Boswell bestsellers for the week ending June 13, 2020

Boswell bestsellers, week ending June 13, 2020

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Paris Hours, by Alex George
2. The Second Home, by Christina Clancy
3. The Vanishing Half, by Britt Bennett
4. All Adults Here, by Emma Straub
5. Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars., by Joyce Carol Oates (register here for June 22 virtual event)
6. Rodham, by Curtis Sittenfeld
7. Pizza Girl, by Jean Kyoung Frazier
8. American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins
9. A Burning, by Megha Majumdar
10. Fair Warning, by Michael Connelly

The #1 Indie Next Pick for June and already a New York Times bestseller is A Burning, by Megha Majumdar. From Susan Choi's review in The New York Times: "Though the city’s name never appears in the novel, A Burning is set in present-day Kolkata; the reader inclined to sleuth can deduce location from the presence of the Victoria Memorial, built of white marble, as well as an upscale neighborhood called Ballygunge, and time period not merely from the prominent role played by Facebook, but equally from the presence of the up-and-coming Jana Kalyan political party, a clear allusion to the Indian actor-politician Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena Party, founded in 2014. Backgrounding these particular time-space coordinates is all the tinderbox complexity of contemporary Indian life, from anti-Muslim violence to staggering income inequality, from the outsize power exercised by celebrities to the outsize tolls exacted on women simply on the grounds of their not being men."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X Kendi
2. I'm Still Here, by Austin Channing Brown
3. Me and White Supremacy, by Layla F Saad
4. The Splendid and the Vile, by Erik Larson
5. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
6. Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
7. Milwaukee Brewers at 50, by Adam McCalvy
8. Countdown 1945, by Chris Wallace
9. Spirit Run, by Noe Alvarez
10. Know My Name, by Chanel Miller

While A Burning is a Today Show Read with Jenna book club pick, one of Reese Witherspoon's June-July picks (my guess is that they moved this announcement up) is I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness. This 2018 book adds to the conversation by coming from a Christian perspective (Convergent is one of Penguin Random House's religious imprints) - it is a "look at how white, middle-class, Evangelicalism has participated in an era of rising racial hostility, inviting the reader to confront apathy, recognize God’s ongoing work in the world, and discover how blackness - if we let it–can save us all." Brown talked to Brené Brown on the popular Unlocking Us podcast.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
2. City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert
3. Eleanor Oliphant Is completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman
4. The Inheritance Trilogy, by NK Jemisin
5. Memoirs of a Space Traveler, by Stanislaw Lem

Several elements have converged to decrease our numbers on paperback fiction bestsellers, including the lack of browsing (including new releases, book club table, and our staff rec shelves) with our store still doing orders and curbside pickup, the lack of newsworthiness among media, a current focus on nonfiction books about racial justice and related matters, and the move of book clubs, led by the high-profile ones, to choose hardcovers. Our buyer Jason even tried discounting select paperback fiction titles more aggressively. We're also automatically discounting our in-store book club selections 10%, like Memoirs of a Space Traveler, which the SciFi Book Club is reading. I think there's another reason too - for the last several years, publishers had been pushing out many fall hardcover bestsellers in paperback for April, May, and June for summer reading, but according to Jason, that trend had dissipated, even before COVID-19 led to many summer travel cancellations. So in a sense, this is the lost season - spring books arrived in January and February but most high-profile fall books will not come out until this fall or even later.

One other note - hardcovers and paperbacks have been increasing in price for several years, moving in lockstep and keeping prices $9-$10 apart. The higher the price goes, the less discount off the hardcover price the paperback is. To give an example, if a hardcover is $25 and the paperback is $15, that's a 40% discount. But if the hardcover is $30 and the paperback is $20 (we're not quite there yet but we're coming close), that's only a 33% discount. Yes, I'm finally doing something with my math degree.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo
2. The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin
3. So You Want to Talk About Race, by Oluo Ijeoma
4. The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
5. The Color of Law, by Richard Rothstein
6. Stamped from the Beginning, by Ibram X Kendi
7. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
8. Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson
9. The End of Policing, by Alex Vitale
10. The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson

We had a request by a customer to feature some of the classics that are meaningful to the moment and while we've not yet put that list together (though the Zora Canon display we had up in January through March had many great entries), one book that would absolutely be top of list would be James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time, a nonfiction book of two essays, published in The New Yorker and The Progressive and then as a book by Dial Press in 1963. Steven W Thrasher noted in 2017 in The Guardian why the book "still lights the way towards equality." His essay was for a Taschen illustrated edition which is only circuitously available from us (and it's nonreturnable if you want it, which is not always the best way to buy an art/photography book but that is Taschen's terms.)

Books for Kids:
1. Kamala and Maya's Big Idea, by Meena Harris, with illustrations by Ana Ramirez González
2. You Matter, by Christian Robinson
3. Antiracist Baby, by Ibram X Kendi (book goes on sale June 16 - we had some prepayments that weren't coded as advance sales)
4. All Are Welcome, by Alexandra Penfold, with illustrations by Suzanne Kaufman
5. This Book Is Anti Racist, by Tiffany Jewell
6. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, by Suzanne Collins
7. The Land of Permanent Goodbyes, by Atia Abawi
8. Last Stop on Market Street, by Matt de la Peña, with illustrations by Christian Robinson
9. A Is for Activist, by Innosanto Nagara
10. We're Different, We're the Same, by Sesame Street/Bobbi Kates

Meena Harris was originally scheduled to do an event at Boswell in conjunction with the Democratic National Convention for Kamala and Maya's Big Idea. Then we moved it to August. And with it being mostly virtual, we aren't planning to do in-store programming, alas. The picture book, which has won praise from Elizabeth Warren and Stacy Abrams, is "about two sisters who work with their community to effect change, inspired by a true story from the childhood of her aunt, US Senator Kamala Harris, and mother, lawyer, and policy expert Maya Harris. This picture book is an excellent choice to share during homeschooling, in particular for children ages 4 to 6. It’s a fun way to learn to read and as a supplement for activity books for children."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Barbara VanDenburgh offers 10 books LGBTQ books for Pride month including Glennon Doyle's Untamed. Plus Rob Merrill from Associated Press reviews Eliot Ackerman's Red Dress in Black and White.
Copyright Boswell Book Company 2014