Sunday, April 26, 2020

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending April 25, 2020

Here are the Boswell bestsellers for the week ending April 25, 2020.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Glass Hotel, by Emily St John Mandel
2. Murder at the Mena House, by Erica Ruth Neubauer
3. The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett
4. If It Bleeds, by Stephen King
5. The Book of Longings, by Sue Monk Kidd
6. Writers and Lovers, by Lily King
7. We Ride Upon Sticks, by Quan Barry
8. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
9. The City We Became, by NK Jemisin
10. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens

Bill Sheehan in The Washington Post, on If It Bleeds: "Stephen King’s affinity for the novella form goes back to the early stages of his long, prolific career. In 1982, King published Different Seasons, a quartet of long stories that contained some of his finest work, and eventually led to some memorable film adaptations, among them The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me. Since then, at roughly 10-year intervals, King has produced three similar volumes that have allowed him to play with a wide variety of themes, scenes and settings. The latest of these, If It Bleeds, contains four new, exceptionally compelling novellas that reaffirm his mastery of the form."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
2. The Splendid and the Vile, by Erik Larson
3. Hell and Other Destinations, by Madeleine Albright
4. Hidden Valley Road, by Robert Kolker
5. Front Row at the Trump Show, by Jonathan Karl
6. The Yellow House, by Sarah M Broom
7. What It's Like to Be a Bird, by David Allen Sibley
8. In Deep, by David Rohde
9. The Last Book on the Left, by Marcus Parks
10. Why Fish Don't Exist, by Lulu Miller

In Deep: The FBI, the CIA, and the Truth about America's Deep State comes from a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and executive editor of The New Yorker Website. From Fred Kaplan at The New York Times: "At times, Rohde suggests there is a deep state, though he calls it 'institutional government,' a term he chose “for its relative neutrality.' Its denizens don’t form “an organized plot,” but they do exhibit “bias, caution and turf consciousness.” And, he writes, 'the Justice Department and the F.B.I. and senior intelligence officials proved to be the most formidable resistance” the administration would encounter from within the federal government, initiating a 'struggle for power that would define Trump’s presidency.' Notice: Rohde isn’t paraphrasing Trump’s point of view here; he’s describing what he sees as an objective situation."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Circe, by Madeline Miller
2. Mostly Dead Things, by Kristen Arnett
3. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
4. City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert
5. Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng
6. Station Eleven, by Emily St John Mandel
7. Lost Children Archive, by Valeria Luiselli
8. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, by Abbi Waxman
9. Girl Woman Other, by Bernardine Evaristo
10. Normal People, by Sally Rooney

Women continue to dominate our fiction lists. Hardcover and paperback top tens have one male writer each. New this week is Mostly Dead Things, which Jason has been championing after reading it for his book club. We're also reading it for the Not-In-Store Lit Group on May 4. The novel was a surprise NYT bestseller in hardcover. From an interview with Bradley Sides in the Los Angeles Review of Books: "In Mostly Dead Things, Kristen Arnett takes us to Florida and introduces us to the Mortons, a family of taxidermists. There are plenty of dead animals around, sure, but that’s merely one of the manifestations of loss Arnett articulates in her beautiful, transcendent debut novel. As we slowly get to know the family, especially Jessa-Lynn, the young woman who narrates the novel, Arnett artfully suggests that it’s loss that teaches us what life is — it’s what grounds and guides us, and even, perhaps, what comforts us. I realized while reading the Mortons’ story and recalling my loss-filled childhood just how true this is of my own experience."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Say Nothing, by Patrick Radden Keefe
2. Wow, No Thank You, by Samantha Irby
3. American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Wisconsin, by Charles Hagner
4. An Elegant Defense, by Matt Richtel
5. The Great Influenza, by John M Barry
6. The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
7. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
8. Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson
9. When the Words Suddenly Stopped, by Vivian L King
10. An American Summer, by Alex Kotlowitz

We've been doing well with a local book from Vivian L King, When the Words Suddenly Stopped, and those paperback sales don't include a hardcover edition that is also getting sales. This memoir from a former TMJ4 reporter, who also did stints at Roundys and Aurora, is about having a stroke at 49, partly caused by prescription medication. "I didn't have high blood pressure, I didn't have a history of stroke in my family," but it turns out birth control pills over the age of 40 cause blood clots that can lead to this condition. Watch King on her recent Morning Blend appearance.

Books for Kids
1. Hello Neighbor, by Matthew Cordell
2. Prance Like No One's Watching, by James Breakwell
3. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo
4. Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom, by Louis Sachar
5. Invisible Spring, by Patrice Karst
6. Because of Winn Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo
7. Raymie Nightingale, by Kate DiCamillo
8. Just Because, by Mac Barnett, with illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault
9. Wolf in the Snow, by Matthew Cordell
10. Wish in the Dark, by Christina Soontornvat

Third times the charm for our virtual school visit program as Matthew Cordell's Hello Neighbor is a runaway hit with parents. Unlike in our regular school visits, where the school itself handles the sales, we're getting books to each parent individually. In the time BC (Before COVID), we were hoping to do a public event with PBS Milwaukee too - maybe it will still happen virtually! More from Elizabeth Bird, who wrote a preview feature for School Library Journal: "I’d like to zero in on this last spread (follow the link to see for yourself) for just a moment. I didn’t think this was possible, but Matthew actually managed to conjure up new memories when I looked at this picture. This is, without a doubt, the single best map and character chart of The Land of Make Believe I’ve ever seen. As someone who once wrote an entire piece on the weird subversion present in the show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, this is a subject near and dear to my heart. Amazingly, I had somehow forgotten about Cornelius and Bob Troll all these years. And do you see that purple panda?"

Over at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tod Goldberg at USA Today reviews Steven Wright's The Coyotes of Carthage: "A few years ago, my homeowners association held a contentious election over… something. No one seems to remember what was at stake, but what is easily recalled is that it was the first election in our community to include robocalls, mass disinformation mailings and the nightly pounding of doors by neighbors (and their children) who wanted to warn you that your rights were about to be trampled upon. And here’s a flyer. And a cookie. It was impossible not to remember this while reading Steven Wright’s crackerjack debut The Coyotes of Carthage, a political thriller – in the sense that it’s thrilling to observe – which boils national politics down to the local level, in all of its banality, and all of its profound human consequence."

Also from Associated Press, Hillel Italie profiles Anne Tyler for Redhead by the Side of the Road: "On life in Baltimore: “I guess it’s no secret that Baltimore is going through a hard spell. And yet it’s such a kindhearted city, paradoxical though that sounds. Just about everyone here, across all classes and cultures, behaves with grace and patience. Watch some trying episode in, say, a supermarket checkout line – a customer taking too long counting coins or a cashier who doesn’t know his produce codes. Baltimoreans stand by quietly, or they try to help out if they can. Not even an eye-roll! I think this has an influence on my writing. In such surroundings, how could I possibly invent a mean-spirited character?"

Rob Merrill offers his thoughts on Julia Alvarez's Afterlife for the Associated Press: "The acclaimed author of In the Time of the Butterflies and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents is back with another story grounded in her Dominican heritage. Set in Vermont, the book’s protagonist is Antonia Vega, a retired English professor. Widowed nine months ago after her husband Sam’s heart attack, Vega is now taking just “sips of sorrow, afraid the big wave might wash her away.” She misses the young people she used to teach and the words they shared, but mostly she misses Sam, talking to him often in her head, wondering about his afterlife and trying to figure out her own."

And it's a quartet of reviews this week! Bruce Da Silva for the Associated Press covers Don Winslow's latest, a collection of novellas called Broken: "They vary in tone, but each, in its own way, conveys the sense that the people and/or American institutions he portrays are broken. One yarn, 'The San Diego Zoo,' does it with a touch of humor, its first sentence, “No one knows how the chimp got the revolver,” making it virtually impossible not to read on. Another, 'The Last Ride,' does it with a dose of righteous anger as a Donald Trump supporter, horrified by the sight of a little girl in a cage, sets out to reunite her with her mother in defiance of his Border Patrol superiors."

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