Monday, October 24, 2016

Dog Vs. Cat Part One! Dav Pilkey at the Greenfield Performing Arts Center Tonight, Monday, October 24, 6:30 pm.

Monday, October 24, 6:30 pm, at the Greenfield Performing Arts Center, 4800 S 60 St, just off Layton Ave in Greenfield.

Here's what you need to know!

1. You know Dav Pilkey from his Captain Underpants and Ricky Ricotta series. Dog Man is a new creation of George and Harold, the "creators" of Captain Underpants. The story is that they created Dog Man (the comic) long before, put it away and forgot about it, only to rediscover it later. And we are all the better for it! (Too much?) Just say so.

2. Dog Man (the dog-man) was created when Officer Knight and Greg the Dog were in a terrible accident and to save them, Greg's head was sewn onto Officer Knight's body. It turns out that Greg was quite a bit smarter and Office Knight tougher so this really was the perfect match.

3. Their nemesis is Petey the Cat, who operates out of a Secret Lab. This volume has four Dog Man adventures, including my favorite, "Weenie Wars." Will their be a second Dog Man collection? Yes, there will!

4. Dog Man is laugh out loud funny. I was an obsessive comic book kid, sneaking them home under my shirt, everything from Betty and Me and The World of Jughead to Spooky Spooktown and Little Dot's Uncles and Aunts. I got a little older and moved onto DC comics but they were generally not of the Dark Knight scary variety. My favorite stories were from the 60s, when thing were just a little bit sillier, even Batman. Have you ever read vintage Legion of Super Heroes? "I am Matter Eater Lad and my super power is eating garbage!"* That kind of thing. Not so different from Dog Man, right?

5. Just to make sure, I test-marketed the book on Eleanor, a ten-year-old I know, who also thought it was quite funny. Two thumbs up!

6. Dav Pilkey's appearance is going to be one of the hottest tickets in town. you'll even be able to pose with a Captain Underpants character.

7. Several kids will get Boswell gift cards at this event!

8. The Greenfield Performing Arts Center is also known as the auditorium for Greenfield High School. It's across the street from the Meijer that's under construction, not all the other Meijers.

9. Pilkey does not personalize but he will draw a picture in one book per attendee.

10. Our cosponsors for this event are the Greenfield Public Library and Greenfield School District. But please remember the event is not at the Greenfield Public Library but at Greenfield High School (Performing Arts Center). 4800 S 60 Street. Got it?

11. One last note - please be aware of the start time. We did have one error go out with a sign that said 7 pm. It's 6:30!!!!!! Come early for the best parking and the best seats. And while we have a large venue for this event, we will close the doors if we reach capacity.

*Matter Eater Lad has an environmental quality I don't think we appreciated at the time.

Here's what's been selling at Boswell, week ending October 22, 2016, plus links to a ton of book features in the Journal Sentinel

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett (event last week)
2. Another Brooklyn, by Jacqueline Woodson (event last week)
3. The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton
4. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead (both Woodson and Whitehead are shortlisted for the National Book Award)
5. Hag Seed, by Margaret Atwood (in the Hogarth Shakespeare series)
6. Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult
7. The Wonder, by Emma Donoghue
8. Today Will Be Different, by Maria Semple
9. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
10. Thrice the Brinded Cat Mewd, by Alan Bradley

Fans of Emma Donoghue's newest, The Wonder, include Stephen King, who recommended the book in The New York Times Book Review. He wrote that The Wonder "is a fine, fact-based historical novel, an old-school page turner (I use the phrase without shame). Donoghue’s grave consideration of the damage religion can do when it crosses the line into superstition lifts the narrative rather than weighing it down. In that way — as with her sturdy narrative prose, gilded about with the occasional grace-note — it also reminded me of The Razor’s Edge, only turned inside out. Maugham’s book is about the power of spirituality to heal. Donoghue has written, with crackling intensity, about its power to destroy."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Hungry Heart, by Jennifer Weiner (event last week)
2. Dogs As I See Them, by Lucy Dawson (Ann Patchett rec)
3. Cook's Science, from America's Test Kitchen (Jack Bishop event this past week)
4. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond (Patchett rec)
5. Upstream, by Mary Oliver
6. When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi (Patchett rec)
7. Hero of the Empire, by Candice Millard
8. Black Earth, by Timothy Snyder (Event)
9. Much Ado, by Michael Lenehan (event at Boswell on December 5)
10. Women in Science, by Rachel Ignotofsky

I bet you want to know a little more about Dogs as I See Them, the collection of pet portraits and notes from Lucy Dawson. It was the work of a portraitist in the 1930s and went out of print in 1950. Patchett agreed to write the introduction, and talk about it at her event. We were warned that she had sold out every event, so we brought in more than anyone else had sold to date, 55 on top of the copy we had for stock. We're up to 58 now, which makes us the #2 store on Above the Treeline (we can guess who is #1) and if we have momentum like Jeanette Haien's The All of It, we might well sell another 50+ copies. Plus the sequel, Dogs Rough and Smooth, comes out November 1.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Arrow: The Dark Archer, by John Barrowman and Carole E. Barrowman
2. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman (still playing at the Downer)
3. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
4. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, by Fredrik Backman
5. A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara
6. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
7. Eileen, by Ottessa Moshfegh (in store lit group meets November 7)
8. The Improbability of Love, by Hannah Rothschild (in store lit group meets December 5)
9. French Rhapsody, by Antoine Laurain (event today at 3)
10. The Red Notebook, by Antoine Laurain (same here)

If you follow social media, you may already know that French Rhapsody's Antoine Laurain flew into O'Hare on Saturday, where we drove him to Milwaukee and did a little Milwaukee culture - and by that I mean the Harley Davidson Museum, Conejito's, cracker crust pizza at Pizza Man, and a bar. I didn't do the last one but I was pushing for Wolski's. For those wondering if the books are being adapted, there's a television movie of The President's Hat, a forthcoming feature film of The Red Notebook, and a British mini series adapting French Rhapsody, so that might be British Rhapsody. And yes, at least one of Laurain's older novels, The Portrait, should be in English by summer. And yes squared, signed copies of the three books in English are available now.

Paperback nonfiction:
1. Black Earth, by Timothy Snyder (daytime event last Wednesday)
2. Bloodlands, by Timothy Snyder
3. People of the Way, Dwight Zscheile
4. This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett (event last Wednesday)
5. Conservative Counterrevolution, by Tula A. Connell (event last Monday)
6. America's Test Kitchen Complete Vegetarian Cookbook (event last Thursday)
7. You Are a Badass, by Jen Sincero
8. Why not Me?, by Mindy Kaling
9. WTF?! What the French, by Olivier Magny
10. We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

It's just coincidence that we're selling WTF?! so well with Antoine Laurain coming to town. Magny, author of Stuff Parisians Like, looks at the modern idiosyncrasies of France in his new collection. As one reviewer noted, it's a little crankier than the previous volume.

Board books and picture books for kids:
1. Room on a Broom board book, by Julia Donaldson, with illustrations by Axel Scheffler
2. Ada Twist, Scientist, by Andrea Beaty with illustrations by David Roberts
3. How to Dress a Dragon, by Thelma Lynne Godin, with illustrations by Eric Barclay
4. Bad Kitty Scaredy Cat, by Nick Bruel (event 10/28, 6:30 pm, at Boswell)
5. Good Night Little Sea Otter, by Janet Halfmann, with illustrations by Wish Williams
6. Because of Thursday, by Patricia Polacco
7. Each Kindness, by Jacqueline Woodson, with illustrations by E.B. Lewis
8. 10 Little Ninjas, by Miranda Paul and Natt Wragg
9. Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Gold Beook, by Geoff Smith
10. Baby Says Moo, by Joann Early Macken, with illustrations from David Walker

This is just a preview of last weekend's SCBWI-Wisconsin conference in Green Lake. We had some presales on the titles that were rung in before the event, including 10 Little Ninjas from Miranda Paul, Baby Says Moo, by Joann Early Macken, and Good Night, Little Sea Otter, from Janet Halfmann. Expect to see more from these authors next week.

Chapter and YA Books for Kids:
1. Behind You, by Jacqueline Woodson (event last Friday)
2. Brown Girl Dreaming in paperback, Jacqueline Woodson
3. Conjuror, by John Barrowman and Carole E. Barromwnan
4. Brown Girl Dreaming in cloth, Jacqueline Woodson
5. Thor's Hammer, by Rick Riordan
6. Dog Man, by Dav Pilkey (event Monday, 10/24, tonight, 6:30 pm, at Greenfield Performing Arts Center)
7. The Littlest Bigfoot, by Jennifer Weiner (event last Tuesday)
8. The Girl who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill
9. Bjorn's Gift, by Sandy Brehl
10. Ghosts, by Raina Telgemeier

Can we give you more reasons to come to the Dav Pilkey event at the Greenfield Performing Arts Center? I am going to try in the next blog post. Meanwhile, keep an eye on Conjuror, the first entry in the YA series, The Orion Chronicles. It features the twin heroes from the middle grade Hollow Earth series (a little older) plus Remy Dupree Rush, a new conjuror who can control music the way the Calder twins could manipulate art.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, two fall titles get the front cover treatment of TAP Weekly. Glen Jeansonne's Herbert Hoover: A Life, is a fresh look at the 31st president. Jim Higgins notes that "Jeansonne reminds readers who only remember Hoover as the president swept out of office by the Great Depression and FDR of his accomplishments, including leading the relief effort to feed starving Belgians during World War I, an dof his impact as secretary of commerce under Calvin Coolidge." Our event with Jeansonne is on Tuesday, November 1, 7 pm.

Per Higgins, Place Names of Wisconsin, by Edward Callary, "researches the origin of more than 2000 city, town, village, lake, and river names in our state, adding a pronunciation guide where necessary."

The authors of Milwaukee's Frozen Custard, Kathleen McCann and Bobby Tanzilo, "trace the history of the treat that took over Milwaukee, including a look at famous local joints Gilles, Leon's, and Kopps." We're hosting an event with the authors on November 22, 7 pm.

Another book that's sure to get a lot of attention is Jeff Pearlman's Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre. Higgins notes: While Favre did not talk to the author for this book, Pearlman interviewed hundreds of other people, including Favre's mother Bonita. He handles the troublesome strains of Favre's story, including his Vicodin addiction and alcohol abuse and his womanizing, without flinching but also with prurience, treating them as part of this impulsive, often messy life." It's "perspective out outside the Packerland bubble." The Elm Grove Library is hosting Pearlman on Tuesday, November 1, 6:30 pm.

Here's a Journal Sentinel review from Gary D'Amato in the sports section of Gunslinger.

Michael Schumacher, "who previously chronicled the fates of the Edmund Fitzgerald and the Carl D., continues his Great Lakes shipwreck series " with Torn in Two: The Sinking of the Daniel J. Morrell and One Man's Survival on the Open Sea. His event at Boswell is November 15, 7 pm.

Also featured is Hidden Thunder: Rock Art of the Upper Midwest, from Geri Schrab and Robert Boszhardt, who "provide archaeological perspective and documentary photographs."

But no, that's not the TapBooks page! Featured there is Jim Higgins's poetry column on two local writers, Susan Firer, whose newest is The Transit of Venus, and Where Are We in This Story?, by Sarah Rosenblatt.

Of The Transit of Venus, "that title phrase also evokes her life with her husband, James Hazard, a well-known poet and writer who died in 2012." Our event with Firer is Thursday, November 3, 7 pm.

Of Rosenblatt, Higgins notes that the author "extends a family tradition of multidimensional creativity...her succinct poems read calmly, even when addressing unpleasantries. Rosenblatt is at Boswell on Friday, November 4, 7 pm.

Mike Fischer in the Journal Sentinel reviews Jonathan Lethem's A Gambler's Anatomy. It's the story of Alexander Bruno, a competitive backgammon player who develops a brain tumor and faces "an evil nemesis named Keith Stolarsky, who idolized Bruno in high school and now relishes the chance to prove that he himself has come out on top in life's game of chance."

And finally, from the print edition of the Journal Sentinel, a review from Newsday's Stephan Lee of The Wangs vs. the World, the first novel from Jade Chang. Lee calls the book "jam-packed with misadventures and unplanned excursions as the Wang family crisscrosses the United States in their increasingly crowded vintage station wagon...even when it's a little too much, it dazzles you with its uniquely American charm and confidence."

Monday, October 17, 2016

Event watch: Tula Connell on 1950s Milwaukee, Jennifer Weiner with Jim Higgins, Jack Bishop on cooking secrets, Jacqueline Woodson's coming-of-age novel, Antoine Laurain's new French novel, and more

The first thing we need to tell you about our upcoming events is that our morning with Patricia Polacco, scheduled for Saturday, October 22, 11 am, has been postponed due to illness. We do not have a new date for Polacco, who was visiting to talk about her new book, Because of Thursday, but if we're able to get one, we'll be sure to let you know.

Monday, October 17, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Tula A. Connell, author of Conservative Counterrevolution: Challenging Liberalism in 1950s Milwaukee

In the 1950s, Milwaukee's strong labor movement and socialist mayor seemed to embody a dominant liberal consensus that sought to expand the New Deal. Tula A. Connell explores how business interests and political conservatives arose to undo that consensus, and how the resulting clash both shaped a city and helped redefine postwar American politics.

Labor writer and historian Connell focuses on Frank Zeidler, the city's socialist mayor. Zeidler's broad concept of the public interest at times defied even liberal expectations. At the same time, a resurgence of conservatism with roots presaging twentieth-century politics challenged his initiatives in public housing, integration, and other areas. As Connell shows, conservatives created an anti-progressive game plan that undermined notions of the common good essential to the New Deal order. It also sowed the seeds for grassroots conservatism's more extreme and far-reaching future success.

As one critic noted, this never came up in Happy Days!

Tuesday, October 18, 7 pm, at Boswell:
A ticketed evening with Jennifer Weiner, author of Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing, in conversation with the Journal Sentinel's Jim Higgins.

Tickets are $28 and include admission, all taxes and fees, and a copy of Hungry Heart. Tickets are still available. On the evening of the event, a $20 Boswell gift card is available in lieu of the book.

You know Jennifer Weiner as many things: a bestselling author, a Twitter phenomenon, and per The New Yorker, an unlikely feminist enforcer. She’s also a mom, a daughter, and a sister; a former rower and current runner; a best friend and a reality TV junkie. Here, in her first foray into nonfiction, she takes the raw stuff of her personal life and spins it into a collection of essays on womanhood as uproariously funny and moving as the best of Tina Fey, Fran Lebowitz, and Nora Ephron.

From Michelle Ruiz's profile in Vogue Magazine, on Good in Bed being slapped with a "chick lit" label: "That was very disheartening. I just thought I was writing a coming-of-age novel. At first, as I say in the book, there wasn’t a lot of stigma attached to that kind of book. When Melissa Bank and Helen Fielding published their novels, it was sort of like, “fun, breezy, very relatable, very authentic.” It wasn’t like you were the necrotizing, flesh-eating virus that was going to take literature down. But by the time Good in Bed came out, the market was inundated with all of these books, some of which were terrific and some were a little more disposable than others. And that’s when chick lit came to mean disposable, beach-blanket fluff, with no depth or insight or meaning."

From Jim Higgins's profile in the Journal Sentinel: "Weiner classifies her own popular novels, including Good in Bed and In Her Shoes, as romances, and has become a prominent scourge of media that she and many others believe fall short of fair coverage of books by women and for female readers. But a hypothetical syllabus for the Jennifer Weiner School of Writing would draw from every part of the literary ecosystem: Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, "for pacing and for plot, for when in a story you do your big reveal"; Jonathan Edwards' Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, "for all the tricks he uses to bring hell to life"; Eloisa James, "for how to write a sex scene — what you say and what you don’t say and how sometimes what you don’t say is just as powerful as what you do."

Revisit this blog post with more Weiner details.

Alas, our event with Ann Patchett in conversation with Jane Hamilton on Wedensday, October 19, 7 pm, is sold out. That said, if you'd like to see Jane Hamilton, the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books has a ticketed keynote event in Waukesha on Friday, November 4, 7 pm.

We'll have signed copies of Commonwealth for sale after the event.

Thursday, October 20, 6:30 pm, at Boswell:
Jack Bishop, Chief Creative Officer of America's Test Kitchen, presenting a talk on Cook's Science: How to Unlock Flavor in 50 of Our Favorite Ingredients

From the editors of Cook’s Illustrated, and the best-selling The Science of Good Cooking, comes an all-new companion book. Each chapter explains the science behind one of the 50 ingredients in a short, informative essays. Topics range from pork shoulder to apples to quinoa to dark chocolate, before moving onto an original (and sometimes quirky) experiment, performed in our test kitchen and designed to show how the science works.

From Kristine M. Kierzek's column in the Journal Sentinel: "Jack Bishop is a curious and detailed cook, but he’ll be the first to admit he’s not a professional chef. In fact, he uses that to his advantage in his role at America’s Test Kitchen, where he regularly asks, “But would a home cook be able to do that?” Bishop, the chief creative officer at America’s Test Kitchen, has been with the company since 1992. Along with the magazines, television programming and online content, the company has published nearly 100 cookbooks over the past decade. This year alone, they’ll be releasing 13 new titles.

"The latest, Cook’s Science: How to Unlock Flavor in 50 of Your Favorite Ingredients is the first in a new series from America’s Test Kitchen ( It features more than 300 recipes aimed at curious cooks who want to know the whys and hows of cooking, with detailed explanations that go straight to the science behind kitchen success."

As always for free events, we will close to additional attendees if we reach capacity.

Friday, October 21, 6:30 pm, at Centennial Hall, 733 N Eighth St:
Jacqueline Woodson, author of Another Brooklyn.

The Young People's Poet Laureate and winner of the National Book Award for Young People for Brown Girl Dreaming presents her first novel for adults in 20 years. Another Brooklyn is a national bestseller, the #1 Indie Bound pick for August, and short-listed for the National Book Award (this time in the category of fiction for older people)

This event is cosponsored by the Milwaukee Public Library and YWCA Southeast Wisconsin. The Executive Director, Paula Penebaker, will introduce Woodson at the event.

I love Another Brooklyn! Here is my recommendation: "August is a girl in Brooklyn, living with her father and brother. She peers out the window at the life going on around her, seeing the other girls – Angela the dancer, Gigi the actress, Sylvia with the parents with big plans for her – who would one day be her friends. She tells her story to us in dream-like incidents, a free verse kaleidoscope of the hardscrabble Brooklyn neighborhood where her father, a Nation of Islam convert, tried to keep the family same, and the memories of SweetGrove, the place they were from, the kind of place where girls would be sent when they went too far with their boyfriends.

"Woodson vividly creates an urban neighborhood in the 1970s, a time of blackouts and white flight, of soldiers lost in Vietnam and mothers lost in random violence. Another Brooklyn is the story of a women looking back, trying to figure out the moment when she became who she is today, in a place that is as much a lost memory as Tennessee. It’s a dreamlike prose poem, the kind of book where your only response after finishing it is to start again from the beginning." (Daniel Goldin)

A signing will follow!

Saturday, October 22, 1-4 pm, on Downer Ave:
Haunted Halloweeen

Head on over to Historic Downer Avenue to trick-or-treat at our businesses, enjoy the amazing Halloween-themed artistry of over 10 chalk artists, buy your pumpkin at St. Mark's Church, and even drink New Belgium's Pumpkick, a pumpkin flavored beer that is tapped directly out of a pumpkin while being serenaded by our Dracula Accordion player!

Vote for your favorite pumpkin from our businesses as they compete to win our carving contest this year while you earn your chance to win great prizes. Kids can enjoy their own chalk drawing area plus Face Painting by Jess. This is a FREE event and fun for the entire family. Don't be scared- join us!

Sunday, October 23, 3 pm, at Boswell:
Antoine Laurain, author of French Rhapsody, The Red Notebook, and The President's Hat

This event is cosponsored by Alliance Française de Milwaukee

First the bad news. We're almost out of Laurain's books in French and the distributor didn't have any more either.

Now the good news! Antoine Laurain is one of the most charming authors ever and if you've never read one of his novels, you're in for a treat.

Here's my take on French Rhapsody" "When Doctor Alain Massoulier gets the letter in the mail, telling him that Polygram Records would be interested in meeting with the Holograms to discuss a record contract, he doesn’t know what to think. After all, the letter arrived 28 years late. But his first thought is where is his copy of that tape? And his second thought is to find the group members. But the Holograms are no longer close – the drummer is now a contemporary artist, the bassist a populist politician, the lyricist an antiques dealer, and the producer a business tycoon. The keyboard player has abandoned France for Thailand. And the singer? There’s no trace of her. This wonderful novel has all the French charm we’ve come to expect from Antoine Laurain, but it’s also surprisingly timely, with the political climate of both France and the United States being reflected in the plotline. Like his previous novels The President’s Hat and The Red Notebook, French Rhapsody is about a quest, but this is not just a search for a music tape, it’s a search for the soul of France itself." (Daniel Goldin)

Clearly this is one of the greatest weeks in the history of Boswell for authors.

Monday, October 24, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Gavin Schmitt, author of Shallow Grave: The Unsolved Crime That Shook the Midwest

An upright citizen kidnapped in public and dumped in a shallow grave. A police chief’s wife arrested for murder. A mobster kidnapped and threatened by the FBI. And an ongoing corruption probe looking at everyone from the lowest bookie all the way up to judges and prosecutors. What is going on in small town America? This is what happens when you are caught between a rock and a hard place, or the Milwaukee Mafia and the Chicago Outfit. The Midwest’s two most powerful gangs are fighting over territory and no one is safe. Shallow Grave features a series of colorful characters and shines light on the gritty creatures who live under the rocks of even the most innocent of cities. Follow the exploits of the police, FBI and Bobby Kennedy himself as they try to put together the pieces and catch the bad guy if they can.

Gavin Schmitt is also the author of Milwaukee Mafia: Mobsters in the Heartland, as well as the Milwaukee Mafia entry in Arcadia's Images of America series. He also wrote the entry for Neenah.

Monday, October 24, 6:30 pm, at the Greenfield Performing Arts Center, 4800 S 60 St, just off Layton Ave:
Dav Pilkey, author of Dog Man and the Captain Underpants series.

Some of our best kids' events are at the Greenfield Public Library (thanks, Emily and Peter!) but when it came to Dav Pilkey, we worried that we'd not have enough space, since both our events with Lincoln Peirce and Lauren Tarshis were packed to the rafters. But fortunately, the Greenfield Library had another space up their sleeve, the Greenfield Performing Arts Center at Greenfield High School. Now we can fit 700 people, and you know what? We might still hit capacity. Pilkey's Dog Man is the first in a series and it's so good. Barb, Todd, and I all read it, as did Amie's daughter Eleanor. Her take? It's very funny. It's comic written by Pilkey favorites George and Harold. Dog Man has the head of a police dog and the body of a police man and will stop at nothing to foil the evil antics of his nemesis, Petey the Cat.

From Booklist, the publication of the American Library Association: " From the doodle-scratch art and jumbled panel borders to crossed-out words with simulated grammar and spelling lapses to the generous helpings of potty humor, the book feels like a frantic message of delirious imagination from one child to another. In truth, it's the work of Pilkey who, in the relentless style of his own Captain Underpants series, has again fired an arrow of joy straight at the fevered childhood psyche of millions of readers. And as with the good captain, this will prove a groaning burden for many adults and an utter, unfettered delight for kids."

This event is cosponsored by the Greenfield Public Library and the Greenfield School District. This event is free.

And after that? We don't have an event on Tuesday, October 25, giving us a little time to catch our breath.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Here's what is selling at Boswell, week ending October 15, 2016

Here's what selling at Boswell.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
2. The Trespasser, by Tana French
3. Here I Am, by Jonathan Safran Foer
4. Today Will Be Different, by Maria Semple
5. Jerusalem, by Alan Moore
6. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
7. Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult
8. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
9. The Mothers, by Brit Bennett
10. Lady Cop Makes Trouble, by Amy Sttewart

Brit Bennett's The Mothers is the #1 Indie Next pick for October. It was recommended by Jamie Thomas of Chicago's Women and Children First: “The ‘mothers’ of this book’s title refers to the gaggle of elderly churchgoing women who comment on the congregation around them, especially the trio of Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey. But The Mothers is about more than that — it refers to the concept of motherhood, whether biological, lost, aborted, adoptive, or conflicted. The three young people at the heart of this story are all flawed, but their portrayals are realistic and they are easy for readers to support. This is a book about salvation — not the spiritual salvation that the gossiping, but well-intentioned mothers seek, but the kind that comes with self-acceptance and growth. The Mothers is an honest, modern, and triumphant book.”

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Belly Art Project, by Sara Blakely
2. Be Obsessed or Be Average, by Grant Cardone
3. The Only Sales Guide You'll Ever Need, by Anthony Iannorino
4. By the People, by Charles Murray
5. Portfolio Society, by Ivan Ascher
6. Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen
7. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
8. Upstream, by Mary Oliver
9. My Own Words, by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
10. Women in Science, by Rachel Ignotofsky

Those who get an early mailing of our bestsellers will know that I inadvertently moved Mary Oliver's Upstream to the fiction list from nonfiction, which is where we generally slot poetry. But Oliver's newest, Upstream, is a collection of essays. In The Washington Post, Elizabeth Lund writes: "The richness of these essays — part revelation, part instruction — will prompt readers to dive in again and again as Oliver reveals more about what she feels is the responsibility to live, observe and write with careful attention, passion, and an abiding awareness that hope is 'a fighter and a screamer.'”

Paperback Fiction:
1. Hostile Takeover, by Phyllis Piano
2. Home, by Toni Morrison
3. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
4. A Planet for Rent, by Yoss
5. Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
6. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
7. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
8. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
9. The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
10. Super Extra Grande, by Yoss

Cuban science fiction writer Yoss made a last-minutes top at Marquette to deliver two lectures, one in English and another in Spanish. Apparently Cuba has a storied tradition in science fiction and fantasy and Restless Books is tapping into it by publishing the work of Yoss, including A Planet for Rent and Super Extra Grande, and two works by Agostín de Rojas, The Year 200 and A Legend of the Future. Here's an NPR piece from Juan Vidal. We have signed copies of Yoss.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. As You Wish, by Cary Elwes
2. Between Truth and Time, by Christine Evans
3. Cream City Chronicles, by John Gurda
4. The Road to Character, by David Brooks
5. You Are a Badass, by Jen Sincero
6. Ottoman Endgame, by Sean McMeekin
7. My Life on the Road, by Gloria Steinem
8. Shallow Grave, by Gavin Schmitt
9. Reclaiming Conversation, by Sherry Turkle
10. The Invention of Nature, by Andrea Wulf

David Brooks has been a regular talking head during the election season, and The Road to Character has been popping into our top ten with some regularity. Is it a coincidence that his current work discusses his attempt to "transcend shallow punditry," as Rebecca Mead in The New Yorker wrote? Here's a telling quote within the review: "I’m paid to be a narcissistic blowhard, to volley my opinions, to appear more confident about them than I really am, to appear smarter than I really am, to appear better and more authoritative than I really am. I have to work harder than most people to avoid a life of smug superficiality.”

Picture Books and Board Books:
1. Charlie Piechart and the Case of the Missing Hat, by Marilyn Sadler with illustrations by Eric Comstock
2. Charlie Piechart and the Case of the Missing Pizza Slice, by Marilyn Sadler with illustrations by Eric Comstock
3. Miss Paul and the President, by Dean Robbins with illustrations by Nancy Zhang
4. Two Friends, by Dean Robbins with illustrations by Susan Qualls
5. Everything I Know I Learned from a Star Wars Little Golden Book, edited by Geof Smith
6. A Porcupine Named Fluffy, by Helen Lester with illustrations by Lynn Munsinger
7. Eek Halloween, by Sandra Boynton
8. I Dissent, by Debbie Levy with illustrations by Elizabeth Baddeley
9. We Found a Hat, by Jon Klassen
10. Because of Thursday, by Patricia Polacco

A day with illustrator Eric Comstock, he of Charlie Piechart and the Missing Hat and Charlie Piechart and the Case of the Missing Pizza Slice, was much enjoyed by kids at several area schools. Comstock told us that the current series, which teaches math concepts to picture book readers, could run for seven books, with a mix of picture books and early readers. The newest uses the cone-shaped hat to explore shapes. We noticed that Mr. Comstock's artwork appeared on one of our Calypso Cards. In addition to the books, they are also now signed!

Middle Grade and YA Books:
1. Gertie's Leap to Greatness, by Kate Beasley
2. Mighty Jack, by Ben Hatke
3. The Secret Keepers, by Trenton Lee Stewart
4. Zita the Spacegirl, by Ben Hatke
5. The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart
6. The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey, by Trenton Lee Stewart
7. Thor's Hammer, by Rick Riordan
8. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets illustrated edition, by J.K. Rowling
9. Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqeline Woodson (event Fri 10/21, 6:30, at Centennial Hall)
10. Legends of Zita the Spacegirl, by Ben Hatke

Another author who did school visits (though she had a public event at Books and Company that we encouraged you to vist) was Kate Beasley, author of Gertie's Leap to Greatness. It's not common for a middle grade book by a non celeb to be reviewed by Entertainment Weekly, by Alison Sadlier takes on the job and offers a B+, writing: "Gertie is both entertaining and exceptionally realistic, and Beasley handles the character’s insecurities about her place in the world in a way that kids can relate to and sympathize with. Though sometimes it feels like there are one too many heartbreaking embarrassments bearing down on Gertie, the precocious grade-schooler is one readers will love to root for, and her zany antics make the lengthy 256-page tale worthwhile."

We should also note that Kate Beasley's sister wrote Circus Mirandus, another popular book at Boswell!

Over at the Journal Sentinel TAPBooks section, Jim Higgins profiles Jennifer Weiner, who is coming to Boswell on Tuesday, October 18, for a ticketed event for Hungry Heart. He writes: "With the fluid, feisty and funny voice she cultivated as a feature writer before turning to novels, Jennifer Weiner's first nonfiction book could have been a punchy collection of essays and commentaries, and everyone would have gone home happy. But, Weiner said during a telephone interview, as she dug into the writing, she checked in with her gut. 'I want to write it for women who don’t see their stories a lot, women who maybe don’t see themselves a lot on the page or on the screen," she said. "I want to tell my stories to make those readers feel less alone and more visible in the world.'" Buy tickets here.

Chris Foran, Journal Sentinel editor, looks at the history of Esperanto in Esther Schor's Bridge of Words: Esperanto and the Dream of a Universal Language. Foran notes how the language was created to bridge cultures: "Initially, Zamenhof pitched the language as an efficiency measure, 'an official and commercial dialect' that would cut through cultural and language barriers. But Zamenhof, a former Zionist who had given up on the idea of a Jewish state as an antidote to anti-Semitism, also saw Esperanto's potential as a universal language that could break down barriers."

And finally, special to the Journal Sentinel, it's Carole Barrowman's Paging Through Mysteries roundup. Here are this week's picks.

Hold a Scorpion, by Melodie Johnson Howe features an actor slash amateur detective. Barrowman: "I adore Diana and this series with its southern California settings and its Hollywood insider vibe. And Johnson Howe knows this world intimately. The author was once an actor. According to, she’s the woman in the bathtub with Clint Eastwood in the opening scenes of Coogan’s Bluff."

Victim Without a Face, by Stefan Ahnhem is "a stellar debut" about a detective who discovers that his school classmates are being punished for their childhood sins. Barrowman: "Victim Without a Face is an all-encompassing crime novel: a compelling character study, a relentless plot exploring the nature of revenge, and a taut mystery."

The Oslo Conspiracy, by Asle Skredderberget features a financial crimes expert investigating the death of a scientist. Barrowman: "Turns out, the scientist is the sister of a boy murdered in a gang slaying in a playground years before. Cavalli is determined to discover the connection and find the killer. The plot whisks readers from Oslo to Rome to New York and back in a tale of corporate espionage and family secrets."

One last thing! Also in the Journal Sentinel is Duane Dudek's profile of Bryan Cranston, who is coming to the Pabst for an event sponsored by Kansas City's Rainy Day Books. Tickets are $35 plus taxes and fees and include a copy of A Life in Parts.

Don't forget, our event with Patricia Polacco is cancelled this coming Saturday, due to illness.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Daniel's Reading List: eating in Japan and sorting out the Mitford sisters

Yes, I read books that are not for upcoming events.

Super Sushi Ramen Express: One Family's Journey Through the Belly of Japan, by Michael Booth.
European*-based journalist Booth, whose previous works chronicled travels in Scandinavia, and retracing the steps of Hans Christian Andersen, takes the family to Japan for a giant serving of sushi, tempura, ramen, and many other Japanese delicacies. One thing you learn is that while there are many regional specialties, the country is mostly divided in cuisine between East (Kanto, centered in Tokyo) and West (Kansei, represented by Kyoto and Osaka), particularly after the revered cookbook writer Shizuo Tsuji died in 1993. For just one example, the West is into udon while the East does soba. The focus in the story is on food, with the story told in fairly short bursts about, say, takoyaki, a popular street food which is like a savory donut with bits of octopus inside. Wasabi, dashi, bonito, and fugu, the potentially dangerous puffer fish made popular stateside by Home Simpson, get their moment, and Booth’s kitchen tour brings him to many obscure and invitation-only places, such as the restaurant where your noodles are tossed in a spring and you catch and eat them downstream. The personal narrative is a bit more muted than Bill Bryson and the focus is more on food than funny, but then you’ll get his take on the burgeoning Japanese wine industry: “I’ve tasted it, so you don’t have to.” In the end, Super Sushi Ramen Express did the trick, making me curious, hungry, and more forgiving of MSG.

The Six: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters, by Laura Thompson.
A helpful hint in sorting out the Mitford sisters suggested listing them like the wives of King Henry VIII: novelist, countrywoman, Fascist, Nazi, communist, Duchess. What this group biography does is explain how their fates were much tied to their relationships – Unity’s Nazi leanings were probably enhanced by Diana falling in with Fascists, while Jessica’s jump to the Left was also probably exacerbated as a reaction against the other sisters move to the Right. In other words, everything was personal, and many of their later stories were a reaction to Nancy chronicling their lives in the bestselling The Pursuit of Love**. When I told my fellow bookseller that I was reading a group biography of the Mitford sisters, she wondered if it was The Sisters, a 15-year-old group biography from Mary Lovell, and that led to a discussion about how much had already been written about the family, but that said, this new addition is both a great introduction for Mitford novices and according to critics (I bow to them because I wouldn’t know), a welcome addition for experts. You never know when you’ll see a Mitford connection. Just after I finished the book, I noticed that Robert Gottlieb, in a review for Avid Reader, was the editor for Jessica Mitford’s breakout bestseller, The American Way of Death. I still have a very distinct memory of my sales rep Tom selling The American Way of Birth to me over 20 years ago***. I have no idea why. I also don’t understand why the publisher changed the title from the British edition, which was called the Michael-Aptedy Take Six Girls. The book had already been reviewed widely in British press, and in the days of the Internet, the title change just confuses the issue.

*Bios had him living in both Denmark and France, so I went cautious.

**Which I now want to read.

***It did not do as well as the publisher hoped.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Ten Things to Know About Jennifer Weiner's Ticketed Event at Boswell on Tuesday, October 18, 7 pm.

Ten things to know about our ticketed event with Jennifer Weiner on Tuesday, October 18, 7 pm, in addition to the regular things to know, like her new book is Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing, and that tickets are available at Brown Paper Tickets are $28 including the book.

1. Bibliography! Jennifer Weiner's been pleasing fans since the release of her first novel, Good in Bed, in 2001. She followed that up with In Her Shoes, which became a beloved movie starring Camron Diaz and Toni Collette. Her most recent novel for adults is Who Do You Love. She has ten novels in print altogether, plus one collection of stories, The Guy Not Taken. As a bookseller, I don't pay much attention to ebooks (as we can't sell them very well, with apologies to Kobo). But if you are hungry for more Weiner, there is Good Men, which is a prequel  to Good in Bed, and five other stories.

Jennifer Weiner has also just released her first novel for kids, The Littlest Bigfoot. It's going to be a movie!

2. Jennifer Weiner's been standing up for people since she was in college and protested same-sex eating clubs. You'd know this if you read her new book. She's used traditional and new media to make the argument that women and men don't get treated equally when it comes to book coverage. For those who argue that chick lit and romance aren't worthy of serious coverage like literary novels, why do equally escapist thriller, predominantly written by men, get serious attention in mainstream media that eludes not just romance and chick lit, but the softer genre mysteries written more often by women?

3. I'm not very good at social media, but Weiner is a Twitter phenom with 135,000 followers, particularly for a writer who doesn't have her own line of clothing and a reality show (yet). To put it in perspective, we have 3000 followers. Lately we've been focusing on Instagram, where we have...65 followers.  Check out Weiner's Instagram feed too.

4. I love memoirs in the form of essays. Two of my previous favorites are Aleksandar Hemon's The Book of My Lives and Elinor Lipman's I Can't Complain*. What I  like about these kinds of books, including Jennifer Weiner's new Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing, is take nonfiction works that were written for all sorts of reasons and published in all sorts of places, and lay them out so that it becomes the writer's life. Weiner's parents grew up in Detroit but they moved to a town outside Hartford, Connecticut. Her dad eventually abandoned the family, and much later than that, her mom came out.

Weiner went through what a lot of kids go through, and some things that not every kid goes through, and sadly, some things that we now accept go on a lot more than we think, like bullying and weight shaming, particularly from her dad. One really great essay in Hungry Heart shows that at least for her, acceptance came with not really caring what other people thought. It's a tough lesson, sort of like the one where people tell you that you'll fall in love when you're not looking.

5. What else is in Hungry Heart? Other essays deal with having having a working journalism and then writing career, marriage and divorce, raising her two daughters, watching a film get made of one of her books, watching it not do as well as everyone hoped. I don't know if you're aware of this, but we're in a romantic comedy drought. What's happening? Can we have a comedy where people don't have bodily fluid issues? Has psychological suspense taken away this market? No more When Harry Met Sallys, no more Sleepless in Seattles, no more Knocked Ups. I can't find the article that I read about this, but here's one from L.A. Weekly in 2014.

That's too bad, because I often opined the difficulty in having a successful romantic comedy become a bestseller, but I always thought, at least there's film possibilities. But now, not so much.

6. Critical Reception. Daniel, what are folks saying about this book?

From Wild author Cheryl Strayed: “Hungry Heart is a fiercely funny, powerfully smart, and remarkably brave book. With candor, wit, and insight, Jennifer Weiner writes beautifully about her darkest struggles and brightest triumphs, about growing up and getting on with it, about gaining and losing, about herself and also—ultimately—about all of us. I was spellbound by Hungry Heart from the first page to the last.”

From Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Eligible and American Wife: "“Haven't we all wondered exactly how the many-splendored Jennifer Weiner became so many-splendored? This candid, poignant, and very funny memoir tells all, and I'm confident other readers will be as fascinated and moved by it as I was.”

From Publishers Weekly's starred review: "“In this generous, entertaining memoir, novelist Weiner known for her plus-size heroines, authentic voice, and hilarious one-liners, offers her fans and others a front-row seat to the drama of her life. Weiner doggedly pursues her dream of becoming a writer who speaks to women's lives, insisting—and proving— that women's stories matter.“

7. Will I enjoy my evening with Jennifer Weiner? Why not take a test drive. Watch a little of this great interview on CBS News with Gayle King. They talk about the first time her daughter used the "f" word, and by that, I mean "fat."

8. Do we have a great interview partner or what? We have so many great folks to work with in Milwaukee for our events, but when Journal Sentinel Assistant Entertainment/Features Editor (we're also allowed to call him the Book Editor) and I began chatting, I realized he was the perfect fit for Weiner. What I love about Higgins is that he is a true book lover and a great critical thinker, but his interests go far and wide. He can write about poetry and genre fantasy with equal conviction. He understands that every kind of writing has its own guidelines for success and has never fallen into that critical trap of treating women writers as second class citizens. While we don't always agree, I always respect his opinions. Let's hear it for discourse!

It's also important to know that Jennifer Weiner's earlier career was in the newspaper business, and that Higgins in his career used some of her pieces at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

9. The history of Jennifer Weiner at Boswell. This is Weiner's first visit to Boswell but she actually appeared once at the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop on Downer Ave. All I know is that I had a car and I didn't know the neighborhood and I got there late and I had trouble parking...and so I didn't attend.

Don't let this happen to you! For one thing, nobody told me what I can now tell you. When parking, don't do what most visitors do and head north (lots of restaurants) and west (apartments with relatively few off-street options) of the store, and instead head east (houses with alleys and garages) and south. The best spots are on Downer Avenue, south of Bradford, near the Gilman Triangle and Eastcast Place Senior Living Why didn't I understand this?

I should also note that there's now a parking garage across the street where there was a small lot previously. It's not a cheap lot and we don't reimburse for parking, but the truth is that the roof parking is actually quite cheap.

10. When we were working to set up the event, we were told that Jennifer Weiner likes a little treat at her event. Now I have quite the sweet tooth and could probably write for months on Milwaukee's dessert history, but for this event, we decided to get a tray each of two of my current favorites. The first is the incredible Outpost Natural Foods brownie (no nuts, chocolate chunks, a hint of coffee, said to be passed down from a famous now-closed bakery) and the other is the Beans and Barley poppy seed torte, which we're serving as mini cupcakes. It's got the richest butter cream frosting and is dense with poppy seeds, so dense that I'd advise not eating one before a drug test.

Tickets are still available for our event on October 18, 7 pm, so I'm making another plug. Is there a $20 Boswell gift card option in lieu of the book on the night of the event? Yes, there is.

*Sorry about the typo! I blame the two other folks in my life with the other (wrong) spelling.