Sunday, January 17, 2021

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending Jan 16, 2021

Here's what's selling at Boswell this week.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Breaker V6, by Nick Petrie
2. The Effort, by Claire Holroyde
3. The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett
4. Anxious People, by Fredrik Backman
5. Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell
6. Leonard and Hungry Paul, by Rónán Hession (Register for Feb 12 event here)
7. The Cold Millions, by Jess Walter
8. Homeland Elegies, by Ayad Akhtar
9. Leave the World Behind, by Rumaan Alam
10. American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins

Our top two titles are this week's debuts. Our best week to date for Leonard and Hungry Paul was when we announced our event on February 12. Not only do I love the book, I can tell already that so many of our customers are going to like it too. It reminds me of back in the days of buying when I'd get really good reads on an unexpected book from really different kinds of readers. I just try not to beat myself up that I didn't read it earlier. Here's the announcement from Dublin Unesco City of Literature: "Dublin City Council is delighted to announce that Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession is the One Dublin One Book choice for 2021, following on from Tatty by Christine Dwyer Hickey in 2020. One Dublin One Book aims to encourage everyone in Dublin to read a designated book connected with the capital city during the month of April every year. This annual project is a Dublin City Council initiative, led by Dublin City Libraries and encourages reading for pleasure."

Tatty, you say? It's a 2004 novel by Christine Dwyer Hickey that is available from Vintage in the UK, but appears never to have gotten an American release. Sigh. Here's the Irish Times profile of the author - sounds good!

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, by George Saunders
2. Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson
3. A Promised Land, by Barack Obama
4. Evil Geniuses, by Kurt Anderson
5. You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey, by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar
6. Kill Switch, by Adam Jentleson
7. Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
8. Keep Sharp, by Sanjay Gupta
9. Children of Ash and Elm, by Neil Price
10. Is This Anything, by Jerry Seinfeld 

George Saunders's nonfiction book  A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life continues his early January release date, which proved auspicious for him for both Tenth of December and Lincoln in the Bardo. From Parul Sehgal in The New York Times: "The desperate, botched rescue operation is a common feature in Saunders’s work, and his fiction itself has the feeling of a rescue operation — on us, the reader. He’s moved by an evangelical ardor where fiction is concerned, intent on how it can help us 'become more loving, more open, less selfish, more present, less delusional,' as he put it in a viral commencement speech. These particular hopes have never been more precisely, joyfully, or worryingly articulated than in his new book, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, an analysis of seven classic Russian short stories." 

Also debuting is You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey, which is a book-length dialogue between two sisters about everyday racism. Ruffin's segments on Late Night with Seth Meyers (Amber Says What, Jokes Seth Can't Tell) has led to The Amber Ruffin Show on Peacock. They discuss their story in People magazine.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Home Front, by DW Hanneken (Register for Jan 26 event here)
2. The Drifter V1, by Nick Petrie (two editions)
3. Minus Me, by Mameve Medwed (Register for Jan 19 event here)
4. Interior Chinatown, by Charles Yu
5. Feast Your Eyes, by Myla Goldberg
6. The Wild One V5, by Nick Petrie
7. Burning Bright V2, by Nick Petrie
8. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
9. Ask Again, Yes, by Mary Beth Keane
10. The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett

We sold books for a JCC event with Myla Goldberg last fall, and when we had a few leftover, I decided Feast Your Eyes would be a great selection for our not-in-store In-Store Lit Group. The book was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2019. In March, we're reading the 2020 National Book Award winner, Interior Chinatown, and in April, we're reading the Costa First Novel Prize winner, The Confessions of Frannie Langton, from Sara Collins. All the upcoming selections here. 

This is kind of a pandemic first - we actually had multiple backlist titles pop in sales the week of Nick Petrie's debut for The Breaker. #6 in the series lifted sales not just of #1 (The Drifter), but also of #2 (Burning Bright) and #5 (The Wild One). I've been told the trade paperback editions of the backlist are going out of stock, but I'm hoping they at least leave The Drifter in both formats. We'll see!  

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Nicholas Black Elk, by Jon M Sweeney
2. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
3. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
4. The Pulse of Perseverance, by Maxime Madhere
5. Quit Like a Woman, by Holly Whitaker

Books for Kids:
1. Concrete Rose, by Angie Thomas
2. Kamala and Maya's Big Idea, by Meena Harris, with illustrations by Ana Rami Gonzalez
3. Turtle Boy, by M. Evan Wolkerstein
4. The Atlas of Record-Breaking Adventures, by Lucy Letherland
5. What You Don't Know, by Anastasia Higginbotham

Only one big debut in these two categories, Angie Thomas's Concrete Rose, a prequel to The Hate U Give. Here's Thomas talking to Noel King about the book on NPR's Morning Edition: "I had to do a lot of work beforehand. And for me, that meant reading books by Black men about Black boys. So I read a lot of Jason Reynolds; I read a lot of Kwame Alexander - and then, too, reading books just by Black men like Ta-Nehisi Coates because I recognize that as a writer, I have a responsibility, and it's even greater when I'm writing a character unlike myself, when I'm writing outside of my identity. I have a responsibility to get it as close to right as possible, to be, if nothing else, respectful of the people who do identify with this character."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins reported that Dasha Kelly Hamilton was named Wisconsin Poet Laureate. She is only the second person to be Poet Laureate of Milwaukee and Wisconsin, following Marilyn Taylor. She'll be in conversation with Ethan Kross for Chatter on March 3. That event is ticketed - $5 or the cost of the book, plus sales tax and ticket fee. Register here

If you missed it, Higgins also notes local debuts from DW Hanneken, Lauren Fox, and Anuradha Radurkar.

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