Sunday, January 1, 2023

Boswell Bestsellers, week ending December 31, 2022

Boswell Bestsellers, week ending December 31, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus
2. A World of Curiosities, by Louise Penny
3. All This Could Be Different, by Sarah Thankam Mathews
4. Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver
5. Lucy by the Sea, by Elizabeth Strout
6. Old Woman with the Knife, by Gu Byeong-mo
7. The Candy House, by Jennifer Egan
8. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin
9. The Marriage Portrait, by Maggie O'Farrell
10. The Rabbit Hutch, by Tess Gunty

With gift buying mostly out of the way, the Books and Beer Book Club selection about a senior-age assassin for January muscles into the top 10. With paperback prices creeping up, the occasional $20 hardcover is now a true bargain, and we're discounting it 10% through January 16, 7 pm, when the group meets at Cafe Hollander. No registering at this time, but you can let Jen know you're planning to go at And as for The Old Woman and the Knife? Becky Meloan in The Washington Post wrote: "Darkly funny, this South Korean novel examines the universal challenge of aging while maintaining societal relevance." The publisher is comparing it to Lucky Grandma and Convenience Store Woman.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Don't Text Your Ex Happy Birthday, by Nick Viall (signed copies available)
2. The Light We Carry, by Michelle Obama
3. What's for Dessert?, by Claire Saffitz
4. I'm Glad My Mom Died, by Jennette McCurdy
5. Stay True, by Hua Hsu
6. Financial Feminist, by Tori Dunlap
7. Smitten Kitchen Keepers, by Deb Perelman
8. What If 2, by Randall Munroe
9. Dinners with Ruth, by Nina Totenberg
10. Atomic Habits, by James Clear

We don't see too many new releases on the week between Christmas and New Year's anymore - it used to be much more common. But HarperCollins has Financial Feminist: Overcome the Patriarchy's Bullsh*t to Master Your Money and Build a Life You Love from Tori Dunlap, host of the #1 rated business podcast and a viral TikTok star. Like Don't Text Your Ex Happy Birthday, the book is packaged as paper over board, which means it's structurally a paperback, but reads like a hardcover. Apparently image matters, so we count them as hardcovers.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Ms. Demeanor, by Elinor Lipman (Register for January 17 in-person event here)
2. The Sleeping Car Porter, by Suzette May (and this virtual January 10 event here)
3. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
4. Circe, by Madeline Miller
5. Factory Girls, by Michelle Gallen
6. The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
7. Still Life, by Sarah Winman
8. The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, by Shehan Karunatilaka
9. A Deadly Education, by Naomi Novik
10. Black Cake, by Charmaine Wilkerson

Michelle Gallen's Factory Girls had its best sales in its fifth week at Boswell. I'm not sure what drove this - do our customers read The Irish Echo? From Peter McDermott's review roundup and short profile: "'Michelle Gallen’s second novel Factory Girls is 'a great read if you’ve already finished Season 3 of Derry Girls.'" Arlington Magazine wasn’t the only review to make the comparison. Several did. And it’s certainly a great hook to be linked with the Netflix streaming hit that Martin Scorsese has recently endorsed. However, there has been another notable feature of the reviews that is captured by this line from author Silas House: "Factory Girls is one of the best books ever written about the Troubles and one of the best books I've read in a very long time."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
2. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk
3. The Power of Geography, by Tim Marshall
4. How I Became a Tree, by Sumana Roy
5. Ejacuate Responsibly, by Gabrielle Blair
6. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey
7. Bright Ages, by Matthew Gabriel
8. The Story of Jane, by Laura Kaplan
9. Best American Essays, selected by Alexander Chee, series editor Robert Atwan
10. Fuzz, by Mary Roach

Much like with paperback fiction, our big nonfiction paperback pop finds Tim Marshall's The Power of Geography: Ten Maps That Reveal the Future of Our World appealing more to self-gifters - its biggest week is its seventh on sale. It's the fourth book in a series called Politics of Place and turns out to be the hit, featuring maps that we didn't quite have over the holidays. Sadly, our hopes were pinned on a book that was delayed to the store because of the Workman-Hachette consolidation and pretty much missed the Christmas selling season. From Joshua Keating's Washington Post review for the hardcover: "Marshall, a British longtime foreign correspondent and former diplomatic editor of Sky News, makes the case that sea lanes, rivers and mountain ranges are as determinative of a nation’s actions as the ideological and cultural factors that get more attention, and that those factors are themselves partly determined by geography."

Books for Kids:
1. The Story of Civil Rights Hero John Lewis, by Jim Haskins, illustrated by Aaron Boyd
2. Melena's Jubilee, by Zetta Elliott, illustrations by Aaron Boyd
3. Calling the Water Drum, by Latisha Redding, illustrations by Aaron Boyd
4. Peekaboo Love, by Camilla Reid, illustrations by Ingela Arrhenius
5. Collaborations V4: Cat Kid Comic Club, by Dav Pilkey
6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss
7. Moving to Mars, by Steff Wde
8. A Good Girls Guide to Murder, by Holly Jackson
9. The Three Billy Goats Gruff, by Mac Barnett, illustrations by Jon Klassen
10. What Feelings Do When No One's Looking, by Tina Oziewicz, illustrations by Aleksandra Zajac

Another result of shopping for yourself - a YA title hits our list*. It's A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, and it's celebrating its first year of sale in paperback. It's also on our TikTok display, and yes, I checked - those are individual sales, not a school order. And yes, it hit #1 on the NYT, but they separate out YA titles from all their other kids books. From the publisher: "For readers of Karen McManus and Kara Thomas, an addictive, twisty crime thriller with shades of Serial and Making a Murderer about a closed local murder case that doesn't add up and a girl who's determined to find the real killer - but not everyone wants her meddling in the past." 

 *I have this theory that adults are afraid to buy books for teenagers, unless the book is a phenomenon and specifically asked for. It's just a theory. But the age level of our books in the kids section tend to skew younger during the holidays.

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