Sunday, September 20, 2015

Three Laurens and a Luis--A Look at Boswell's Bestsellers for the Week Ending September 19, 2015

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Barbara the Slut and Other People, by Lauren Holmes
2. Days of Awe, by Lauren Fox
3. The Water Museum, by Luis Alberto Urrea
4. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
5. The Girl in the Spider's Web, by David Lagercrantz
6. The Nature of the Beast, by Louise Penny
7. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
8. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
9. Purity, by Jonathan Franzen
10. Secondhand Souls, by Christopher Moore

Clearly Lauren is the name of the moment for hardcover fiction, right? With Lauren Holmes and Lauren Fox having events with Boswell for Barbara the Slut and Other Stories and Days of Awe, respectively, and Lauren Groff's Fates and Furies being our top selling non-event hardcover fiction title. Signed copies of the first two available--we're almost out of the tip-in signature first editions of Groff. Now please forgive me if I get the names mixed up sometimes when writing quickly.

In other stories, The Girl in the Spider's Web continues to sell well. I'm fascinating about the sea change of acceptance for publishers getting writers to continue series after the death of the original authors. It seemed to me there was a time where these ghost-written adventures were kept more anonymous, but now they are taken seriously, whether it's a rave like Michiko Kakutani's review in The New York Times, or Karolina Waclawiak in the Los Angeles Times worrying that the new installment hurts the legacy of the original. It's not like the old days where "several more manuscripts were found in a trunk," said with a wink.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Why Not Me?, by Mindy Kaling
2. How to Bake Pi, by Eugenia Cheng
3. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
4. The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
5. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
6. Miller: Inside the High Life, by Paul Bialas
7. Once in a Great City, by David Maraniss
8. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
9. Pope Francis Among the Wolves, by Marco Politi
10. Black Man in a White Coat, by Damon Tweedy

I'm sure you're wondering if we were the store that was behind Mindy Kaling being in conversation with Atul Gawande, based on our bestseller list. No, that was at Harvard Book Store and the event was sold out! They use Eventbrite and I do like the way the Organizer gets a nice shout out. Why Not Me? had a very good sales pop at Boswell, even without an event, and in addition to all the light features, Megan Garber in The Atlantic states the underlying theme of the book, that it's ok to work hard for what you want. "...But maybe the main thing to say is this: The book is, at its core, a defense of work. It is a defense of striving, and wanting, and thirsting. It takes all the glib protestations of Hollywood doublespeak...and says to them: No. You are lying. You worked for what you got. You struggled, somehow, for it. Just own that."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Meet Me Halfway, by Jennifer Morales
2. The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters
3. Again and Again, by Ellen Bravo
4. Tijuana Book of the Dead, by Luis Alberto Urrea
5. My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
6. The Long Way Home, by Louise Penny
7. Etta and Otto and Russell and James, by Emma Hooper
8. Euphoria, by Lily King
9. Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng (event 9/28 7 pm, at Boswell)
10. Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel

Meet Me Halfway: Milwaukee Stories is this year's Common Read at UWM, and while I was very excited for this development, I wasn't thinking about all the spinoff sales there might be to people who were not freshmen. If you haven't paid attention to the book (though we have had several events promoting the book, so it's likely that blog readers are aware of it), here's an interview with Mitch Teich on Lake Effect.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Hidden History of Milwaukee, by Robert Tanzilo
2. The Holy Madmen of Tibet, by David DiValerio
3. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
4. The Emotional Life of Your Brain, by Richard J. Davidson
5. You are a Badass, by Jen Sincero
6. Everyday Makeup Secrets, by Daniel Klingler
7. Deep Down Dark, by Hector Tobar
8. Zendoodle Coloring Creative Sensations, by Julia Snegireva
9. Trees of Wisconsin Field Guide, by Stan Tekiela
10. We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie

I was on the fence about whether to include coloring books on our bestseller lists, as we do leave out a lot of items that are more gift than book, even if they are in book form - blank journals, for example. But my goodness, we are selling so many of them each week that they deserve a shoutout. This week's appearance is from Zendoodle Coloring: Creative Sensations: Hypnotic Patterns to Color and Display, by Julia Snegireva. This past week we sold 26 different titles we classified as adult coloring books, and we're not even including the ones we have that were packaged for kids but that adults are buying.

Books for Kids:
1. Rump, by Liesl Shurtliff
2. Jack, by Liesl Shurtliff
3. The Day the Crayons Came Home, by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
4. Pool, by Jihyeon Lee
5. The Marvels, by Brian Selznick (event 10/12 at Alverno, $10 tickets available)
6. Fate of Ten, by Pittacus Lore
7. The Boys in the Boat, Young Readers Edition, by Daniel James Brown
8. In Mary's Garden, by Tina and Carson Kugler
9. Archie the Daredevil Penguin, by Andy Rash (Event at Boswell Fri. Oct. 2)
10. Appleblossom the Possum, by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Liesl Shurtliff charmed crowds at several schools and the Cudahy Public Library this week, in conjunction for her visit for Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk. Kids put on a play (well, a short scene) and at the public event, there was a song too. Abby at the library had special Jack-themed treats and a 3D beanstalk too. Just before the event, we found out that the next companion novel, Red, is coming out next spring.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, the feature story is on Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, the new book by John Gurda. We'll be getting it in - we have an event scheduled later this fall - but alas, we don't have it yet. Please reserve your copy. From Jim Higgins's profile:

"Milwaukee's Department of City Development between 1983 and 1990. Artist Jan Kotowicz conceived and illustrated an iconic image for each neighborhood: a Polish flat for Riverwest, St. Stanislaus Catholic Church for the Historic South Side. Gurda researched and wrote lengthy essays for the back of each poster, but jokes that few people have read his work, because so many people have framed and displayed the beautiful posters. (Stroll through the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee segment of the downtown Skywalk and you'll see many of them.)"

"For this book, Gurda has expanded his scope to 37 city neighborhoods, with Kotowicz creating new poster images for the additions. In addition to Kotowicz's artwork, each chapter includes a map that sets the neighborhood in its Milwaukee context, a generous helping of historical images and an equally generous set of contemporary photos. The visuals add up to more than 1,300 images."

And that explains why there was no poster for The Third Ward. In the early 1980s, less than 100 people lived there.

Mike Fischer reviews Lauren Groff's Fates and Furies in the Journal Sentinel. His take, including the bracketed aside, in the spirit of Groff's story.

"For all the homage Groff pays to the comforting rituals comprising a marriage, her novel is also attuned to how little we'll ever know, even of those we know best. And not just about our partners, but also about our families and friends — often as surprising and conflicted here, in ways good and bad, as Mathilde."

"[Or, if you will, as you and me. Because I promise you: Fates and Furies will induce such reflection. Involving the bed you've made. The loved ones you've made it with. And whether you're living your life there or just sleeping it away.]"

And also from the Journal Sentinel is Carole E. Barrowman's "Paging Through Mysteries" column. This week she highlights three new releases, including Stuart Neville's Those We Left Behind. Neville is coming to Boswell on Sunday, October 4, 11 am. We'll be serving coffee and pastry, sort of a Belfast Brunch.

Barrowman writes: "Coming of age in Glasgow in the 1970s, the Troubles in Northern Ireland were part of my childhood soundtrack. Not the main melody, but a low thrumming baseline. I remember quite vividly sitting in a movie theater on a Saturday night when the manager stopped the projector and announced the IRA had called in a bomb threat. Would we check under our seats for suspicious packages? We did. No bomb. The movie played on. But what was it like to be in Northern Ireland? What was it like to be looking under your seat and over your shoulder? Those were the questions that first drew me to Stuart Neville's Belfast thrillers, morally complex stories of men and women struggling to find redemption, retribution, forgiveness and even love during the violence. In Neville's latest taut psychological thriller, Those We Left Behind, the author has stayed in Belfast but moved on, introducing new characters whose lives are just as compelling and troubled. "

Her other recommendations consist of two debuts: "The first is Donald Smith's The Constable's Tale, set in colonial North Carolina with a cast of authentic and endearing characters, including Harry Woodyard, a tobacco planter and the volunteer constable of Craven County, and his outspoken Welsh wife, Toby, who came to the colonies as an indentured servant." A family is murdered, and Native Americans are blamed, but of course, the true crime is much trickier to solve than that.

And finally Barrowman tackles The Drowning Ground, by James Morrison. She calls it "a fresh take on the English village mystery with a transplanted Argentine as the detective." Guillermo Downes is stationed in the Cotswolds, far from a world where the police are as untrustworthy as gangs. A wealthy neighbor is killed and it turns out that he has a bit of a dirty past. Also great reviews from the trades. Kirkus Reviews writes that "in his fiction debut, Marrison leaves just enough unexplained about his shrewd, moody protagonist to make you hope he'll return in a sequel."

And finally, over in the "Fork, Spoon, Life" column of the Fresh section, Kristine M. Kierzek profiles Eugnia Cheng, author of How to Bake Pi. Here's a fascinating excerpt:

On cooking and connections: :" love trying to get people interested in math. I gradually discovered that the stories I told that involved food got people interested. Every time I brought in food, an actual food, and did a mathematical demonstration with the food, everybody perked up and always remembered what I said."

And on method and math: "I love following recipes, but if a recipe has 55 ingredients I will get put off. I would much prefer a recipe with three ingredients and an epic list of things to do with those ingredients. I like the process and method. Mathematics, the kind I like, is all about process."

And of course we have signed copies available. And I wouldn't be surprised if you find another post on our day with Cheng. I learned a lot!

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