Sunday, March 18, 2018

Boswell annotated bestsellers for the week ending March 17, 2018

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending 3/17/18

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin
2. The Maze at Windermere, by Gregory Blake Smith
3. An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones
4. Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
5. Sunburn, by Laura Lippman
6. Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward
7. The Sparsholt Affair, by Alan Hollinghurst
8. Munich, by Robert Harris
9. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
10. A Long Way from Home, by Peter Carey

The bottom of the list is Knopf heavy, with three of the five coming from Borzoi Books. I heard an interesting interview with Peter Carey for A Long Way from Home, when he discussed writing about addressing Australia's colonial legacy with Tom Power on Q, the CBC radio show and how he framed this within the legendary Redex Reliability Tests which were not exactly races but endurance tests. The Guardian says its "his best novel in decades."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Extraordinary Influence, by Tim Irwin
2. The Way of Being Lost, by Victoria Price
3. The World Only Spins Forward, by Dan Kois/Isaac Butler
4. Russian Roulette, by Michael Isikoff and David Corn
5. Promise Me, Dad, by Joe Biden
6. Einstein and the Rabbi, by Naomi Levy
7. The Deepest Well, by Nadine Burke Harris
8. What Are We Doing Here?, by Marilynne Robinson
9. Packing My Library, Alberto Manguel
10. The Little Book of Hygge, by Meik Wiking

It's no Fire and Fury, but we get a pop on Michael Isikoff and David Corn's Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump. Steven Lee Myers writes in The New York Times: "Although the authors make their view clear from the start, referring to Russian help as the perceived 'original sin' of Trump’s presidency, it is to their credit that they present both campaigns in an unfavorable light. The book will surely infuriate readers on either side of what should be the most urgent question facing the nation today: the vulnerability of our democratic institutions to Russian manipulation."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
2. Call Me by Your Name, by André Aciman
3. Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman
4. Beartown, by Fredrik Backman
5. The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy (event Tue 5/8 - Tickets here.)
6. Station Eleven, by Emily St John Mandel (event Tue 4/10 at Shorewood Public Library)
7. The Little French Bistro, by Nina George
8. Hum If You Don't Know the Words, by Bianca Marais
9. The Crucible, by Arthur Miller
10. The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nina George's follow up to The Little Paris Bookshop is now out in paperback. The Little French Bistro did not quite live up to its predecessor, but because we're talking about bookstore sales, perhaps it sold better in bistros that sold it. Novelist Barbara Delinsky offers her take. And Bethanne Patrick in The Washington Post notes this book is part of a legacy of novels about unhappy women stumbling into a new life.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence, by Derald Wing Sue
2. Dreamland, by Sam Quinones
3. Janesville, by Amy Goldstein
4. Species of Species and Other Pieces, by Georges Perec
5. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
6. Mexicans in Wisconsins, by Sergio Gonazalez
7. Irish Milwaukee, by Martin Hintz
8. The Six, by Laura Thompson
9. Everybody Lies, by Seth Stephens Davidowitz
10. Siddhartha's Brain, by James Kingsland

No that there's often a sales pop for Irish titles in the week's leading up to St. Patrick's Day, but it's nice to see Martin Hintz's Irish Milwaukee have at least a small pop. Our paperback nonfiction list generally has the smallest sales of the five lists, but on the other hand, I read four of the ten this week (Evicted, Janesville, The Six, Everybody Lies) so it seems like a good list for me. One book I'd still like to read on the list is Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction. Quinones was brought in to do a Rotary Club lunch and a talk/panel discussion at Milwaukee Public Library.

Books for Kids:
1. Stuck in the Stone Age, by Geoff Rodkey and the Story Pirates
2. Deadweather and Sunrise: Chronicles of Egg V1, by Geoff Rodkey
3. Tapper Twins Tear Up New York V2, by Geoff Rodkey
4. Tapper Twins Go to War with Each Other V1, by Geoff Rodkey
5. The Night Diary, by Veera Hiranandani
6. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle
7. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
8. Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi
9. Love, Hate, and Other Filters, by Samira Ahmed
10. The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert

New to our kids list is Samira Ahmed's YA novel Love, Hate, and Other Filters, about an Muslim Indian American girl in Illinois whose destiny is to go to a good school in the Chicago area and marry a good match. But she wants to go to film school! But in the midst of this personal dilemma comes a tragedy - a terrorist attack in Springfield. Katie Ward Beim-Esche in the Christian Science Monitor says "Ahmed has a tangled web to weave, and you’re in for a blistering and blunt experience that will not end the way you expect." The headline says it's the most important YA novel of 2018 so far.

Here's what's happening on the TapBooks page of the Journal Sentinel:

-Mark Athitakis reviews Chris Bohjalian's The Flight Attendant: "A woman. A murder. A mode of public transportation... It was only a matter of time before someone gave it wings." Athitakis calls it "an assured novel about reckoning not just with some ruthless bad guys, but private sadness as well." Originally from USA Today

--Diane Werts reviews Stealing the Show: How Woman Are Revolutionizing Television: "We hear you, straight white guys. You hardlyl see yourselves on television anymore. Seems like it's all black people, LGBT people, chubby chucks, prison inmates, and female butt-kickers now. Whom can you guys identify with? Must be frustrating. Welcome to the club of 'other' viewers." Originally from Newsday

--Steph Cha reviews The Hunger, by Alma Katsu: "You've heard of the Donner Party. You know they were pioneers who set out for California, that things went poorly and did not end well. If nothing else, you probably know that they ate one another to survive. The Hunger, Alma Katsu's new novel, assumes some familiarity with this California trail horror show." Cha notes that Katsu adds a supernatural twist. Originally from USA Today

Monday, March 12, 2018

What's happening at Boswell? Victoria Price at Boswell, Dan Kois at UWM, plus Sam Quinones at the Milwaukee Public Library Loos Room

If you'll notice, there was a gap in our schedule this week, but don't worry, we're keeping busy. On Monday, we have a full day of author visits, and on Tuesday, we have two events where we're selling books but not officially sponsoring (for the former, because it was private, and for the latter, because we didn't know the exact format in time to put on our promotional materials). But I thought you'd find them interesting anyway, and in the case of the Tuesday evening event, we'd still love for you to attend this very timely and important panel discussion.

Geoff Rodkey, author of Stuck in the Stone Age:
Monday, March 12, various schools (private events).

Geoff Rodkey, author of two middle-grade series, has written a new book for readers eight and up that is a collaboration with The Story Pirates. Here's the publisher's description: "Tom Edison (no, not that Tom Edison) is a hopeful janitor who dreams of becoming a scientist--and Dr. Morice is a shy scientist who dreams of making friends. When an accident at the lab sends them back in time to the stone age, Tom and Dr. Morice must work together to face down cavemen, saber-tooth tigers, and other B.C. hazards, with only one problem: Tom isn't very good at science, and Dr. Morice isn't very good with people." Each book is going to be from a kid's idea. Contact Jenny if you're interested in being on our school proposal list. There is no public event for this book but we might have signed copies afterwards.

Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic:
Tuesday, March 13, 6:30 pm, at Loos Room of Centennial Hall, 733 N Eighth St.

Dreamland received the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction. Per the library, The book chronicles the opiate crisis of a town in Ohio, and how that town came together to address the dependency and work toward economic and social revitalization. Quinones will be joined by local guests who will discuss the opiate crisis in Milwaukee. We'll be there selling books. There is also a Rotary Club meeting, but that's by invitation only. More on the library event here.

Wednesday, March 14, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Victoria Price, author of The Way of Being Lost: A Road Trip to My Truest Self

After a tumultuous period of crisis, Victoria Price rebuilt her life by embracing a daily practice of joy, healing childhood wounds and reconnecting to the example set by her father Vincent, the famed actor. Her journey involved stepping away from externalities and into her father's legacy -his love for people and compassion for others, his generosity of spirit and simple kindnesses, his enthusiasm for new experiences, and his love of life.

Victoria Price is the author of the critically acclaimed Vincent Price: A Daughter's Biography and several Vincent Price cookbooks. A popular inspirational speaker on topics ranging from art collecting and design to creativity and spirituality, as well as the life of her famous father, Price’s work has been featured in USA Today, Travel & Leisure, and The New York Times. She is also an interspiritual and interfaith minister.

The UWM Visiting Writer Series presents Dan Kois, author of The World Only Spins Forward: The Ascent of Angels in America:
Thursday, March 15, 7:00 pm, at UWM’s Curtin Hall, Room 175, 3243 N Downer Ave. It's about seven blocks north of Boswell (though one of them is pretty long).

Boswell is honored to cosponsor a special talk from Slate editor and Whitefish Bay native Dan Kois, part of the UWM Visiting Writer Series. When Tony Kushner’s Angels in America hit Broadway in 1993, it won the Pulitzer Prize, swept the Tonys, and changed the way gay lives were represented in popular culture. Mike Nichols’s 2003 HBO adaptation with Meryl Streep and Al Pacino was itself a tour de force, winning 11 Emmys and introducing the play to an even wider public.

Now, on the 25th anniversary of that Broadway premiere, Dan Kois and Isaac Butler offer the definitive account of Angels in America in the most fitting way possible: through oral history, nearly 200 voices in vibrant conversation and debate. The intimate storytelling of actors (including Streep, Mary-Louise Parker, and Jeffrey Wright), directors, producers, and Kushner himself reveals the turmoil of the play’s birth - a hard-won miracle in the face of artistic roadblocks, technical disasters, and disputes both legal and creative. Historians and critics help situate the play in the arc of American culture, from the activism of the AIDS crisis through civil rights triumphs to our current era, whose politics are a dark echo of the Reagan ’80s.

Please check your schedule for this event. It was originally listed for later in the month at another venue. Don't miss this special event.

Richard School Fundraiser:
Sunday, March 18, 2 pm fundraiser begins, 3 pm program

Have you noticed the beautiful tree branch decorations at Boswell? We are celebrating spring with a book fundraiser for Whitefish Bay's Richards School. We'll have a program of student readings and a short dramatic presentations. Parents and friends can purchase books for Richards classrooms and library. And a percentage of designated sales will go towards more book credits, in lieu of Boswell Benefits. This is the model we use for our programs with Maryland Avenue Montessori and St. Robert School. If you're interested in having a program like this for your school, contact Daniel (me).

Plus don't forget next week is Game Night at Boswell:
Tuesday, March 20, 7:00 pm, at Boswell

Game night is for folks 16+. Some of these games involve adult language. Registration requested at We really want you to register because we need to set the store for the right number of people, and we only have so many games!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Annotated Boswell bestsellers, week ending March 10, 2018

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending March 10, 2018

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin
2. Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward
3. The House of Broken Angels, by Luis Alberto Urrea (more below)
4. The Maze at Windermere, by Gregory Blake Smith
5. An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones
6. The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah
7. Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
8. Chicago, by David Mamet
9. Asymmetry, by Lisa Halliday
10. Temptation of Forgiveness, by Donna Leon

It's so exciting to see the reviews coming in for The House of Broken Angels, Luis Alberto Urrea's long-awaited novel, featured at the Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library Spring Literary Lunch (ticket info here) on March 11. Michael Lindgren in The Washington Post wrote: "Luis Alberto Urrea’s The House of Broken Angels is a big, sprawling, messy, sexy, raucous house party of a book, a pan-generational family saga with an enormous, bounding heart, a poetic delivery and plenty of swagger. It’s not perfect — in fact, even its flaws are big — but it stays with you, and it stands as a vital reminder of the value of fiction in defining the immigrant experience."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Uneasy Peace, by Patrick Sharkey
2. The Art of Resistance, by Shelley Drake Hawks
3. Enlightenment Now, by Steven Pinker
4. Baseball Italian Style, by Lawrence Baldassaro (event at Boswell 3/27)
5. Common Good, by Robert B. Reich
6. Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann
7. Sioux Chefs Indigenous Kitchen, by Shean Sherman
8. Educated, by Tara Westover
9. I'll Be Gone in the Dark, by Michelle McNamara
10. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance

Patrick Sharkey appeared at a Marquette Law School conference which was, as usual, sold out, but I hope someone brings him back because his book, Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence, will be of great interest to many in Milwaukee, especially because at least one chapter is set here. Ashley Luthern noted some of his findings in this Journal Sentinel story: "In his research, Sharkey and his colleagues found in a given city with 100,000 people, 'every new organization formed to confront violence and build strong neighborhoods led to about a 1 percent drop in violent crime and murder.'"

Paperback Fiction:
1. Ru, by Kim Thúy
2. Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
3. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders (In Store Lit Group 4/2)
4. Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid
5. Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, by Sherman Alexie
6. Mãn, by Kim Thúy
7. Berlin Alexanderplatz, by Alfred Döblin
8. Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult
9. Beartown, by Fredrik Backman
10. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead

Just out from NYRB Classics is Alfred Döblin's Berlin Alexanderplatz, the inspiration for Rainer Werner Fassbinder's epic film, many consider it one of the most important works of 20th century literature. It's even got a Wikipedia entry. Bertold Brecht wrote: "I learned more about the essence of the epic from Döblin than from anyone else. His epic writing and even his theory about the epic strongly influenced my own dramatic art."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. There Are No Children Here, by Alex Kotlowitz
2. Janesville, by Amy Goldstein
3. The French Art of Not Giving a Sh*t, by Fabrice Midal
4. Healing the Human Body with God's Remedies, by Lester Carter
5. The Other Side of the River, by Alex Kotlowitz
6. Angel Wisdom, by terry Lynn Taylor
7. How to Fight, by Thich Nhat Hanh
8. Modern Ethics in 77 Arguments, by Peter Caputano
9. Healthcare 911, by Bhupendra O. Khatri
10. The Radium Girls, by Kate Moore

New this week in paperback is Kate Moore's The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women. From Genevieve Valentine's story on NPR: "The book, infuriating for necessary reasons, traces the women at two dial-making factories — the USRC in New Jersey, and Radiant Dial in Illinois. And Radium Girls spares us nothing of their suffering; though at times the foreshadowing reads more like a true-crime story, Moore is intent on making the reader viscerally understand the pain in which these young women were living, and through which they had to fight in order to get their problems recognized."

Books for Kids:
1. The Night Diary, by Veera Hirandani
2. Deadweather and Sunrise, by Geoff Rodkey
3. The Tapper Twins Go to War with Each Other V1, by Geoff Rodkey
4. The Tapper Twins Tear Up New York V2, by Geoff Rodkey
5. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle
6. A Is for Activist, by Innosanto Nagara
7. Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi
8. The Playbook, by Kwame Alexander
9. Stuck in the Stone Age, by Geoff Rodkey and The Story Pirates
10. Sacred Leaf, by Deborah Ellis

I wish there were more hours in a day so that we could have hosted Veera Hirandani for a public event for her new novel, The Night Diary, which three Boswellians have already read and loved. But between a school visit for Books & Company and Boswell, a Lake Effect taping, and a dinner for area booksellers and librarians, there was simply no time. Here's Virandani talking to Renee Montaigne on NPR: "I hope it resonates on a few levels. I think kids that I know, in my area, they learn about what a refugee is, but I don't know if they always have a specific sense of what that means for an individual person going through this. So I hope that readers will see that Nisha is a 12-year-old girl who loves her home, has a complicated relationship with her father, loves her brother — and also they fight — and she wonders what's for dinner, and she does all of these things that I think most 12-year-olds could relate to."

The Journal Sentinel TapBook page highlights some of the great upcoming literary events in Milwaukee. Included is info on:
--Liam Callanan for Paris by the Book at Boswell on April 3 - free, no registration
--Kwame Alexander for Rebound at Boswell on April 9 - register here
--Emily St. John Mandel for Shorewood Reads at the Shorewood Public Library on April 10 - free, no registration
--Lisa See at UWM Golda Meir Library for Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane on April 19 - free, no registration
--David Sedaris at the Riverside Theater on April 20 - tickets here
--Meg Wolitzer at Schlitz Audubon for The Female Persuasion on April 23 - tickets here
--Christopher Moore at Boswell for Noir on May 2 - tickets here
--Paula McLain at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for Love and Ruin on May 6 - tickets here
--Arundhati Roy at UWM Student Union for The Ministry of Utmost Happiness on May 8 - tickets here
--Luis Alberto Urrea (as noted above) at the MPL Friends Literary Lunch on May 11 - tickets here

Also in the paper is Michael Lindgren's review of Laura Lippman's Sunburn: "You don't need to be steeped in the history of noir crime to enjoy Sunburn. What makes the book so lethally seductive is Lippman's utter control over the narrative, which ticks away with relentless fatalism." This review originally appeared in Newsday.

From Hannah Wise comes a review of Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Female Friendship, by Kayleen Schaefer. Her review, which originally appeared in Dallas Morning News, notes: Women of my generation know what it means when a friend says 'Text me when you get home.' In six small words, she is speaking volumes. She wants to make sure you know the memories, witty banter, and love don't stop when you walk out the door."

Jim Higgins profiles Amy Kaufman's Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America's Favorite Guilty Pleasure for anything about Nick Viall, the Waukesha native who has been on four iterations of the franchise and still has not found love. Apparently it's not you, it's him.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Book club discussion for The Anatomy of Dreams and are we going to get more signed copies of The Immortalists? Yes.

There's nothing like a breakout novel to set hearts aflutter in the publishing community, and nowadays, it's even more exciting when it is not the category of psychological suspense, which seems to be particularly friendly to new writers. And while we were not able to host A.J. Finn, we did have a great event with Chloe Benjamin, one that was kind of ten months in the making. I've written at length about how we were just one of many, many cogs (some of them very big cogs indeed) that helped break the book out, but one thing that we did not discuss was Benjamin's first book, The Anatomy of Dreams.

If you ask most readers about The Immortalists, they will probably say it was Benjamin's first novel. The Anatomy of Dreams was a paperback original from Aria, and aside from its Edna Ferber Prize from the Council for Wisconsin Writers, its publication was pretty quiet. But we saw The Anatomy of Dreams as a great opportunity to help promote the then-upcoming second novel, The Immortalists, and one of the ways we got the word out was by reading the book for our In-Store Lit Group meeting. We wound up having the second best sales of The Immortalists on Treeline, but we'll see if that changes as other stores discover Benjamin's first novel.

Like The Immortalists, The Anatomy of Dreams spring from an intriguing premise. Sylvie, a young student at a California boarding school, falls for Gabe, who himself is an acolyte of Dr. Keller, who runs a sleep lab on campus. His goal is to help folks who sleepwalk and more learn to control themselves by lucid dreaming. She winds up becoming Gabe's partner both in life and in work, following Dr. Keller to Madison, where she is now testing patients for suitability in the experiments. But when she and Gabe befriend their neighbors, Thomas and Janna, she begins to question what she's actually doing, especially when she starts having erotic dreams about Thomas.

Regarding the book club discussion, I thought that many of the attendees would have read The Immortalists first, but actually those readers were in the minority. Most of the attendees liked the book, but were not that interested in hearing about how the two stories connected, which would be the case when you've read them both.

So what did the book club think? Most of the attendees liked The Anatomy of Dreams and only one person hated it. The reader most disappointed by the book expected that the book's trajectory would be more speculative than it was. This is not so much the fault of the book than of the book packaging. I've heard that Atria is going to reissue the book this fall and the new jacket might change the book's perception.

I'm late enough on this write up, such that I'll be doing the post for The Women in the Castle later this week (I hope), when I'll list our future In-Store Lit Group selections.

Oh, and I got to visit Benjamin in Madison, where I got more copies of The Immortalists signed for stock. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Author alert: Michael Moreci with a Star Warsian adventure, Kim Thuy for Francophonie Month, Shelley Drake Hawks on Chinese art

Thursday, March 6, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Michael Moreci, author of Black Star Renegades

Black Star Renegades is a galaxy-hopping space adventure about a galactic kingdom bent on control and the young misfit who must find the power within before it’s too late.

Cade Sura holds the future of the galaxy in his hands: the ultimate weapon that will bring total peace. He didn’t ask for it, he doesn’t want it, and there’s no worse choice to wield it in all of space, but if he doesn’t, everyone’s totally screwed. The evil Praxis kingdom is on the cusp of having every star system under its control, and if that happens, there’ll be no contesting their cruel reign. Especially if its fanatical overlord, Ga Halle, manages to capture Cade and snag the all-powerful weapon for herself. Cade can’t hide from Praxis, and he can’t run from the destiny that’s been shoved into his hands. So he only has one option - he has to fight. With some help from his friends - rebels and scoundrels alike - Cade’s going to use this weapon to chart a new destiny for the galaxy, and for himself.

Blending the space operatics of Star Wars and the swagger of Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Star Renegades is a galaxy-hopping adventure that blasts its way from seedy spacer bars to sacred temples guarded by deadly creatures - all with a cast of misfit characters who have nowhere to go and nothing to lose.

From Bleeding Cool, on Moreci's decision to include absolutely no pictures in his latest comic book: "It came to me one stormy night. I’d been drinking whiskey since noon, and I forgot to hire an artist for this story I wanted to tell. So I thought to myself, 'What if there was NO artist at all?' and the innovation took off from there. But seriously, I’d always wanted to write a novel. In fact, I have before! It was unpublished (thank Crom). I’d been pitching an editor at St. Martin’s for years with no luck, then one day he called me up and said, 'Mike, you love Star Wars. Write me something Star Wars.' And all I had to do was open my drawer and say, 'Here you go!' and we were off and running from there."

Chicago-based Michael Moreci’s comics include the critically acclaimed sci-fi trilogy Roche Limit and the military horror drama Burning Fields. He's also written Suicide Squad for DC, Planet of the Apes for Boom!, and his other original titles include Curse, Hoax Hunters, ReincarNATE, and the forthcoming Black Hole Repo. As a novelist, Moreci is currently writing Spy Swap, an espionage thriller.

Thursday, March 8, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Kim Thúy, author of Ru and Mãn

Celebrate Francophonie Month with Alliance Française de Milwaukee and Boswell! Enjoy an evening with Kim Thúy, author of Ru, winner of the Governor General’s Award for a French-language novel, and shortlisted for the Giller Prize in its English translation. This event is brought to Milwaukee in part by the Quebec Delegation of Chicago.

The title of the novel Ru has meaning in both Kim's native and adoptive languages: in Vietnamese, ru is a lullaby; in French, a stream. And it provides the perfect name for this slim yet potent novel. With prose that soothes and sings, Ru weaves through time, flows and transports: a river of sensuous memories gathering power. It's a classic immigrant story told in a breathtaking new way.

And here’s more about Thúy’s most recently translated book, Mãn. From East to West, Saigon to Montreal, Mãn is a young refugee whose mother is protecting her by setting up a marriage to a Vietnamese restaurant owner in Canada. Mãn has learned to grow up without dreaming and to live without needing hardly anything. But in the kitchen, when she reworks the simple recipes of her childhood, her emotions are unleashed. Kim Thúy draws a beautiful mosaic in which the mix of memory, love, and estrangement causes us to realize how far we’ve come.

Here's Kim Thúy talking about her latest novel Vi, which comes out in English in Canada next month, with Jeanette Kelly at CBC News. I think the story gives you an idea about Thuy's infectious energy. My friend John sat with her at a lunch several years ago and was completely smitten.

Kim Thúy left Vietnam with the boat people at the age of 10 and settled in Quebec, Canada as a refugee of war in 1979. A graduate in translation and law, when settled in Montreal she worked many jobs - seamstress, interpreter, lawyer, and restaurateur - until the release of her first novel in 2009.

Friday, March 9, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Shelley Drake Hawks, author of The Art of Resistance: Painting by Candlelight in Mao's China

The Lawrence Club of Milwaukee and the Dartmouth Alumni Association of Wisconsin cosponsor a special evening with Shelley Drake Hawks, author of a beautiful new book that chronicles the lives of seven Chinese artists during China’s Cultural Revolution.

The Art of Resistance surveys the lives of seven painters—Ding Cong (1916–2009), Feng Zikai (1898–1975), Li Keran (1907–89), Li Kuchan (1898–1983), Huang Yongyu (b. 1924), Pan Tianshou (1897–1971), and Shi Lu (1919–82) - during China’s Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), a time when they were considered counterrevolutionary and were forbidden to paint. Drawing on interviews with the artists and their families and on materials collected during her visits to China, Shelley Drake Hawks examines their painting styles, political outlooks, and life experiences.

These fiercely independent artists took advantage of moments of low surveillance to secretly paint by candlelight. In doing so, they created symbolically charged art that is open to multiple interpretations. The wit, courage, and compassion of these painters will inspire respect for the deep emotional and spiritual resonance of Chinese art.

Look! The Art of Resistance hit the Oklahoma bestseller list last Christmas, per The Oklahoman.

Shelley Drake Hawks teaches art history and world history at Middlesex Community College in Massachusetts.

For more upcoming events, visit the eponymous page on our website.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending March 3, 2018--annotated links and Journal Sentinel reviews

Here are our bestsellers for the week ending March 3, 2018

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories, by Kelly Barnhill
2. The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin
3. Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward
4. Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
5. An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones
6. Asymmetry, by Lisa Halliday
7. Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate
8. Light It Up, by Nick Petrie
9. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
10. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman (event at Lynden 6/6/18)

We are definitely behind the curve on Lisa Wingate's Before We Were Yours, which has now logged 23 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. The author, who has written nearly 30 novels, was quoted in the Hoover Sun by Jon Anderson as saying :"She always knew she was going to be an author because her first-grade teacher told her so and first-grade teachers never lie." And for more about how the book came to be, her website describes the inspiration, the story of Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children's Home Society. It's a fascinating story and I'm not surprised this book has touched a nerve.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann
2. Time Pieces, by John Banville
3. Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff (not our event but at the Riverside on May 9. Tickets here)
4. Food, by Mark Hyman
5. The Deepest Well, by Nadine Burke Harris
6. The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben
7. Directorate S, by Steve Coll
8. Strengths Finder 2.0, by Tom Rath
9. That's What She Said, by Joanne Lipman
10. Educated, by Tara Westover

The Knopf division of Penguin Random House is having a nice week with four books in the top 10 fiction paperbacks, a resurgence of Killers of the Flower Moon (if it wasn't printed already, I would expect a delay in the paperback) and a pop for John Banville's Time Pieces: A Dublin Memoir. Fintan O'Toole wrote in The Irish Times: "Autobiography is inevitable, but in Banville’s case memory has always been sublimated into the pure invention of his chiselled prose. And if Banville is an unlikely memoirist, Dublin seems an even more unlikely setting. As he remarks in Time Pieces, Joyce’s imaginative hold on the city was so great that “the place was of no use to me as a backdrop for my fiction” until the late birth of his alter ego Benjamin Black. So the appearance of this utterly delightful book, called a memoir in its title but, perhaps more accurately, a 'quasi-memoir' in the body of the text, is an unexpected windfall." See our item page for Anne McMahon's recommendation.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
2. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
3. Call Me by Your Name, by André Aciman
4. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
5. I Like You Just Fine when You're Not Around, by Ann Garvin
6. Station Eleven, by Emily S. John Mandel
7. Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
8. Autumn, by Ali Smith
9. In This Grave Hour, by Jacqueline Winspear
10. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

This year's Women's Leadership Conference is only odd in the bestseller reports because our bestseller lists are not filled with nonfiction business and self-help titles, though Strengths Finder 2.0 and That's What She Said (from the hardcover nonfiction list) were both on recommendation lists. One of the speakers was Ann Garvin, whose most recent novel, I Like You Just Fine when You're Not Around, had a sales pop. The book was published by Tyrus, which was sold by F&W to Simon and Schuster, as part of their acquisition of Adams. From the Publishers Weekly review: " Garvin’s wit and sensitivity keep her in full control of the emotional subject matter. Pinpoint details and realistic characterizations of Tig’s internal strife firmly situate readers in this eccentric, endearing story of a family coming together to face the ravages of Alzheimer’s."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Healthcare 911, by Bhupendra O. Khatri
2. Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee, by Thomas H. Fehring
3. Evicted, Matthew Desmond
4. Waking Up White, by Debby Irving
5. Playing Through the Fence, by Mary J. Dowell
6. Taking Flight, by Michael Edmonds (event at Riverside Park Urban Ecology Center 3/20)
7. North Point Historic Districts, by Shirley DuFresne McArthur
8 Everybody Lies, by Seth Stephens Davidowitz
9. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissinger
10. Against the Deportation Terror, by Rachel Ida Buff

I'm a big fan of Seth Stephens-Davidowitz's Everybody Lies and it's nice to see the book having at least a small pop with its paperback release. The book has gotten a round of press for the recent article about how to correlate the popularity of a song based on its age and the age of the listener when it came out. Our early teens are the time when we wire our brain about this stuff, but that did not make me love David Geddes's "Run Joey Run" any more than I did when I was 14. That said, 1975 really was a great year for music for me. Read the whole New York Times article here and keep in mind that Everybody Lies is chock full of fascinating data analysis of this type.

Books for Kids:
1. Better Together, by Barbara Joosse and Anneke Lisberg
2. Sail Away Dragon, by Barbara Joosse with illustrations by Randy Cecil
3. Strongheart, by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann
4. The Amazing Collection of Joey Cornell, by Candace Fleming, with illustrations by Gaerard DuBois
5. Becoming Maria (paperback), by Sonia Manzano
6. Lovabye Dragon, by Barbara Joosse with illustrations by Randy Cecil
7. Becoming Maria (hardcover), by Sonia Manzano
8. Evermore Dragon, by Barbara Joosse with illustrations by Randy Cecil
9. Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green
10. Unwind, by Neal Shusterman

Did you figure out that we just did school events with Barbara Joosse and Candace Fleming/Eric Rohmann? We really love bringing authors to area schools. In addition to Strongheart, a middle grade novel based on a real-life Hollywood dog star, we also featured the brand-new picture book from Candace Fleming, The Amazing Collection of Joey Cornell: Based on the Childhood of a Great American Artist. When I was in college, my art professor loved that I lived near Utopia Parkway in Queens, which is where Joseph Cornell lived with his mother. From the blog A Book and a Hug: "This is a beautiful testimony to the birth of a voice in a family that allowed it to grow. Cornell beat to his own drum and brought his vision forth to make our world a better place. Wonderful read aloud for children who are wondering how a voice is discovered and nourished."

From the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins reviews Carol Wobig's The Collected Stories. Higgins reviews her fascinating story: "In 1978, she submitted a story for the first time to Redbook magazine, which rejected it. She began reading how-to books about writing but was afraid to join a critique group. 'I didn't have the confidence for that,' she said. Wobig said she seldom finished stories. She'd start one, then read a writing book and start over again. But in 2003, Wobig was diagnosed with acromegaly, a pituitary disorder that required surgery and radiation. After getting through treatment, she was less afraid to share her writing with a group. She ended up at Redbird Studio, where she said writing teacher Judy Bridges mentored her. 'I got positive feedback there and I learned a lot and made friends.' Meanwhile, Wobig worked at a Tombstone Pizza plant in Sussex, on the cleaning crew and then in the sauce room. She retired in 2003." Read more about Wobig's stories in his review.

Also in the print TapBooks page, Higgins profiles the Shorewood Reads program, which this year features Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven. There will be two discussions with the author, one at 10 am on April 10 with Lauren Fox, and another in the evening on the same day, both at Shorewood Public Library, 3920 N Murray Ave. There are also multiple Station Eleven discussions, with Hayley Johnson on March 7, with Jessie Garcia at Camp Bar on March 20, and Fox at North Shore Boulengerie on March 28.

And finally. Darcel Rockett writes about the current state of romance, originally published in the Chicago Tribune.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Boswell bestsellers, week ending February 24, 2018

Here are the Boswell bestsellers for the week ending February 24, 2018

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Philosopher's Flight, by Tom Miller
2. The Woman in the Water, by Charles Finch
3. An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones
4. The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin
5. The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah
6. Force of Nature, by Jane Harper
7. Down the River Unto the Sea, by Walter Mosley
8. The Power, by Naomi Alderman
9. Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward
10. Enigma Variations, by André Aciman

Kristin Hannah is totally dominating the hardcover fiction list for the last few weeks. Her new novel, The Great Alone, is set in 1970s Alaska. It's gotten many great reviews, including Kim Ode's in the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Hannah has created an atmosphere of brooding paranoia and simmering violence that can set your heart racing. Anticipated plot twists unravel unexpectedly. Leni is, by all marks, the strong woman here. But she’s how many of us would be strong: in fits and starts, undone by errors of judgment and misplaced trust."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Educated, by Tara Westover
2. What Are We Doing Here?, by Marilynne Robinson
3. Leonardo Da Vinci, by Walter Isaacson
4. Enlightenment Now, by Steven Pinker
5. Feel Free, by Zadie Smith
6. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
7. The Deepest Well, by Nadine Burke Harris
8. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
9. My Canadian Boyfriend Justin Trudeau, by Carrie Parker
10. Obama, by Pete Souza

My ears first perked up about Tara Westover's Educated when I heard her on Fresh Air. There are lots of reviews too, including Dan Cryer's in Newsday: "Religious fundamentalism can also generate its own freaky hazards. In Stolen Innocence, a teenage Elissa Wall is forced into polygamy by a breakaway sect of Mormons. Tara Westover, raised by Mormons in rural Idaho, cautions that her memoir, Educated, is “not about Mormonism.” But, unquestionably, it is about what happens when religious fanatics split the world into true believers and followers of Satan."

Like The Great Alone, Celine's cover is using trending muddy brown cover palette. This replaces the green hardcover, which is always blamed for any book's last of breakout bestsellerdom.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Call Me by Your Name, by André Aciman
2. Enigma Variations, by André Aciman
3. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
4. Beartown, by Fredrik Backman
5. The Sun and Her Flowers, by Rupi Kaur
6. Celine, by Peter Heller
7. A Separation, by Katie Kitamura
8. Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
9. Nix, by Nathan Hill
10. The Women in the Castle, by Jessica Shattuck

It's nice to see several books that got a nice amount of attention in hardcover get a pop in paperback. One is Peter Heller's Celine, his third novel, which is once again something new. Here's Jason Sheehan on NPR: "Celine, the novel, by Peter Heller (of Dog Stars and The Painter) is a difficult thing to get your head around. Not the subject matter (the process of finding lost people, the complications that such things can cause) because that's rote, if handled here with an odd and engaging sort of flair. And not the subject herself, because Celine (the character) comes from a long and solid tradition of aristocratic detectives; of moneyed and over-smart and ridiculously capable persons who give up society life for what thrills might be gotten from rolling around in the gutters with the rest of us."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. It's Never Too Late to Begin Again, by Julia Cameron
2. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
3. We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, by Samantha Irby (event at Boswell, Thu 5/10, 7 pm)
4. The French Art of Not Giving a Sh*t, by Fabrice Midal
5. The Nature Fix, by Florence Williams
6. The Most Beautiful Walk in the World, by John Baxter (part of Liam Callanan's Paris talk for Paris by the Book)
7. Wisconsin and the Civil War, by Ronald Paul Larson
8. Waking Up White, by Debby Irving
9. Runaway Inequality, by Les Leopold
10. Light on Yoga, by BKS Iyengar

One new paperback having a sales pop in paperback nonfiction is The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative. This is a theory that pops up with some frequency, at the same time that we wind up doing the opposite. Jason Mark wrote in The New York Times: "You’ve probably heard a version of this before. Two centuries ago, the Romantics trumpeted the virtues of nature as the antidote to the viciousness of industrialization. In 1984, the biologist Edward O. Wilson put a scientific spin on the idea with his book Biophilia, which posited that humans possess an innate love of nature."

Books for Kids:
1. Nephilim V2, by John Barrowman and Carole E. Barrowman
2. Here We Are, by Oliver Jeffers
3. A Is for Activist, by Innosanto Nagara
4. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle
5. Calvin Can't Fly, by Jennifer Berne
6. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls V1, by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
7. The Day the Crayons Came Home, by Drew Daywalt, with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers
8. Tower of Dawn, by Sarah J. Maas
9. Library of Fates, by Aditi Khorana
10. Thunderhead, by Neal Shusterman

This week's top 10 is YA heavy, which is in part accounted for by some school sales. One recent release is Thunderhead, the follow-up from Scythe by Neal Shusterman, who visited Milwaukee for his previous book (and spoke at the Shorewood Public Library). Shusterman is profiled by M.J. Franklin in Mashable: "The Arc of the Scythe series dives into a utopian world where death has been defeated. In this perfect world, a governing body called the Scythes decides who dies "but everyone accepts it because everybody knows that this order is made up of the most compassionate humans in the world." But all is not as it seems. Corruption has started to develop within the organization, and now it is up to two teens apprenticed to a scythe — Rowan and Citra — to investigate, but they soon learn that a perfect world comes with a heavy price."

Over at the Journal Sentinel TapBooks section, Jim Higgins reviews Kelly Barnhill's Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories. Here's a snippet: "In two stories, a clergyman has loving eyes for a woman who commands nature and the attention of animals around her, to the chagrin of regressive forces. Every man desires the attractive widow in the delightful 'Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch,' but she has rekindled romance with someone hairier. Quicker than most of his flock, the priest arrives at the Mirandan conclusion that love is love is love, and the comedy moves to a climax that is positively Franciscan.

"I think Jorge Luis Borges would have liked 'Elegy to Gabrielle — Patron Saint of Healers, Whores, and Righteous Thieves,' with its formally satisfying frame story. In this 17th-century tale, a healing woman and a pirate captain help each other, but also wage a turf war for control of her daughter, Gabrielle. Gabrielle becomes the next pirate captain, a Robin Hood who torments the Governor by stealing tax gold and freeing the occupants of slave ships."

Barnhill will be at the Lynden Sculpture Garden next Thursday, March 1, 7 pm reception, 7:30 talk. Tickets are $30 including admission, light refreshments, and a copy of Dreadful Young Ladies. Lynden members get in for $25. Visit or call (414) 446-8794.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Event alert: Joseph Cassara, Bhupendra O. Khatri, Kelly Barnhill, Miche Moreci

Boswell at home and on the road!

Tuesday, February 27, 7:00 pm, at Outwords Books, Gifts, and Coffee, 2710 N Murray Ave:
Joseph Cassara, author of The House of Impossible Beauties

Boswell is pleased to cosponsor a special evening with Iowa Writers Workshop grad and debut novelist Joseph Cassara, in conjunction with Outwords Books, Gifts, and Coffee. The House of Impossible Beauties is a gritty and gorgeous debut that follows a cast of gay and transgender club kids navigating the Harlem ball scene of the 1980s and ’90s. The story is inspired by the real House of Xtravaganza, made famous by the seminal documentary Paris Is Burning.

This is our second collaboration with Outwords. You can purchase copies in advance at either store. On the night of the event, Outwords will have books for sale. If they run out, Boswell will have backup.

Here's what Entertainment Weekly had to say about Cassara's debut. David Canfield wrote: "The House of Impossible Beauties is a work of unrestrained passion, a novel both unabashedly queer - flamboyant and proud, built out of chosen families, pulsating with club vibes whilst clouded in the haze of trauma - and unmistakably Latin. This is not a book that boasts of inclusion on the basis of mere identity markers; rather, it’s a full-on, transporting immersion. The ensemble’s speech patterns are breathtakingly specific. The way relationships unfold consistently surprises, if only because of how rarely we see LGBTQ people of color depicted with such texture, fleshed out and funny and flawed. The book helps to fill one of adult fiction’s deeper holes. This, here, is the exciting narrative and literary potential of intersectionality, realized on the page."

Joseph Cassara was born and raised in New Jersey. He holds degrees from Columbia University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been a writing fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Wednesday, February 28, 6:30 pm (note time), at Boswell:
Bhupendra O. Khatri M.D., author of Healthcare 911: How America's Broken Healthcare System Is Driving Doctors to Despair, Depriving Patients of Care, and Destroying Our Reputation in the World

American doctors are experiencing the worst crisis since the dawn of western medicine. They are losing their autonomy, their health, and a good part of their income. Their burnout rate has reached critical proportions. They are retiring early or leaving the field altogether. The suicide rate is rising. Essentially, doctors are dealing with their own silent killer disease - unrelenting stress. In this scenario, patients will also be losers.

In his new book - Healthcare 911: How America’s Broken Healthcare System Is Driving Doctors to Despair, Depriving Patients of Care, And Destroying Our Reputation in The World – renowned Wisconsin neurologist Bhupendra O. Khatri explains the causes and consequences of this urgent problem.

“I cannot over emphasize the seriousness of this situation,” says Khatri. “In this era of corporate takeovers, it is becoming almost impossible to maintain a private medical practice. Many physicians, who are now employees of hospital and insurance companies, are pressured to see more patients in less time, bring computers into exam rooms, and spend many hours entering complicated codes into patients’ electronic health records - all of which interfere with quality patient care.”

Bhupendra O. Khatri M.D. is the Medical Director of the Center for Neurological Disorders, one of the largest MS Centers in the US. He has won numerous awards for his compassionate care and research in the field of multiple sclerosis.

Thursday, March 1, 7:00 pm reception, 7:30 talk, at the Lynden Sculpture Garden, 2145 W Brown Deer Rd, River Hills:
A ticketed event with Kelly Barnhill, author of Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories

The Women’s Speaker Series, produced by Milwaukee Reads, presents Kelly Barnhill, the Newbery Medal-winning author of The Girl Who Drank the Moon. Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories is a stunning first collection of acclaimed short fictions, teeming with uncanny characters whose stories unfold in worlds at once strikingly human and eerily original.

Here's Jim Higgins writing about the book in the Journal Sentinel: "Gentle readers, if you like your fantasy fiction female powered, with a Minnesota accent, may I introduce you to Kelly Barnhill? Your children may already know her; Barnhill's previous books include The Girl Who Drank the Moon, which won the Newbery Medal for children's literature in 2017. Now Barnhill has magicked into being a collection for adults, Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories."

Tickets for this event are $29, $24 for members, and include admission to the event, refreshments from MKE Localicious, and a copy of Dreadful Young Ladies. Visit or call (414) 446-8794 for more info.

Minnesota’s Kelly Barnhill is the author of four novels, most recently The Girl Who Drank the Moon, winner of the 2017 John Newbery Medal for the year's most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. She is also the winner of the World Fantasy Award, the Parents' Choice Gold Award, and the Texas Library Association Bluebonnet Award, and has been a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, the NCTE Charlotte Huck Award, the SFWA Andre Norton Award, and the PEN/USA literary prize.

Thursday, March 6, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Michael Moreci, author of Black Star Renegades.

The author of the acclaimed SF trilogy Roche Limit and stories for DC Comics’ Suicide Squad, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman now offers up a galaxy-hopping space adventure about a galactic kingdom bent on control and the young misfit who must find the power within before it’s too late.

From Andrew Liptak in The Verge: "Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A young man discovers that he’s destined for greater things in the galaxy, joins a mysterious, semi-religious order that act as the guardians of peace in said galaxy, and finds himself fighting an oppressive, genocidal regime bent on controlling the collective, galactic civilization. If that sounds like Star Wars, you’d be right, but it’s also the plot of comic book author Michael Moreci’s debut novel, Black Star Renegades. The book is a conspicuous tip-of-the-hat to George Lucas’ space opera franchise, and it’ll appeal to fans of Ernie Cline’s easter egg-laden novel Ready Player One."

As our friends at St. Martin's said, Black Star Renegades is a galaxy-hopping adventure that blasts its way from seedy spacer bars to sacred temples guarded by deadly creatures - all with a cast of misfit characters who have nowhere to go and nothing to lose.

Chicago-based Michael Moreci’s comics include the critically acclaimed sci-fi trilogy Roche Limit and the military horror drama Burning Fields. He's also written Suicide Squad for DC, Planet of the Apes for Boom!, and his other original titles include Curse, Hoax Hunters, ReincarNATE, and the forthcoming Black Hole Repo. As a novelist, Moreci is currently writing Spy Swap, an espionage thriller.

More upcoming events on our, wait for it, upcoming events page.