Sunday, July 9, 2017

Time travel, trees, sorceress school, and mysterious portraits in this week's Boswell annotated bestseller list for the week ending July 8, 2017

Marking the end of Summerfest's 50th anniversary celebration with a Boswell bestseller wrap up.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, by Arundhati Roy
2. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
3. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
4. The Rose and Fall of D.O.D.O., by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland
5. Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult
6. Camino Island, by John Grisham
7. The Magpie Murders, by Anthony Horowitz
8. The Force, by Don Winslow
9. Spoonbenders, by Daryl Gregory
10. The Accomplished Guest, stories by Ann Beattie

Here are some things you should know about The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. 1) D.O.D.O stands for Department of Diachronic Operations. 2) It is the #1 Indie Next book for July. Bill Cusumano of Square Books in Oxford writes: "For someone who approaches such serious scientific and technological subjects, Neal Stephenson can be outrageously funny. Combine that with Nicole Galland’s storytelling ability and you have a rollicking roller coaster of a novel." 3) Our buyer Jason brought in signed copies of the new book. 4) Need more? Adam Roberts in The Guardian reviews the book, and calls it "big, roomy, and enjoyable." And note to Tracy, it's a time-travel novel.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken
2. You Don't Have to Say You Love Me, by Sherman Alexie
3. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance
4. Chuck Klosterman X, by Chuck Klosterman
5. Janesville, by Amy Goldstein
6. When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi
7. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil deGrasse Tyson
8. Playing with Power, by Garitt Rocha
9. Wiscsonsin Supper Clubs: Another Round, by Ron Faiola
10. Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann (free event at Boswell, Monday, July 17, 7 pm)

The top nonfiction is not turning much (I've read four of the top five, which is an indicator), meaning we've written up just about all these titles before. A bulk sale popped Playing with Power onto our list. So let's talk more about Killers of the Flower Moon, the acclaimed new David Grann history book where we just announced an appearance with Grann on July 17. Though I didn't read The Lost City of Z, it is one of those nonfiction adventure/history narratives that is easy to sell, especially because we knew so many people loved it. We do have a great read on Grann's latest from Boswellian Tim McCarthy, a big fan who writes: "I couldn't have been at once more horrified and also transfixed." We're going to get his complete write up on our blog this week. And I just started reading it too.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
2. Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
3. Great Reckoning, by Louise Penny
4. Life on Mars, by Tracy K. Smith
5. Burning Bright, by Nick Petrie
6. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
7. Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
8. The Portrait, by Antoine Laurain
9. The Expanse Between, by Lee L. Kreklow (group event on Monday, August 21, 7 pm)
10. Here I Am, by Jonathan Safran Foer

While it might not sell the 300 copies of The Red Notebook (which has been popular enough to have a gift edition coming this fall), Antoine Laurain's The Portrait, his very first novel, is doing pretty well off our front table. It's the story of an obsessive collector who spots an old painting, where the subject's likeness is uncannily like his own, but nobody around him seems to recognize this. While I don't expect to see a review in The New York Times Book Review, it's been getting some nice writeups in decent-sized blogs, such as His Futile Preoccupations, who wrote "The Portrait asks what would happen if we were given a chance to walk away from a life we found tedious, crude, and worthless. Would we take that chance? Delightful." Laurain is still working on his next new work - I think we can expect to see that in 2018. And yes, we are once again stocking some Antoine Laurain novels in French.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
2. Live and Let Live, by Evelyn Perry (event with Mitch Teich on Tuesday, July 18, 7 pm, at Boswell)
3. White Trash, by Nancy Isenberg
4. Brick Through the Window, by Steven Nodine, Eric Beaumont, Clancy Carroll, and David Luhrssen
5. The Long, Long Life of Trees, by Fiona Stafford
6. Hour of Land, by Terry Tempest Williams
7. No Is Not Enough, by Naomi Klein
8. Irena's Children, by Tilar J. Mazzeo
9. We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie
10. Preservation, by Christina Ward

While our buyer Jason includes university press titles on our new paperback table with some regularity, few have the momentum to pop onto the bestseller list, but The Long, Long Life of Trees was able to do so, and that's with individual (not bulk) sales. This very attractive volume follows 17 varieties of trees, with one of them including the ash. I'm sad because we just lost another two ash trees a block from my house, and Downer Avnue really has been decimated. Sid Perkins writes in UK's Science News that this new book by Stafford (an Oxford professor and UK radio personality) is "an engaging book from cover to cover" and "a wonderful walk through the woods."

Books for Kids:
1. She Persisted, by Chelsea Clinton, with illustrations by Alexandra Boiger
2. Herbie Jones, by Suzy Kline
3. Dog Man Unleashed, by Dav Pilkey
4. Miss Ellicott's School for the Magically Minded, by Sage Blackwood
5. A Is for Activist, by Innosanto Nagara
6. Natural World, by Amanda Wood
7. Dark Prophecy, by Rick Riordan
8. Dragons Love Tacos 2, by Adam Rubin, with illustrations by Daniel Salmieri
9. The Book with No Pictures, by B.J. Novak
10. Little Excavator, by Anna Dewdney

A sleeper that has quietly notched some very strong sales at Boswell is Miss Ellicott's School for the Magically Minded. It has a recommendation from Jen, who wrote: "When all the Sorceresses in town disappear, it's up to Chantel and her friends to rescue them. As she makes new friends and foes, Chantel embarks on an adventure that will reveal long hidden truths and test her at every turn." All the trade reviews were also strong, with School Library Journal writing "This book features a strong plot and well-developed characters. Readers who enjoyed Blackwood's earlier works will not be disappointed. Hand this to fans of Diana Wynne Jones and Shannon Hale."

This week in the Journal Sentinel, The TapBooks page offered an excerpt from Wisconsin Literary Luminaries, featuring Cordwainer Smith, the cult classic science fiction writer. His given name was Paul Linebarger, which Bay Viewers will recognize from the street named after his family. As Jim Higgins notes, Smith had a "short but remarkable career" and chronicles his major works.

Also listed are two high profile books from authors visiting Milwaukee in the coming weeks. Patty Rhule's writeup of Kiss Carlo and Don Oldenberg's review of Killers of the Flower Moon both come from USA Today. Adriana Trigiani will be at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Performing Arts, presented by Boswell and Oconomowoc's Books & Company, this Wednesday, July 12 (it's ticketed) while David Grann will be at Boswell on Monday, July 17

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