Sunday, September 6, 2020

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending September 5, 2020

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending September 5, 2020

Hardcover Fiction:
1. All the Devils Are Here, by Louise Penny
2. Transcendent Kingdom, by Yaa Gyasi
3. The Lying Life of Adults, by Elena Ferrante
4. Payback, by Mary Gordon
5. Squeeze Me, by Carl Hiaasen
6. The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett
7. American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins
8. The Boy in the Field, by Margot Livesey
9. The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides
10. Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell

Welcome to the first week of meterorological fall. It's also a week with three big sales pops for new releases. First up is Louise Penny's latest, All the Devils Are Here. In this 16th mystery in the series, Inspector Gamache visits his kids in the City of Lights (Paris) and investigates who didnt put an Eiffel Tower on his book jacket. Just kidding! Of course there is one. Kirkus Reviews gave the newest a star and wrote: "If you're new to Penny's world, this would be a great place to jump in. Then go back and start the series from the beginning."

Transcendent Kingdom
, per Ron Charles at The Washington Post, suffers no sophomore slump: "When she was just 25, Gyasi reportedly sold her debut novel, Homegoing, for $1 million. It was the kind of financial windfall that whips up fawning publicity and — despite the book’s success — skepticism. If there are any skeptics left, they can stand down now. “Homegoing” wasn’t beginner’s luck. Gyasi’s new novel, Transcendent Kingdom, is a book of blazing brilliance. What’s more, it’s entirely unlike “Homegoing.” That debut, as many fans know, is a collection of linked stories that sweeps across four centuries with a vast group of characters in ever changing settings. In a completely different register, Transcendent Kingdom is still and ruminative — a novel of profound scientific and spiritual reflection that recalls the works of Richard Powers and Marilynne Robinson.

Expectations were high for Elena Ferrante with The Lying Life of Adults, her first major work following the completion of the Neopolitan Quartet. From Dayna Tortorici in The New York Times: "What a relief it is when an author who has written a masterpiece returns to prove the gift intact. Was it ever in question for Elena Ferrante, the pseudonymous Italian author whose four-volume novel known as the Neapolitan quartet made her one of the most celebrated writers alive? Maybe not, but success has a way of spoiling things. Since the 2002 publication of The Days of Abandonment (translated into English by Ann Goldstein in 2005), Ferrante has been known for her portraits of intense and intelligent women as they stare down the ugly side of female experience: infidelity, reluctant motherhood and the push-and-pull of competitive friendship."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Well-Plated Cookbook, by Erin Clarke
2. How to Lead, by David M. Rubenstein
3. Vesper Flights, by Helen Macdonald (register for September 17 ticketed event here)
4. How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi
5. Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson
6. Donald Trump V. the United States, by Michael S. Schmidt
7. When the Words Suddenly Stopped, by Vivian L. King
8. Twilight of the Gods V3, by Ian W. Toll
9. Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
10. Melania and Me, by Stephanie Winston-Wolkoff

Ian W. Toll's third book in the Pacific War Trilogy following Pacific Crucible and The Conquering Tide had a modest bestseller pop this week. Jonathan W. Jordan writes in The Wall Street Journal: "Though Twilight of the Gods spans a little over a year, this is the longest volume of Mr. Toll’s trilogy. In some ways its story is the most morally complex, treating life-and-death decisions made on the cusp of victory and defeat. In Mr. Toll’s view, both sides dipped their hands in blood. Holding aside Japan’s penchant for mass slaughter of civilians, a staple of most Pacific War narratives, the American bombing of Japanese cities poses lingering moral questions—as does Japan’s refusal to surrender when all knew the war was lost."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Late Love, by Paula Goldman (register for this September 10, 7 pm event here)
2. The Professor's Daughter, by Emily Raboteau
3. The Need, by Helen Phillips (register for this October 5, 5:30 pm event here)
4. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
5. When No One Is Watching, by Alyssa Cole
6. The Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
7. Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse
8. Poems of Resistance, Poems of Hope, edited by Joy Harjo
9. The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood
10. Sea Change, by Nancy Kress

Our buyer Jason mentioned to me that he's seeing a lot of paperback reprint postponements, but the spigot hasn't been turned entirely off. The Testaments, Margaret Atwood's sequel to The Handmaids Tale and one of the big books of 2019, was released on September 1. It was announced (here's more info on RadioTimes) that the fourth season of the Hulu sereies would be pushed back to 2021, due to the pandemic. For the book's publication, Atwood spoke to Robin Young and NPR's Here and Now about parallels ("creepily similar" is the quote) between the book and contemporary life.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Enrique's Journey, by Sonia Nazario
2. Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
3. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel Van der Kolk
4. A Is for Asylum Seeker, by Rachel I. Buff, translated by Alejandra Oliva
5. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
6. The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls
7. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
8. My Grandmother's Hands, by Resmaa Menakem
9. Seeds and Stems, by Simon Handselman
10. The Great Influenza, by John M. Barry

Congratulations to Resmaa Menakem, whose depiction of the body-centered approach to racialized trauma in My Grandmother's Hands is one of several books that moved to bestseller status in 2020. We hosted Menakem at Boswell when the book came out in 2017 (October 10!) as he grew up in Milwaukee. Here's the transcript from his podcast conversation with Lesbie Langbert at University of Arizona.

Books for Kids:
1. Be the Change, by Arun Gandhi
2. Grime and Punishment V9, by Dav Pilkey
3. Majesty V2, by Katharine McGee
4. The Assignment, by Liza Wiemer
5. Every Night Is Pizza Night, by J. Kenzi Lopez-Alt
6. I Am Every Good Thing, by Derrick Barnes
7. You Matter, by Christian Robinson
8. Rowley Jefferson's Awesome Friendly Adventure, by Jeff Kinney
9. Antiracist Baby board book, by Ibram X. Kendi
10. Knight at Down V2: Magic Tree House, by Mary Pope Osborne

This is what I've got on the new Dog Man, Grime and Punishment: "The Supa Buddies bamboozled the baddies, but all's not right in the world. Dog Man has a new problem to pound, and he's going to need his entire pack to help him. Will he go barking up the wrong tree?" I think I could have written this copy for any book in the series, right?

Okay, let's try a sequel that's only on #2, not #9 - Majesty is the follow up to American Royals, from Katherine McGee. Royal Central (yes, there is such a thing and a team of four contributes) interviewed McGee in advance fo the new book's publication: "Majesty is filled with more of everything you’ve come to expect from American Royals. More drama, more romance, more intrigue, more secrets coming to light. It’s also got some fun new characters and explores new corners of the American Royals world. I feel like the ending is going to surprise a lot of readers! But all I can say about that is to quote Oscar Wilde, and remind you that 'the good ends happily and the bad unhappily.'"

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Matt Damsker of USA talks up Vesper Flights, the latest from Helen Macdonald: "At its height, MacDonald’s writing captures the inexpressible rhythm of being. She observes, as we all have, the way starlings will move in astonishing, hyper-calibrated unison, making sudden patterns that ink-splash the sky. " Register for the ticketed event on September 17 with Schlitz Audubon Nature Center here.

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