Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Back, Back in Time We Go

Here is part two of the favorite books of the year by the Boswellians; the topic this week is: Back, back in Time We Go. No, it is not a time travel post, but it is about  books that look back at different  historical periods, be it in novel form or other. Without further ado, here is the first listing brought to you by Boswellian, Sharon.  She was excited about the Sue Monk Kidd novel, The Inventtion of Wings that came out much earlier in the year(we had a great author event with Sue!). It has captured many reader’s imaginations and it will continue to capture more:  

"This is the story of Sarah Grimke, a child of privilege born into a slave owning Charleston family. On her 11tth birthday, her parents give her a handmaid, a slave of her own, 10 year old Hetty. Horrified, Sarah tries to free her that very night. Her parents let her know that this is not an option. Sarah Grimke was an actual person who became a well-known abolitionist and suffragette. Sue Monk Kidd has woven a fictional story around the facts of Sarah’s life, casting light on a fascinating woman that I had never read about. The story moves back and forth, with events being described from Sarah’s and then Hetty’s point of view. These two girls essentially grew up together, although they were separated by the wide gulf of race, privilege, and opportunity. A masterful story, told in the vein of one of my favorite authors, Geraldine Brooks. If you haven’t checked in with Sue Monk Kidd since The Secret Life of Bees, it’s time to change that." --Sharon Nagel

The next book, The Paying Guest by Sarah Waters, was a huge staff favorite, as I had three fantastic reviews to choose from.  Sharon, Carly, and Jen were able to conduct an interview with Sarah about her new book. You can access that here. The novel starts off in 1922, it is post-war and work is scarce for all the returning servicemen. One family in South London has lodgers come to stay with them. Here is Jen’s review of the Paying Guest: 

"In the aftermath of World War I, Frances Wray and her mother must rent out rooms in their house, due to their accumulated losses and mounting debts. Newlyweds Leonard & Lillian Barber are the Wray’s first tenants in their home up on Champion Hill. It's a big adjustment for the Wrays, who come to terms with having "paying guests." Along the way, Frances & Lillian get to know each other, and what begins as a friendship blossoms into something more. Then one day a catastrophe strikes that upends their existence and that of everyone they know. Sexy, gripping, and suspenseful, Sarah Waters is in top form." --Jen Steele

One of Josh’s favorite books of the year was Mad as Hell by Dave Itzkoff. Without an actual review to reference, I think I can gleam why Josh picked this behind-the-scenes look at the movie Network. First off, Josh loves popular culture, especially if it is in movie or music format. Mad as Hell tells the story of how an improbable movie was able to make it to the screen in the first place. Starting with the story of the screenwriter, who would not change his vision and was able to change the way people would forever look at the news and television. Dave Itzkoff interviewed current broadcasters to see what influence the 1976 movie Network had them, and you will be amazed to see the line-up of broadcasters he was able to get, some of the greats that everybody knows today.  The next reason that Josh probably loved this book is for one of the greatest movie lines uttered by the character Howard Beale: "I'm Mad as Hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!" And, if neither of those are the reason Josh Davis loved this book, I’m sure his opinion on it can be learned on any given Wednesday.  
Keeping with true stuff, well mostly, is the historical biography of Stonewall Jackson. Rebel Yell by S.C. Gwynne was tremendous. I have read a lot of history in my day, I have a degree in it that I use quite often (insert nervous laugh), but I have never been one to read about the Civil War. Not sure why, it has never interested me highly. That is until now. S.C. Gwynne writing is welcoming like a stream that quickly becomes a raging river, and I was sucked into it all the way up to my neck. It was amazing to think that Stonewall Jackson needed the Civil War. He was doomed to just be another teacher in a military academy without the it. He had an uncanny ability to see to the heart of situations, he understood that the war was going to have to bloody and merciless years before any other general came to that conclusion. He thought that the Confedrates should have an all-out march on Washington and leave no prisoner behind. In his thinking, this would actually save lives in the long run. This was a one-of-kind historical biography, and my favorite book I have read all year!—Jason Kennedy

The Novel by Michael Schmidt, is an exhausted look at the English novel. It covers large areas, geographically and culturally. The book clocks in over 1100 pages, though Jane tells me that you can dip into the book and read a bit from time to time.  She is very enthusiastic about this book, and here is her blurb:  
“Insightful journey through 700 years of literature’s most celebrated writing accomplished, in partnership with authors commenting on authors and authors reaching out to readers! Engaging! Enlightening! Enjoyable!”—Jane Glaser
Carly Lenz loved One Summer by Bill Bryson that came out late last year, but she is a new Boswellian and was taken by this tale and the hordes of readers who read the book.  It is the story of the summer of 1927 and all the amazing accomplishments that happened to America during that time. From Charles Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic and Babe Ruth setting the home run record to talking pictures, jazz and gangsters, Bill Bryson weaves a tableau of American fabric into a spellbinding tale of our past.

Back for one more title? Good, this one has been a huge success for us and for many other booksellers this year, from loving the book to selling the book we love. This book popped up on three different booksellers top 5 books of the year, namely Conrad, Sharon, and Todd's lists. It is Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See. It could very easily be our best selling #1 hardcover fiction title published in 2014 that does not include having an event with the author, which could be different next year when the paperback will be released (stay tuned to our monthly newsletters and e-mail newsletters for more possible information).  It is the tale of two people, from different parts of life, attempting to survive the hand they have been dealt in the midst of a world war.  Here are two blurbs for the book: 
"Anthony Doerr crafts hundreds of trim scenes of 1) a french girl who is blind fleeing World War II and 2) a boy with technical prowess becoming a nazi. What is the light neither sees?"--Todd Wellman
"Doerr spent almost a decade writing this beautiful novel, and it shows! In the hands of a lesser writer, this could easily have devolved into mawkish tripe."--Conrad Silverberg 

No comments:

Post a Comment