Sunday, October 29, 2017

Annotated Boswell bestsellers, week ending October 28, 2017

Here's what's been selling at Boswell this past week.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan
2. The Rooster Bar, by John Grisham

3. Uncommon Type, by Tom Hanks
4. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
5. Sleeping Beauties, by Stephen King and Owen King
6. Strange Weather, by Joe Hill
7. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
8. Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid
9. The Name of the Wind deluxe anniversary edition, by Patrick Rothfuss
10. The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman

The prolific Mr. Grisham produces a traditional thriller, following his summer blockbuster Camino Island. Like some of Grisham's previous bestsellers, The Rooster Bar hits on a timely topic, the duplicitous dealings of many for-profit education companies. Janet Maslin (wasn't she supposed to retire?) raves in The New York Times: "Earlier this year, John Grisham announced that his next legal thriller would be about the scams behind many for-profit law schools. But it’s a long leap from subject matter to story, and Grisham’s newly reanimated storytelling skills are what make The Rooster Bar such a treat."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Endurance, by Scott Kelly
2. Leonardo Da Vinci, by Walter Isaacson
3. Devotion, by Patti Smith
4. Grant, by Ron Chernow
5. We Were Eight Years in Power, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
6. Going into Town, by Roz Chast
7. College in Prison, by Daniel Karpowitz
8. What Happened, by Hillary Rodham Clinton (at the Riverside November 9 - it's not our event but we've been brought in to sell books in the lobby)
9. American Wolfe, by Nate Blakeslee
10. The Storm Before the Storm, by Mike Duncan (at Boswell on November 9 - this one's ours!)

Well here's something interesting I learned about Endurance (alas, no signed copies--we had a surge of last-minute ticket sales) at our event with Mr. Kelly this past Monday. I hadn't noticed as I didn't look at the inside full title page, but the book was written with the help of Margaret Lazarus Dean, who won the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize for her book Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight. Dean actually came to Boswell to talk about the book. OK, I hope this is ok to note: Mr. Kelly called Ms. Dean to collaborate...from space. How could she refuse? Their collaboration has borne fruit - Kirkus wrote that Endurance was "One of those books you can't put down, don't want to finish, and won't soon forget."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Sun and Her Flowers, by Rupi Kaur
2. Karolina's Twins, by Ronald H. Balson
3. Swing Time, by Zadie Smith
4. The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro
5. Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro
6. News of the World, by Paulette Jiles
7. The Atomic Weight of Love, by Elizabeth J Church
8. Moonglow, by Michael Chabon
9. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
10. O Henry Prize Stories 2017, edited by Laura Furman

I don't know about you, but it's still crushing me that The New York Times has cut the number of trade paperback bestsellers to 10 and because it's not tracking mass markets, it's made the trade list more commercial. I looked at our list and wondered what we're missing, but honestly, I looked at the paperback fiction list and I didn't find a heretofore overlooked sleeper. I am a little shocked that Kazuo Ishiguro isn't present there. We're obviously doing quite well with several of his novels, and should do even better - I'm on the cusp of picking one of them for our January In-Store Lit Group selection, probably When We Were Orphans. You heard it here first. (Addendum: or maybe we're doing Never Let Me Go.)

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. I Am Not Your Negro, by James Baldwin, companion edition to the documentary film edited by Raoul Peck
2. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
3. A Northern Front, by John Hildebrand
4. Justice for All, by Lloyd Barbee, edited by Daphne Barbee-Wooten
5. Cream City Chronicles, by John Gurda
6. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
7. Saving Sadie, by Joal Derse Dauer
8. How to Fight, by Thich Nhat Hanh
9. Pigeon Tunnel, by John LeCarre
10. Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren

Several speakers were in town highlighting the works of other writers. Raoul Peck appeared for several events at UWM around his documentary I Am Not Your Negro, which focused on the work of James Baldwin. And then there was Justice for All: Selected Writings of Lloyd A Barbee, whose book was recently reviewed in the Journal Sentinel. His daughter, Daphne Barbee-Wooten, appeared at the Milwaukee Public Library to discusses this book of collected essays from a Wisconsin Civil Rights icon.

Books for Kids:
1. Sail Away Dragon, by Barbara Joosse, with illustrations by Randy Cecil
2. The Sidekicks, by Will Kostakis
3. My Journey to the Stars, by Scott Kelly, with illustrations by Andre Ceolin
4. Lovabye Dragon, by Barbara Joosse, with illustrations by Randy Cecil
5. Evermore Dragon, by Barbara Joosse, with illustrations by Randy Cecil
6. The Gatekeepers, by Jen Lancaster
7. Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green
8. The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman
9. Room on the Broom (paperback), by Julia Donaldson, with illustrations by Axel Sheffler
10. Bruce's Big Move, by Ryan T Higgins

We've been friends with author Barbara Joosse for a long time, having recently had a great public event with her and Anneke Lisberg for Better Together. For the first time, we partnered up for a day of school visits, making our way to Mequon, Waukesha, and even Lake Geneva. A great time was had by all. The new book, Sail Away Dragon, is the third adventure of Girl and Dragon, who this time fly off on an adventure. Kirkus Reviews saw the references to The Owl and the Pussycat, and noted: "As in many famous stories, one must leave home to find home, which is the same for these two loving friends...Fans of the series will delight in seeing these favorites again, and Girl and Dragon should win some new ones." We're doing it again in February. Contact Jenny if you'd like to be considered for a school visit.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Mike Fischer reviews The King Is Always Above the People, the new collection of stories from Daniel Alarcón, which has already been longlisted for the National Book Award. Fischer writes: "These stories — many set in an unnamed Latin American country resembling Alarcón’s native Peru, with a few unfolding in the United States where he’s lived most of his life — are filled with young men who’ve lost their innocence and their way. Many of them would be right at home in the 1930s world of John Steinbeck."

The TapBooks page also features a roundup from Jim Higgins of several books on Martin Luther. Higgins writes: "As Lutherans in Milwaukee and around the world celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, they can turn to several new biographies and studies of Martin Luther, whose 95 theses challenging the sale of indulgences launched Christian religious reform — and sometimes deadly conflict. While these new books dig into the content of the theses and the development of the reformer's religious thought, in general, they don't support the popular image of a defiant Luther nailing them on a church door in Wittenberg on Oct. 31, 1517."

The books are:
--A World Ablaze: The Rise of Martin Luther and the Birth of the Reformation, by Craig Harline
--Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World, by Eric Metaxas
--The Making of Martin Luther, by Richard Rex
--Renegade: Martin Luther, the graphic biography, by Dacia Palmerino, with illustrations by Andrea Ciponte.

And just for good measure, check out The Ninety-Five Theses and Other Writings, a new collection of Luther's work from Penguin Classics.

Jim Higgins profiles the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books in Waukesha. The headliner is Nickolas Butler, author of The Hearts of Men.

Reprinted from other papers:
--Jenna Ross reviews Where the Past Begins, by Amy Tan (Star Tribune)
--Agatha French covers Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction, by Grady Hendrix (Los Angeles Times)

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