Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Annotated Boswell Bestseller List for the Week Ending August 1, 2015.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee
2. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
3. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
4. The Girl on a Train, by Paula Hawkins
5. Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson
6. Circling the Sun, by Paula McLain
7. Brush Back, by Sara Paretsky
8. The Novel Habits of Happiness, by Alexander McCall Smith
9. A God in Ruins, by Kate Atkinson
10. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah

The newest V.I. Warshawski mystery is as Chicago-y as it gets. Lloyd Sachs writes in the Chicago Tribune: "Let's be honest: It will take a reader with a certain kind of fortitude to stay on Paretsky's urban tour bus until all the secrets are spilled in her latest mystery, Brush Back — particularly since North Sider Warshawski herself is reluctant to get on board to return to her old haunts and grievances in the gritty South Chicago neighborhood in which she grew up. What keeps her, and you, from spending the day gardening instead is the unquenchable need to know whodunit, and why — particularly since the story hits so close to home."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Between The World and Me, by Ta-Nahisi Coates
2. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
3. The Road to Character, by David Brooks
4. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
5. H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald
6. One Man Against the World, by Tim Weiner
7. Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari
8. Dead Wake, by Erik Larson
9. On the Move, by Oliver Sacks
10. Barbarian Days, by William Finnegan

One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon, by Tim Weiner has been released into a sea of Richard Nixon books, but it does not plan to be the ultimate full-scale biography (per a group review in The New York Times) but a look at one point in his life. NPR reports" "'Nixon was consumed by fear, Weiner tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. That fear 'turned into anger and that anger turned into self-destruction and every hour of these new tapes and these released transcripts adds to the record of a man committing political suicide day-by-day,' he says."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng (event 9/28 at Boswell)
2. Nora Webster, by Colm Toíbín
3. Euphoria, by Lily King
4. Etta and Otto and Russell and James, by Emma Hooper
5. The Book of Unknown Americans, by Cristina Henríquez
6. The Betrayers, by David Bezmozgis
7. Shotgun Lovesongs, by Nickolas Butler
8. The Vacationers, by Emma Straub
9. The Pigeon and the Boy, by Meir Shalev
10. The Martian, by Andy Weir
11. The Mersault Investigation, by Kamel Daoud
12. Almost Crimson, by Dasha Kelly
13. The Hundred-Year House, by Rebecca Makkai (event 8/20 with Aleksandar Hemon)
14. Delicious, by Ruth Reichl
15. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, by Amy E. Reichert

David Bezmozgis appeared at Boswell in paperback for the hardcover edition of The Betrayers, but since then, he's won the National Jewish Book Award. He's one of several books that had a pop this week that we recommended to one of our larger book clubs. David Ulin in the Los Angeles Times looks at the real-life underpinnings of the story: "The story of an Israeli politician who, on the losing side in a dispute over settlements, flees Tel Aviv with his young girlfriend for Yalta, in the Ukraine, where as a boy he spent a glorious summer with his parents. In the real world, of course, Israel exploded in conflict in recent months, as did the Ukraine. On the one hand, this means The Betrayers couldn't be more timely, but on the other, timeliness is not what fiction does. As Bezmozgis (a New Yorker '20 Under 40' writer who has written one previous novel, The Free World, as well as the collection Natasha) acknowledges, 'I felt frustrated that world events conspired to undermine my design for the book.'"

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Tunnel, Smuggle, Collect, by Jeffrey Gingold
2. Mozos, by Bill Hillmann
3. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
4. You are Doing a Freaking Great Job, from Workman Publishing
5. The Enchanted Forest, by Joanna Basford
6. Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl
7. Mary Nohl: Inside and Out, by Barbara Manger and Janine Smith
8. Testament of Youth, by Vera Brittain
9. The Pope and Mussolini, by David Kertzer
10. I am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai

Testament of Youth is already gone from the Downer Theatre, but the the sales pop often lingers a bit for folks who want to read the book afterwards. Here's what Stephen Holden said in The New York Times. "Testament of Youth, James Kent’s stately screen adaptation of the British author Vera Brittain’s 1933 World War I memoir, evokes the march of history with a balance and restraint exhibited by few movies with such grand ambitions. Most similar films strain at the seams with bombast and sentimentality. This one, with a screenplay by Juliette Towhidi (Calendar Girls), is consciously old-fashioned — or should I say traditional? — while maintaining a sober perspective." At the Downer now are Mr. Holmes and The Wolfpack.

Books for Kids:
1. What Pet Should I Get?, by Dr. Seuss
2. Where's Waldo: The Totally Essential Travel Collection, by Martin Handford
3. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, by Dr. Seuss
4. Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss
5. The Squishy Turtle Cloth Book, by Roger Priddy
6. Fuzzy Bee and Friends, by Roger Priddy
7. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
8. Paper Towns, by John Green
9. Where's Waldo, by Martin Handford
10. Little Bear, by Else Minarik, illustrated by Maurice Sendak

The big release this week was actually Dr. Seuss's What Pet Should I Get? It actually outsold Go Set a Watchman at Boswell. The New York Times's Michiko Kakutani used her review time to compose this poem. Pasha Malla in The Toronto Globe and Mail takes the book a bit more seriously. From Malla: "To those cynics who suggest that the publication of a dead (or dying) author’s bottom-drawer material is often nothing more than an unrepentant cash grab, I offer the following. Discovered shortly after Theodor Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss) passed away in 1991, What Pet Should I Get? was likely written in the early-1950s and either purposefully shelved or forgotten. Though perhaps the world simply wasn’t ready for it – until now. Rarely are the essential ideologies of our time, including those of race, class, gender, animal rights, late capitalism and “ginger pride,” examined with such acuity and precision. Simply put, What Pet Should I Get? is the most important work of cultural criticism of the year."

On to the Journal Sentinel book page. First up is Jim Higgins' review of Lauren Fox's Days of Awe. He writes: "Like that lethal dude Liam Neeson plays in the movies, Shorewood novelist Lauren Fox ("Still Life With Husband, Friends Like Us) has honed a very particular set of skills. She takes women who are falling apart and pulls wit, snark, pith, and occasional insight out of them. No contemporary novelist makes me stop as often to mark or admire one of her sentences. Plenty of people can write limpid or fancy prose, but Fox ladles out one flavorful reduction of human angst and misery after another."

Mike Fischer reviews Vu Tran's Dragonfish, a book that blends a Vietnam story with a hardboiled frame. His Journal Sentinel review begins: "Although we're never actually given the date, the time scheme within Dragonfish, Vu Tran's debut novel, places this story in the year 2000 — a portentous marker dividing yesterday from tomorrow. It's an apt choice, as we'll come to see once we've settled in with Tran's two narrators." Fischer wasn't exactly a fan, but others disagree; here's an excerpt from the starred review in Kirkus: "The Vietnam of the past and the Las Vegas of the present are vividly evoked in this debut novel in which hard-boiled noir is seamlessly blended with reminiscences of exile. A two-fisted policeman from Oakland, California, finds both his life and sense of certainty upended by Suzy, the Vietnamese wife who abandoned him with thwarted desires and unanswered questions. It turns out he’s not the only ex-husband looking for her."

Also in the print edition is a profile of Ta-Nahisi Coates from Mary Carole McCauley in the Baltimore Sun, discussing Between the World and Me.

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