Sunday, October 2, 2016

Boswell's annotated bestsellers for the week ending October 1, including a very nice first week for Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" and continuing sales for "A Gentleman in Moscow"

Here's the Boswell bestsellers for week ending October 1, 2016

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Fates and Traitors, by Jennifer Chiaverini
2. Perfume River, by Robert Olen Butler (event at Boswell October 4, 7 pm)
3. Commonwealth, by Anne Patchett (alas, event sold out)
4. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
5. Another Brooklyn, by Jacqueline Woodson (event at Centennial Hall October 21, 6:30 pm)
6. Angels of Detroit, by Christopher Hebert
7. The Light of Paris, by Eleanor Brown
8. Nutshell, by Ian McEwan
9. Here I Am, by Jonathan Safran Foer
10. Miss Jane, by Brad Watson

Our #1 book without any event component is A Gentleman in Moscow, which Boswellian Jane Glaser is talking up at our club presentations. As Lucy Feldman writes in her profile of the author in The Wall Street Journal, "The author has his first career to thank for the idea that sprouted his second novel. A Gentleman in Moscow...chronicles 32 years in the life of a Russian aristocrat forced to live out his days in Moscow’s Metropol Hotel. On a business trip in 2009, Mr. Towles found himself observing some of the same people he’d seen over the years during his stays at Geneva’s Le Richemond, musing on the idea of a character trapped inside a hotel. Russia—a country and culture that has long fascinated the author, and a place where house arrest has existed since the time of the czars—was the obvious setting, he says."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen
2. Teacher, by Michael Copperman
3. Hero of the Empire, by Candice Millard (event October 5 at Boswell, 7 pm)
4. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance
5. My Son Wears Heels, by Julie Tarney
6. Designing Your Life, by Bill Burnett
7. Bad Little Childrens Books, by Arthur C. Gackley
8. Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939, by Volker Ulrich
9. Tribe, Sebastian Junger
10. Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, by Carlo Rovelli

We're pretty sure the #1 book in sales this week nationally is Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run. The (UK) Independent's write up from Dave Pollock proclaims that even in the intro, "Bruce Springsteen is drawing us into his life story with the unforced, straight-ahead panache of a grizzled thriller writer." Entertainment Weekly called it "rich and revealing" and note that many critics are comparing it to one of Springsteen's concerts.

We're so excited about Candice Millard's first Boswell event for Hero of the Empire on Wednesday, October 5. From Jennifer Senior's review in The New York Times: "Over the years, Ms. Millard has made a stylish niche for herself, zooming in on a brief, pivotal chapter in the life of a historical figure and turning it into a legitimate feature-length production. In The River of Doubt, she focused on Theodore Roosevelt’s adventures in the Amazon basin to recover from his defeat in 1912. (These excursions seemed to be the political equivalent of rebound girlfriends for him.) In Destiny of the Republic, she focused on the assassination of James A. Garfield, particularly the doctors who serially bungled their attempts to save his life. The story Ms. Millard tells here is no less cinematic or dramatic."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
2. French Rhapsody, Antoine Laurain (event at Boswell Sunday, October 23, 3 pm)
3. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
4. Mrs. Lincoln's Rival, by Jennifer Chiaverini
5. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
6. Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker, by Jennifer Chiaverini
7. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
8. The Improbability of Love, by Hannah Rothschild
9. Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule, by Jennifer Chiaverini
10. Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
11. La femme au carnet rouge, by Antoine Laurain

So close! While I am very excited that we had a nice pop for Antoine Laurain's French Rhapsody in advance of the event, I am even more excited that we came so close to having a book in French in our top ten with La femme au carnet rouge (The Red Notebook), and I should note that this was not a bulk order, but with each copy sold to a different person. We have a limited number of French editions of Le chapeau de Mitterand and Rhapsodie Française as well.

I guess we had a milestone with Rupi Kaur's poetry as Milk and Honey finally jumped into our top ten, after months of months of high placement on the national bestseller list.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Accidental Saints, by Nadia Bolz-Weber
2. Altered States, by Thomas Holbrook
3. Pastrix, by Nadia Bolz-Weber
4. LGBT Milwuakee, by Michail Takach
5. The Witches, by Stacy Schiff
6. Black Man in a White Coat, by Damon Tweedy
7. Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
8. March, Volume 3, by John Lewis
9. My Holiday in North Korea, by Wendy E. Simmons
10. Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, by Roz Chast

What do Stacy Schiff and Damon Tweedy have in common? They are two authors that at one time or another looked like they might be coming to Boswell for The Witches and Black Man in a White Coat, respectively, only things couldn't come together. We're sad about both, but it's nice to see they are still selling well at Boswell. Adam Goodheart wrote in The Atlantic: "...maybe it’s a reflection of our own peculiar cultural moment that—especially in Stacy Schiff’s new retelling, The Witches: Salem, 1692—the old Salem saga now reads most compellingly as a kind of true-life version of young-adult fiction. Pint-size wizards, talking cats, bloody bite marks, supernatural battles between rival factions of preteens—it’s all straight out of the pages of J. K. Rowling or the Twilight series."

Our Nadia Bolz-Weber sales of Accidental Saints and Pastrix are from the recent Presbytery of Milwaukee gathering. The event was opened to the public but sold out before we were asked to sell books. We have books for sales, but alas, not signed.

Picture and Board Books for Kids:
1. Ten Little Ninjas, by Miranda Paul/Nate Wragg
2. Trainbots, by Miranda Paul/Shane McG
3. Click, Clack, Surprise, by Doreen Cronin/Betsy Lewin
4. One Plastic Bag, by Miranda Paul/Elizabeth Zenon
5. Sophie's Squash Goes to School, by Pat Zietlow Miller/Anne Wilsdorf
6. Sophie's Squash, by Pat Zietlow Miller/Anne Wilsdorf
7. Sharing the Bread, by Pat Zietlow Miller/Jill McElmurry
8. Click, Clack, Moo, by Doreen Cronin/Betsy Lewin
9. Click, Clack, Boo, by Doreen Cronin/Betsy Lewin
10. Click, Clack, Ho Ho Ho, by Doreen Cronin/Betsy Lewin

Guess who came to Boswell in the last week or so? School events with Miranda Paul and Pat Zietlow Miller, along with school and public events for Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin (whose new Click, Clack, Surprise is the birthday-themed addition to their series) completely dominated our bestseller list of books for kids, such that we split off picture books from chapter and YA. And who knew that the illustrator of Sharing the Bread (a Thanksgiving themed book), Jill McElmurry, is the woman behind the art for the Little Blue Truck series. I'm sure all of you actually knew, but I didn't until now.

Middle Grade through Young Adult:
1. Hollow Earth, by John Barrowman and Carole E. Barrowman
2. The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill
3. Dead City, by James Ponti
4. Bone Quill V2 Hollow Earth, by John Barrowman and Carole E. Barrowman
5. The Book of Beasts V3 Hollow Earth, by John Barrowman and Carole E. Barrowman
6. Framed, by James Ponti
7. The Blackthorn Key V1, by Kevin Sands
8. The Mark of the Plague V2 The Blackthorn Key, by Kevin Sands
9. The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse, by Brian Farrey
10. The Witches, by Roald Dahl

It's Halloween season if there are not one, but three witch novels in our top ten. In addition to Stacy Schiff's nonfiction, there is Roald Dahl's classic, and Kelly Barnhill's The Girl Who Drank the Moon. I guess in the case of Barnhill, the protagonist is not strictly a witch, but is more adopted by one.

Kevin Sands and James Ponti also visited area schools for Boswell. In The Mark of the Plague, Kevin Sands follows up his Kirkus Reviews-starred first novel in the series. Of the newest, Kirkus offers another starred review: "It is 1665, and the plague has arrived in London, bringing with it prophets of doom and unscrupulous swindlers hoping to prey upon the fears of the desperate citizens. Christopher, former apprentice to the late apothecary Benedict Blackthorn, finds himself at the center of a conspiracy that will end in either a cure for the Black Death or the destruction of society...Another stunner proves a worthy sequel to The Blackthorn Key."

Of James Ponti's newest, Framed is a detective series for kids, featuring seventh grader Florian Bates working with the FBI, employing his very special theory of solving crime called T.O.A.S.T. School Library Journal writes: "With elements of Alex Rider, James Bond, and Sherlock Holmes stories, this is likely to be popular with mystery and action/adventure fans."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Elfrieda Abbe reviews Caroline Leavitt's Cruel Beautiful World, the story of two orphaned sisters and the women who raised them. She writes: "...Leavitt is on to something here­­­ — the vulnerability of young girls, sexually advanced, perhaps, but naïve when it comes to human nature. The novel reminds us, too, of our own peril. Oh, how thin the line between good fortune and tragedy; how tenuous our hold on a safe haven from life’s calamities."

The second review from the Journal Sentinel is Erin Kogler's essay on Maria Semple's Today Will Be Different, the story of a cartoonist (and wife, and mom) whose latest project, a graphic novel, is years overdue, and finds herself, as the publisher says, careening from one catastrophe to the next. Kogler's take: "The power in Semple’s novel is its relatability. In one hilariously true moment, Eleanor recounts her last trip to Costco: 'After an hour spent filling my cart so high it handled like a bumper car and required a hand across the top so everything wouldn’t slide off, I found my way to the checkout line. A wave of misanthropy swept over me. Why did a lady need a whole drum of Red Vines?' It is in these small vignettes and vivid character descriptions where Semple’s comedy shines."

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