Sunday, December 27, 2020

Boswell bestsellers, week ending December 26, 2020

Boswell bestsellers, week ending December 26, 2020

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett
2. Homeland Elegies, by Ayad Akhtar
3. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse, by Charlie Mackesy
4. Deacon King Kong, by James McBride
5. Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno Garcia
6. The Searcher, by Tana French
7. A Deadly Education, by Naomi Novik
8. The Second Home, by Christina Clancy
9. Anxious People, by Fredrik Backman
10. Transcendent Kingdom, by Yaa Gyasi
11. The Children's Bible, by Lydia Millett
12. The Invisible Life of Addie Larue, by V.E. Schwab
13. Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell
14. Perestroika in Paris, by Jane Smiley
16. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig

I looked at Lydia Millet's sales since we've been open and none of her titles (she's fairly prolific, with a book every two years or so) even hit the upper single digits. So The Children's Bible is practically the definition of a breakout, helped by 10-best status on The New York Times. Here's Kay's rec: "Millet gathers a large group of old friends and their children for an extended summer vacation in a ginormous rented house. The children, largely teens, are more or less forgotten by their drunken, self-absorbed parents. The kids, embarrassed - even horrified - by their parents’ behaviors, actively disown them and take charge of their own vacation. A gigantic, climate-change-driven storm takes them all by surprise, causes significant destruction, and widens the wedge between adults and kids. Without giving away more of the story, Millet suggests the younger generation has the drive, but perhaps not all the tools, to save themselves, and even their disdained parents..."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. A Promised Land, by Barack Obama
2. Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson
3. Wintering, by Katherine May
4. Bag Man, by Rachel Maddow and Michael Yarvitz
5. Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
6. The Splendid and the Vile, by Erik Larson
7. The Naturalist: A Graphic Adaptation, by Edward O. Wilson
8. Humans, by Brandon Stanton
9. Dessert Person, by Claire Saffitz
10. What It's Like to Be a Bird, by David Sibley
11. Pappyland, by Wright Thompson
12. Vesper Flights, by Helen Macdonald
13. The King of Confidence, by Miles Harvey
14. Modern Comfort Food, by Ina Garten
15. Is This Anything, by Jerry Seinfeld

I've noted that while it's been a great year for books, there have been some holes. There doesn't seem to be a sports book that crossed over to our audience, and while there were lots of hit cookbooks, the only food narrative that really worked for us was Pappyland, and I couldn't get into it, despite me enthusiastically pushing a craft beer book several years ago. It felt like we were a little short of big histories and biographies. Though we did nicely with The Year 1000 (a top five for Conrad, though I don't have a rec to share), being #2 on Edelweiss for the country suggested it didn't work elsewhere. I also noted that our huge success with The King of Confidence was duplicated, but it was all in the Midwest (once again, using the Edelweiss peer sales as a guide). The rest of the country took this as a regional book - too bad for them!

Paperback Fiction:
1. Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart
2. Big Girl, Small Town, by Michelle Gallen (Register for December 29 event here)
3. The Water Dancer, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
4. Through This Door, edited by Peggy Rozga and Angela Trudell Vasquez
5. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
6. Interior Chinatown, by Charles Yu
7. Home Body, by Rupi Kaur
8. Circe, by Madeline Miller
9. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
10. Devotions, by Mary Oliver

If you'd ask me in 2000 what I thought a paperback bestseller list would look like twenty years in the future at my theoretical bookstore, would I have said poetry and prize-winners? I think not. Even the books that flirt with genre like Interior Chinatown (a Jason rec: "Delivers several knock-out punches at our society and culture") and The Water Dancer are not exactly what you'd call escapist. More of that on the hardcover list!

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Walking Milwaukee, by Royal Brevvaxling and Molly Snyder
2. American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Wisconsin, by Charles Hagner
3. Classic Restaurants of Milwaukee, by Jennifer Billock
4. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
5. Say Nothing, by Patrick Radden Keefe
6. The Ungrateful Refugee, by Dina Nayeri
7. Sapiens: A Graphic History, by Yuval Noah Harari
8. What's Your Enneatype, by Liz Carver
9. 111 Places in Milwaukee You Must Not Miss, by Michelle Madden 
10. The Seine, by Elaine Sciolino

The second half of the holiday season has a closer-to-average bestseller list with 4 of the 10 books in this category being regional. A late entry was Classic Restaurants of Milwaukee by Jennifer Billock, who had her launch with Historic Milwaukee. Now-gone gems like Oriental Drugs and the Public Natatorium (closed in 1985 - just missed it and the dolphin shows!?) mix with staples like Solly's. What about Frenchys? How about Sally's? And what of the German staples, Karl Ratzsch and John Ernst?You'll have to read the book to find out.

Books for Kids
1. Skunk and Badger, by Amy Timberlake and Jon Klassen
2. If You Come to Earth, by Sophie Blackall
3. Bunheads, by Misty Copeland and Setor Fladzigbey
4. Atlas of Record Breaking Adventures, by Lucy Letherland
5. Cozy, by Jan Brett
6. The One and Only Bob, by Katherine Applegate
7. No Reading Allowed by Raj Haldar and Chris Carpenter
8. Cat Kid Comic Club, by Dav Pilkey
9. Bad Guys V1, by Aaron Blabey
10. Mysteries of the Universe, by DK/Will Gater
11. Legendborn, by Tracey Deonn
12. Elatsoe, by Darcie Little Badger
13. Elevator Bird, by Sarah Williamson
14. The Deep End, by Jeff Kinney
15. The Snowy Day board book, by Ezra Jack Keats

In the YA world, two staff favorites have nice showings in the week before Christmas, Elatsoe from Amie and Legendborn from Jenny. I was aware of Jenny's top 5, but it was only when I read her rec card that I learned that Tracy Deonn's debut is her top pick. Her review: "Sixteen-year-old Bree enrolls in the Early College program at the University of North Carolina after the sudden and devastating loss of her mother. During Bree’s first week on campus, a Shadowborn demon attacks her, throwing Bree into the world of the Legendborn, a secret society of students made up of descendants from King Arthur and his Round Table." Read the rest of the review here.

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