Sunday, August 9, 2020

Boswell Bestsellers for the week ending August 8, 2020

Here are the Boswell Bestsellers, for the week ending August 8, 2020

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Luster, by Raven Leilani
2. The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett
3. Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Garcia Moreno
4. American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins
5. Migrations, by Charlotte McConaghy
6. Blacktop Wasteland, by S.A. Cosby (Watch the S.A. Cosby interview here)
7. Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid
8. The Color of Air, by Gail Tsukiyam (copies come with signed bookplates)
9. Harrow the Ninth V2, by Tasmyn Muir
10. A Burning, by Megha Majumdar

FSG worked very hard pre-promoting Raven Leilani's Luster, organizing pre-publication virtual events for this novel, which Zadie Smith called "Exacting, hilarious, and deadly" and also got advance quotes from Brit Bennett and Ling Ma. This story of a 20-something Black woman who falls into an older White man's open marriage and winds up living with his family, including his wife and adopted Black daughter got a great write-up from Lovia Gyarkye: "There are no perfect Black women in Raven Leilani’s debut novel, Luster, and that is by design. In a recent interview, Leilani said that she wanted to write the story of a Black woman who was not a 'pristine, neatly moral character.' And in Luster, she succeeds. Through Edie, her 23-year-old protagonist, Leilani tries to liberate the Black woman figure’s range of behaviors, thoughts, and feelings from an inherent virtuousness or exceptionalism. This choice challenges readers to recognize Edie’s agency and see her as a young Black woman in progress."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson
2. How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi
3. Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
4. Too Much and Never Enough, by Mary Trump
5. True Crimes and Misdemeanors, by Jeffrey Toobin
6. Live Free or Die, by Sean Hannity
7. It Was All a Lie, by Stuart Stevens
8. Me and White Supremacy, by Layla F. Saad
9. What It's Like to Be a Bird, by David Sibley
10. Breath, by James Nestor

It became clear when sales started increasing exponentially for The Warmth of Other Suns that Random House had a huge hit on their hands with Caste: The Origin of Our Discontents. I'm sure that Oprah's Book Club would like to take the credit for the strong success, one of our best debut weeks of the year, but our first week has already well topped sales of her last selection, Deacon King Kong, and that's life of the book. Bilal Qureshi writes in The Washington Post: "In 1946, the Indian social reformer Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, born into Hinduism’s untouchable caste, sent a letter across oceans to the African American scholar W.E.B Du Bois. In writing about American racism, Du Bois had asked, 'Why did God make me an outcast and a stranger in mine own house?' Ambedkar wrote to express his kinship with a man he saw as a fellow prisoner of a caste system, but one rarely referred to in such Indian terms. In the new book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Isabel Wilkerson traces the echoes of that correspondence to contemporary America. She reframes America’s racial divisions as the very system Ambedkar named in his letter — a rooted, historic and perpetuated caste system."

Paperback Fiction:
1. All the Right Mistakes, by Laura Jamison (register for August 13 event here)
2. The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead
3. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
4. Circe, by Madeline Miller
5. Love Poems from God, by Daniel Ladinsky
6. Citizen, by Claudia Rankine (yes, a book that is both poetry and nonfiction floats about)
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert
9. Conversations with Friends, by Sally Rooney
10. Beijing Payback, by Daniel Nieh

I have been quoting Daniel Nieh's review about S.A. Cosby's Blacktop Wasteland recently so it's nice to see his Beijing Payback novel on our bestseller list. It's about "a college basketball player who discovers shocking truths about his family in the wake of his father's murder" and heads to Beijing for revenge. Nieh spoke to Ari Shapiro at All Things Considered: If there's a moral core of the book, it's the idea that there are shades of gray that if you don't know the whole context of somebody's actions, you can't say for sure that this person who grew up in this really chaotic environment had a choice to do anything other than the crimes (what we consider crimes now, and of course were crimes in China at the time). ... I don't know if they're justified, but there's a good explanation for them." 

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. We Want to Do More than Survive, by Bettina Love
2. Walking with the Wind, by John Lewis
3. White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo
4. Intimations, by Zadie Smith
5. American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds, by Charles Hagner
6. The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel WIlkerson
7. March Volume 1, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
8. March Volume 2, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
9. March Volume 3, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
10. Foragers Harvest, by Samuel Thayer

The late John Lewis dominates this list with 40% of the entries. His 1998-published Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement has shown strong demand, but like many titles nowadays, is having stock issues. Here's Congressman Lewis on C-Span talking about the book and his participation in the 1963 Civil Rights March on the 40th anniversary, back in 2003. He notes that King's best oration was actually his April 4, 1967 speech against the Vietnam War.

Books for Kids:
1. Thank You, Omu, by Oge Mora
2. Midnight Sun, by Stephenie Meyer
3. You Matter, by Christian Robinson
4. Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
5. Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney
6. Zen Shorts, by Jon Muth
7. Little Dreamers, by Vashti Harrison
8. Kamala and Maya's Big Idea, by Meena Harris, with illustrations by Ana Ramirez Gonzalez
9. The One and Only Bob, by Katherine Applegate
10. Hair Love, by Matthew A. Cherry, with illustrations by Vashti Harrison

Our preorders on Midnight Sun were very good, but post-publication sales were even better. This is the long-awaited telling of Twilight through the eyes of Edward, first hinted at about ten years ago when some unauthorized excerpts were leaked. There's really no need to link to a review here - you either devour the books or you don't - and the best review I heard, on CBC's Q, has streaming issues in the United States. So why not link to the story on CNN - whether Forks, Washington will see a resurgence of tourism with the new book's release: "In 2005, before the books hit mainstream success, about 5,500 people visited the Forks Visitor Center. By 2010, the town hit its all-time peak of more than 72,000 annual visitors, according to visitor center data." 

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