Sunday, March 12, 2017

Could it be the annotated Boswell bestseller list for the week ending March 11, 2017? It could!

Here's what's selling at Boswell this week!

Hardcover Fiction:
1. A Piece of the World, by Christina Baker Kline
2. The Hearts of Men, by Nickolas Butler
3. The Confessions of Young Nero, by Margaret George
4. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
5. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah (ticketed event at Elm Grove Library April 26, close to selling out)
6. Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid
7. News of the World, by Paulette Jiles
8. The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton
9. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
10. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
11. Difficult Women, by Roxane Gay
12. Autumn, by Ali Smith
13. Beneath the Bonfire, by Nickolas Butler
14. 4 3 2 1, by Paul Auster
15. The Girl Before, by J.P. Delaney

It's a rare week outside of the fall holiday season where I feel like hardcover fiction has to extend to 15 because the sales are so good. It doesn't hurt that we had several great fiction events, and that it was a good release week too. I have to give a shout out to Exit West, the new novel from Mohsin Hamid that got an early rave from Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times. And Viet Thanh Nguyen's words omn the front page of the Sunday NYT Book Review: "This gentle optimism, this refusal to descend into dystopia, is what is most surprising about Hamid’s imaginative, inventive novel. A graceful writer who does not shy away from contentious politics and urgent, worldly matters — and we need so many more of these writers — Hamid exploits fiction’s capacity to elicit empathy and identification to imagine a better world" gave me goosebumps.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
2. At Mama's Knee, by April Ryan
3. Books for Living, by Will Schwalbe
4. The Presidency in Black and White, by April Ryan
5. Illusion of Justice, by Jerome Buting
6. South and West, by Joan Didion
7. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
8. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance
9. The Stranger in the Woods, by Michael Finkel
10. The Little Book of Hygge, by Meik Wiking

Folks who read our email newsletter will know that several of us have gone gaga over Michael Finkel's The Stranger in the Woods. Michael Harris is also a fan, noting in the Toronto Globe and Mail that the book is "Finkel’s stunning account of one man’s obsessive withdrawal from society. The reporting alone would make this book worth reading; at times, the story is so richly detailed, so full-immersion, that it borders on becoming a non-fiction novel. More important, Finkel finds a way, in a brief 190 pages, to bring us well beyond the mere facts of the case: The Stranger in the Woods is, ultimately, a meditation on the pains of social obligation and the longing toward retreat that resides in us all."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Little Red Chairs, by Edna O'Brien (book club discussion 4/6, 7 pm)
2. In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez (book club discussion 5/1, 7 pm)
3. The Sellout, by Paul Beatty (and this was our March discussion--the blog was supposed to go up Thursday or Friday, but it will now be ready next Tuesday)
4. The Samurai's Garden, by Gail Tsukiyama
5. The Illusion of Separateness, by Simon Van Buoy
6. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
7. The Lilac Girls, by Marth Hall Kelly
8. All the Missing Girls, by Megan Miranda (mystery book club discussion 3/27, event 4/19, 7 pm)
9. Flight, by Sherman Alexie
10. The Drifter, by Nick Petrie

My Worcester sister just called me to say she read The Drifter twice! Really, it's that good. Chandler (Arizona) sister just finished The Mothers and loved it. Now can you see why we all get along?

Here's more about Kelly's breakout paperback. I know folks have been really excited by The Lilac Girls but what a pop it had in Milwaukee last week. Yes, we sold some but the numbers on Bookscan were enormous. I actually had to check her event page to see if she had been in the area. But no. She's going to do two events in the Chicago area, including Libertyville on March 15 and Women and Children First on the 16. And before you ask, we did write a proposal to add on March 17, but alas, it just didn't work. But if you like historical fiction, why not attend our event with Renee Rosen on March 21 for Windy City Blues?

And while I don't think I know anybody in that part of Nassau County, I'd be giving a shout out to the Glen Cove Public Library, who is hosting Kelly on May 9. I can't remember what my parents used to do in Glen Cove, but I think they went there with some regularity. Community concerts? Folk dancing? Movies? The possibilities are endless.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Brick Through the Window, by Steven Nodine, Eric Beaumont, Clancy Carroll, and David Luhrssen
2. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
3. Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren
4. On Tyranny, by Timothy Snyder
5. Live and Let Live, by Evelyn Perry (event at Woodland Pattern, Fri 3/31, 7 pm)
6. The Wiscom of Menopause, by Christiane Northrup
7. Cataclysm, by Zeynab Ali
8. Dark Money, by Jane Mayer
9. The End of Your Life Book Club, by Will Schwalbe
10. Lion/Long Way Home, by Saroo Brierley

We've just announced this collaboration with Woodland Pattern for Evelyn Perry's Live and Let Live, a new sociological study of Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood. She'll be at WP on Friday, March 31. This is free, and we'll be splitting proceeds on book sales. I just started reading this today and I'm very excited.

Sales exploded this week for On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, from Timothy Snyder, who appeared at Marquette Law School last year for Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning. Here's a review in The Guardian by Richard J. Evans, who notes that after a flourishing period for democracy, the world is falling under the sway of strongmen who "dismantle civil liberties, silence critical voices and suppress independent institutions," often with popular support for what they are doing.

Books for Kids:
1. The Playbook, by Kwame Alexander
2. The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander
3. Booked, by Kwame Alexander
4. Flying Lessons and Other Stories, edited by Ellen Oh
5. Summerland, by Michael Chabon
6. Monster, by Walter Dean Myers
7. Out of My Mind, by Sharon M Draper
8. The Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard
9. Going Bovine, by Libba Bray
10. Hollow City, by Ransom Riggs
11. I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak
12. A Is for Activist, by Innsanto Nagara
13. Nelson Mandela, by Barry Denenberg
14. Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanha Lai
15. The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan

We always have to give a shout out for school sales, and this week one of our local districts shaped not just the kids list, but several of the adult ones as well. At the top, however, was our recent visit from Kwame Alexander, who visited South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center for a middle school event. You should note that Flying Lessons also contains a story from Alexander. At the top is new nonfiction work, The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life, of which Kirkus Reviews writes: "The advice never feels heavy-handed, and the author's voice shines through."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins confesses to a dilemma: "The only thing more difficult than reviewing Sarah Manguso's 300 Arguments is not reviewing it. Her biting collection of aphorisms merits a wide audience, especially of people taking life on the Mithridates plan of self-inoculation against the world's toxins. But be forewarned that Manguso's bracing words often suggest those toxins are self-generated."

The TapBooks page also features a review of The Idiot from critic Mike Fischer, who writes that "Batuman’s semi-autographical first novel, stretches a brief anecdote in The Possessed about first love into a full chronicle of lost illusions, featuring a heroine awakening to the realization that beauty cannot exist apart from the world, with its attendant disappointment, hurt and pain. It’s a funny, thoughtful and poignant portrait of an artist as a young woman."

I'm out of town so I won't see the other print reviews until Tuesday. Why not pick up a copy of the Journal Sentinel and read them yourself. Print is fun, goes good with coffee.

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