Tuesday, December 23, 2008

79. A Break for Bestsellers

Contest Winners: Lightshade, R_shackleford, silvaStorm, Angela Scarlett, hpwestham13, TWZRD, eagleanimagus, AmyLynn91403, & Linda Carrig

Sporting memoirs mixed with do-it-yourself guides in this week’s Nonfiction List--writes Daily Prophet book review editor Cicero Pica.--A tell-all exposé of the professional Quidditch league, a popular look at myths about Muggles, and a photo-essay about the most exotic, protected species of birds in the world were among the variety of subjects treated in the Top Ten Bestsellers.

Treated, indeed. Entering the list at number ten was Aurelius Conkling’s Sniffly Nifflers: What to do when your niffler’s nose is stuffed (Orkney: Divining Rod Press). Written in an engaging style for lay readers, the book appeals to everyone who finds nifflers cuddly and cute – but even more so to those who need their nifflers in top, treasure-sniffing shape. And in these difficult days, that goes for more than just Gringotts curse breakers! Conkling has painstakingly researched most of the diseases that can impair a niffler’s sense of smell, including dirt allergies and iron-disulfide dependency. A must-buy for anyone interested in the care of magical creatures!

Falling two places to number nine was Broomstick Splinters, the controversial memoir of long-time Ballycastle Bats seeker Herbert “the Hawk” Houlighan (London: Snidely & Foxment). But sales are expected to pick up again, following this week’s news that Houlighan was admitted to St. Mungo’s after opening an anonymous letter containing a one-off, attack-the-reader curse. Ministry wizards are tight-lipped, but a source in Houlighan’s family confirmed that anyone named in Broomstick Splinters may be a suspect. For a complete review, see page 5 of the current Magic Folk supplement.

Holding steady at number eight: Mystifying Muggles, an up-to-date guide on how to avoid attracting the notice of Muggles as you live and work magic in their neighborhood (Oxford: Merlin College Press). Authors Cecil Lee-Stuff and Donna B. Endicott candidly evaluate the successes and failures of each technique in an exhaustive study of our concealment from the Muggle world. Then they describe new challenges to the secrecy of our world, and the most recent techniques that have been developed to meet those challenges – including some they have invented and tested themselves! No book could be more timely, and not merely for those who are charged with keeping our world secret and safe. Every wizarding family should take warning, and encouragement, from what this book has to say about baffling orbiting Muggle devices, radar, and so many other modern Muggle gadgets.

Not to be confused with the previous title, Muggle Myths enters the Nonfiction List at number seven (Edinburgh: Muggle Studies Institute). J. Balthasar Drooble, general editor, heads an impressive list of scholars who contributed to this book, with a critical look at all the fictions you have ever heard about Muggles, and a few amazing facts besides! Do they really cut people open in Muggle hospitals? Do their flying machines and moving pictures work by enslaving countless harmless fairies? Do they use kites with keys tied to them to make eckeltricity? And have they really been to the moon and back? You won’t know for sure until you read this astounding book!

Cole Slaughter follows up his 2002 bestseller, Spell Safari, with another foray into exotic magical traditions in Famous Wizards of North America (Land’s End: Snickerdoodle Ltd). Both scholarly and completely approachable, Slaughter’s profiles of 46 noteworthy witches, warlocks, mages, and shamans enters this week’s list at number six. This reviewer is particularly impressed by the chapter on Black Elk, which should be read in every history-of-magic classroom. Even some Muggles might be interested in getting hold of this book, especially for what it has to say about Eisenhower. But the real surprise is the evidence Slaughter has uncovered about Massachusetts witch-trial maven Cotton Mather!

In Wee Wizards and the Mozart Effect (Crewkerne: Chick & Egg), entering the list at number five, Dr. Betelgeuse Spork becomes only the fourth author to make it onto a Daily Prophet bestseller list over 80 times, and in 8 different decades to boot. Still the most trusted advisor on parenting magic, Spork is best known for his epochal studies of magical child development, titled What Are Little Witches Made Of? and He Had a Bezoar Up His Nose. Now he sets out to correct the gross information lately put about by the Muggle child-development experts, particularly regarding the spells certain renegade wizards cast through music composed for a Muggle audience. Though the judgment of modern wizarding society would condemn Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach to a cell in Azkaban, Spork makes (as always) an even-handed judgment and concludes that their music could, indeed, be used to enrich the magical potential of tiny tots, newbies, and even unborn witches and wizards.

Dropping from the number one spot to fourth on the list was So You’ve Been Cursed by Jasper “Jinx” Jenkins, founder of MMMF (Mending Magical Mishaps Foundation) of Strunkhaven, which also published the book. With chapters on counter-jinxes, potions and spells to relieve symptoms, and support groups to help you deal with long-lasting hex effects, this is another book for which the time is ripe. Unfortunately, the market was flooded with look-alike books that are printed on cursed paper with poisoned ink, and a whole batch of the books had to be recalled when the printer discovered that someone had slightly tampered with the text to make some of the cures into curses. Nevertheless, Jenkins is a name to watch, as he has his finger on what today’s readers desperately want.

Down from second to third on the list is Glissandra Smith-Smith-Johnson-Smith’s glittery, glossy Weddings for Witches (Frillborough: Tuxedo Breakfast, Ltd). The latest fashions in bridal attire are exhaustively depicted in a multitude of see-from-all-sides posed pictures, including plus-size, minus-size, bridesmaid-uglifying, and bride-de-uglifying dresses, hair styles, facial treatments, accessories, and pages and pages of charms and potions for catching Mr. Right and making the big day perfect. The only drawback is that, at twenty galleons per copy, it is a big investment for a book that will be outdated at least by the time next year’s bridal guide comes out. The real value of this book lies in all the personal experience brought to it by the author, who has herself been married eleven times at this writing (and whose full list of hyphenated, married names includes at least two more Smiths).

Rising to number two from a slow start last week at number 14 is a coffee-table-quality book, with text by Lyman Twerp and full-sound, 360-degree-motion photos by Seymour Entwistle: Magical Birds of the Azores (Dungarvan: Be Kind To Your Fine Feathered Friends, Ltd). Rare, glorious creatures they are, and they have been studied and filmed in loving detail, right down to their social habits, family structure, and digestive problems. Such a variety of seldom-seen, yet (fortunately) magically protected species can be found nowhere outside the Really Unplottable Bird Sanctuary off the coast of Idaho. Folks who keep this book on their coffee table had better hide it from visitors if they don’t want them to stay for very long!

And finally, joining the list at number one is the name-dropping, tale-telling potboiler, I Did It Diagonally by Tom Lekkeketel, with co-author Bo Dwyer (London: Broom and Wand Books). Tom, as we all know, is the proprietor of the Leaky Cauldron, and as such he has come into intimate personal contact with nearly every wizard of consequence alive today, to say nothing of those who are of no consequence or no longer living. Which member of the International Federation of Warlocks required a soft-boiled swan’s egg at three o’clock in the morning? Which Wizarding Wireless star trashed his room after his first album earned a million galleons? Which Hogwarts professor staged a Gringotts break-in from a room in the Leaky Cauldron? What did Harry Potter order for supper while staying there for the summer? And which high ranking members of the Ministry left without paying their bill? The answers to all your questions, and many more, are inside. Chances are, you know someone who is mentioned in this book, if you aren’t mentioned yourself. So it’s no wonder the copies are flying off the shelves!

Be sure to check the list next week, following the release of Rigel Oldmanson’s Growing Up Twice (Warwick: Anonymous Press), in which the est- (continued on page 17...)


To send Robbie your personal feedback or original ideas, visit the Feedback Form [EDIT: Rather, leave a Comment]. To vote in the Survey and Contest to determine what happens in the Chapter-After-Next, visit the Discussion Forum [EDIT: This discussion is closed].

The SURVEY: Two questions this time. (1) Is Sadie a chick or a dude? and (2) Is it time yet for the other characters to find this out for sure?

The CONTEST: Describe a magical being, creature, or plant that lives in water.

The Survey Answer that gets the most votes, and the Contest entry that Robbie likes the most, will be featured in Magic Quill #81. So be sure to visit our Discussion Thread – and if you aren’t a member of COS Forums, join today!

[Originally posted 1/27/06]

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