Monday, May 11, 2020

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending May 9, 2020

Here's what's selling at Bowell for the week ending May 9, 2020.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. All Adults Here, by Emma Straub
2. Murder at the Mena House, by Erica Ruth Neubauer
3. The Glass Hotel, by Emily St John Mandel
4. The Book of Longings, by Sue Monk Kidd
5. Big Summer, by Jennifer Weiner
6. American Dirt, by Jeaning Cummins
7. The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead
8. The Mirror and the Light, by Hilary Mantel
9. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong
10. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens

We continue to be fascinated at how certain adult fiction titles take off in a bigger way than normal while most other books where we'd sell some copies get left behind. Media (social and otherwise) has a bigger impact and virtual browsing comes up short. Our first-week sales for All Adults Here are about half of life of the book for the hardcover sales of Emma Straub's last two novels, The Vacationers (which exploded in paperback for us) and Modern Lovers. From Barbara VanDenburgh at USA Today/Arizaona Republic: "All Adults Here tackles a laundry list of big-ticket items, any one of which could have commanded its own book: transgenderism, homosexuality, abortion, bullying, artificial insemination and extramarital affairs among them. Straub juggles the weighty topics with a feather-light touch, funny without being flip, with keen insights into how we evolve through every stage of life. From adolescent Cecilia to senior citizen Astrid, everyone is figuring out every day how to live."

And Big Summer already exceeded our hardcover sales of Jennifer Weiner's last, Mrs. Everything. From Angela Haupt in The Washington Post: "The novel, Weiner’s 14th, was originally set to publish on May 19, but when the coronavirus pandemic hit, Simon and Schuster bumped up the release by two weeks. The sooner readers had this dose of summer fun in their hands, the better - and it delivers. Weiner takes a breezy romp through online influencer culture, leveling an 'I see you' gaze at the Instagram fake-it-till-you-make-it crowd. It’s deliciously fun: frothy entertainment with surprising depth."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
2. The Splendid and the Vile, by Erik Larson
3. What It's Like to Be a Bird, by David Allen Sibley
4. Hell and Other Destinations, by Madeleine Albright
5. Hidden Valley Road, by Robert Kolker
6. Educated, by Tara Westover
7. Pelosi, by Molly Ball
8. The Last Book on the Left, by Marcus Parks
9. Dirt, by Bill Buford
10. How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X Kendi

Ah, events that might have been. We were literally talking to the publisher for two years to put together a program for Bill Buford when Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking was finally finished, but it eventually became clear that this wasn't going to happen. It's almost better that the event died in prep, as we're still cleaning our ticketing problems with Brown Paper Tickets with announced events. Here's the latest on that from the Seattle Times, with Washington Attorney General complaints. Meanwhile, here's Eleanor Beardsley on Buford's Dirt on NPR: "I've lived in Paris for 16 years and I've never read Buford. So I first feared Dirt might be yet another expat tale of moving to France en famille, with all its tedious clichés. I should have known better. Buford is a longtime fiction editor at The New Yorker magazine and author of Heat, a best-selling depiction of the city's restaurant scene. He is knowledgeable, quick and funny - and Dirt is a work of cultural, historical and gastronomical depth that reads like an action memoir."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Normal People, by Sally Rooney
2. The Heirloom Garden, by Viola Shipman (Wade Rouse)
3. City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert
4. Circe, by Madeline Miller
5. Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf (the pick for a virtual season of Literary Journeys)
6. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
7. Trust Exercise, by Susan Choi
8. Girl Woman Other, by Bernardine Evaristo
9. Little Fires Everywhere (two editions), by Celeste Ng
10. Lost Children Archive, by Valeria Luiselli

It's not the same as in the store, but our In-Store Lit Group pop did have an impact. It's hard to tell with Trust Exercise (July's pick) because it did just get released and won the National Book Award, but the surge for Lost Children Archive is documentable - this is tied for the best week of sales since its February paperback release. This novel about the children of migrants was named one of the top 10 books of the year by The New York Times. From Gaiutra Bahadur: "What perhaps sets a novel apart from these other genres is the childlike pleasure it can take in pure play, in the imaginative pact of treating the artifice of the story as lived reality. And there is joy in make-believe in Lost Children Archive, which gains much of its wry charisma from the playacting of its precocious child characters - both those riding atop trains and those riding in cars. At one point in 'Elegies,' thumps and shouts from the illicit rooftop cargo of children ricochet down the length of a train, as infectious as the mooing in that former Walmart. But rather than inviting her readers to suspend disbelief, as children do, Luiselli instead encourages us to see the artifice as artifice, even to be wary of it."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Wisconsin, by Charles Hagner
2. Say Nothing, by Patrick Radden Keefe
3. The Great Influenza, by John M Barry
4. Unorthodox (two editions), by Deborah Feldman
5. Dear Church, by Lenny Duncan
6. Wow, No Thank You, by Samantha Irby
7. Sapiens, by Yuval Noaha Harari
8. Fading Ads of Milwaukee, by Adam Levin
9. These Truths, by Jill Lepore
10. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel Van Der Kolk

The perennial New York Times nonfiction bestsellers pop on our list and then fall back. No Braiding Sweetgrass this week, for example, but here's a rare appearance of The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Bessel Van Der Kolk, which is a top ten regular nationally. It's surprising it's not doing better locally, as the city of Milwaukee and Marquette University both had a lot of focus on the effects of trauma on our urban population. I looked for local references and didn't find much - a post about artist Iris Häussler on the John Michael Kohler Arts Center website, and a local Facebook event page which either had an in-person or Skyped visit from the author in 2016. It's possible that the author's treatment (a combination of traditional and nontraditional programs like biofeedback) hasn't yet resonated with experts here. Or maybe I missed something.

Books for Kids:
1. Hello Neighbor, by Matthew Cordell
2. The Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter, by Aaron Reynolds
3. Dragon Hoops, by Gene Luen Yang
4. Unscripted, by Nicole Kronzer
5. The One and Only Bob, by Katherine Applegate with illustrations by Patricia Castelao
6. City Spies, by James Ponti
7. Field Gide to Getting Lost, by Joy McCullough
8. All Boys Aren't Blue, by George M Johnson
9. Felix Ever After, by Kacen Callender
10. The Tea Dragon Society, by Katie O'Neill

From the publisher on The One and Only Bob: "Bob sets out on a dangerous journey in search of his long-lost sister with the help of his two best friends, Ivan and Ruby. As a hurricane approaches and time is running out, Bob finds courage he never knew he had and learns the true meaning of friendship and family." And who is Bob? He's the friend of Ivan, star of Applegate's beloved The One and Only Ivan, soon to be a major motion picture from Disney (though it might become major streaming hit on Disney+ at this point - I have no idea). Publishers Weekly writes: "The novel's fluid meshing of loyalty, forgiveness, and trust will leave readers hoping that the author has more one-and-only stories to tell."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins profiles Michele Wucker's The Gray Rhino, who has done several events with us over the years. Her book takes on new significance in 2020, looking at world-changing events that were likely to happen (like our pandemic) but were still overlooked. From the story: "She conceived the gray rhino paradigm as a deliberate contrast to the metaphor used by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his 2007 book The Black Swan to describe rare events with powerful impact. He cites the rise of the Internet and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as two examples. Wucker's gray rhino is not an earthshaking event out of nowhere. It's something we should have seen coming. Examples in her book include the impact of Hurricane Katrina (Louisiana officials had a detailed disaster plan but ignored its recommendations) and the 2007 collapse of the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis (inspectors had deemed it 'structurally deficient' annually since 1990)."

Also covered is Loretta Lynn's new memoir. Matt Damsker in USA Today writes: "Midway through Loretta Lynn’s memoir of her friendship with another country-pop legend, Patsy Cline, the intimacy of Lynn’s recollections may seem too close for comfort. Cline, we learn, taught a youthful Lynn a lot more than how to navigate Nashville’s male-dominated music business. Lynn confesses it was Cline who showed her how to shave her legs – and, more profoundly, how to spice up her marriage. Among the many domestic details of Lynn’s lively look back in Me and Patsy Kickin’ Up Dust: My Friendship With Patsy Cline, what emerges is a heartfelt appreciation of how one great singing star lent her hard-won wisdom to another.

Rob Merrill from Associated Press reviews Stephen King's latest: "If It Bleeds consists of four stories and at least one of them may soon come to a screen near you. The eponymous tale lets readers spend some more time with private investigator Holly Gibney, the star of King’s latest novel, The Outsider. Picking up not long after the end of that book, Gibney is back at home in Pittsburgh when a bomb goes off at a local middle school, killing dozens. Without giving too much away, Holly suspects it’s the work of a new kind of Outsider and it may just be a jumping off point for season two of the popular HBO series."

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