Sunday, July 14, 2019

Summer paperback fiction rules - unless it's about crawdads* - Boswell bestsellers for the week ending July 13, 2019

I know this is why so many fall titles are released the following May and June, but it's been a few years since I noticed such a jump in paperback fiction as a category. I haven't looked at the whole category's increase, but the sales you need to hit our bestseller list have been up substantially this summer. Maybe it's just a particularly good crop of titles! So this week I extended this category to 15 and decided to lead with it.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Collector's Apprentice, by BA Shapiro (signed copies available)
2. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
3. Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
4. The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai
5. Vintage 1954, by Antoine Laurain
6. Severance, by Ling Ma (Books and Beer Book Club selection, Monday, August 19, at Cafe Hollander)
7. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michele Richardson
8. Milwaukee Noir, edited by Tim Hennessy
9. Washington Black, by Esi Edugyan (In-Store Lit Group selection, Monday, August 5, at Boswell)
10. Layover, by David Bell (Event at Boswell, Tuesday, July 16, 7 pm)
11. Paris by the Book, by Liam Callanan
12. We're All in This Together, by Amy Jones
13. The Muralist, by BA Shapiro
14. Beneath a Scarlet Sky, by Mark Sullivan
15. Good Omens, by Neil Gailman and Terry Pratchett (We also have decided to stop producing episodes of this show)

Sometimes it can be a tough row to hoe - I really try to push backlist titles at our author events, but the sales can be disappointing. Not so for BA Shapiro - we actually sold out of The Art Forger the weekend before the event and had a lot of interest in The Muralist, too. The books play off each other well, and Shapiro has taken to calling those books, along with The Collector's Apprentice, the Art Trilogy. She said no art history in the next one, but the book, which is still being edited, does now involve the art world but in a contemporary way. And of course you never know for the future - it wouldn't be the first trilogy to become a quartet. And I guess I should note that her newly released paperback is one of three Paris-themed books in our top ten (the other two being Vintage 1954 and The Great Believers), with Paris by the Book coming in at #11.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
2. City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert
3. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong
4. The Island of Sea Women, by Lisa See
5. The Most Fun We've Ever Had, by Claire Lombardo (event at Boswell Tue Aug 6, with a book club talk from Jason Gobble)
6. Big Sky V5, by Kate Atkinson
7. Fall: or Dodge in Hell, by Neal Stephenson
8. The Flight Portfolio, by Julie Orringer (event at Jewish Museum on July 16 - details here)
9. Knife V12, by Jo Nesbo
10. Resistance Women, by Jennifer Chiaverini

If you've been paying attention, three novels are dominating our hardcover fiction list and they are all from the Penguin division of Penguin Random House. But the Knopf/Doubleday division has three books in our top ten too, including Knife, the latest mystery from Jo Nesbo featuring Harry Hole. Lloyd Sachs wrote in the Chicago Tribune: “Perhaps the most surprising development in this first-rate installment in the [Harry Hole] series is the tender emotion that wafts through Hole’s tortured self-reckonings. He’s the exception that makes the rule about there being no tears allowed on the crime beat.” OK, I'm having trouble finding this review on the Chicago Tribune site, but it's posted with the official Penguin Random House info. And I should also note that Sachs did like Nesbo's last in a column. So there it is. Plus it's now almost impossible to link to most newspaper sites for book reviews - they've all been paywalled. Completely understood!

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. For the Good of the Game, by Bud Selig
2. Three Women, by Lisa Taddeo
3. Special Brew, by Tom Haudricourt (who interviewed Selig at our Wilson Center event)
4. Educated, by Tara Westover
5. Vegetables Unleashed, by Jose Andres
6. The Pioneers, by David McCullough
7. Bastard Brigade, by Sam Kean
8. The British Are Coming, by Rick Atkinson
9. The Lost Words, by Robert MacFarlane
10. The Guarded Gate, by Daniel Okrent

We don't have a written rec, but oral history says that our buyer Jason really enjoyed Three Women, joining the booksellers who helped make this book #1 on the Indie Next List for July. In addition, Elizabeth Gilbert, who has her own spot on the list, offered this: "I can't remember the last time a book affected me as profoundly as Three Women. Lisa Taddeo is a tireless reporter, a brilliant writer, and a storyteller possessed of almost supernatural humanity. As far as I'm concerned, this is a nonfiction literary masterpiece at the same level as In Cold Blood - and just as suspenseful, bone-chilling, and harrowing, in its own way." And Dave Eggers also weighs in, calling Three Women "one of the most riveting, assured, and scorchingly original debuts I've ever read." Entertainment Weekly (which is now not weekly) posted a video about the author's writing process.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Frank Lloyd Wright's Penwern, by Mark Hertzberg
2. Jon Hassler, by Ed Block
3. The Fall of Wisconsin, by Dan Kaufman
4. How to Read the Constitution and Why, by Kim Wehle
5. Damn the Old Tinderbox by Matthew J Prigge
6. Riverwest, by Tom Tolan
7. North Point Historic Districts, by Shirley du Fresne McArthur
8. Midnight Rising, by Tony Horwitz
9. The Poet Who Would Be King, by David I Kertzer
10. From the Emerald Isle to the Cream City, by Carl Baehr

Regional books always have a strong place on our paperback nonfiction list, but I think they dominate even more in summer, as we have a lot of folks in from out of town, and they make their way to other lists as well. I would say 7 of this week's top 10 are Wisconsin focused, and six are really about Milwaukee. But one that is just selling off our new paperback table is How to Read the Constitution and Why, by Kim Wehle, Professor of Law at University of Baltimore and known for her legal expertise on CBS News and other shows. Wehle appeared on NPR's Morning Edition to talk about the book. More here.

Books for Kids:
1. Doodle Love, by Anne Emerson
2. Lulu and Rocky in Milwaukee, by Barbara Joosse, with illustrations by Renee Graef
3. Pigeon Has to Go to School, by Mo Willems
4. Share Your Smile, by Raina Telgemeier
5. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls V1, by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
6. Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi
7. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
8. Celebrate You, by Sherri Duskey Rinker, with illustrations by An Kang
9. Over the Moon, by Natalie Lloyd
10. Click, by Kayla Miller

From the publisher, on Pigeon Has to Go to School: "Why does the Pigeon have to go to school? He already knows everything... Ask not for whom the school bell rings; it rings for the Pigeon!" Wow, I'll bet this was a popular storytime. And I'd like to second Pigeon's complaint - why do alphabets have to have so many letters?

There are four reviews on the Journal Sentinel Book Page this week.

Patron Saints of Nothing is a YA book by Randy Ribay that was reviewed by Delfino Barbiero in USA Today: "When Jay learns that his beloved cousin, Jun, was killed in the drug war, he sets out on a journey to a country he barely remembers to find out exactly what happened to his cousin. Jay believes his cousin did not die in the drug war because of drugs — but possibly for shedding light on police abuse."

Last Witnesses: An Oral History of the Children of World War II is the latest book to be translated from the works of Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich. Douglass K Daniel wrote this for the Associated Press: "Readers of the late American writer Studs Terkel, the most celebrated oral historian in the U.S., will recognize the simple but powerful prose that comes from recording ordinary people’s memories."

Oline H Cogdill reviews Allison Gaylin's eleventh novel for the Associated Press. Her take: "The popularity of true crime podcasts bleeds into the tightly plotted Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin. Her fictional hero Quentin Garrison uses his position as the interviewer for the L.A.-based podcast “Closure” to chronicle how violence affects families for decades in various ways." Publisher compares to Laura Lippman.

Cogdill also has something to say about latest mystery from SJ Rozan: "Rozan's affinity for little known facts about Chinese culture has fueled exciting thrillers featuring private detectives Lydia Chin and Bill Smith. In the outstanding new Paper Son, Rozan uses the history of Chinese immigrants who established regular grocery stores serving predominantly black neighborhoods in the Mississippi Delta during the early 20th century to sculpt a story about family, culture, prejudice and community.

*Crawdads is an exaggeration. But it is the bestselling book this year in this country, according to recent reports.

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