Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Big One: Boswell's Annotated Bestsellers for Perhaps Our Busiest Week of the Year (or Maybe It's Next Week).

Hardcover Nonfiction:

1. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
2. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
3. SPQR, by Mary Beard
4. The Thing Explainer, by Randall Munroe
5. Humans of New York, by Brandon Stanton
6. The Witches, by Stacy Schiff
7. Rosemary, by Kate Clifford Larson
8. Notorious RBG, by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
9. Beloved Dog, by Maira Kalman
10. Gratitude, by Oliver Sacks
11. H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald (ticketed event at Schlitz Audubon 4/12)
12. M Train, by Patti Smith
13. Miller: Inside the High Life, by Paul Bialas
14. The Middle Ages, by Johannes Fried
15. The Invention of Nature, by Andrea Wulf
16. The Givenness of Things, by Marilynne Robinson
17. How to Bake Pi, by Eugenia Cheng
18. Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert
19. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
20. Lobster is the Best Medicine, by Liz Climo (Could have gone in fiction. Who knows?)

Some holidays are fiction years, but in 2015, nonfiction wins hands down. Between our runaway regional bestseller, Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods (yes, we have stock!), and the national runaway, Between the World and Me, nothing in the fiction aisle comes close. We've got the two great history books to choose from in SPQR and The Witches, plus Jason's pick, The Middle Ages. Biography is a little weaker--Rosemary, with its Wisconsin connections, a great read, and Jane's interest in the Special Olympics, is propelling Larson's book, while a further lower, while Jon Meacham's Destiny and Power is just bubbling below this week's cutoff. I'm always fascinated by how a president's story in office is political, but once out of office, it becomes less polarizing and more historical. But of course that depends who writes it. I'm just saying that I think the second volume of the Obama book from Maraniss will do much better when there's a new person running the country, whoever it is. That said, I thought we'd do a bit better with Meacham's book on Bush. There's a lot to compete with it on the right (O'Reilly, Kilmeade, et al), and I still don't know if the left would buy it, but in the center, I thought it might go.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
2. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff (we sold copy #100 on Saturday)
3. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
4. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
5. Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf
6. Jade Dragon Mountain, by Elsa Hart
7. Days of Awe, by Lauren Fox
8. The Muralist, by B.A. Shapiro
9. Slade House, by David Mitchell
10. The Rogue Lawyer, by John Grisham
11. Purity, by Jonathan Franzen
12. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
13. The Nature of the Beast, by Louise Penny
14. Girl Waits with Gun, by Amy Stewart
15. City on Fire, by Garth Risk Hallberg

The best-of lists continue to come out, and fiction is still all over the place. I was picking up my mother's eyeglasses in Worcester and caught the Time magazine list, which was definitely Jason's favorite to date. I'm at the point that if a list doesn't have Fates and Furies, I write it off. For Jason, it was a benchmark that his favorite novel of this year, Louis de Berniers The Dust that Falls from Dreams, as well as SevenEves, was in their top ten, and it didn't hurt that several books he wanted to read, from Paul Murray, Patrick DeWitt, and Kelly Link, were included. Want to see Jason's top ten? He published it in The Boswellians this week.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. World War II Milwaukee, by Meg Jones
2. Mindfulness Coloring Book, by Emma Farrarons
3. The Secret Garden, by Johanna Basford
4. When Books Went to War, by Molly Guptill Manning
5. Essential Strums and Strokes for Ukulele, by Lil Rev
6. Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris
7. Wisconsin Supper Club Cookbook, by Mary Bergin
8. Just Mercy, by Bryan Stephenson
9. Mindfulness Coloring Book Volume 2, by Emma Farrarons
10. Pogue's Basics Life, by David Pogue
11. Birds of Wisconsin Field Guide, by Stan Tekiela
12. How to Eat, by Thich Nhat Hanh
13. Rebel Yell, by S.C. Gwynne
14. Milwaukee Mayhem, by Matthew J. Prigge
15. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown

Number of regional books on the list: 4 We have stock of World War II Milwaukee, or at least we do today!
Number of coloring books on the list: 3
Number of impulse books (meaning they are small and you wouldn't exactly call the experience reading): 2.5, as I'm on the fence about Holidays on Ice at this point.
Number of music instruction books (and yes, Lil Rev will reschedule his Essential Strums and Stokes event for February): 1
So congrats to When Books Went to War, Just Mercy, Rebel Yell, and The Boys in the Boat - the odds were stacked against you!

I should note that a very unusual book is at #17, and that's not a bulk sale. It's Wendell Berry's Our Only World, and I watched several people buy it as I worked the register on Saturday (so I didn't have to look it up to see if someone purchased a pile to give away). And yes, it's a collection of essays, first published in Christian Century, on environmental problems. Kevin Begos in The Miami Herald writes: "In one sense Berry is the voice of a rural agrarian tradition that stretches from rural Kentucky back to the origins of human civilization. But his insights are universal because Our Only World is filled with beautiful, compassionate writing and careful, profound thinking."

Paperback Fiction:
1. My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
2. A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James
3. Trigger Warning, by Neil Gaiman
4. At the Water's Edge, by Sara Gruen
5. The Red Notebook, by Antoine Laurain
6. Shady Hollow, by Juneau Black
7. The Door, by Magda Szabo
8. Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin
9. The Story of a Lost Child, by Elena Ferrante
10. Nora Webster, by Colm Toibin
11. Tales of Accidental Genius, by Simon Van Booy
12. The Story of a New Name, by Elena Ferrante
13. All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews
14. Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
15. The Martian, by Andy Weir

And under that is more Ferrante, more Simon Van Booy, and more Antoine Laurain! The truth is that the true fiction phenom is Elena Ferrante's quartet, and it was published as paperback originals. The Story of a Lost Child showed up at #1 on the Time list and it's also on The New York Times Book Review best-of the year but how can you not start with My Brilliant Friend? So far our customers are understanding that this is not a series where you can jump into volume four, though I'd love to read a review to see if it stands on its own. Neil Gaiman's Trigger Warning has its best pop in paperback so far. This collection of short fiction came out earlier this year in hardcover. Another book that finally had its moment in the sun is Sarah Gruen's At the Water's Edge. Like about half the books on the top 15, it's featured on our book club table. It's not that everything works here (and much of what is is duplicated on our new release paperback tables up front and various staff rec shelves), but as long as we keep it fresh, we can generate some nice sales to both book clubs and casual paperback readers. The next round of paperback releases come right after the new year...we'll see if there's some updating to be done.

Top Picture Books and Board Books:
1. The Day the Crayons Came Home, by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
2. Peekaboo by Giuliamo Ferri
3. Pierre the Maze Detective, by Hiro Kamigaki
4. Harry Potter Coloring Book, by J.K. Rowling
5. The Polar Express 30th Anniversary Edition, by Chris Van Allsburg
6. The Whisper, by Pamela Zagarenski
7. Celebration of the Seasons, by Margaret Wise Brown
8. Dinoblock, by Christopher Franceschelli
9. Counting Lions, by Katie Cotton
10. Waiting, by Kevin Henkes
11. Archie the Daredevil Penguin, by Andy Rash
12. Dream Snow, by Eric Carle
13. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
14. The Little Tree, by Loren Long
15. Zen Socks, by Jon J. Muth

I'm glad I don't sort out kids' bestsellers much because there's always a dilemma. Are Pierre the Maze Detective and Harry Potter Coloring Book picture books (because they don't really have words) or middle grade (because they are probably targeted to 8 and up)? Are books that are 10 and up middle grade or young adult? I use however Amie divided them. But what if they are nonfiction? Aside from The Day the Crayons Came Home, which like its predecessor, is dominating the list, our next traditional picture book bestseller is, like in adult fiction, an old book. But when you have signed copies of The Polar Express, it helps! Oh, and we're hoping that on Sunday, Archie the Daredevil Penguin crosses the 100 mark in the store. I'll be trying!

Don't forget The Whisper. It's got staff recs from both Barbara and Todd. It's Barb's other Caldecott pick, besides Home.

Top Chapter and Intermediate Books:
1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #10: Old School, by Jeff Kinney
2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone illustrated, by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay
3. The Marvels, by Brian Selznick
4. Appleblossom the Possum, by Holly Goldberg Sloan
5. Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes, by Rick Riordan
6. I Really Like Slop, by Mo Willems
7. Princess in Black, by Shannon Hale
8. The Doldrums, by Nicholas Gannon
9. Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate
10. Wolf Wilder, by Katherine Rundell

Yes, I Really Like Slop is outpacing last fall's entry, Waiting is not Easy. We've already sold more of the former than the latter did through 2014, and there are still some strong sales day to go. Next May's entry is The Thank You Book, by the way. Amie's recommendation of The Doldrums, from Nicholas Gannon, has been showing regularly on our bestseller list. It's the story of a boy who sets out to rescue his grandparents, and the starred Publishers Weekly review offers this recommendation: "Newcomer Gannon reveals himself as a skilled storyteller, both in his writing and artwork. His quippy quotes, whimsically meandering exposition, and penchant for the gently absurd breathe life into his three main characters, while his full-color illustrations—precise, elegant, and haunting—are a delightful means of seeing into his mind’s eye."

Top YA and Teen books:
1. Wolf by Wolf, by Ryan Grandis
2. Bone Gap, by Laura Ruby
3. The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin
4. Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell
5. All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
6. Apothecary, by Maile Meloy
7. An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir
8. Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman
9. Fans of the Impossible Life, by Kate Scelsa
10. Dumplin, by Julie Murphy

What's a YA list like when there's not a John Green, Veronica Roth, or Suzanne Collins to drive teens into the store. It's a list that doesn't overlap much with the national indie bookstores list (link here) and is filled with staff recs, mostly from Phoebe (though Nimona, which is an Olivia rec, was on our list last week). Carry On and Illuminae also appear in both top tens , and Six of Crows has also been on our list for several weeks. Of course you all should know that we hosted both Rainbow Rowell and Leigh Bardugo at area libraries before they exploded onto the bestsellers lists. That's why it's a good idea to keep abreast of our author schedule. Carry On is one of Olivia's picks, and you really do have to read it with Fangirl. And yes, Illuminae is a a Phoebe pick.

One of our bestsellers is reviewed this week in the Journal Sentinel. It's Shady Hollow, written by our own Sharon Nagel and (formerly our own) Jocelyn Koehler. I've been comping Miss Marple for the series, but I think Jim Higgins is possibly more spot on with Jessica Fletcher and the old Murder She Wrote series. Higgins writes "With touches of sly humor in the narration and a number of literary allusions, Shady Hollow is a divertissement for bookish people, especially mystery lovers. Lenore Lee, a raven, runs the Nevermore bookstore. Sherlock Holmes gets a nod, as does Stieg Larsson." And he offers special praise for the packaging. Here's a contract-published book where the authors (and I'm just going to note that Sharon will admit that credit on this goes to Jocelyn and her husband Nick on this) knew how to make a professional looking book, from the terrific cover design to the expert layout. There's a good reason that Jocelyn used to be one of our ace proofreaders.
The column also features Sterling North and The Story of Rascal, which, like Shady Hollow, has been featured on our woodland creatures display. And yes, we just sold copy #100 while I was proofing this.

Other articles this week in the print editions include profiles of Eric Carle and Lauren Groff. Having just discussed the male/female companion books in book club, it makes sense that Groff was inspired by Jane Gardam's Old FILTH and The Man in the Wooden Hat, as well as Mr. Bridge and Mrs. Bridge. Connie Ogle (whose interview was first printed in the Miami Herald), thank you for asking the right questions! Obviously to that you can add Gilead an. but of course when Lila came out, Fates and Furies had already been written. Another great one is Happenstance, by Carol Shields. That book flips, by the way. Hey, if we come up with a few more, I smell a display!

Please note that you can check stock through our website, but quantities on hand may not be completely accurate. The book could already be on hold for someone else. And you can also hold a book for pickup, and you can do this without even logging in under your account name. Try it!

Our hours for this week:
Today: we close at 6 pm
Monday: 10 am to 9 pm
Tuesday: 9 am to 9 pm
Wednesday: 9 am to 9 pm
Thursday: 9 am to 5 pm
Friday: closed
Sunday through Wednesday; regular hours
Thursday, December 31: 10 am to 5 pm
Friday, January 1: 10 am to 5 pm (yes, we're open!)

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