Sunday, April 17, 2016

Breaking Out of Boswell - The Annotated Bestseller Lists for Week Ending April 16, 2016

Hardcover Fiction (and Poetry):
1. Shaler's Fish, by Helen Macdonald
2. The Nest, by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
3. The Little Red Chairs, by Edna O'Brien
4. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
5. Patience, by Daniel Clowes
6. Fool Me Once, by Harlan Coben
7. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
8. The 14th Colony, by Steve Berry
9. Spill Simmer Falter Wither, by Sara Baume
10. The Summer Before the War, by Helen Simonson

Patience, the new graphic novel from Daniel Clowes is just about every genre out there - science fiction, mystery, romance. It's about a man whose pregnant girlfriend is murdered, and many years later, is able to use a time travel device to find out what happened. The starred Booklist review raves: "This is no mere sci-fi romp, however; time travel becomes a poignant metaphor for wraithlike Jack's obsessive mourning, and, before long, his schemes become as destructive as his grief. Punctuated by meltingly grotesque evocations of Jack's time-shattering flashes of awareness, Clowes' brilliant artwork homes in on expressions of aching feeling, particularly in Patience, who, through Jack's observations, gradually becomes vividly, marvelously multifaceted."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Third Wave, by Steve Case
2. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
3. They Are All My Family, by John Riordan
4. Hamilton, by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
5. The Rainbow Comes and Goes, by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt
6. The Non-National in Contemporary American Literature, by Dalia Gomaa
7. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
8. When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi
9. Dark Money, by Jane Mayer
10. Becoming Wise, by Krista Tippett

We have some Hamilton obsessives on our staff (who doesn't?) so there was a lot of anticipation for Hamilton: The Revolution, the tie-in book to the show, filled with history, footnotes, and plenty of photos. From his NPR Weekend Edition interview: "As Miranda recalls, those early stages fittingly included a crucial spark from the White House. In May 2009, at An Evening of Poetry, Music And The Spoken Word at the White House, Miranda was expected to perform a number from In the Heights, a musical running on Broadway at the time that he wrote and starred in. But he decided to try something else. 'When the White House calls and says, we'd love for you to perform, or if you have anything else on the American experience, and you have a hot 16 bars about Alexander Hamilton in your back pocket, my choice was clear,' Miranda says. 'It actually felt like a sign, that the thing I had been working on in my spare time, there might be an audience for it.'"

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Turner House, by Angela Flournoy
2. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman (at Boswell Sunday, May 14, 2 pm)
3. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend (at Boswell Thursday, May 19, 7 pm)
4. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
5. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, by Fredrik Backman
6. Luckiest Girl Alive, by Jessica Knoll (at Boswell Tuesday, April 19, 7 pm)
7. My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
8. Again and Again, by Ellen Bravo
9. Reflections, by Frank Zeidler
10. The Dream Lover, by Elizbeth Berg (at Lynden, Thursday, April 28, 7 pm - tickets here)

This is the third nonconsecutive week at one for Angela Flournoy's The Turner House, and while our in-store book club pick (May 2, 7 pm, all are welcome - I've already gotten a "loved, loved, loved it" back from an attendee) is definitely helping the momentum,we've got a number of other book clubs out there reading it now, and Jane's working her way through it when we feature it at several upcoming talks. If you're from a large family, you'll see you're own family reflected in the dynamics. There's no question that Mike Fischer's tremendous hardcover review in the Journal Sentinel has driven a lot of our momentum: " One of the many strengths of this book — entertaining, well-written and keenly insightful without calling attention to itself — is its clear-eyed, unsentimental vision. Flournoy never ignores the problems afflicting family and place — a 13-child clan and Detroit — even as she pays homage to both."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. H Is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald
2. Conservative Counterrevolution, by Tulla Connell
3. Mindset, by Carol Dweck
4. World War II Milwaukee, by Meg Jones (event Monday, 4/18, 6 pm, at MPL Rare Books Room)
5. The Residence, by Kate Anderson Brower
6. Claiming Place, by Chia Youyee Vang
7. Between You and Me, by Mary Norris
8. Cream City Chronicles, by John Gurda
9. Bettyville, by George Hodgman
10. The Red Parts, by Maggie Nelson

Republished books have a good week as Maggie Nelson's The Red Parts hits top ten paperback while Helen Macdonald's first poetry collection, Shaler's Fish, was the selection of a good number of folks at the sold-out Schlitz Audubon Nature Center event. I'm behind on building our new book club flier but you can see a bit of preview based on Jane and my talk at the Woman's Club last Wednesday with three selections - The Residence, Between You and Me, and Bettyville popping there. From the Washington Post Book World review, Krissah Thompson writes about Kate Anderson Brower's White House history: "These kinds of stories have rarely been told. But it seems there was never a formal policy demanding secrecy from residence staffers, just a long-standing culture of discretion. That, plus the fact that few people ever bothered to ask them about their time at the White House before."

Books for Kids:
1. Explore MKE, by Adam Carr
2. Summerlost, by Ally Condie
3. Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine
4. The Thickety: Well of Witches V3, by J.A. White
5. Matched V1, by Ally Condie
6. Stolen Magic, by Gail Carson Levine
7. Atlantia, by Ally Condie
8. The Thickety: Whispering Trees V2, by J.A. White
9. The Thickety: Path Begins V1, by J.A. White
10. Pax, by Sara Pennypacker, with illustrations by Jon Klassen

Event alums had a clean sweep of the top ten if you note that Sara Pennypacker (who hasn't visited yet) shares a credit with Jon Klassen (who has). I am a bit fan of Ally Condie's Summerlost and while we've had some very strong hits for recent blog posts, the one about her coming-of-age middle grade book set at at a Shakespeare Festival in small-town Utah flew under the radar (link here). Perhaps it's because I started out by talking about how many display tables we have focused on authors who've recently passed, but now that I condensed that into a rec, perhaps more folks will take my advice. But please, give it a look and next time you're at Boswell, come in a read a bit of Summerlost.

And now, here are the Journal Sentinel book features and reviews.

1. Jim Higgins reviews and profiles Curtis Sittenfeld's Eligible, who is the feted author at the Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library Literary Lunch on Tuesday, May 3. Tickets are available here. From his article: "Sittenfeld has suitably and often wittily refashioned the characters for our crazy time as well. Bingley's colleague Darcy is a neurosurgeon. Cousin Willie is a wealthy tech savant devoid of social skills and emotional intelligence. Kathy de Burgh is a famous feminist who Liz Bennet is desperately trying to reach for a magazine article. And in a novel filled with exchanges sharp enough to make Niles and Frasier Crane take notice, look out for the scenes with Mr. Bennet. Responding to a male nurse who greets him with institutional enthusiasm, the elder Bennet replies, 'Bernard! We're mourning the death of manners and the rise of overly familiar discourse. How are you?'"

2. David Sedaris is profiled by Joanne Weintraub for his upcoming performance at the Riverside Theater on Saturday, April 23, 8 pm. This is not part of his book tour (meaning the book is not included in the price of the ticket) but we have been brought in as the bookstore partner, which is why you've gotten some emails and we have a lovely display in the store, featuring not just Sedaris's backlist, but his featured title, Jill Leovy's Ghettoside. From Weintraub: "The humorist, who will read from his work April 23 at Milwaukee's Riverside Theater, was actually invited to Buckingham Palace recently to collect an award for his anti-littering efforts. 'No, I didn't get to meet the queen,' he says in a phone chat from his London apartment, 'but I did get to stand about six feet away from her.'" We'll have books for sale in the lobby, as a signing follows the talk and reading.

3. Lori Ahrenhoerster reviews the new book from Journal Sentinel reporters Mark Johnson and Kathleen Gallagher, Pulitzer Prize winners for their work. Her take on One in a Billion: The Story of Nic Volker and the Dawn of Genomic Medicine: "One strength of this book is how it describes the science involved in layman's terms: for example, comparing the intricate cascade of genetic pathways to a 'tumble of dominoes,' or describing a SNP as a 'typo.' The authors explain how sequencing Nic's entire genome wasn't possible, but determining the exons, which are responsible for making proteins, was a sensible gamble. The book succeeds in impressing on the reader the massive work that goes into developing research that gets translated into practice. It masterfully lays out the depth of collaboration that is necessary for such a development to occur." The book is on sale now and the authors will speak at Boswell on Thursday, May 26, 7 pm. We're hoping to confirm a special guest in appearance, and I'll let you know when that T is crossed.

4. And finally, it's time for Paging Through Mysteries, the column from Carole E. Barrowman, who will be at Boswell on Tuesday, April 19, in conversation with the writer of one of her favorite mysteries of last year, Luckiest Girl Alive. Her top pick is Hard Light, the new mystery from Elizabeth Hand about a photographer who jump-started New York's punk scene, decamped to Iceland, and then flees to London (her boyfriend is on the run from several crime syndicates), where she discovers the body of a punk singer she knew. I may have sent the plot a bit askew but I can only quote Barrowman when she raves: "I loved everything about this book, especially the history of punk music and new wave photography the author shot through the narrative as well as working into the back stories of her characters."

4b. Allow me to relink to that piece, as Barrowman is also bullish for Lindsay Faye's Jane Steele, chronicling a fictional woman who has been inspired to tell her own story after reading Jane Eyre. It's a mash-up of a 19th century comedy of manners and a serial-killer novel. From the critic: "Let me humbly share that there's no madwoman in this mansion's attic, but there's more than enough crazy to go around, including dark deeds in the cellar. Jane Steele falls in love with Mr. Thornfield and 'wrestles' with how to 'force it to flourish,' using 'tactics that would have positively curled Miss Eyre's hair.'" I'm only going to guess that at one point, Steele says, "Reader, I murdered him."
See you today at 2 for our cosponsored talk with Bill Berry for his book Banning DDT or at 3 for our event with Kwame Alexander (at Boswell) for his new book, Booked.

No comments: