Sunday, March 24, 2013

Uncommon Bestsellers, #43-54

43: Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown - I'm not making this up. At the time of this writing, I am, literally, in the process of selling yet another copy of Daring Greatly. Swear to God. I told the person buying it I'd be a minute while I checked to see what's "wrong with the computer," that I wasn't "blogging or anything." But all the while I've been... okay, shoot, hold on, I think the person sees me blogging. 

44: how to fix what's wrong with the computers. Google. Or Send. 

43: Okay, we're clear. But seriously, this book's been flying off the shelves the last few weeks. One thing I love about working at a bookstore full of smart people is that more often than not I hear of books by way of conversation. "You haven't read Tolstoy?" someone will ask, feigning incredulity. "No!" I say, "What's that?" Or, "Where would I find James Agee?" And before I can offer them the pen and paper on which to leave their phone number in case the guy stops in, they're rushing out the door (worried, I suppose), and someone else across the store says, "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men?" as if to keep the conversation going, and waits for me to know what they're talking about. Invariably, I end up Google-Sending whatever it is I'm supposed to instinctively agree with or know magically, and nine times out of ten I come across some book I've never heard of in the process.  All of this is to say that between the books that Martin orders and our customers unwittingly alert me to, I've learned a lot about behaving vulnerably, in public, which is more or less the subject of Brown's book. And I'll tell you what, she's absolutely right: it's a virtue for a reason. 

46: The Pocket Pema Chodron - Do you ever get the feeling her real name's "Debbie" or something like that? Anyway, The Pocket Pema Chodron isn't exactly what we in the book biz call a "sideline," but it's close. Sidelines include things like birthday cards and thank-you notes and most books about dogs, I think. (Notice I didn't say "all books about dogs, I think.") Pens are sidelines, too. If that helps. Sidelines are like when a waiter approaches you at the end of a meal and offers dessert for a dollar. "It's only a dollar!" the waiter taunts, while balancing a tray of tiny ice-creams and profiteroles. Plus a lifetime of habitually bad decisions and regret. That's the part they don't say. 

51 or 2, probably: I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats - Say, while we're on the subject of sidelines, do you have any idea how embarrassing it is that a poetry anthology, ostensibly written by cats, is our bestselling book of poems? I'll tell you: pretty damn! The good news is that poets Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, and Patricia Kirkpatrick all cracked our top 100, as well. Poetry Month is coming up, and to help celebrate I've been brainstorming ideas for how to sell more books of poetry. One idea I had is hiding digital download codes inside of books, so readers could both read the poems, analog style, or listen to either The New Pornographers' last album or an Aimee Mann live iTunes session. Neither of which have yet to be redeemed. But then I only had the two, and couldn't find the Aimee Mann one, plus that's not the kind of thing you want to advertise: a wonderful surprise like that. 

54: Letters to a Young Madman, by Paul Gruchow - The 25th Annual Minnesota Book Awards are coming up on April 13th, and Paul Gruchow's posthumously published memoir about mental illness is nominated in the category of Memoir and Creative Nonfiction. Hey, that reminds me. You know what else is happening in April? Poetry Month! Wouldn't it be great if we could all band together and think of a creative way to help sell more books of poetry? One idea is had is to stand out on the corner of Snelling and Grand and slip books in the back pockets of unsuspecting passers by, on Poem in Your Pocket Day, then ask them what they think they're doing stealing from a bookstore. But, as I say, suggestions are always welcome, until April 1st, when I would really need to know by. 

"Hey, Samantha! Made you look!"

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