Sunday, March 17, 2013

Uncommon Bestsellers, #4-42

It's that time of year again. That time I bother looking at what's actually selling, rather than assuming it's t-shirts and telling people which ones. But don't worry. I'll be leaving it to Martin to flesh out a more scrupulous and true-to-sales list, reflective of our inventory. What follows then remains a cumulative but no less arbitrary assortment of our top 100 bestsellers from last month. Oh, and one more thing. You'll notice, well, you won't notice, but were you somehow to log in to Reports and print a copy of our sales period from 02.01.2013 through 03.01.2013, which would take forever to explain, not because you're slow, but because there's 18 different passwords, you'd notice books like Al Gore's The Future (not featured) have, in fact, sold more than 150 copies. Way more, for example, than Heidegger and a Hippo, which I'll come back to, in order to reference a joke Martin made about our philosophy section. And if you're anything like me, you'd wonder why Gore's book is so conspicuously absent from our list, and also how long it would take you to drive to Chipotle if you left now and probably would be back in 10-15 minutes but it's hard to know because of traffic on the weekend if you were the only one here... for awhile. Reason being, we sold The Future for Al Gore's event at the Westminster Town Hall Forum, and not surprisingly such sales aren't necessarily indicative of what's selling in store. Although, you could do a heck of a lot worse than Al Gore. Had we sold books at a Wild game, for instance; an oral team history, perhaps, full of endearing anecdotes about the first time Brett Clark smiled or how long it took Brodziak to get over his reluctance to pass players, without first saying "excuse me": that would pop up on the radar. Anyway, I just want you to know how excruciatingly adult I'm being by not taking this opportunity to tell you that I MET AL GORE AND AL GORE SAID THE NAME OF OUR BOOKSTORE ON THE RADIO! I'll refrain (see below). Now on with the fake list!

4. Google Offer - I couldn't resist. I'm sorry. The rest are books, I promise.

8. and 13. Tenth of December, by George Saunders and Round House, by Louise Erdrich - The New York Times proclaimed Saunders' latest "the best book" of 2013. I know what you're thinking: Colin, what's the point of putting together a purely subjective bestseller list if you're going to tout the same books as The New York Times? First of all, The New York Times likes good books, too, okay? Furthermore, Tenth of December really is one of, if not the best book of the year. Truth is, I feel the same way about calling books "best" and "worst," or rating them on some meaningless scale of #1-100, as I do about eating chocolate and comparing it to an orgasm: it doesn't take much and odds are I won't remember anyway. That said, Saunders' short stories have stayed with me longer than most novels, poems, and would be reminiscences of former... sure, let's call them "lovers." Round House I've not read, but heard was good. Plus when Bookseller Joe told me that his mom "loved it," he held "loved" like a fermata and did that thing with his eyebrows where it looks like he just came to in a startlingly public place, until I poked him to make sure he was still breathing. Then I said, "Is it me or is it weird that we've sold this many copies of Round House, when Louise Erdrich's own bookstore, Birchbark Books, is right over the river?" And then we both just started laughing about the difference between St. Paul and Minneapolis.

22. Cookie The Walker, by Chris Monroe - About a week ago, Chris Monroe and I got into this big debate about the difference between children's books and grownup books, and why so many children's books star cats and dogs instead of humans. Oh, and by "debate" I mean in the Old French use of the term, as in to "deliberate," "consider," "eat food slowly then complain about it." Regardless, I said some things I shouldn't have, mostly about dogs. Luckily, Chris Monroe is one of the coolest writers and illustrators 'round these parts, and was all like, "I have no idea why children's books are about animals, but it's fun to draw an alligator in leisure wear!" Monroe's latest, Cookie, the Walker has some humans who are mostly bad people, and I was like, "Hey, how come all the humans in your book are mostly..." and then Claudette told me to be quiet and just enjoy Chris' reading. And I did! I laughed a lot, and even got a copy of the book signed. For my nephews. What? I swear to God for my nephews.

42. The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach - The only thing I can think to compare The Art of Fielding's rookie of the year success and out of the gate traction to's the pain I get these days in my shoulder when I exercise. It starts off as this negligible book about baseball two holiday seasons ago, then blows up just in time for Little, Brown And Company to confess it hadn't... maybe... printed enough copies ("Hey! Remember when we published Malcolm Gladwell!?"), and for me to fake a problem with my iPod and stop running. Now it's back in paper and still selling like fifth inning cheap seats to take in a Twins loss. What do they call that in baseball? Not abject failure but the thing about longevity? "Long game"? Is that a term? A player's "long game"? Or is that golf? Like, "Boy, I'll tell you, Terry, he's a little guy, but he shoots a heck of a long game, which I'd argue is what drives him to wear so many layers in this heat. His long game."

Al Gore choosing audience members at random to "swear to ride the bus."

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