8. The Making of Milwaukee, by John Gurda
9. The Contemporaries, by Roger White
10. Full Life, by Jimmy Carter

One book that had a lot of momentum already (moved up from fall 2015) but also seemed to benefit from the Go Set a Watchman release was Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This correspondent for The Atlantic's meditation on being Black in America is, per The New York Timesselling at levels just below the two Harper Lee novels. Here's an analysis of tweets about the sales at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn. Other stores were said to be selling the books as a package.

Paperback Fiction
1. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (the two trade editions)
2. Euphoria, by Lily King
3. The Vacationers, by Emma Straub
4. Planet for Rent, by Yoss
5. Some Luck, by Jane Smiley
6. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
7. All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews
8. The Red Notebook, by Antoine Laurain
9. The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd
10. Nora Webster, by Colm Toíbín

When we didn't see a reprint of Miriam Toews All My Puny Sorrows after Christmas, we guessed they would send the book right to paperback and it turns out that's what happened. I'm sad that beautiful orange and turquoise jacket wasn't kept for the new edition, but I'm happy that I just have something to sell on my rec shelf. As Entertainment Weekly said in their "A" review: "Somehow, even as Toews works toward an inevitable conclusion, the pacing is gripping, leaving you — like Yoli — desperate to predict what Elf will do next, and helpless to stop it." I'm fascinated by these kind of spoiler-proof stories. If you'll remember, Hannah Kent's Burial Rites had that same sort of "I know what's going to happen but I'm still at the edge of my seat" sort of quality.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1 .Milwaukee Mafia, by Gavin Schmitt
2. Loving Lardo, by Wendy R. Olsen
3. My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor
4. The Boys on the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
5. The Opposite of Loneliness, by Marina Keegan
6. Nature's God, by Matthew Stewart
7. How Not to be Wrong, by Jordan Ellenberg
8. The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
9. I am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai
10. You are a Badass, by Jen Sincero

Matthew Stewart's Nature's God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic pops enough in paperback to get on the bestseller list. The review from Barton Swaim in The Wall Street Journal noted that "the central tenets of 'philosophical radicalism' worked their way into the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution by a kind of ideological stealth." And Marina Keegan's The Opposite of Loneliness has had a steady place in our bestseller list in paper, showing that it's hardcover sales pop was simply not from publicity about how the author died shortly after her college graduation.

Books for Kids:
1. In Mary's Garden, by Tina and Carson Kugler
2. The Nutshell Library, by Maurice Sendak
3. Little Bear's Friend, by Else Minarik with illustrations by Maurice Sendak
4. The Phantom Bully, by Jeffrey Brown
5. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews
6. Little Bear, by Else Minarik, with illustrations by Sendak
7. Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell
8. Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans
9. Rook, by Sharon Cameron
10. Ask Me, by Suzy Lee

Our first full sale at the Rumpus Room at the Milwaukee Public Library exhibit has a few Sendak books making it onto our bestseller list, though interestingly enough, not Where the Wild Things are. Much of the sale is for the Wild Things tee shirts and totes, and many fans already have the basics. But the obscure stuff? Among our other sales this week were a couple of copies of Zlateh the Goat, written by Isaac Bashevis Singer. But honestly, who can resist the mini Nutshell Library?

Jim Higgins wrote about the exhibit, more than half of which is work connected to Where the Wild Things Are, in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He writes: "The story of Max's tantrum, banishment to his room, escape to the land of the wild things and return to a supper "that was still hot" had its detractors early on, including some who thought the wild things were too scary. But children kept checking the book out of libraries, over and over, forcing adults to take notice."

Also in the Journal Sentinel Book Page:
--The Art of the Con, by Anthony M. Amore, reviewed by Carolina A. Miranda (Los Angeles Times)
--The Cartel, by Don Winslow, a profile from Mary Ann Swinn (Seattle Times)
--Lesser Beasts, by Jane Henderson (St. Louis Post Dispatch)

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