Sunday, December 8, 2019

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending December 7, 2019

Boswell Bestsellers for the week ending December 7, 2019

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett
2. Olive Again, by Elizabeth Strout
3. The Water Dancer, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
4. The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood
5. The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern
6. Exhalation, by Ted Chiang
7. The World That We Knew, by Alice Hoffman
8. Nothing More Dangerous, by Allen Eskens
9. The Topeka School, by Ben Lerner
10. The Grammarians, by Cathleen Schine

Here's when we see what's on everyone's Christmas list. We only include ranks here, but I can let you know that The Dutch House's sales are close to triple our #2 contender. While we're seeing sales increases for all the fall prizes announced, they are not making much of an impact in this category. The National Book Award tends to be an award that helps a book that already has a platform do better, but it struggles to take unknowns and break them out, at least in hardcover. We saw similar sales with A Friend last year. It went on to do well for us in paper, and like that book, we'll almost definitely feature Trust Exercise as an In-Store Lit Group selection. I should note that we're getting close to running out of our signed copies of The Dutch House (Patchett signed 100 extra) so if that was on your list and you thought the signature was something you'd want, I wouldn't wait until December 24. I don't normally read GoodReads reviews but some of these get me a little weepy: "Everything about this novel is perfect."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. 100 Years in Titletown, by Vernon Biever, Jim Biever
2. The Body, by Bill Bryson
3. Alice Adams, by Carol Sklenicka
4. The Depositions, by Thomas Lynch
5. Brilliant Maps for Curious Minds, by Ian Wright
6. The Little Book of Lost Words, by Joe Gillard
7. The Book of Delights, by Ross Gay (Chris's pick!)
8. Infused, by Henrietta Lovell (Jen's pick!)
9. The People's Team, by Mark Beech
10. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, by Samin Nosrat

In this category, we've still got three events crowding the top 5, so it's The Body that's #1 for sales with those taken out. Below that are two impulse books, Brilliant Maps for Curious Minds, which I've mentioned before, and The Little Book of Lost Words: Collywobbles, Snollygosters, and 86 Other Surprisingly Useful Terms Worth Resurrecting, which I haven't really paid attention to, but should. Note that a dram of scotch before your wedding can calm your collywobbles, meaning stomach pain or sickness from nervous anxiety.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Unbreakables, by Lisa Barr
2. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
3. Ohio, by Stephen Markley (In-Store Lit Group read for January)
4. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, by Abbi Waxman (PW best of the year)
5. Girl, Woman, Other, by Bernardine Evaristo (Booker!)
6. Milwaukee Noir, edited by Tim Hennessy (our big regional book)
7. Flights, by Olga Tokarczuk (Nobel)
8. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
9. The Current, by Tim Johnston
10. We're All in This Together, by Amy Jones

First of all, I should note that The Overstory had a huge week. It's the must-give paperback fiction for the season.

Since last year I had a relative crowd pleaser as my book of the year (The Great Believers), I thought I'd go out-of-the-box and pick We're All in This Together, which has just about everything going against it for success except a nice book jacket. For one thing, it was published in 2016, and only got imported here in 2019 when nobody would by the American rights. It's a paperback original, but being that McLelland and Stewart has no presence here, it didn't really have any marketing except the might influence of our Knopf/Doubleday sales rep Jason. Most of the stores selling the book well are in his territory. If you like funny family novels (and I know you do, Where'd You Go, Bernadette? fans. It actually reminds me a bit of Kevin Wilson's Nothing to See Here, only with less spontaneous combustion.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference, by Greta Thunberg
2. The Library Book, by Susan Orlean
3. White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo
4. Classic Krakauer, by Jon Krakauer
5. 111 Places in Milwaukee You Must Not Miss, by Michelle Madden
6. How to Resist Amazon and Why, by Danny Caine
7. Making Comics, by Lynda Barry
8. The Good Neighbor, by Maxwell King
9. The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee, by David Treuer
10. World Almanac and Book of Facts 2020, edited by Sarah Janssen (well, what a comfort it is to see this!)

#1 by a good margin this week is Greta Thunberg's No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference, which is collected from her speeches. I was mentioning at an educator talk that Amie told me a lot of publishers are publishing kids books based on Thunberg and her environmental activism, but here's the real thing. From Lucy Diavolo in Teen Vogue: "In a collection of public remarks delivered from September 2018 to September 2019, readers see Greta’s best attempts to boil down a complex range of scientific estimates and calculations into a sort of doomsday clock urging people to take action."

Books for Kids:
1. Dasher, by Matt Tavares
2. Children of Virtue and Vengeance V2, by Tomi Adeyemi
3. Peek-A-Who, by Elsa Mroziewicz
4. Wrecking Ball V14, by Jeff Kinney
5. Troublemaker for Justice, by Jacqueline Houtman (event at Boswell, Wed Jan 8, 6:30 pm)
6. The Snowy Day board book, by Ezra Jack Keats
7. The Story Orchestra: Nutcracker, by Jessica Courtney Tickle
8. The Story Orchestra: Swan Lake, by Jessica Courtney Tickle
9. The Crayons Christmas, by Drew Daywalt, with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers
10. The Toll V3, by Neal Shusterman
11. Peek-A-Who Too, by Elsa Mroziewicz
12. Planetarium, by Raman Prinja
13. A to Z Menagerie, by Suzy Ultman
14. Winter Is Here, by Kevin Henkes/Laura Dronzek (not the board book)
15. Lulu and Rocky in Milwaukee, by Barbara Joosse, with illustrations by Renee Graef

Peek-a-Who and Peek-a-Who Too are lift-the-flap board books with the usual call-and-response of "What does the cow say?" and that's when you say "Moo." The difference is that both books are triangular and that has led to a lot of enthusiasm for them, especially at presentations like the one I did at the Shorewood Public Library yesterday.

In book release news, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, the long-awaited sequel to Children of Blood and Bone came out and we had a very nice pop in sales. Publishers Weekly called it "thrilling" but found the romance element "shoehorned." But hey, there's also a literary gut-puch!

Over at the Journal Sentinel

Sheldon Lubar tells his life story in Climbing My Mountain. Hoping to have copies in soon. From Rick Romell's article: "After more than six decades of shaping himself into one of Milwaukee’s most successful business people, serving his country in Washington and sharing a significant chunk of his wealth with the community, Lubar has more than a few things to say." Milwaukee County Historical Society is having a launch event on Thursday.

At the Associated Press, Jill Lawless reviews The Secret Commonwealth, the latest from Philip Pullman: "Pullman remains convinced that “when religious power acquires political power, terrible things happen.” But the book also takes aim at a strain of hyperrationalism that the author regards as equally dangerous. The title of The Secret Commonwealth refers to the realm of the mysterious, inexplicable and magical."

Michael Hill at Associated Press looks at a new book on catastrophes: "The End Is Always Near: Apocalyptic Moments, from the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses is a book about nasty things: epidemics, famine, sieges, civilizations collapsing and nuclear war. Dan Carlin is fascinated by societal catastrophes. And he’s very interested in the questions these sorts of disasters bring up. What was it like to live through these extreme events?"

Speaking of regional books that are hard to get, if you are a bookstore in the Milwaukee area that would like to stock Milwaukee Rock and Roll, 1950-2000, please contact us and we'll connect you to our contact until books arrive at Baker & Taylor Publisher Services. We're hoping to have this loaded on our website as quickly as possible.

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