Monday, April 20, 2020

Boswell Bestsellers for the week ending April 18, 2020

Here's what's selling at Boswell for the week ending April 18, 2020.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Murder at the Mena House, by Eric Ruth Neubauer
2. We Ride Upon Sticks, by Quan Barry
3. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
4. The Glass Hotel, by Emily St John Mandel
5. The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett
6. The Mirror and the Light, by Hilary Mantel
7. The Coyotes of Carthage, by Steven Wright
8. The Last Emperox, John Scalzi
9. Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid
10. The Boy, the Horse, the Fox, and the Mole, by Charlie Mackesy

A few guys actually break into the top 10 this week. Steven Wright's The Coyotes of Carthage has a nice first week, helped along by Chris Lee's excellent interview, which you can read on The Boswellians. James Grady also raves in The Washington Post: "Ultimately, the plot of this propulsive, engaging novel is not about the corruption in South Carolina or the crisis of conscience that catches up with Andre. The plot of this novel about politics is the lives we’re living now in an America where being a heart-beating, air-breathing human is not enough to make you a fully empowered citizen." And regarding The Last Emperox, Publisher's Weekly notes that "Hugo Award-winner Scalzi knocks it out of the park with the tightly plotted, deeply satisfying conclusion to his Interdependency Sequence space opera trilogy."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Atomic Habits, by James Clear
2. Hidden Valley Road- Robert Kolker
3. Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
4. Hell and Other Destinations, by Madeleine Albright
5. The Splendid and the Vile, by Erik Larson
6. What It's Like to Be a Bird, by David Allen Sibley
7. Salt Fat Acid Heat, by Samin Nosrat
8. Nature's Best Hope, by Douglas W Tallamy
9. Hiding in Plain Sight, by Sarah Kendzior
10. Last Book on the Left, by Marcus Parks

While I was delivering books, one of my customers texted back how excited she was to get What It's Like to Be a Bird, the new book from David Allen Sibley. NPR has had several features on the book - this from Barbara J King: "Sibley's main aim is to ignite appreciation of the varied North American birds we may encounter in our backyards and nearby parks. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, right now many of us yearn for greater connection to nature close to home, so the book's timing couldn't be more perfect."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Circle, by Dave Eggers
2. Circe, by Madeline Miller
3. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
4. Daisy Jones and the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
5. The Disappearing Earth, by Julia Phillips
6. It All Comes Back to You, by Beth Duke
7. Black Leopard, Red Wolf, by Marlon James
8. Dear Mrs Bird, by AJ Pearce
9. Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
10. The Lost Children Archive, by Valeria Luiselli

We were expecting to have a wonderful paperback launch for Circe with Madeline Miller as she was the featured speaker for the Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library Literary Lunch. There's talk that there may be a virtual version. Stay tuned. Do a search and you'll find a whole bunch of postponed events. That said, she was still doing events for the hardcover in January and February, and got as close to Milwaukee as Vernon Hills. You have to go back two years to get the reviews - here's Annalisa Quinn reviewing the book for NPR: "Though most of Circe's fame derives from her short encounter with Odysseus in Book 10 of The Odyssey, Miller's novel covers a longer and more complex life: her lonely childhood among the gods, her first encounter with mortals, who looked weak as mushroom gills next to the vivid and glowing divinities, the awakening of her powers, and finally, the men who wash up on her shores, souring her trust with their cruelty."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, by Anya Von Bremzen
2. Day of Honey, by Annia Ciezadlo
3. The Language of Baklava, by Diana Abu Jaber
4. Wow No Thank You, by Samantha Irby
5. An Elegant Defense, by Matt Richtel
6. Unorthodox, by Deborah Feldman
7. When the Words Suddenly Stopped, by Vivian L King
8. When Words Trump Politics, by Adam Hudges
9. American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Wisconsin, by Charles Hagner
10. Pleasure Activism, by Adrienne Maree Bwon

More and more of our bestsellers are tied into streaming shows. Unorthodox just started streaming on Netflix. From The Guardian: "This Netflix miniseries is adapted from Deborah Feldman’s 2012 memoir Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots. Feldman was raised in the Satmar sect of Williamsburg and escaped an arranged marriage at the age of 19 while pregnant with her first child, eventually resettling in Germany... What Unorthodox doesn’t really explore is the positive side to clan, community, tradition and belonging that occur in closed religious communities. Although massively restrictive, surely many Hasidic Jews must get strength and a sense of belonging from their faith and their community? Instead the story – like Esty – seems to privilege individualism, freedom and free will over the submersion of individuality into a larger, and possibly more cohesive, communal and spiritual life." Oddly enough, it also boasts a quote from the late Joan Rivers.

Books for Kids:
1. I'm New Here, by Anne Sibley O'Brien
2. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo
3. Leaves, by Janet Lawler
4. Dear Girl, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
5. City Spies, by James Ponti

Ann Patchett's essay on the joys of Kate DiCamillo became a New York Times essay and brought the book back onto the national bestseller lists. Patchett does a school visit with Kate DiCamillo. Nell Freudenberger asks Patchett to give her a message about how wonderful the book was, which led Patchett back to the bookstore: "That night I read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and, well, it changed my life. I couldn’t remember when I had read such a perfect novel. I didn’t care what age it was written for. The book defied categorization. I felt as if I had just stepped through a magic portal, and all I had to do to pass through was believe that I wasn’t too big to fit. This beautiful world had been available to me all along but I had never bothered to pick up the keys to the kingdom."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Mark Athitakis (from USA Today) reviews How Much of These Hills Is Gold: "The Western has endured long past the days of stagecoaches and six-shooters because it’s so adaptable – it remains a superb genre for exploring (just for starters) identity, lawlessness, and home. In her debut novel, How Much of These Hills Is Gold, C Pam Zhang plainly cherishes the genre’s broad themes. Everything else that defines the Western gets run through a shredder."

From Associated Press, Molly Sprayregen covers Samantha Irby's third collection, Wow, No Thank You: "Irby, who made a name for herself with her blog, Bitches Gotta Eat, has become quite the famous person, herself, these days. Now, as she says in the book, she can move a bunch of stuff off her unnamed-E-Commerce-company wish list and into the cart. Despite her rise in star status, though, her fresh, unique writing is as raunchy and relatable as ever."

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