Sunday, March 13, 2016

What's Been Selling at Boswell This Past Week? The Answer is in This Blog Post.

Here are the bestsellers for Boswell Book Company's week ending March 12, 2016.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Spill Simmer Falter Wither, by Sara Baume
2. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
3. The Waters of Eternal Youth, by Donna Leon
4. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
5. The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie
6. The Heart, by Maylis De Kerangal
7. The Doubter''s Almanac, by Ethan Canin
8. Steel Kiss, by Jeffery Deaver
9. Noonday, by Pat Barker
10. After You, by Jojo Moyes

The Heart is a French novel that was translated by Sam Taylor. It's about a fatal accident and the resulting transplant that results, told through various participants in the story. The book has been an international bestseller. Lydia Kiesling wrote in The Guardian: "De Kerangal crams an enormous amount of insight and information into this brief span of time. The novel contains a quantity of fairly straightforward reportage about the way that organ donation works (in France) on administrative, logistical and clinical levels. Like the best kind of journalist, De Kerangal also manages to capture those seemingly superfluous details of a complex medical procedure that make a narrative so riveting: the surgeon who incants a Latin phrase during the transplant, the nurse who owns a rare kind of singing goldfinch he bought in Algeria, the central administrator for organ donation who subsists mostly on 'cheeseburgers and nicotine gum'...But the author’s larger project is the articulation of the enormities that surround any medical event, any death."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Conspiracies of the Ruling Class, by Lawrence Lindsey
2. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
3. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
4. Locally Laid, by Lucie B. Amundsen
5. Dark Money, by Jane Mayer
6. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
7. Maximum Clarity, by Ben Johnston
8. The Violet Hour, by Katie Roiphe
9. American Girls, by Nancy Jo Sales
10. At the Existentialist Cafe, by Sarah Bakewell

Is it a conspiracy of of the ruling class that Conspiracies of the Ruling Class is #1 this week? No, somebody just bought a bunch of copies. Further down, our interest in death continues with Katie Roiphe's new The Violet Hour: Great Writers at the End. She chronicles the final days of Susan Sontag, Sigmund Freud, John Updike, Dylan Thomas, and Maurice Sendak. Helen McAlpin in the Los Angeles Times calls the work "an analytical blend of journalism, literary criticism and memoir that — like her earlier book, Uncommon Arrangements, about unconventional literary marriages — tackles a personal obsession. By closely examining the demise of five writers who have long fascinated her, Roiphe hopes to defang death, which has haunted her since an early brush with mortality when she was 12."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Turner House, by Angela Flournoy
2. The Loss of All Lost Things, by Amina Gautier
3. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
4. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagahira
5. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald
6. Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes
7. Nora Webster, by Colm Tóibín
8. My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
9. Room, by Emma Donoghue
10. 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, by Mona Awad

If you read the blog regularly, you know we're reading The Turner House, by Angela Flournoy in May, in which the Turner matriarch moves into her eldest son Cha-Cha's house and together with his 12 siblings, he's got to figure out what to do with the family home.This book has gotten a National Book Award nomination and many great reviews, including one from book and theater critic Mike Fischer. Fischer wrote in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "They're bound together by their dying matriarch, whose own migration from Arkansas — like the separate move north made by her deceased husband — is told through moving flashbacks to the 1940s. They're bound together by the now-vacant Detroit house that they still own and in which they were all raised. And, finally, they're bound together by the crumbling city in which that house somehow survives."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. In Those Nightmarish Days, edited by Samuel Kassow
2. Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson
3. We Gotta Get Out of This Place, by Craig Werner and Doug Bradley
4. World War II Milwaukee, by Meg Jones (event 4/18 at Milwaukee Public Library)
5. Cream City Chronicles, by John Gurda
6. Bettyville, by George Hodgman
7. A General Theory of Love, by Thomas Lewis
8. We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie
9. Grace and Style, by Grace Helbig
10. Kitchen Hacks, by America's Test Kitchen

It's nice to see several event books having post-event bumps in sales. Sales were helped for Bettyville by the airing of the Lake Effect piece. While you're podcasting, you might as well listen to the We Gotta Get Out of This Place Lake Effect story as well. And like several of these books, we still have signed copies of Grace and Style.

Kids Picture Books and Board Books:
1. I am a Bunny, by Ole Risom with illustrations by Richard Scarry
2. A is for Activist, by Innosanto Nagara
3. Whose Hands Are These? by Miranda Paul with illustrations by Luciana Navarro Powell
4. The Day the Crayons Came Home, by Drew Daywalt, with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers
5. Finding Winnie, by Lindsay Mattick, with illustrations by Sophie Blackall

Kids Middle Grade and Chapter Books:
1. I Survived the Hindenburg Disaster, 1937, by Lauren Tarshis
2. Maybe a Fox, by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee
3. I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912, by Lauren Tarshis
4. I Survived: True Stories, Five Epic Disasters, by Lauren Tarshis
5. I survived the Great Chicago Fire, 1871, by Lauren Tarshis

Kids Young Adult and Teen Books:
1. The Book Thief Tenth Anniversary Edition (hardcover), by Markus Zusak
2. The Book Thief Tenth Anniversary Edition (paperback), by Markus Zusak
3. A Study in Charlotte, by Brittany Cavallaro
4. I am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak
5. Underdogs, by Markus Zusak

Guess which seven kids authors we hosted this past week? Talk about exciting! And while we did school visits with Miranda Paul on Friday, most of her sales will show up next week. And don't forget we're hosting a 3 pm event with Paul for her new book, Whose Hands are These: A Community Helper Guessing Book , at 3 pm. There will be stories, activities, and hand-print cookies too.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins reviews John Koethe's tenth book of poems, The Swimmer. "There's nothing hermetic about the poems in The Swimmer: no personal mythology or private vocabulary required to unlock their secret meanings, just the patient and persistent attention you'd give a friend explaining something subtle — especially if the friend was a retired professor of philosophy." Our event with Koethe is Friday, March 18, 7 pm.

Mike Fischer weighs in on Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck, by Adam Cohen. It's a timely story about America's history with forced sterlizations, with champions including Oliver Wendell Holmes: "Cohen's chapters on Holmes make clear that Buck was no anomaly; Holmes was a longtime eugenicist who'd previously contemplated infanticide to weed out 'undesirables' He admitted that writing the Buck decision had given him 'pleasure,' noting that 'sooner or later one gets a chance to say what one thinks.'" Powerful stuff, though Fischer finds the format a bit repetitive.

And also in the print edition is Marion Winik's review of American Girls: Social Media and the Lives of Teenagers, by Nancy Jo Sales. One take away: "Perhaps the most problematic effect of social media is the fierce emphasis on physical appearance. 'For many girls, the pressure to be considered hot is felt on a nearly continual basis online,' writes Sales." Sales notes a rise in plastic surgery among teens. Gotta look good for your selfies!

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