Sunday, June 26, 2016

Boswell's annotated bestseller lists for the week ending June 25, 2016

Here's an interpretive dance of the week in reviewing, told by the whirling veil-like bestseller lists.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. As Good As Gone, by Larry Watson
2. The Girls, by Emma Cline
3. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
4. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
5. Murder on the Quai, by Cara Black (event 6/28 at Boswell, 7 pm)
6. The Nest, by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
7. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
8. City of Secrets, by Stewart O'Nan
9. The Fireman, by Joe Hill
10. Sisi, by Allison Pataki

We had a nice pop on Stewart O'Nan's City of Secrets this week, and I credit this to Boswellian Chris Lee's review being featured in our recent email newsletter. He noted: "O'Nan's singularly fluent prose marks the book as solely his from the first page, and the remarkable depth with which he understands human nature and the internal conflicts that both drive and give pause is on full display as he unfolds the story of Brand, a holocaust survivor and illegal refugee in British-ruled, post-WWII Jerusalem." And for another take, Stuart Sheppard in Pittsburgh CityPaper writes: "Although City of Secrets is a spy novel, it’s really a story of loss, and how people, under the most stressful circumstances, deal with it. What makes the book so interesting is its dimensionality. The two major characters each lives three lives: the superficial day-to-day cover life of a meaningless job, the below-the-surface life of a terrorist-cell operative, and on the deepest level of psychic truth, the existential life of despair."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
2. The Gene, by Siddhartha Mukherhjee
3. Being a Beast, by Charles Foster
4. Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari
5. Polka Heartland, by Rick March
6. Who Rules the World?, by Noam Chomsky
7. Becoming Wise, by Krista Tippett
8. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
9. Terror in the City of Champions, by Tom Stanton
10. Sex Object, by Jessica Valenti

Not one, but two customers told me they wound up buying The Gene because the waiting list at the library was too long. Allow me to cite Matt McCarthy's rave in USA Today, who writes: "It's a book we all should read. I shook my head countless times while devouring it, wondering how the author — a brilliant physician, scientist, writer, and Rhodes Scholar — could possibly possess so many unique talents. When I closed the book for the final time, I had my answer: Must be in the genes."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Under the Harrow, by Flynn Barry
2. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
3. My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
4. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald
5. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrick Backman
6. A Spool of Blue Thread, by Anne Tyler
7. Uprooted, by Naomi Novik
8. Circling the Sun, by Paula McLain
9. Kitchens of the Great Midwest, by J. Ryan Stradal
10. The Marriage of Opposites, by Alice Hoffman

Sales have been consistently strong on Naomi Novik's Uprooted for us to delve further into this book's appear. It won a Nebula Award, which put it in our award case. It has a nice rec from Boswellian Pam Stilp, who noted: "This is an engrossing tale, a modern classic," and we had an additional rec from Phoebe, one of our booksellers who is now working in publishing, and that makes me think it crosses over well to the YA market. And lots of critical reads came in like Kate Nepveu's on the blog: "Naomi Novik’s Uprooted Isn’t The Book I Expected — It’s Better." (Note: our next event with Tor authors is August 31--we're hosting Mary Robinette Kowal and Ada Palmer.)

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Penelope Project, by Anne Basting, Maureen Towey, and Ellie Rose
2. Your Favorite Band is Killing Me, by Steven Hyden
3. Old Records Never Die, by Eric Spitznagel
4. Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
5. Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari
6. Just Mercy, by Brian Stephenson
7. Milwaukee in the 1930s, by John D. Buenker
8. The Fellowship, by Philip and Carol Zaleski
9. The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough
10. How to Bake Pi, by Eugenia Cheng

It's funny how events go in waves - this week was very nonfiction papery. But of course it got a little stranger than that, both Steven Hyden and Eric Spitznagel had written paperback original philosophical memoirs of sort, Klosterman-esque, you might say, at the same time there was the new release of a Klosterman. And we wound up having the events a day apart at venues about maybe a mile from each other. We booked the Spitznagel before we were asked to sell books at the Hyden, but in a way, it was good as we had a number of people who went to both, and I got to call the mini series "Vinyl in the View" which made me happy because of the alliteration. We have signed copies of both Your Favorite Band is Killing Me and Old Records Never Die.

Books for Kids:
1. Coruroy's Fourth of July, by Don Freeman
2. Hidden Oracle, by Rick Riordan
3. A Study in Charlotte, by Brittany Cavallaro
4. Summerlost, by Ally Condie
5. Green Bay Packers ABC by Brad Epstein
6. Just One Day, by Gayle Forman (ticketed event for new adult novel, 9/20 at the Lynden)
7. Mosquitoland, by David Arnold
8. The BFG, by Roald Dahl

It may be summer but in Wisconsin, board books such as Green Bay Packers ABC are apparently always a great purchase. And speaking of fall, several booksellers are making their way through Gayle Forman's new novel for adults, Leave Me. It's a ticketed event that might be great for a mother and daughter wanting to enjoy an event together. Coincidentally I just read two books by one author in succession, one adult and one YA, but I'm not going to talk more about it quite yet as the adult book doesn't come out till July 5. And one last thing on crossovers - all adults should read Summerlost. OK, I'm done.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, it's the week before Summerfest and that means that the Book Page is replaced by music reviews. But one review snuck in anyway. Summer demanded Jim Higgins' review of If Bees Are Few: A Hive of Bee Poems. Where else could Emily Dickinson, Barbara Hambly, Bill McKibben, and Sherman Alexie come together, I ask? Higgins writes: "These poets, contemporary and ancient, find much to like in the busy, hive-minded ones, including their uncanny homing instinct." We have a copy of this book at Boswell and I'd put it on hold now, because there's been a lot of buzz about it.

And as a web extra, there's Marcus Tullius Cicero's How to Grow Old, translated by Philip Freeman. Jim Higgins observes: "As translated by Freeman, Cicero comes across as calm and reasonable, but vigorous in making his case. He also seems to have been a precursor of the Gray Panthers: 'For old age is respected only if it defends itself, maintains its rights, submits to no one, and rules over its domain until its last breath.'"

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