Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Annotated Boswell Bestsellers for the Week Ending February 11, 2017, plus Journal Sentinel Tap Books Page.

Here's what sold at Boswell last week.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Mothers, by Brit Bennett
2. 4 3 2 1, by Paul Auster
3. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
4. Difficult Women, by Roxane Gay
5. Garden of Lamentations V17, by Deborah Crombie
6. Universal Harvester, by John Darnielle
7. The Refugees, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
8. Moonglow, by Michael Chabon
9. The Last Days of Night, by Graham Moore
10. LaRose, by Louise Erdrich

John Darnielle's first novel, Wolf in White Van, received a National book Award nomination so it's no surprise that the Mountain Goats frontman had a nice pop in sales for novel #2, Universal Harvester is a story set in 1990s Iowa in which a young video store clerk is confronted by a series of mysterious local footage shot over returned tapes. David Menconi profiles Mr. Darnielle in the Raleigh News and Observer. Michael Schaub calls the new book "brilliant" in his Los Angeles Times review. And here's an OnMilwuakee profile of the Darnielle and the Mountain Goats where they note they played at Fuel Cafe in the 1990s.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman
2. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
3. Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen
4. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance
5. Modern Death, by Haider Warraich
6. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
7. Speaking American, by Josh Katz
8. The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben
9. Women in Science, by Rachel Ignotofsky
10. Ethics 101, by John Maxwell

Natalie Haynes in The Guardian will not be surprised when Neil Gaiman's Norse Mytholgy makes a big splash on next week's national bestseller lists. She writes: "It’s virtually impossible to read more than 10 words by Neil Gaiman and not wish he would tell you the rest of the story. He is a thesaurus of myth, both original and traditional, as comfortable appraising the science fiction of Douglas Adams or co-authoring fantasy with Terry Pratchett as he is reimagining the story of Orpheus and Eurydice or creating a bleakly funny serial killers’ convention in small-town America. And that’s before you get on to his children’s picture books. Eclectic doesn’t quite cover it."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Intuitionist, by Colson Whitehead
2. The Sellout, by Paul Beatty (In-store lit group 3/6, 6 pm)
3. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
4. In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez (In-store lit group 4/3, 7 pm)
5. In a Dark, Dark Wood, by Ruth Ware
6. The Circle, by Dave Eggers
7. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
8. Too Like the Lightning V1, by Ada Palmer (Science Fiction book club 5/8, 7 pm)
9. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, by Phaedra Patrick
10. The Mutual Admiration Society, by Lesley Kagen

Three of our top ten titles this week are upcoming book club selections that are run by Boswell booksellers at the store. In-Store Lit Group meets first Monday, Science Fiction Book Club meets the second Monday, and Mystery Book Club meets the fourth Monday. All are open to the public--you don't need to join anything, though it's true that each club has developed regulars. The Mystery book club's next two selections are Even the Dead, by Benjamin Black on February 27 and All the Missing Girls, by Megan Miranda, on March 27. And then don't forget that Miranda (whose book just hit the American Booksellers Association independent bookstore bestseller list) is coming to Boswell on April 19.

Also note that In the Time of the Butterflies is part of the Milwaukee Public Library Big Read, so you'll see a lot of clubs in the area reading this classic novel from Julia Alvarez. There will even be butterly-themed storytimes, such as this one at Capitol Library.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Population 485, by Michael Perry
2. Brick Through the Window, by Steven Nodine, Eric Beaumont, Clancy Carroll, and David Luhrssen (event 2/17, 7 pm, at Boswell)
3. Lemons and Lemonade, by David H. Mathews
4. Coxey's Crusade for Jobs, by Jerry Prout
5. William Morris: Arts and Crafts Coloring Book, from V&A Museum
6. The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
7. The Originals, by Adam Grant
8. Hope in the Dark 2e, by Rebecca Solnit
9. I Am Not Your Negro, by James Baldwin
10. The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard

We're having trouble keeping Brick Through the Window in stock in advance of our event on February 17. This book is kind of the third edition of The Cease is Increase, Steven Nodine's classic book on the Milwaukee punk scene, greatly expanded with the help of Beaumont, Carroll, and Luhrssen. If you missed Jim Higgins's column in the Journal Sentinel, he can fill you in on the details.

Books for Kids:
1. Heart to Heart, by Lois Ehlert
2. Here We Are, edited by Kelly Jensen (event 3/2, 7 pm, at Boswell)
3. The Scraps Book, by Lois Ehlert
4. A Is for Activist, by Innosanto Nagara
5. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin with illustrations by Lois Ehlert
6. Rain Fish, by Lois Ehlert
7. Before You, by Rebecca Doughty
8. Love Is All Around Wisconsin, by Wedni Silvano
9. Dog Man V1, by Dav Pilkey
10. Dog Man Unleashed V2, by Dav Pilkey

We had a wonderful afternoon with Lois Ehlert, which included not just many fans but also a good number of family members. Instead of reading the story (which would give away all the good puns, which are more fun to figure out yourself), Ms. Ehlert offered several rebus puzzles for everyone to sound out. And yes, I showed Ms. Ehlert samples of all our bags, as we change color every time we reprint, and we've had a lot of color discussions over the years. We're working on a very nice turquoise/aqua, which had to be redone as the first sample turned out to be more sea green. And that's why they say you should depend on your computer screen to determine colors.

We ran out of Heart to Heart, but we'll be geting in more on Tuesday for last minute holiday shoppers.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins reviews Lincoln in the Bardo. He doesn't assign letter grades but rumor has it that this is the first A+ of the year for him: "After the death of 11-year-old Willie Lincoln (apparently from typhoid fever) in 1862, grief-stricken President Abraham Lincoln returned to the crypt to hold his son's body. This anecdote haunted fiction writer George Saunders, who now haunts us with Lincoln in the Bardo, a brilliant, empathetic and wonderfully weird novel, both emotionally and technically stirring."

Expect to see this long-awaited first novel from George Saunders ranked high on next week's bestseller lists.

There's been lots of buzz about the YA novel American Street from Ibi Zoboi and the Journal Sentinel's Mike Fischer adds to the chorus: "In a 2013 study, American Street in the 48204 zip code on Detroit’s west side was designated the most violent neighborhood in America. It’s also the title of Haitian-born Ibi Zoboi’s YA novel “American Street, much of which unfolds at the actual Detroit intersection of American Street and Joy Road." The story is of a teenage girl who continues on to Detroit after her mother is detained in New Jersey. Fischer liked the character of Fabiola but wasn't as crazy about the secondary characters and some of the plot lines. The starred Booklist review similarly noted some strained credulity but nevertheless proclaimed it "fierce and beautiful."

Jim Higgins also takes on The New Midwest, from Mark Athitakis, calling it "a crisp engaging tipsheet." He notes: "Former Chicagoan Mark Athitakis appears to share my wariness but has not yet given up on finding value in the concept of Midwesternness, at least when it comes to fiction. His succinct book The New Midwest: A Guide to Contemporary Fiction of the Great Lakes, Great Plains, and Rust Belt explores both the mythology about the region ('homey, religious, self-reliant, and white as possible') and how contemporary fiction writers subvert, exploit and explode that mythology. His book grew out of his 'Reading the Midwest' column for Belt Magazine."

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