Sunday, October 17, 2021

Boswell bestsellers, week ending October 16, 2021

Boswell bestsellers, week ending October 16, 2021

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr
2. Raft of Stars, by Andrew J Graff
3. State of Terror, by Hilary Clinton and Louise Penny
4. Harlem Shuffle, by Colson Whitehead
5. The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles
6. Bewilderment, by Richard Powers
7. Crossroads, by Jonathan Franzen
8. We Are Not Like Them, by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza
9. Silverview, by John Le Carre
10. The Last Graduate V2, by Naomi Novik

A Clinton and a writer walk into a writing conference - so goes the story - but this time it's not Bill and James Patterson but Hilary and Louise Penny. The State of Terror collaboration chronicles a fictional Secretary of State teaming up with a journalist and a foreign service officer to defeat a rogue group of terrorists that come into possession of nuclear weapons. Sarah Lyall in The New York Times writes: "State of Terror may bring Penny into new fictional territory, but her imprint is everywhere. The emotional cast to the writing, the tendency to dangle portents and wait some time before resolving them, the depiction of friendship, the short paragraphs, the philosophical aperçus - these are all marks of Penny’s writing. " They speak to Scott Simon on NPR Weekend Edition here.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Hero of Two Worlds, by Mike Duncan
2. Taste, by Stanley Tucci
3. Midnight in Washington, by Adam Schiff
4. Jew Ish: A Cookbook, by Jake Cohen
5. All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, by Rebecca Donner
6. Peril, by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa
7. There Is Nothing for You Here, by Fiona Hill
8. The Storyteller, by Dave Grohl
9. Where the Deer and the Antelope Play, by Nick Offerman
10. A Confederacy of Dumptys, by John Lithgow

Two political players make debuts this week in the top 10 and if you listen to news programs, you already know about them. Adam Schiff's Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could has endorsements from Ron Chernow, Jon Meacham, and Timothy Snyder, and by the way, it's out of stock everywhere. Fiona Hill's There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century also has a Timothy Snyder quote (someone's busy reading political memoirs!) as well as Robert Putnam and Drew Gilpin Faust, and guess what? It's out of stock everywhere. That's the way things are going to go this fall. We warned you!

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
2. Circe, by Madeline Miller
3. Leonard and Hungry Paul, by Rónán Hession
4. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
5. People We Meet on Vacation, by Emily Henry
6. The Lying Life of Adults, by Elena Ferrante
7. Dune, by Frank Herbert
8. Black Sun, by Rebecca Roanhorse
9. The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
10. The Silence, by Don Delillo

One reader wrote to me and noted that last week, eight of the top ten fiction books were penned by men. Was that unusual? Lately, yes it is. This week we're down to seven, but the reverse is true in paperback fiction where it's seven women to three men, with Madeline Miller holding two slots, a not unusual feat for her. It was released in paperback in late June, but this is the first week in the top 10 for Black Sun, the first volume in an epic fantasy series from Rebecca Roanhorse featuring a number of queer and nonbinary characters and inspired by Indigenous Cultures. Petra Mayer spoke to Roanhorse on NPR, where Roanhorse noted: "I have been reading epic fantasies inspired by European settings since I was a child, and while I'm still a fan of many of these works, I longed to see something different," she says. "So I wrote it. I never made a conscious decision to go in that direction. That direction was simply the natural culmination of my love of the architecture, poetry, politics, and history of these places and people that I've been learning about forever."

The follow-up novel, Fevered Star, releases April 19, 2022.  

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Little Pieces of Hope, by Todd Doughty
2. Fading Ads of Milwaukee, by Adam Levin
3. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk
4. Best American Essays 2021, by Kathryn Schulz/Robert Atwan
5. American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Wisconsin, by Charles Hagner
6. Voice of Milwaukee Bronzeville, by Sandra E Jones (Register for November 18 event here in person, or here to watch the Zoom webinar)
7. Talking to Strangers, by Malcolm Gladwell
8. Milwaukee River Greenway, by Eddee Daniel (Register for October 21 event here in person or here to watch the event on Zoom webinar)
9. Vegan for Everybody, by America's Test Kitchen
10. Homo Deus, by Yuval Noah Harari

With Houghton Mifflin Harper's trade division now owned by HarperCollins and renamed Mariner under the William Morrow direction, it will be interesting to see where they go with the Best American series, which has defeated all comers in the years since it's been published. For Best American Essays 2021, I looked at numbers since we've been open, and at the Downer numbers from 2005-2008 (they generally had the best number in the series of the Schwartz locations), and can definitively say that at least for the past 16 years, the numbers have followed no predictable trajectory, ranging from 10 to 29 copies. Our worst sales were 2009 with Mary Oliver editing and our best was 2014 with John Jeremiah Sullivan. But lest you think that's about the 2009 year when Boswell was just getting its feet wet and had yet to find its audience, when it comes to short stories, there were five years that did worse than 2009, all by the way, after Boswell was open. If you're wondering, our best Short Story year was 2012, followed by 2005.

Books for Kids:
1. Chlorine Sky, by Mahogany L Browne
2. Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World, by Benjamin Alire Saenz
3. Lulu and Rocky in Milwaukee, by Barbara Joosse, with illustrations by Renée Graef
4. Change Sings, by Amanda Gorman, with illustrations by Loren Long
5. Construction Site Road Crew, Coming Through, by Sherri Duskey Rinker, with illustrations by A.G. Ford
6. Regina Is Not a Little Dinosaur, by Andrea Zuill
7. The Beatryce Prophecy, by Kate DiCamillo, with illustrations by Sophie Blackall
8. Chez Bob, by Bob Shea
9. Pony, by R.J. Palacio
10. The Bad Seed Presents the Good, the Bad, and the Spooky, by Jory John, with illustrations by Pete Oswald

I was talking to FOB (Friend of Boswell) Noah, who came in to buy two copies of Construction Site: Road Crew, Coming Through (one for their child, one for a friend) and I mentioned that when my family was visiting, we bought a copy of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site for my great nephew and he loved it enough that we got a second book in the series. I can't sell it better than the publisher: "This new adventure focuses on the importance of teamwork in building a new road and features all of the original vehicles as well as new road-building specific ones. Also has a focus on bridges of safe wildlife crossing which has become a necessary part of road construction." You may know the original is illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, but later books in the series have illustrations by NAACP Image Award recipient A.G. Ford.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Kristine Kierzek has a profile of Madison restaurant owner turned cookbook writer Barb Pratzel, author of Manna Café and Bakery Cookbook.

Tomorrow - Boswell events

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