Sunday, February 19, 2017

What's popping on the Boswell bestseller list for the week ending February 18? Hint: George Saunders.

Here's what sold at Boswell this past week.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
2. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
3. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
4. 4 3 2 1, by Paul Auster
5. Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
6. Everything You Want Me to Be, by Mindy Mejia
7. The Mothers, by Brit Bennett
8. Homesick for Another World, by Ottessa Moshfegh
9. Difficult Women, by Roxane Gay
10. The Refugees, by Viet Thanh Nguyen

If I didn't have a runaway bestseller to report on this week, I'd note that three titles in our top ten are short story collections. I've already noted here that 2017 seems like a better year for stories already than did 2016. But the big story is a short story writer's first novel in George Saunders and Lincoln in the Bardo. Nate Hopper reviews it in Time Magazine. And here's Colson Whitehead writing about the book in The New York Times Book Review: "It’s a very pleasing thing to watch a writer you have enjoyed for years reach an even higher level of achievement. To observe him or her consolidate strengths, share with us new reserves of talent and provide the inspiration that can only come from a true artist charting hidden creative territory. George Saunders pulled that trick off with Tenth of December, his 2013 book of short stories. How gratifying and unexpected that he has repeated the feat with Lincoln in the Bardo, his first novel and a luminous feat of generosity and humanism."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman
2. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
3. Little Book of Hygge, by Meik Wiking
4. The Daily Show: The Book, by Jon Stewart
5. Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
6. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance
7. The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben
8. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gruda
9. American Ulysses, by Ronald C. White
10. My Own Words, by Ruth Bader Ginsburg

They aren't new, but for some reason, I get a kick of seeing Jon Stewart and Trevor Noah next to each other on our bestseller list. If the book is still on your wish list because your friends, didn't come through, here's what Jeff Wisser has to say about the as-told-to-Chris-Smith-by-Jon-Stewart's The Daily Show: The Book, in the Chicago Tribune: "Those seeking revelations of the vast left-wing conspiracy underlying and even driving the show will be disappointed — that book is not here, it doesn't exist and it likely never will. Instead, Smith gives readers sound bites from some smart, funny and self-aware people waxing rhapsodic about their 'let's put on a show' adventures and sometimes apoplectic about the circumstances that goaded and vexed them into undertaking them."

I'm a little confused by why they officially list Chris Smith first in writer credit, as many celebrity memoirs are "as told to" and the celebrity gets top credit, if not all the credit (with a low-key thank you to the ghost writer tucked inside the acknowledgements). I guess that this is otherwise is a credit (so to speak) to Jon Stewart.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Intuitionist, by Colson Whitehead
2. Luck, Love, and Lemon Pie, by Amy E. Reichert
3. Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
4. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
5. All the Missing Girls, by Megan Miranda (at Boswell 4/19, 7 pm)
6. Britt Marie Was Here, by Fredrick Backman
7. The Drifter, by Nick Petrie
8. 1984, by George Orwell
9. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
10. The Sellout, by Paul Beatty

Nice to see Megan Miranda's paperback selling in advance of our event with her for her new book, The Perfect Stranger. Our mystery book club will be talking about All the Missing Girls at their March 27 meeting. No need to register--our in-store book clubs are open to all. I recently wrote a blog post about how psychological suspense has taken over the mystery genre (and most other genres targeted to women to boot); here's a follow-up piece from Publishers Weekly from Rachel Deahl, which mentions a number of books including All the Missing Girls.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Brick Through the Window, by Steven Nodine, Eric Beaumont, Clancy Carroll, and David Luhrssen
2. Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser
3. ...fill in the beauty, by bela suresh roongta
4. We're in America Now, by Fred Amram
5. One Thing, by Gary Keller
6. The Road to Character, by David Brooks
7. Dark Money, by Jane Mayer
8. You Can't Touch My Hair, by Phoebe Robinson
9. Gumption, by Nick Offerman
10. Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly

Some nice events this week but nothing compares to the Nodine-Beaumont-Clancy-Luhrssen collaboration for Brick Through the Window on Friday. The gang reunites at Circle A bar in Riverwest on Saturday, March 4. We'll have more copies soon, or you can order books on their website. Here's Bobby Tanzilo in OnMilwaukee: "A quartet of folks with deep roots in the local rock and roll scene banded together to create, Brick Through The Window,, a self-published tome that is exhaustive and engaging as it traces the alternative rock scene in Milwaukee from its earliest gasps for air."

Books for Kids:
1. Where's Addie, by Donna Luber
2. A Is for Activist, by Innosanto Nagara
3. King's Cage, by Victgoria Aveyard
4. American Street, by Ibi Zoboi
5. Here We Are, edited by Kelly Jensen (event 3/2, 7 pm, at Boswell)
6. Very Hungry Caterpillar board book, by Eric Carle
7. Heart to Heart, by Lois Ehlert
8. Goodnight Moon board book, by Margaret Wise Brown, with illustrations by Clement Hurd
9. Egg, by Kevin Henkes
10. Factory Girl, by Josanne La Valley

Caitlin White rounds up the top 15 YA books of February on Bustle. Bestsellers King's Cage (the follow up to Red Queen) and Ibi Zoboi's American Street are both on her checklist. Of American Street, she writes: "American Street is beautifully necessary and so incredibly timely. Fabiola was born in the U.S., but she now lives in her mother's homeland of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The two plan to immigrate to the west side of Detroit together, but when her mother is detained by immigration, Fabiola has to go at it alone. She moves in with her loud American cousins while she tries to maintain some of her Haitian and Creole culture, navigate this completely new and different place, and still cope with all the ordinary things teenagers have to, like finding a new romance."

This week the Journal Sentinel's features the Paging Through Mysteries column features the best in new mysteries from Carole E. Barrowman.

On Stephen Mack Jones's August Snow: "The paradox in this title...says a lot about its main character. August Snow is a contradiction. Raised in a Detroit home where his Mexican mom’s favorite poets (Neruda, Ines de la Cruz and Paz) share shelves with his African-American dad’s “classic noir gumshoes” (Chandler, Fisher and Himes), ex-cop Snow is neither pure nor white. He calls himself “Blaxican,” and it was my pleasure to meet him in this cracking debut." We're hoping to host Mr. Jones later in the spring.

The latest from a former Boswell guest: "The title of Deborah Crombie’s Garden of Lamentations suggests sorrow, deep and debilitating, the kind of grief that chokes. It alludes to Gethsemane and all that garden implies – betrayal, sacrifice, forgiveness, love. Crombie weaves these themes beautifully into this enthralling mystery."

And here's what Barrowman says about Claire Mackintosh's I See You, due out on February 21: "The novel slides effortlessly from Zoe Walker’s obsessive first person narration to the more reasoned perspective of a police officer with her own obsessions. Zoe thinks she’s “going to be murdered.” She’s found her picture on an online dating website that’s a front for murderers and misogynists, but is Zoe paranoid or is someone really stalking her?"

Also from the Journal Sentinel TapBooks page offers a review of We'll Always Have Casablanca: The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood's Most Beloved Movie, from Noah Isenberg. Chris Foran notes: "Junkies might not find a lot of new insights, but We'll Always Have Casablanca is a hugely readable and entertaining look at how "Casablanca" came to be, and how it came to be such an indelible part of American pop culture."

And finally, Laurie Hertzel of the Star Tribune reviews the National Book Critics Circle nominated biography from Michael Tisserand, who recently visited Boswell for Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White. She notes: Tisserand paints a fascinating picture of early 20th-century newspaper offices and the growing importance of cartoonists to cover the news and provied commentary. He also writes knowledgeably of race relations, including the seminal boxing match in which the black fighter Jack Johnson soundly defeated the white boxer Jim Jeffries, which sparked race riots across the country."

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