Sunday, April 11, 2021

Boswell bestsellers, week ending April 10, 2021

Here are the Boswell bestseller lists for the week ending April 10, 2021. This week we go a little deeper in hardcover fiction - the first week in April is generally a strong release date.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Hill We Climb, by Amanda Gorman
2. The Women of Chateau Lafayette, by Stephanie Dray (tickets for April 12 event here)
3. First Person Singular, by Haruki Murakami
4. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
5. Gold Diggers, by Sanjena Sathian (register for May 12 event here)
6. Good Company, Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney (Read with Jenna book club pick)
7. Raft of Stars, by Andrew J Graff (register for April 12 event here)
8. The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett
9. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro
10. Send for Me, by Lauren Fox
11. Northern Spy, by Flynn Berry (Reese's Book Club pick)
12. The Five Wounds, by Kirstin Valdez Quade (register for May 13 event here)
13. Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell
14. Death Washes Ashore, by Patricia Skalka (register for April 21 event here)
15. The Paris Library, by Janet Skelsien Charles (register for May 5 event here)

The top debut this week is Haruki Murakami's new collection of short stories, First Person Singular. The book was first published in Japan last July and yes, it uses that particular voice in all its narratives. From David Means in The New York Times Book Review: "Whatever you want to call Murakami’s work - magic realism, supernatural realism - he writes like a mystery tramp, exposing his global readership to the essential and cosmic (yes, cosmic!) questions that only art can provoke: What does it mean to carry the baggage of identity? Who is this inside my head in relation to the external, so-called real world? Is the person I was years ago the person I am now? Can a name be stolen by a monkey?"

It's also the release date for one of my favorite novels of spring, Gold Diggers!  

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Broken (in the Best Possible Way), by Jenny Lawson
2. Frank Lloyd Wright's Forgotten House, by Nicholas Hayes (register for May 17 event here)
3. Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson
4. Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
5. Philip Roth, by Blake Bailey
6. The Code Breaker, by Walter Isaacson
7. Broken Horses, by Brandi Carlile
8. What It's Like to Be a Bird, by David Allen Sibley
9. Light of Days, by Judy Batalion
10. My Broken Language, by Quiara Alegría Hudes

Top of the chart this week is Jenny Lawson's Broken (in the Best Possible Way), now published by Henry Holt, following Amy Einhorn from Flatiron. Lawson is a bookseller author as well - one of my old friends works for her at Nowhere Bookshop in San Antonio. Mary Cadden in USA Today gives the book four stars out of four: "The true beauty of Broken is how Lawson, like the gold of Kintsugi that mends the broken bits, brings universality to a book that is written to share one person's specific struggles. Her stories do become our own. Yes, we are all struggling, yes, we are all awkward, and yes, we all need to look back and find the humor in the moment. Yes, we are all broken. But broken in the best possible way."

I can't help but shout out Blake Bailey's Philip Roth, the first major biography of this writer, as while I've only read four of his novels (which turned out to be more than I thought - my brain was updated as I was indexing old reading lists), my mentor David Schwartz read all of them, and generally liked to talk about them. From Alexander C Kafka in The Washington Post: "...By the end of the book, such is the accrual of medical details, you’ll feel like Roth’s internist. Then again, you wouldn’t want someone vague and squeamish writing about the creator of Portnoy’s Complaint and The Anatomy Lesson. Moreover, this unsparing treatment seems perfectly apt considering that Roth portrayed himself or his counterselves with even more unsparing, unflattering precision.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik
2. Circe, by Madeline Miller
3. Interior Chinatown, By Charles Yu
4. Dune, by Frank Herbert
5. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
6. Sex with Strangers, by Michael Lowenthal
7. Deacon King Kong, by James McBride
8. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
9. Dead Land, by Sara Paretsky (register for April 14 event here)
10. Glass Hotel, by Emily St John Mandel

Out in paperback is Dead Land, one of six titles nominated for an Edgar Award, notably the GP Putnam Sue Grafton Memorial Award. All six of the nominees will be reading at a virtual Boswell event on April 14, though notably Ilaria Tuti will be on tape delay because it's something like 2 am in Italy. From the Kirkus Reviews write up: "As usual, Paretsky is less interested in identifying whodunit than in uncovering a monstrous web of evil, and this web is one of her densest and most finely woven ever. So fierce, ambitious, and far-reaching that it makes most other mysteries seem like so many petit fours."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Walking Milwaukee, by Royal Brevvaxling and Molly Snyder
2. Classic Restaurants of Milwaukee, by Jennifer Billock (register for April 22 event here)
3. Vegetarian Flavors with Alamelu, by Alamelu Vairavan
4. New York Times Cooking No Recipe Recipes, by Sam Sifton
5. American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Wisconsin, by Charles Hagner
6. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
7. Why Fish Don't Exist, by Lulu Miller
8. Tightrope, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
9. The Russian Revolution, by Sean McMeekin
10. Minor Feelings, by Cathy Park Hong

Vegetarian Flavors with Alamelu: Wholesome, Indian Inspired, Plant-Based Recipes is the latest collection from the Milwaukee-area host of Healthful Indian Flavors with Alamelu. Included are over 100 recipes, featuring many new ones that enhance vibrant vegetables with spices and legumes. They range from appetizers, soups, salads, and vegetable entrees to chutneys and desserts, and each one is accompanied by a full-color photo and step-by-step instructions.

Books for Kids:
1. The Night Diary, by Veera Hiranandani
2. The Unexpected Friend, by Raya Rashna Rahman
3. Dreamers, by Yuyi Morales
4. The Proudest Blue, by Ibithaj Muhammad
5. The Most Beautiful Thing, by Kao Kalia Yang
6. Kids on the March, by Michael Long
7. Yang Warriors, by Kao Kalia Yang
8. Islandborn, by Junot Diaz
9. Guess How Much I Love You?, by Sam McBratney
10. Peek a Who, by Nina Laden

Lots of school orders this week, but I should note one is a new release from Kao Kalia Yang, the Twin Cities writer who has spoken several times in Milwaukee. Her latest kids book is Yang Warriors, the story of a resourceful group of kids confronting adversaries in a refugee camp. Kirkus Reviews called it "A powerful tale about finding purpose and strength in the face of extreme adversity."

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