Sunday, November 20, 2022

Boswell Bestsellers week ending November 19, 2022

Boswell bestsellers, week ending November 19, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. All This Could Be Different, by Sarah Thankam Mathews (Jim Higgins profiles Mathews in the Journal Sentinel)
2. Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver
3. Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus
4. Mistborn: The Lost Metal V7, by Brandon Sanderson
5. Liberation Day, by George Saunders
6. Last Summer on State Street, by Toya Wolfe
7. The Fall of Númenor, by JRR Tolkien
8. Great Cities V2: The World We Make, by NK Jemisin
9. The Scholomance V3: The Golden Enclaves, by Naomi Novik
10. The Marriage Portrait, by Maggie O'Farrell

One doesn't necessarily think of epic fantasy as having a preferred season, but it is noticeable that three of our top ten bestsellers are in the midst of series - Brandon Sanderson's The Lost Metal, NK Jemison's The World We Make, and Naomi Novik's The Golden Enclaves, plus there's that new Tolkien collection. Fourth quarter is the time for the high-profile books that will steamroll the competition and take up what limited media air there is when the focus is on best-of-the-year lists and several major awards. But when you're in the middle of a bestselling series, the audience is already there and the books are probably all on holiday lists. You'd think there'd be the same formula for mystery/thriller series, and there is, and Michael Connelly does have a slot, but the big release for us is November 29 when Louise Penny's A World of Curiosities comes out.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Light We Carry, by Michelle Obama
2. What's for Dessert?, by Claire Saffitz (signed copies available)
3. Dessert Person, by Claire Saffitz
4. The Book of Days, by Patti Smith
5. Number One Is Walking, by Steve Martin
6. Smitten Kitchen Keepers, by Deb Perelman
7. Go-To Dinners, by Ina Garten
8. Dinner in One, by Melissa Clark
9. Slaying the Dragon, by Ben Riggs
10. The Philosophy of Modern Song, by Bob Dylan

On the other hand, we know that cookbooks have become a fourth quarter staple, and this week, five of our top ten are in that category, with the footnote that Claire Saffitz appeared at Boswell this week. The top non-event seller for us, in any of the lists, was, no surprise, Michelle Obama's The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times. From Judith Newman in The New York Times: "...It is perhaps no surprise that Obama’s road map for uncertain times resonates in ways that other self-help books do not. If I am going to have someone guide me through this terrain, I don’t want to hear from preternaturally poised Martha Stewart or unflappable George Clooney or, for that matter, that tower of cool and confidence Barack Obama. For this crew, self-assurance seems like a birthright. I want to hear from Michelle Obama, who doesn’t always like the way she looks, who felt like an outsider after becoming the ultimate insider; the one who easily becomes lonely; the striver who has spent a lifetime dogged by the question: Am I good enough?"

Paperback Fiction:
1. Once Upon a December, by Amy E Reichert (Register for November 30 event here)
2. The Sentence, by Louise Erdrich
3. Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree
4. Kiss Her Once for Me, by Alison Cochran
5. The Sleeping Car Porter, by Suzette May (Virtual event just added on January 10 - register here)
6. Bewilderment, by Richard Powers
7. The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, by Shehan Karunatilaka
8. Wizard's Dream, by Louise Loveridge Gallas
9. Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr
10. The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune

The cable companies and streamers all agree on something - Christmas means romance movies. The explosion of this genre has gone far afield of these core programmers (Hallmark, Lifetime, Great American Family - programmed by a former Hallmark exec) to Netflix, BET+, and streamers you never heard of - 148 films in all, documented in this Variety article. So it's not surprising that we've got two in our top ten, our upcoming event with Once Upon a December and Alison Cochran's Kiss Her Once for Me, which uses the fake relationship trope (classic) to tell a queer love story (contemporary). Apparently, this could be adapted for Hallmark nowadays, but not Great American Family. Publisher's Weekly wrote: "Sparks fly between these mismatched couples against a backdrop of cozy holiday cheer. Cochrun can go a bit heavy on the exposition, but it's delightful to watch this clever spin on the fake dating trope unfold. This is a winner," but my favorite quote is from Kirkus, calling this the literary equivalent of Wham's "Last Christmas."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Brewtown Tales, by John Gurda (December 6 event sold out)
2. Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts, by Rebecca Hall
3. The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics, by Tim Harford
4. Heart Speak, by Sherrill A Knezel
5. The Story of Jane, by Laura Kaplan
6. Fuzz, by Mary Roach
7. Cuba, by Ada Ferrer
8. All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, by Rebecca Donner
9. Undocumented Americans, by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
10. Growing Up Little Chute, by John Van Lieshout

Why don't more independent bookstores have awards cases. It's so successful for us. This week's top ten includes the Pulitzer Prize winner for History, Cuba: An American History, by Ada Ferrer. I am fascinated that this book, despite the honor, does not seem to be reviewed in The New York Times or Washington Post, though she got a column in the latter. The Wall Street Journal had a nice review from Felipe Fernádez-Armesto: "As in much of the Americas, the U.S. in Cuba has been a benign example and a malignant master. Ada Ferrer’s Cuba: An American History focuses on the equivocal relationship of the two countries, and presents it convincingly as symbiotic... By being equally severe with Cuban leaders and U.S. leaders, Ms. Ferrer achieves an honorable objective: pleasing nobody by being just."

Books for Kids:
1. The Greatest in the World, by Ben Clanton
2. João by a Thread, by Roger Mello
3. Narwhal, Unicorn of the Sea, by Ben Clanton
4. Farmhouse, by Sophie Blackall
5. Diper Overlode V17, by Jeff Kinney
6. Charcoal Boys, by Roger Mello
7. It's Christmas Everywhere, by Hannah Barnaby
8. This Story Is Not About a Kitten, by Randall De Seve, illustrations by Carson Ellis
9. If You Find a Leaf, by Aimee Sicuro
10. Green Is for Christmas, by Drew Daywalt/Oliver Jeffers (Meet Green Crayon on December 10 - register here)

Jen helped me with a few books for my Woman's Club talk on Thursday. I already knew I was going to feature It's Christmas Everywhere, a board book that opens up to look like a Christmas tree. But she also led me to Farmhouse, Sophie Blackall's picture book which was just named one of best illustrated books of 2022 by The New York Times/New York Public Library. I went into it blindly and started crying at the end. It's that powerful!

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