Monday, December 5, 2022

Four events coming up: John Gurda at Best Place (SOLD OUT), Deborah Lakritz for A Place to Belong, The Green Crayon story time, and Hannah Morrissey for The Widowmaker

The December 6 event with John Gurda is sold out. There is a Boswell book signing for Brewtown Tales on December 17. There is also a Historic Milwaukee Zoom event on December 13.

Wednesday, December 7, 6:30 pm
Deborah Lakritz, author of A Place to Belong: Debbie Friedman Sings Her Way Home
in-person at Boswell - click here to register. Light snacks will be served. 

Boswell presents an evening with Milwaukee author of books for children Deborah Lakritz, author of the new picture book biography A Place to Belong: Debbie Friedman Sings Her Way Home. Lakritz’s book is a lyrical, uplifting story about how Jewish singer and songwriter Debbie Friedman got her start as a musician.

Debbie’s voice soars with passion. Her eyes sparkle with life. Everyone cheers. Debbie Friedman is one of the most famous Jewish musicians of our time. But at the start of her journey, she was just a girl looking for a place to belong. Through music, she learned how to connect with her feelings, her heritage, and her community. Now her music belongs to the world, and Debbie does too.

Deborah Lakritz has a master's degree in social work from the University of Minnesota. Her previous books include Say Hello, Lily (Kar-Ben), and Joey and the Giant Box.

Saturday, December 10, 11 am
The Green Crayon, star of Green Is for Christmas
in-crayon at Boswell - click here to register

Boswell hosts a Saturday morning visit from the Green Crayon, hero of the latest book in the Crayons series, Green is for Christmas, in which the crayons get into a fight over who is the true color of Christmas.

This event will feature a story time, and then Green Crayon will sign crayon books with his special green stamp. And best of all, Green Crayon will pose for photos with your kids or the whole family, creating memories you can cherish all year long. 

Following in the footsteps of The Grinch, Bad Kitty, Elephant and Piggie, and Bruce the Bear, all of whom have appeared at Boswell events, we’ll be hosting Green Crayon (Esteban), the star of the breakout bestseller, The Day the Crayons Quit and the new release, Green Is for Christmas.

When Green Crayon claims that green is the only color for Christmas, other crayons let him know that there would be no Christmas without them either. No candy canes or Santa without Red, no snow without White, no bells or stars without Silver, and no cookies or reindeer without Tan. The crayons agree that they all need to come together to make Christmas special. It’s the perfect stocking stuffer!

Monday, December 12, 6:30 pm
Hannah Morrissey, author of The Widowmaker
in conversation with Carissa Greve, in-person at Boswell - click here to register

Boswell welcomes the return of Wisconsin thriller author Hannah Morrissey, who joins us for a Thrillwaukee evening featuring her new novel, The Widowmaker, in which a wealthy family shrouded in scandal, a detective with an impossible cold case and a woman with a dark past collide in Black Harbor, Wisconsin. In conversation with Carissa Greve, The Grim Readers Bookstagrammer and BookToker.

Ever since business mogul Clive Reynolds disappeared, the name Reynolds has become synonymous with murder and mystery. Lured by a cryptic note, Morgan Mori returns home to Black Harbor and into a web of their family secrets and double lives. As Morgan exposes her own dark demons, could her sordid history be the key to unlocking more than one mystery?

How about this praise from The House Across the Lake author Riley Sager: "The Widowmaker confirms Hannah Morrisey's status as one of the brightest new voices in crime fiction. An unflinching look at two damaged people trying to do right in a world full of wrong, told in scalpel-sharp prose with a poet's eye for detail."

Wisconsin’s Hannah Morrissey is author of Hello, Transcriber. She studied writing at UW-Madison.

Photo credits
John Gurda by Max Thomsen
Hannah Morrissey by Tracy Koeper Hungry Heart Photography

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending December 3, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending December 3, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. A World of Curiosities, by Louise Penny
2. All This Could Be Different, by Sara Thankam Mathews
3. Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver
4. Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus
5. Liberation Day, by George Saunders
6. The Passenger, by Cormac McCarthy
7. Horse, by Geraldine Brooks
8. Remarkably Bright Creatures, by Shelby Van Pelt
9. Our Missing Hearts, by Celeste Ng
10. Foster, by Claire Keegan

Readers have been anxiously awaiting Louise Penny's latest, A World of Curiosities. Her almost December pub date is a repeat of a publishing strategy from several years ago for 2018's Kingdom of the Blind. To us, this is not a negative - that book was one of our biggest Penny sellers. From Tom Nolan in The Wall Street Journal: "This is a spooky and sometimes hair-raising book, perhaps Ms. Penny’s best. It offers a fine balance of humane values, spellbinding prose, Dickensian revelations and nail-biting suspense."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Bar Menu, by Andre Darlington
2. The Light We Carry, by Michelle Obama
3. How to Navigate Life, by Belle Liang and Timothy Klein
4. What's for Dessert?, by Claire Saffitz
5. The Number Ones, by Tom Breihan
6. Surrender, by Bono
7. An Immense World, by Ed Yong
8. Dinners with Ruth, by Nina Totenberg
9. Stay True, by Hua Hsu
10. Smitten Kitchen Keepers, by Deb Perelman

I have gone on at length about how much I love Tom Breihan's The Number Ones, but apparently I didn't have enough faith in my judgment to bring enough copies to the Shorewood Public Library fundraiser yesterday - I sold out and had requests for two more. I love his voice, and so appreciate the way he turns each song into a culturally historic moment. I asked him if he was sad that he could use any particular songs because they did not hit #1 and he immediately came up with two - "Shop Around," by The Miracles, and "Material Girl," by Madonna.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Once Upon a December, by Amy E Reichert
2. Entry Level, by Wendy Wimmer
3. Black Cake, by Charmaine Wilkerson
4. Circe, by Madeline Miller
5. Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir
6. Legends and Lattes, by Travis Baldree
7. Bewilderment, by Richard Powers
8. A Court of Thorn and Roses, by Sarah J Maas
9. The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, by Sangu Mandanna
10. Still Life, by Sarah Winman (Register for December 16 virtual event here)

You've heard of cozy mysteries, but maybe not cozy fantasies. It appears to be a flourishing genre, with Legenda and Lattes the latest in this subgenre. It's being championed by Oli at Boswell, but the book is also on the ABA indie bookstore bestseller list as well. From Booklist: "Legends and Lattes is a novel, and shop, that will delight anyone who enjoys coffee-shop alternate universes, slow-burn romances, and the vindication of friendship."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Brewtown Tales, by John Gurda (September 17 signing at Boswell - we suggest you preorder your copy)
2. The Book of Delights, by Ross Gay
3. Vegan Cooking for Two, by America's Test Kitchen
4. These Precious Days, by Ann Patchett
5. Lost and Found, by Kathryn Schulz
6. Woodrow on the Bench, by Jenna Blum
7. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
8. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk
9. Milwaukee Scavenger, by Jenna Kashou
10. Hurricane Lizards and Plastic Squid, by Thor Hanson

I was convinced that America's Test Kitchen's Vegan Cooking for Two: 200+ Recipes for Everything You Love to Eat was some sort of bulk order, but no, that's all individual sales. I think the pop in sales came from a NPR Morning Edition piece where Jack Bishop (who has appeared at Boswell!) shared a recipe for plant-based meat chili with A Martínez. From Bishop: "I promise you when you're done with this, if you were to serve this to someone, they would think it was beef."

Books for Kids:
1. Moving to Mars, by Stef Wade, illustrations by Erin Taylor
2. Green Is for Christmas, by Drew Daywalt, illustrations by Oliver Jeffers (Meet Green Crayon on December 10)
3. Cat Kid Comic Club: Collaborations V4, by Dav Pilkey
4. The Snowy Day board book, by Ezra Jack Keats
5. Farmhouse, by Sophie Blackall
6. A Rover's Story, by Jasmine Warga
7. The Mitten board book, by Jan Brett
8. Every Little Thing, by Bob Marley, adapted by Celia Marley, illustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
9. Where Butterflies Fill the Sky, by Zahra Marwan
10. Will We Always Hold Hands?, by Christopher Cheng

In Will We Always Hold Hands?, one of Jen's holiday picks (she calls it the perfect "I love you" picture book"), a rat and a panda discuss their friendship as they traverse different terrains. Kirkus called this "Simultaneously quietly soothing yet deeply empowering - a friendship tale for the ages." And from School Library Journal, when questioning Rat's pessimism: "Bear's answers ring with sincerity and convey how connection and memories can be treasured beyond compare and will remain unbroken."

Monday, November 28, 2022

Four events this week: Tom Breihan for The Number Ones (virtual), Amy Reichert for Once Upon a December (at Boswell), Wendy Wimmer for Entry Level (at Boswell), and the Shorewood Public Library Holiday Book Talk featuring Daniel Goldin

Tuesday, November 29, 7 pm
Tom Breihan, author of The Number Ones: Twenty Chart-Topping Hits That Reveal the History of Pop Music
in conversation with Daniel Goldin for a virtual event - click here to register.

Beloved music critic and Stereogum Senior Editor Tom Breihan joins us for a conversation about his new book, The Number Ones, a fascinating narrative of the history of popular music through the lens of game-changing #1 singles from the Billboard Hot 100. In conversation with Daniel Goldin of Boswell. Cosponsored by Lilliput Records, the new record store on Farwell off Brady, run by Exclusive Company veterans.

Special offer - five lucky people who register and attend our virtual event will win a Lilliput Records $10 gift card. 

Breihan launched his Sterogum column, "The Number Ones," figuring he’d post capsule-size reviews
for each song, but discovered was so much more to uncover. The column, in which he has been writing about every #1 hit in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 in chronological order, has taken on a life of its own, sparking online debate and occasional death threats. The Billboard Hot 100 began in 1958, and after four years of posting the column, Breihan has written into the early aughts. But readers no longer have to wait for his brilliant synthesis of what the history of #1s has meant to music and our culture. In The Number Ones, Breihan writes about twenty pivotal #1s throughout chart history, revealing a remarkably fluid and connected story of music that is as entertaining as it is enlightening.

Here is Billboard Hot 100 enthusiast Daniel Goldin’s take on Breihan’s book: "I am completely obsessed with Tom Breihan’s 'Number Ones' column in Stereogum. What started as capsule summaries have now turned into essays that almost always have something interesting to say about pop music and popular culture in general. But was this enough to make a book? You bet it was! Breihan looks at 20 particularly influential songs and the artists that created them and offers original-to-this-book essays that dig even deeper than his column. I’m sure there will be arguments about who made the cut, who was left out, and when it came to some of the artists, whether this was their move-the-needle #1, or was it another cut? And there’s always the problem of those groundbreakers, like Bob Dylan, who never got higher than #2 on the singles chart. The key here is that it doesn’t matter if you know the songs or not, especially now that you can listen to just about anything almost instantly. No less than enthralling!”

Tom Breihan is the senior editor at the music website Stereogum, and has written for Pitchfork, the Village Voice, and the Ringer, among other outlets.

Wednesday, November 30, 6:30 pm
Amy E Reichert, author of Once Upon a December
in-person at Boswell - click here to register.

Boswell is so pleased to host an evening featuring Wisconsinite Amy E Reichert, author of novels such as The Simplicity of Cider and The Kindred Spirits Supper Club, for a conversation about her newest book, Once Upon a December, in which a trip to the Milwaukee Christmas market offers holiday magic and romance.

With a name like Astra Noel Snow, holiday spirit isn’t just a seasonal specialty, it’s a way of life. But after a stinging divorce, Astra’s yearly trip to the Milwaukee Christmas market takes on a whole new meaning. For Jack Clausen, the Julemarked with its snowy lights and charming shops stays the same, while the world outside the joyful street changes, magically leaping from one December to the next every four weeks. He’s never minded living this charmed existence until Astra shows him the life he’s been missing outside of the festive red brick alley. After a swoon-worthy series of dates, some Yuletide magic, and the unexpected glow of new love, Astra and Jack must decide whether this relationship can weather all seasons, or if what they’re feeling is as ephemeral as marshmallows in a mug of hot cocoa.

Jenny Bayliss, author of Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, says: "For all those who still revel in the enchantment of the festive season, this is the book for you. Friendships, romance and magical Christmas markets abound in this feel-good novel." And from Christina Lauren, author of In A Holidaze: "Delightful in every possible way! With Reichert's trademark bone-deep wisdom threaded beautifully throughout a riotous, otherworldly, and marvelously unexpected novel, Once Upon a December is an absolutely perfect holiday hug."

Amy E Reichert is author of novels such as The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go, and Luck, Love & Lemon Pie. She earned an MA in English Literature, serves on her library’s board of directors, and is a member of Tall Poppy writers.

Thursday, December 1, 6:30 pm
Wendy Wimmer, author of Entry Level: Stories
in conversation with Christina Clancy, in-person at Boswell - click here to register

Wisconsinite Wendy Wimmer visits Boswell in-person for a conversation about her debut story collection, Entry Level, winner of the Autumn House Fiction Prize. Wimmer’s book offers up tales of characters trying to find their way through the struggles of underemployment. In conversation with Christina Clancy, author of Shoulder Season and The Second Home.

In Entry Level, characters are trying to find, assert, or salvage their identities. Wimmer pushes the boundaries of reality, creating stories that are funny, fantastic, and at times terrifying as her characters undergo feats of endurance, heartbreak, and loneliness while trying to succeed in a world that undervalues them. From a young marine biologist suffering from imposter syndrome to a haunting to a bingo caller facing another brutal snowstorm, Wimmer’s characters confront a universe that is, at best, indifferent to them. These stories reflect on the difficulties of modern-day survival and remind us that piecing together a life demands both hope and resilience.

National Book Award finalist Deesha Philyaw says: "In the world of Entry Level, no job is too small, nor is it ever just a job. In cities and across rural landscapes and dreamscapes, we find clerks and corpses, mothers and daughters, cruise entertainers and scientists, grappling with longing and loss. The stories are, at turns, heartfelt and hilarious, wry and whimsical, full of magic and mayhem. These are well-crafted love stories, ghost stories, and stories of everyday people just trying to navigate life’s cruelties and impossibilities. Wimmer writes with an intimacy and immediacy that take you down a fresh rabbit hole from the first line, each time. Each tale is as smart, exquisite, and surprising as the next. I really didn’t want this collection to end!"

Wendy Wimmer earned an MA in Creative Writing at UWM, and her work has been published in Barrelhouse, The Believer, Blackbird, and several other journals.

Saturday, December 3, 11 am
Shorewood Public Library Holiday Book Talk featuring Daniel Goldin
in-person at Shorewood Public Library, 3920 N Murray Ave

The Friends of Shorewood Public Library present Boswell Book Company's proprietor Daniel Goldin for a presentation on the best books to look for during the holiday season. Daniel is known for giving interesting and varied suggestions, perfect for discerning readers. Cohosted by Boswell.

Books will be available for purchase, and a portion of the sales supporting the Friends of the Shorewood Public Library. This is the perfect opportunity to shop for book lovers on your list - including yourself! For more information about this event and the Library, click here to visit the Shorewood Public Library’s event page on their website now.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Boswell bestsellers, week ending November 26, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus
2. Liberation Day, by George Saunders
3. Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver
4. Foster, by Claire Keegan
5. Our Missing Hearts, by Celeste Ng
6. Remarkably Bright Creatures, by Shelby Van Pelt
7. The Boys from Biloxi, by John Grisham
8. Horse, by Geraldine Brooks
9. Ithaca, by Claire North
10. The Marriage Portrait, by Maggie O'Farrell

Claire Keegan's Small Things Like These was one of our breakout books of 2021 and it looks like Foster is following in its footsteps. Originally published as a shorter piece in The New Yorker in 2010 and released in the UK and Ireland as a stand-alone novella, it has been named one of the Times (UK) 50 great novels of the 21st century, with David Mitchell calling it "as good as Chekhov."


Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. What's for Dessert?, by Claire Saffitz
2. Modern Classic Cocktails, by Robert Simonson
3. The Light We Carry, by Michelle Obama
4. I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
5. The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams, by Stacy Mitchell
6. Go-To Dinners, by Ina Garten
7. Smitten Kitchen Keepers, by Deb Perelman
8. American Midnight, by Adam Hochschild
9. A Book of Days, by Patti Smith
10. Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner

Smitten Kitchen Keepers: New Classic from Your Forever Files is the new book from Deb Perelman. From Neal Wyatt for Library Journal: "In her third cookbook, Perelman returns with a gathering of the best versions of her key dishes - recipes that she has tested, trialed, and tweaked until they became what she wants her kids and readers to learn by heart and cook with delight... The book is a joy to read, with Perelman’s confiding, cheering voice showcased in short prefaces and recipe notes."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Once Upon a December, by Amy E. Reichert (Last call for November 30 in-person event-register here)
2. The Art of the Break, by Mary Wimmer
3. The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, by Shehan Karunatilaka
4. Kiss Her Once for Me, by Alison Cochrun
5. The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, by Sangu Mandanna
6. Still Life, by Sarah Winman (Register for December 16 virtual event - register here)
7. The Family Chao, by Lan Samantha Chang
8. A Child's Christmas in Wales, by Dylan Thomas
9. The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon
10. Crossroads, by Jonathan Franzen

Is A Child's Christmas in Wales the literary equivalent of Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You"? It shows up most years on our bestseller list. They reissued the 1954 edition this year, so we switched to that, after several years of stocking a 2016 edition with illustrations from the person who did Pablo Neruda's Love Poems - I can't find the artist of either edition anywhere, alas.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Brewtown Tales, by John Gurda (December 6 event sold out - no registration required for December 17, 2 pm signing at Boswell)
2. Cream City Chronicles, by John Gurda
3. Heart Speak, by Sherrill Knezel
4. Ejaculate Responsibly, by Gabrielle Blair
5. Entangled Life, by Merlin Sheldrake
6. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk
7. Pastoral Song, by James Rebanks
8. These Precious Days, by Ann Patchett
9. Say Nothing, by Patrick Radden Keefe
10. The Book of Delights, by Ross Gay

From Malcolm Forbes in The Wall Street Journal: "James Rebanks’s The Shepherd’s Life was an illuminating, warts-and-all memoir about working as a sheep farmer in the Lake District in northern England - an area that Wordsworth termed “a perfect Republic of Shepherds.” Six years on, Mr. Rebanks has returned with a second autobiographical work - not about a shepherd’s life but, as its subtitle has it, a farmer’s journey. Pastoral Song chronicles Mr. Rebanks’s development from youth to adult and from novice to full-fledged farmer. Superbly written and deeply insightful, the book captivates the reader until the journey’s end."

Books for Kids:
1. Construction Site: Farming Strong, All Year Long, by Sherri Deskey Rinker
2. Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site, by Sherri Duskey Rinker
3. The Tower of Life, by Chana Stiefel, illustrations by Susan Gal
4. Diper Overlode V17, by Jeff Kinney
5. Scattered Showers, by Rainbow Rowell
6. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
7. Moo Baa Fa La La La La, by Sandra Boynton
8. Snowscape, by Yoojin Kim
9. Noodle and the No Bones Day, by Jonathan Graziano with illustrations by Dan Tavis
10. Green Is for Charismas, by Drew Daywalt, illustrations by Oliver Jeffers (Meet Green Crayon - Saturday, December 10, 11 am, at Boswell - register here)

Jen's pop-up book pick for the year is Snowscape by Yoojin Kim, who neither wrote the story (that's Nicole Yen) nor did the artwork (illustrations by Kathryn Selbert) but did the pop-up engineering, the job that generally gets top billing in this genre. It was interesting for me to figure out that Jumping Jack Press is part of Up with Paper, a popular pop-up card line we've carried in the past.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Boswell Bestsellers week ending November 19, 2022

Boswell bestsellers, week ending November 19, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. All This Could Be Different, by Sarah Thankam Mathews (Jim Higgins profiles Mathews in the Journal Sentinel)
2. Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver
3. Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus
4. Mistborn: The Lost Metal V7, by Brandon Sanderson
5. Liberation Day, by George Saunders
6. Last Summer on State Street, by Toya Wolfe
7. The Fall of Númenor, by JRR Tolkien
8. Great Cities V2: The World We Make, by NK Jemisin
9. The Scholomance V3: The Golden Enclaves, by Naomi Novik
10. The Marriage Portrait, by Maggie O'Farrell

One doesn't necessarily think of epic fantasy as having a preferred season, but it is noticeable that three of our top ten bestsellers are in the midst of series - Brandon Sanderson's The Lost Metal, NK Jemison's The World We Make, and Naomi Novik's The Golden Enclaves, plus there's that new Tolkien collection. Fourth quarter is the time for the high-profile books that will steamroll the competition and take up what limited media air there is when the focus is on best-of-the-year lists and several major awards. But when you're in the middle of a bestselling series, the audience is already there and the books are probably all on holiday lists. You'd think there'd be the same formula for mystery/thriller series, and there is, and Michael Connelly does have a slot, but the big release for us is November 29 when Louise Penny's A World of Curiosities comes out.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Light We Carry, by Michelle Obama
2. What's for Dessert?, by Claire Saffitz (signed copies available)
3. Dessert Person, by Claire Saffitz
4. The Book of Days, by Patti Smith
5. Number One Is Walking, by Steve Martin
6. Smitten Kitchen Keepers, by Deb Perelman
7. Go-To Dinners, by Ina Garten
8. Dinner in One, by Melissa Clark
9. Slaying the Dragon, by Ben Riggs
10. The Philosophy of Modern Song, by Bob Dylan

On the other hand, we know that cookbooks have become a fourth quarter staple, and this week, five of our top ten are in that category, with the footnote that Claire Saffitz appeared at Boswell this week. The top non-event seller for us, in any of the lists, was, no surprise, Michelle Obama's The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times. From Judith Newman in The New York Times: "...It is perhaps no surprise that Obama’s road map for uncertain times resonates in ways that other self-help books do not. If I am going to have someone guide me through this terrain, I don’t want to hear from preternaturally poised Martha Stewart or unflappable George Clooney or, for that matter, that tower of cool and confidence Barack Obama. For this crew, self-assurance seems like a birthright. I want to hear from Michelle Obama, who doesn’t always like the way she looks, who felt like an outsider after becoming the ultimate insider; the one who easily becomes lonely; the striver who has spent a lifetime dogged by the question: Am I good enough?"

Paperback Fiction:
1. Once Upon a December, by Amy E Reichert (Register for November 30 event here)
2. The Sentence, by Louise Erdrich
3. Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree
4. Kiss Her Once for Me, by Alison Cochran
5. The Sleeping Car Porter, by Suzette May (Virtual event just added on January 10 - register here)
6. Bewilderment, by Richard Powers
7. The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, by Shehan Karunatilaka
8. Wizard's Dream, by Louise Loveridge Gallas
9. Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr
10. The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune

The cable companies and streamers all agree on something - Christmas means romance movies. The explosion of this genre has gone far afield of these core programmers (Hallmark, Lifetime, Great American Family - programmed by a former Hallmark exec) to Netflix, BET+, and streamers you never heard of - 148 films in all, documented in this Variety article. So it's not surprising that we've got two in our top ten, our upcoming event with Once Upon a December and Alison Cochran's Kiss Her Once for Me, which uses the fake relationship trope (classic) to tell a queer love story (contemporary). Apparently, this could be adapted for Hallmark nowadays, but not Great American Family. Publisher's Weekly wrote: "Sparks fly between these mismatched couples against a backdrop of cozy holiday cheer. Cochrun can go a bit heavy on the exposition, but it's delightful to watch this clever spin on the fake dating trope unfold. This is a winner," but my favorite quote is from Kirkus, calling this the literary equivalent of Wham's "Last Christmas."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Brewtown Tales, by John Gurda (December 6 event sold out)
2. Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts, by Rebecca Hall
3. The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics, by Tim Harford
4. Heart Speak, by Sherrill A Knezel
5. The Story of Jane, by Laura Kaplan
6. Fuzz, by Mary Roach
7. Cuba, by Ada Ferrer
8. All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, by Rebecca Donner
9. Undocumented Americans, by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
10. Growing Up Little Chute, by John Van Lieshout

Why don't more independent bookstores have awards cases. It's so successful for us. This week's top ten includes the Pulitzer Prize winner for History, Cuba: An American History, by Ada Ferrer. I am fascinated that this book, despite the honor, does not seem to be reviewed in The New York Times or Washington Post, though she got a column in the latter. The Wall Street Journal had a nice review from Felipe Fernádez-Armesto: "As in much of the Americas, the U.S. in Cuba has been a benign example and a malignant master. Ada Ferrer’s Cuba: An American History focuses on the equivocal relationship of the two countries, and presents it convincingly as symbiotic... By being equally severe with Cuban leaders and U.S. leaders, Ms. Ferrer achieves an honorable objective: pleasing nobody by being just."

Books for Kids:
1. The Greatest in the World, by Ben Clanton
2. João by a Thread, by Roger Mello
3. Narwhal, Unicorn of the Sea, by Ben Clanton
4. Farmhouse, by Sophie Blackall
5. Diper Overlode V17, by Jeff Kinney
6. Charcoal Boys, by Roger Mello
7. It's Christmas Everywhere, by Hannah Barnaby
8. This Story Is Not About a Kitten, by Randall De Seve, illustrations by Carson Ellis
9. If You Find a Leaf, by Aimee Sicuro
10. Green Is for Christmas, by Drew Daywalt/Oliver Jeffers (Meet Green Crayon on December 10 - register here)

Jen helped me with a few books for my Woman's Club talk on Thursday. I already knew I was going to feature It's Christmas Everywhere, a board book that opens up to look like a Christmas tree. But she also led me to Farmhouse, Sophie Blackall's picture book which was just named one of best illustrated books of 2022 by The New York Times/New York Public Library. I went into it blindly and started crying at the end. It's that powerful!

Monday, November 14, 2022

Four events this week: Jai Chakrabarti with the Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center, Claire Saffitz (SOLD OUT), UWM Creative Writing presents United We Read, and Robert Simonson for two back-to-back events at Bryant's!

Tuesday, November 15, 7:30 pm
Jai Chakrabarti, author of A Play for the End of the World
A virtual event - click here to register

Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center present a virtual event featuring Jai Chakrabarti, author of A Play for the End of the World, a dazzling novel set in early 1970s New York and rural India about a turbulent, unlikely romance, a harrowing account of the lasting horrors of the Second World War, and a searing examination of one man's search for forgiveness and acceptance. Cohosted by Boswell Book Company.

Warsaw Ghetto survivor Jaryk Smith and southerner Lucy Gardner are in the first bloom of love when they receive word that Jaryk's oldest friend has died under mysterious circumstances in a rural village in eastern India. Travelling alone to collect his friend's ashes, Jaryk soon finds himself enmeshed in the chaos of local politics and staging a protest play against the government. Torn between the survivor's guilt he has carried for decades and his feelings for Lucy, Jaryk must decide how to honor both the past and the present, and how to accept a happiness he is not sure he deserves.

A remarkable debut, A Play for the End of the World is an unforgettable love story, a provocative exploration of the role of art in times of political upheaval, and a deeply moving reminder of the power of the past to shape the present.

Jai Chakrabarti’s writing has been anthologized in The O Henry Prize Stories and The Best American Short Stories and awarded a Pushcart Prize. Chakrabarti was an Emerging Writer Fellow with A Public Space and received his MFA from Brooklyn College. He was born in Kolkata, India.

Wednesday, November 16, 6:30 pm
Sold Out! Claire Saffitz, author of What’s for Dessert: Simple Recipes for Dessert People
in conversation with Kyle Cherek, in-person at Boswell

This event is sold out. You can still order a signed copy. If you haven't heard about this event until now, we suggest you sign up for the Boswell email newsletter. Find the link on the right-hand column of the front page of the Boswell website.

UWM Creative Writing presents United We Read
In-Person at Boswell Friday, November 18, 6:30 pm

Boswell hosts the November edition of the UWM Creative Writing Graduate Program student and faculty reading series, United We Read, on Friday, November 18, 6:30 pm. This is the monthly reading series presented at locations around the city put on by the UWM English Department and features readings of new work by Creative Writing graduate students as well as UWM faculty members.

This evening will feature readings from graduate students Cassandra Bruner, Sass Denny, and Camilla Lee, and Professor Rebecca Dunham.

Saturday, November 19, 3 pm doors, 3:30 pm event
Second Show Added! - Robert Simonson, author of Modern Classic Cocktails: 60+ Stories and Recipes from the New Golden Age in Drinks
in-person at Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, 1579 S 9th St - click here to purchase tickets

Bryant's Cocktail Lounge and Boswell Book Company are excited to welcome twice James Beard nominated author Robert Simonson, a native Wisconsinite and the New York Times cocktail and spirits writer, to discuss his latest book, Modern Classic Cocktails, featuring recipes culled from today's modern classics with entertaining backstories from the cocktail revival of the past thirty years.

The first seating of this event (5 pm doors, 6 pm event) is now sold out, but a second show has been added! To purchase tickets for the 3 pm doors, 3:30 pm event showing, please click this sentence and visit the ticketing site. Tickets cost $40 plus tax and ticket fee, and each ticket includes a copy of Modern Classic Cocktails, one special cocktail, and gratuity.

Robert Simonson is author of A Proper Drink, The Old-Fashioned, and The Martini Cocktail. His writing has appeared in Saveur, GQ, and Bon Appetit, and has been nominated for two James Beard Awards and has won one IACP Award and two Spirited Awards.

Photo credits
Jai Chakrabarti by Peter Dressel
Claire Saffitz by Alex Lau

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Boswell bestsellers, week ending November 12, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Racing the Light, by Robert Crais (signed copies here)
2. The Passenger, by Cormac McCarthy
3. Liberation Day, by George Saunders
4. Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver
5. Shuna's Journey, by Hayao Miyazaki, translated by Alex Dudok De Wit
6. Our Missing Hearts, by Celeste Ng
7. Nights of Plague, by Orhan Pamuk
8. Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus
9. The Marriage Portrait, by Maggie O'Farrell
10. Foster, by Claire Keegan

The appearance of Shuna's Journey on our bestseller list was a bit of surprise to me, but not our buyer or many of our booksllers. Originally published in Japanese, this first-time-in-English edition has the elements that have inspired Miyazaki's films, including Princess Mononoke, the first animated film to win the Japanese Academy Prize for Picture of the Year (per Wikipedia). Linda Codega in Gizmodo called the book "an eerie and delightful piece of work that highlights Miyazaki’s gorgeous art, long before it became the Ghibli style. Longtime fans will enjoy finding the threads that tie Shuna’s Journey to his later works, from familiar creature designs to costumes to settings."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. What's for Dessert?, by Claire Saffitz (event sold out but signed copies still available)
2. Reading for Our Lives, by Maya Payne Smart
3. The Philosophy of Modern Song, by Bob Dylan
4. How We Live Is How We Die, by Pema Chödrön
5. The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams, by Stacy Schiff
6. Go-To Dinners, by Ina Garten
7. Surrender, by Bono
8. Women Holding Things, by Maira Kalman
9. Life on the Mississippi, by Rinker Buck
10. Confidence Man, by Maggie Haberman

The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams is the latest biography from Stacy Schiff, profiling a man possible more well-known nowadays for the namesake beer. The book has 5 raves and 3 positive reviews on Book Page so far. The Wall Street Journal is in the rave camp. From Mark G. Spencer: " Sifting historical landfill in The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams, Stacy Schiff has produced a delightfully enthralling and insightful account of an elusive Founding Father. Samuel Adams 'did not preen for posterity,' but we now know him much better than we did. Perhaps even better than he’d want us to."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, by Shehan Karunatilaka
2. Legends and Lattes, by Travis Baldree
3. Once Upon a December, by Amy E. Reichert (Register for November 30 event here)
4. She Hulk V1, by Rainbow Rowell
5. It Starts with Us, by Colleen Hoover
6. Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr
7. And Yet, by Kate Baer
8. Still Life, by Sarah Winman
9. The Drifter, by Nick Petrie
10. Our Country Friends, by Gary Shteyngart

 Will the curse of the literary bestseller be broken with The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida be broken? We've had several breakouts from the Booker Prize in recent years, and as this is published as a paperback original, we've got the audience that would buy the book in hardcover combined with the paperback reprint crowd joining in together. Hey, we're doing our best - the book is also our In-Store Lit Group pick for February. Ron Charles writes about the surprise of a major award going to a book you've not heard of in The Washington Post: "For months, I’d been hearing tantalizing, impossibly incongruous details about this novel, which is only now being published in the United States. It’s all true: The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida is a murder mystery and a zany comedy about military atrocities." Yes, American success seems like a long shot - it's going to need a lot of readers crying on TikTok.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Fran Lebowitz Reader, by Fran Lebowitz
2. Owning Grief, by Gael Garbarino Cullen
3. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
4. Brewtown Tales, by John Gurda (Register for December 6 event by emailing publicity@wisconsinhistory.org)
5. 111 Places in Milwaukee You Must Not Miss, by Michelle Madden
6. These Precious Days, by Ann Patchett
7. The Book of Delights, by Ross Gay
8. The Shortest History of Europe, by John Hirst
9. The Splendid and the Vile, by Erik Larson
10. Educated, by Tara Westover


The late Australian historian John Hirst's  The Shortest History of Europe: How Conquest, Culture, and Religion Forged a Continent is just out and selling well of our new paperback table. Looks like it was originally a UK publication. I love this stat they shared in the notes for buyers - 20,000 sold it the UK and Commonwealth, 300,000 sold in China. From the publisher: "Lays out a thesis of astonishing simplicity: just three elements - German warfare, Greek and Roman culture, and Christianity - come together to explain every major development in religion and science, war and invasion, politics and class divisions, and power and industry."

Books for Kids:
1. The Greatest in the World, by Ben Clanton
2. Scattered Showers, by Rainbow Rowell (limited stock signed copies)
3. Our World of Dumplings, by Francie Dekker
4. Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea V1, by Ben Clanton
5. The Invisible Spy: Forgotten Five V2, by Lisa McMann
6. Map of Flames: Forgotten Five V1, by Lisa McMann
7. As Brave As You, by Jason Reynolds
8. Whiteout, by Dhonielle Clayton and other writers
9. Look Both Ways, by Jason Reynolds
10. Carry On Collectors Edition, by Rainbow Rowell

We hosted a virtual school event for Ben Clanton, whose The Greatest in the World offers an exciting competition between potatoes. His Narwhal and Jelly series is very popular, which is bourn out in us having 150 classrooms tune in for his event. Kirkus writes: "This tater trio, and worm, will keep readers laughing, singing, and cheering from the first page to the last."

I just want to note that I did not choose these titles based on their covers, but three of the five are yellow, which seems unusual to me.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Six wonderful events: Ebony LaDelle at The Table, Sofiya Pasternack for a virtual school visit, Robert Crais and Gael Garbarino Cullen at Boswell, Everina Maxwell (virtual), and a ticketed event with Rainbow Rowell

Monday, November 7, 6 pm
Ebony LaDelle, author of Love Radio
in person at The Table, 5305 W Capitol Dr - click here to register

Ebony LaDelle, author of Love Radio, appears at The Table, a community space sponsored by Alice’s Garden. Located in the former Capitol Drive Lutheran Church, The Table offers 1st Century Style Community in the 21st Century. And LaDelle’s book offers a story that’s witty and romantic, a YA teen novel about a self-professed teen love doctor with a popular radio segment who believes he can get a girl who hates all things romance to fall in love with him in only three dates.

Love Radio stars Prince and Dani, two Black teens determined to pursue their goals in a story of sweeping romance, biting wit and humor, and the pursuit of happy endings - a much-needed addition to the growing canon of stories centering Black joy. Prince Jones is the guy with all the answers. At seventeen, he has his own segment on Detroit’s popular hip-hop show, Love Radio, where he dishes out advice to the brokenhearted. But the only romances in his life are the ones he hears about from his listeners. Until he meets Dani Ford. Yet Dani is focused on her plan: ace senior year, score a scholarship, and move to New York City to become a famous author. When the romantic DJ meets the ambitious writer, sparks fly. Prince is smitten, but Dani’s not looking to get derailed. She gives Prince just three dates to convince her that he’s worth falling for.

Jasmine Guillory, author of Drunk on Love, says: "Love Radio is pure joy. This book is a celebration of Black love, Black teenagers, Black friendship, and the Black family, and I adored it from beginning to end."

Midwesterner Ebony LaDelle is a marketing pusher by day, storyteller by night. She’s a graduate of Howard University, and cohosted the monthly video series Why Not YA?.

Tuesday, November 8, 1 pm
Sofiya Pasternack, author of Black Bird, Blue Road
virtual school visit, open to the public - click here to register

Boswell is hosting a virtual school visit featuring National Jewish Book Award finalist Sofiya Pasternack, middle grade author of fantasy and adventure novels drawn from folklore and mythology, who visits us via Zoom to celebrate the release of her new novel, Black Bird, Blue Road, a book that's getting rave (and starred!) prepublication reviews.

This virtual school visit is open to the public to attend - great for home schoolers, parents, and anyone else with an interest in rich fantasy novels for young readers. 

Set in the little-known medieval Jewish empire of Khazaria (now the southeastern section of Russia, southern Ukraine, Crimea, and Kazakhstan), the story follows main character Ziva, who will do anything to save the life of her twin brother, even if it means facing down the Angel of Death. This historical fantasy novel is one of Boswellian Jenny Chou's Top 5 books of 2022.

From the starred Kirkus review: "Pasternack’s story is rich in the rhythms, values, and deep magic of Jewish culture and life in the Turkic Jewish empire of Khazaria. It revels in an often overlooked mythology, deploying exciting fantasy elements with ease. More than simply an adventure, this is a story about grief and illness and arguing with the rules of the world, enduring and enjoying the living that happens between now and the end, threaded through with the profound, unshakeable love of two brave siblings. Propulsive, wise, and heartbreaking."

Sofiya Pasternack is a mental health professional and author of Anya and the Dragon and Anya and the Nightingale.

Thursday, November 10, 6:30 pm
Robert Crais, author of Racing the Light
in conversation with Nick Petrie, in-person at Boswell - click here to register.

Boswell hosts an evening with the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike series for a conversation about Racing the Light, its latest installment. In conversation with Milwaukee author Nick Petrie, whose Peter Ash books include The Runaway and The Drifter.

With dangerous secrets lurking behind every lead, Cole needs his partner Pike more than ever to uncover the truth about a missing son, corrupt politicians, and the vicious business cartels rotting the heart of Los Angeles from within. And when Elvis's estranged girlfriend and her son return, he learns just how much he has to lose - if he survives. Written with the heart, humor, and relentless suspense for which Crais is famous, Racing the Light delivers Elvis Cole's most dangerous case yet.

Early praise includes this quote from David Baldacci: "Racing The Light is another grand slam for the master storyteller Robert Crais. If there’s a better dynamic duo than Elvis Cole and Joe Pike in all of crime fiction, I’m not aware of it." And from Lisa Scottoline: "Crais

does the impossible in this thriller: moves the story at a breakneck pace while creating characters you absolutely adore."

Robert Crais is author of twenty-two previous novels, eighteen of them featuring PI Elvis Cole and his laconic partner, Joe Pike. Before writing his first novel, Crais spent several years writing scripts for such major television series as Hill Street Blues, Cagney & Lacey, and Miami Vice. He was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America and has received multiple awards for his work.

Friday, November 11, 6:30 pm
Gael Garbarino Cullen, author of Owning Grief: Widowed Young, How I Discovered Gifts in Loss
in conversation with Meg Kissinger, in-person at Boswell - click here to register.

Longtime TV and radio reporter Garbarino Cullen visits Boswell to chat about Owning Grief, her raw, compellingly honest memoir that tells the story of her young husband’s death and how she navigated and survived an unspeakable loss.

At 40 years old, on a business trip, Gael Garbarino Cullen’s 40-year-old husband, an otherwise healthy man, was found dead in a hotel, having passed suddenly in his sleep. Faced with the loss of her partner, Cullen coped with despair, anxiety, fear, and depression as she navigated an uncertain future for herself and her four young daughters.

Natalie Kathryn Sanchez, author of The Language of Loss, says: "In raw, compelling honesty, Gael Garbarino Cullen articulates the complexities of grief and single motherhood, beautifully illustrating the power of resilience." And from Steve Radowski: "An unflinching walk through the long and inevitably difficult stages of grief - confirming and validating the curves and turns that come with healing."

Gael Garbarino Cullen is an accomplished writer and video producer as well as a TV and radio news reporter who covered everything from presidential politics to the World Series throughout her career. She lives in Milwaukee.

Saturday, November 12, 11 am
Everina Maxwell, author of Ocean’s Echo
in conversation with Rachel Copeland and Oli Schmitz for a virtual event - click here to register.

Boswell book company hosts a Saturday morning special featuring Everina Maxwell, author of the space opera hit Winter’s Orbit, for a conversation about her new novel, a stand-alone space adventure called Ocean’s Echo. In conversation with Boswellians Rachel Copeland and Oli Schmitz.

Socialite flirt and walking disaster Tennalhin Halkana can read minds. Conscripted into the military under dubious circumstances, Tennal is placed into the care of Lieutenant Surit Yeni, a duty-bound soldier. Whereas Tennal can read minds, Surit can influence them. But Surit refuses to go through with illegal orders to control unconsenting Tennal’s mind. So they fake a bond and plan Tennal's escape. When war begins, Tennal and Surit can no longer abandon their world, and the only way to avoid life under full military control is to complete the very sync they've been faking. Can two unwilling weapons of war bring about peace?

Here’s Rachel Copeland’s take: "Maxwell deepens the worldbuilding established in Winter's Orbit with a focus on the mysterious alien remnants that seem to have endless horrifying possibilities. I don't know how it's possible in a story that engages in difficult topics such as coercion and mental health issues, but Ocean's Echo left me with a distinctly warm feeling. Can one feel hugged by a space opera? Asking for a friend." And Oli Schmitz: "Surit and Tennal's distinct character voices will reach for your heart, and the story will hold it. This is my favorite book of 2022!" And from Ryka Aoki, author of Light from Uncommon Stars: "Compassionate, queer, slightly horrifying, and wildly inventive... What a glorious read!"

Everina Maxwell is the author of Winter’s Orbit, a queer romantic space opera that won an American Library Association Alex Award and was a Sunday Times bestseller.

Saturday, November 12, 7 pm
Rainbow Rowell, author of Scattered Showers: Stories
in-person at Boswell - click here to purchase a ticket

Boswell presents an evening with Rainbow Rowell, author of books such as Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, and someone who has won fans all over the world with her writing about love and life.

Tickets for this event cost $19.99 plus tax and fee and include admission to the event and a copy of Scattered Showers. Masks required for this event.

In her first book of short stories, Rowell collects nine beautifully crafted tales of love. Girl meets boy camping outside a movie theater. Best friends debate the merits of high school dances. A prince romances a troll. A girl romances an imaginary boy. And Simon Snow himself returns for a holiday adventure.

Scattered Showers is a feast of irresistible characters, hilarious dialogue, and masterful storytelling - everything readers expect from a Rainbow Rowell book. From Kirkus: "A treat." And from the starred Booklist review: "a generous serving of nine exemplary short stories."

Rainbow Rowell is author of Eleanor & Park, Attachments, Landline, and the Simon Snow trilogy: Carry On, Wayward Son, and Any Way the Wind Blows.

Photo credits
Ebony LaDelle by Taylor Baldwin
Robert Crais by Aaron Rapoport
Nick Petrie by Troye Fox
Everina Maxwell by Richard Wilson
Rainbow Rowell by Augusten Burroughs