Sunday, August 7, 2022

Boswell bestsellers, week ending August 6, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending August 6, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. All This Could Be Different, by Sarah Thankam Mathews (Register for August 11 virtual event here)
2. Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus
3. Upgrade, by Blake Crouch (Register for August 12 in-person event here)
4. The Last White Man, by Mohsin Hamid
5. Death Casts a Shadow, by Patricia Skalka
6. Switchboard Soldiers, by Jennifer Chiaverini
7. Horse, by Geraldine Brooks
8. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, by Gabriel Zevin
9. The Candy House, by Jennifer Egan
10. The Rabbit Hutch, by Tess Gunty (Register for August 10 in-person event here)

Our big debut, non-event category, this week is The Last White Man from Mohsin Hamid. From Ron Charles's rave review in The Washington Post: "More than a century ago, Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams and found himself transformed into a monstrous insect. Mohsin Hamid’s new novel, The Last White Man buzzes with an ironic allusion to that unsettling metamorphosis. In the opening sentence, a White man named Anders awakens one morning to discover that his skin has turned 'a deep and undeniable brown.' Following Kafka’s lead, the cause of this sudden alteration remains unknown; its meaning is equally elusive. What follows sometimes feels like a curious thought experiment - or Tucker Carlson’s worst nightmare, a racist fever dream of 'the great replacement theory.'"

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Reading for Our Lives, by Maya Payne Smart (more signed copies to come soon)
2. Milked, by Ruth Conniff
3. Memoirs, by Robert Lowell
4. An Immense World, by Ed Yong
5. Fantastic Numbers and Where to Find Them, by Antonio Padilla
6. The Well-Plated Cookbook, by Erin Clarke
7. Plantyou, by Carleigh Bodrug
8. Happy-Go-Lucky, by David Sedaris
9. Slenderman, by Kathleen Hale (Register for October 13 in-person event here)
10. Crying in the Bathroom, by Erika L. Sánchez (Register for September 16 in-person event here)

Fantastic Numbers and Where to Find Them is the new work from Antonio Padilla, a leading theoretical physicist and cosmologist at the University of Nottingham who shared the Buchalter Cosmology Prize. If I didn't work in a bookstore and feel obligated to read more than one book a month, I'd try this. For now, I can admire your focus. And the Kirkus reviewer, who wrote: "Though parts of the book are extremely challenging, like James Gleick's Chaos and Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, it is a remarkable piece of work that is well worth the effort. Astonishing in its sweep and depth, this book offers a unique way of looking at the universe."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Book Lovers, by Emily Henry
2. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
3. Verity, by Colleen Hoover
4. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro
5. Shady Hollow, by Juneau Black (10 more copies to sell until we hit 400!)
6. It Ends with Us, by Colleen Hoover
7. Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
8. The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon
9. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
10. Thank You for Listening, by Julia Whelan

I wouldn't be quibbling about whether Thank You for Listening went in fiction or romance (our buyer put it in the former) if I hadn't listened to the All Things Considered feature with Julia Whelan. When asked by Mary Louise Kelly if the author meant to write a novel that pokes fun at romance but is itself a romance,  Whelan replied, "Yes, that was sort of the intention. I love romance. I'm a romance reader. I love recording it. But I understand the typical issues that people take with it. So I wanted to write a book that was firmly rooted in romance while also saying, if you found yourself living in a romance novel, would you actually trust it or would you sabotage yourself?"

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Stuck Improving, by Decoteau J Irby
2. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
3. Finding the Mother Tree, by Suzanne Simard
4. The Oregon Trail, by Rinker Buck (Register for in-person August 16 event here for Life on the Mississippi - on sale this Tuesday)
5. Giannis, by Mirin Fader
6. Entangled Life, by Merlin Sheldrake
7. Mushrooms of the Upper Midwest, by Teresa Marrone
8. Tacky, by Rax King
9. Feminism's Empire, by Carolyn J Eichner (Register for August 26 in-person event here)
10. Complete Mushroom Hunter Revised, by Gary Lincoff

Mushroom mania! Mushrooms of the Upper Midwest is just one of three titles in this week's top 10. So many mushrooms. The New York Times had a story about foraging for mushrooms in Chile. USA Today has a story about psilocybin therapy. Oprah Daily on the surprising power of mushrooms? What could be next - broccoli mushroom carrot pilaf? No, that was actually last night's dinner, with mushrooms from the River Valley Ranch stand at the South Shore Farmers Market. 

Books for Kids:
1. The Night Before First Grade, by Natasha Wing and Deborah Zemke
2. Magical Black Tears, by Decoteau J Irby with illustrations by Dominique Duval Diop
3. Heartstopper V1, by Alice Oseman
4. The Summer I Turned Pretty, by Jenny Han
5. Magic Tree House Knight at Dawn V2 graphic novel by Mary Pope Osborne
6. Peekaboo Sun, by Camilla Reid and Angela Arrhenius
7. Noodle and the No Bones Day, by Jonathan Graziano and Dan Tavis
8. Heartstopper V2, by Alice Oseman
9. Cat Kid Comic Club on Purpose V3, by Dav Pilkey
10. Magic Tree House Mummies in the Morning graphic novel, by Mary Pope Osborne

It is so rare to have a bestselling picture book that's not a quantity sale from a less-than-well-known author in the Boswell top ten anytime except Christmas. But Noodle and the No Bones Day is an exception, because TikTok has invaded another category. Jonathan Graziano and his pug are social media stars. From Kirkus: "Among Noodle's followers, a 'no bones day' has come to mean a day for self-care and taking it easy. However, this story stands alone and will likely create new fans for a long time to come."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins reviews David Maraniss's Path Lit by Lightning, which goes on sale Tuesday and is featured at our joint event with David Maraniss at the Milwaukee Public Library on August 17. From Higgins: "In a case of remarkable timing, Maraniss' biography lands in the wake of the International Olympic Committee's recent action fully restoring Thorpe as gold medal winner of the decathlon and pentathlon in 1912."

Monday, August 1, 2022

Events! Maya Payne Smart at Milwaukee Public Library, Ruth Conniff at Boswell, Lydia Conklin (virtual) and Jerry Apps (virtual)

Tuesday, August 2, 6:30 pm
Maya Payne Smart, author of Reading for Our Lives: A Literacy Action Plan from Birth to Six
in conversation with Dr. Dipesh Navasaria, in-person at Milwaukee Public Library Centennial Hall, 733 N Eighth St - This event is currently at capacity, but we're playing with ways to increase capacity, including an overflow room where you can watch the program on video and still get your book signed and meet the author.  When you can register again, this is where you'd do it! 

Award-winning (and Milwaukee-based!) journalist and literacy advocate Maya Payne Smart appears with her new book, Reading for Our Lives, which provides a clear, step-by-step guide to helping your child thrive as a reader and a learner. Cohosted by Milwaukee Public Library and in conversation with Dipesh Navasaria, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at UW's School of Medicine and Chair of the Reach Out and Read Board of Directors.

When her child went off to school, Maya Smart was shocked to discover that a good education in America is a long shot, in ways that few parents fully appreciate. Our current approach to literacy offers too little, too late, and attempting to play catch-up when our kids get to kindergarten can no longer be our default strategy. The brain architecture for reading develops rapidly during infancy, and early language experiences are critical to building it.

Reading for Our Lives challenges the bath-book-bed mantra and the idea that reading aloud to our kids is enough to ensure school readiness. Instead, it gives parents easy, immediate, and accessible ways to nurture language and literacy development from the start. Through personal stories, historical accounts, scholarly research, and practical tips, this bookpresents the life-and-death urgency of literacy, investigates inequity in reading achievement, and illuminates a path to a true, transformative education for all.

Maya Payne Smart is a literacy advocate who has served on the boards of numerous library and literacy organizations. She and her family live in Milwaukee, where she serves as affiliated faculty in educational policy and leadership in the College of Education at Marquette University.

Wednesday, August 3, 6:30 pm
Ruth Conniff, author of Milked: How an American Crisis Brought Together Midwestern Dairy Farmers and Mexican Workers
in conversation with Joy Powers, in-person at Boswell - register here

Wisconsin journalist and Wisconsin Examiner Editor-in-Chief Ruth Conniff appears at Boswell with her new book, Milked, in which she introduces us to the migrants who work on dairy farms, their employers, and the surprising relationship that has formed between these two groups of people. In conversation with Joy Powers of WUWM's Lake Effect.

Conniff’s new book is a compelling portrayal of the lives of farming communities on either side of theU.S.-Mexico border and the connections between them. In the Midwest, Mexican workers have become critically important to the survival of rural areas and small towns - and to the individual farmers who rely on their work - with undocumented immigrants, mostly from Mexico, accounting for an estimated 80 percent of employees on the dairy farms of western Wisconsin. A unique and fascinating exploration of rural farming communities, Milked sheds light on seismic shifts in policy on both sides of the border over recent decades, connecting issues of labor, immigration, race, food, economics, and U.S.-Mexico relations and revealing how two seemingly disparate groups of people have come to rely on each other, how they are subject to the same global economic forces, and how, ultimately, the bridges of understanding that they have built can lead us toward a more constructive politics and a better world.

From David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good American Family: "From the back roads of Mexico to the dairy farms of Wisconsin, Milked is a wondrous and important work of 'going there' reportage. Ruth Conniff breaks through so many misperceptions and stereotypes to reveal the commonality of the human experience." David Maraniss is appearing at the Milwaukee Public Library on August 17 for his great Jim Thrope bio - more info on our upcoming events page. Look for the link.

Ruth Conniff is the Editor-in-Chief of the Wisconsin Examiner and Editor-at-Large and former Editor-in-Chief of The Progressive magazine. She has appeared on Good Morning America, C-SPAN, and NPR and has been a frequent guest on All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC.

Thursday, August 4, 7 pm
Lydia Conklin, author of Rainbow Rainbow
in conversation with Barrett Swanson for a virtual event - click here to register for this event.

Boswell Book Company hosts award-winning writer Lydia Conklin for an evening of conversation about their new book, Rainbow Rainbow, a fearless collection of stories that celebrate the humor, darkness, and depth of emotion of the queer and trans experience that's not typically represented. In conversation with Barrett Swanson, the Wisconsin-based author of Lost in Summerland.

In this exuberant collection, queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming characters seek love and connection in hilarious and heartrending stories that reflect the complexity of our current moment. A nonbinary writer on the eve of top surgery enters into a risky affair during the height of COVID. A lesbian couple enlists a close friend as a sperm donor, plying him with a potent rainbow-colored cocktail. A lonely office worker struggling with their gender identity chaperones their nephew to a trans YouTube convention. And in the depths of a Midwestern winter, a sex-addicted librarian relies on her pet ferrets to help resist a relapse at a wild college fair.

Time Magazine calls Rainbow Rainbow one of their Most Anticipated Books of 2022,and says the book "highlights queer, gender-nonconforming and trans characters. Most are seeking some sense of connection... Conklin portrays them all with warmth and compassion." And from Adrienne Westenfeld of Esquire: "Effervescent… Conklin’s compassionate stories are so accomplished and sure-footed that you’ll be shocked to learn this is their debut."

Lydia Conklin’s writing has appeared in Tin House, American Short Fiction, and The Paris Review, and they have received a Stegner Fellowship, three Pushcart Prizes, and a Creative Writing Fulbright in Poland. They’ve drawn comics for The New Yorker and The Believer and are currently the Zell Visiting Professor of Fiction at the University of Michigan. Barrett Swanson is a Contributing Editor at Harper’s Magazine and his writing has appeared in Best American Short Stories, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and several editions of Best American Essays.

Friday, August 5, 2 pm
Jerry Apps, author of Meet Me on the Midway: A History of Wisconsin Fairs
a virtual event - click here to register

Boswell is pleased to host a virtual event featuring beloved Wisconsin historian and author Jerry Apps for a conversation about his latest book, Meet Me on the Midway, an exploration of the history of county and state fairs in the Badger State. Cohosted by our friends at Books & Company in Oconomowoc.

Jerry Apps chronicles Wisconsin’s fairs from their earliest incarnations as livestock exhibitions to today’s multitude of exhibits and demonstrations, grandstand entertainment, games and rides, and competitions of all sorts. Drawing on his extensive research, interviews, and personal experience as a 4-H leader, county extension agent, fair judge, and lifelong fairgoer, Apps takes readers back through 178 years of Wisconsin fair history, covering everything from horsepulling and calf-showing contests to exhibit judging to the roar of gasoline engines powering the midway rides.

Apps evokes the sights and sounds of fairs through the ages while digging in to the political and social forces that shaped the fair into an icon of our rural heritage. Illustrated with vintage and modern photos and featuring the voices of exhibitors, judges, volunteers, and visitors, Meet Me on the Midway vividly captures the thrills and cherished memories of these beloved annual gatherings.

Jerry Apps is author of books such as When the White Pine Was King, Living a Country Year, and Every Farm Tells a Story. He is Professor Emeritus at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at UW-Madison as well as a former county extension agent. He exhibited cattle and other projects at county fairs as a 4-H member and later served as a county fair judge.

Our Adriana Trigiani event is now virtual and rescheduled for Monday, August 8 at 7 pm. At this time, we are not taking new ticket purchases.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending July 30, 2022

Here are the Boswell bestsellers for the week ending July 30, 2022.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Switchboard Soldiers, by Jennifer Chiaverini
2. Death Casts a Shadow, by Patricia Skalka
3. Horse, by Geraldine Brooks
4. Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus
5. This Time Tomorrow, by Emma Straub
6. Portrait of an Unknown Woman, by Daniel Silva
7. Siren Queen, by Nghi Vo (signed copies available)
8. The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles
9. The It Girl, by Ruth Ware
10. The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, by Silvia Moreno Garcia

Tomorrow Larry Meiller talks to Jennifer Chiaverini about her new novel Switchboard Soldiers, also known as the "Hello Girls." You can listen to WHAD at 11 am Central. More information here. Someone at the our Greendale Public Library/Hose Tower event asked me about a nonfiction book on the subject that came out recently. I didn't know it, but found information about Elizabeth Cobbs's The Hello Girls: America's First Women Soldiers (2017 hardcover, 2019 paperback).

Lake Effect spoke to Jeffrey Boldt about his novel Blue Lake. Listen here. Buy the book here.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Happy-Go-Lucky, by David Sedaris
2. The Big Lie, by Jonathan Lemire
3. Thank You for Your Servitude, by Mark Leibovich
4. Atomic Habits, by James Clear
5. The Dawn of Everything, by David Graeber and David Wengrow
6. Empire of Pain, by Patrick Radden Keefe
7. Slaying the Dragon, by Ben Riggs
8. Breaking the Age Code, by Becca Levy
9. Orwell's Roses, by Rebecca Solnit
10. Foxconned, by Lawrence Tabak

Above I noted an upcoming show for an event that just happened. Now here's a feature about an upcoming event from a show that recently aired. Ruth Conniff, author of Milked: How an American Crisis Brought Together Midwestern Dairy Farmers and Mexican Workers talked to Joy Powers. Listen here. That's just a preview of our in-person program on August 3. Register here.

Joy Powers also talked to Ben Riggs, author of Slaying the Dragon. You can listen to that segment here.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Send for Me, by Lauren Fox
2. The Sturgeon's Heart, by Amy E Casey
3. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
4. The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
5. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro
6. State of Terror, by Louise Penny and Hilary Clinton
7. Beautiful World, Where Are You, Sally Rooney
8. Great Circle, by Maggie Shipstead
9. The Lost Apothecary, by Sarah Penner
10. New Animal, by Ella Baxter

July is one of the quietest months for new releases, or at least it seems that way until I look at The New York Times list for hardcover fiction and see multiple new titles appearing every week. But on this list at least, most of the titles are at least a few months old, and this week, no Colleen Hoover, Taylor Jenkins Reid, or Emily Henry - how can this be possible? Sally Rooney's Beautiful World, Where Are You is really just a month old in its reprint edition. If you're wondering why Rooney changed publishers after a very successful American breakout, she followed her British editor when she moved to FSG, or so I surmised.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Practical Wisdom, by Barry Schwartz and Kenneth Sharpe
2. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
3. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kemmerer
4. Giannis, by Mirin Fader
5. The Icepick Surgeon, by Sam Kean
6. New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes, by Sam Sifton
7. This Is Your Mind on Plants, by Michael Pollan
8. Shape, by Jordan Ellenberg
9. Please Don't Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes, by Phoebe Robinson
10. Stuck Improving, by Decoteau J Irby (Register for today's 4 pm event here - walk up is available)

Please Don't Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes by Phoebe Robinson has only been out a few weeks in paperback and makes its first appearance in our top 10. Phoebe Robinson is one of those celebs who, instead of going into food or drink, household goods, designer clothes, or a record label, has started a book imprint, Tiny Reparations Books. I looked up demand on Ingram and it turns out the novel she is helping publish from Latoya Watkins, Perish, is hot! It's out August 23. 

Books for Kids:
1. All Are Welcome, by Alexandra Penfold, illustrations by Suzane Kaufman
2. The Outsiders, by SE Hinton
3. Front Desk, by Kelly Yang
4. A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park
5. London Eye Mystery, by Siobhan Dowd
6. Flying Lessons and Other Stories, by Ellen Oh
7. Fever 1793, by Laurie Halse Anderson
8. The Rock and the River, by Kekla Magoon
9. I Kissed Shara Wheeler, by Casey McQuiston
10. The Summer I Turned Pretty, by Jenny Han

You know it's the end of summer when our kids list is filled with educators getting ready for another school year. At the bottom are two titles that are from folks shopping the store - I Kissed Shara Wheeler and The Summer I turned Pretty.

More Larry Meiller recaps - Merri Lindgren from the Cooperative Children's Book Center discussed summer reading for kids on July 12. Listen to the program here.

And from the Wisconsin Public Radio's Morning Show, Carrie Obry from the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association is joined by booksellers Kristen Sandstrom and Ashley Valentine to talk about the flourishing independent bookstore community in Wisconsin. Here's that program.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Amy Schwabe writes about Nasty, Brutish, and Short: Adventures in Philosophy with My Kids, by Scott Hershovitz. From the report: "Hershovitz's argument is that kids are natural philosophers who naturally ask hard questions. More importantly, parents shouldn't be afraid to engage those questions, even if we don't feel like we have the answers."

Monday, July 25, 2022

Five wonderful events! Jennifer Chiaverini (at Greendale Public Library), Patricia Skalka (at Boswell), Batja Mesquita (virtual), Adriana Trigiani (Sharon Lynne Wilson Center), Decoteau J Irby (at Boswell)

Monday, July 25, 6:30 pm
Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Switchboard Soldiers
in-person at Greendale Public Library, 5647 Broad Street - click here to visit the Greendale Public Library website for registration information.

Boswell will be on hand at the event selling copies of this and Chiaverini’s other books, too. Please Note: Masks are required to be worn at all times during this event, at the author's request. 

Wisconsin’s own New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction, Jennifer Chiaverini returns to the Milwaukee area for an evening with her latest, Switchboard Soldiers, a novel set during WWI about the very first women ever recruited into the US military.

In 1917, US Army Signal Corps needed telephone operators. At a time when women could not serve, nearly all well-trained operators were women. This is the story of four very different women who were among the very first to be sworn in - a group that could do their jobs six times as fast as the men they replaced. While mocked at by men at the time as the “hello girls,” the women of the U.S. Army Signal Corps broke down gender barriers in the military, smashed the workplace glass ceiling, and battled a pandemic as they helped lead the Allies to victory.

The risk of death was real - the women worked as bombs fell around them - as was the threat of the deadly Spanish Flu. Not all of the telephone operators would survive. Their story has never been the focus of a novel… until now.

Jennifer Chiaverini is author of acclaimed historical novels such as The Women’s March and Resistance Women as well as the beloved Elm Creek Quilts series. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives in Madison.

Tuesday, July 26, 6:30 pm
Patricia Skalka, author of Death Casts a Shadow
In-Person at Boswell Book Company - click here to register! 

Wisconsin mystery author Patricia Skalka returns to Boswell for an evening featuring the latest installment of her popular Dave Cubiak mysteries, which follow Sheriff Cubiak on his murder investigations throughout Door County.

Registration is required to attend this event – click here to visit skalkamke.eventbrite.com to sign up. You can preorder your copy of Death Casts a Shadow now, too.

With Door County caught in the grip of a fierce winter storm, Sheriff Cubiak agrees to do a simple favor for a friend of his wife: he stops by to check in on an affluent widow with a questionable new suitor. His initial disquiet is easily dismissed - until she is found dead the next morning in her home. Lying at the bottom of a flight of stairs, clutching a valuable bronze sculpture, she points her outstretched hand in the direction of a nearby, nondescript ring.

It looks like an accidental fall, but later in the week, an explosion in an ice fishing shack on the frozen bay leads to the discovery of another body, burned beyond recognition. Was this the widow’s missing handyman? Could the two deaths be related? With what has become a hallmark for books in the series, past and present collide as Cubiak’s search for answers uncovers the sad legacy of loneliness and the disquieting links between wealth and poverty on the peninsula.

Patricia Skalka is author of the Dave Cubiak Door County Mystery series, which includes titles such as Death Stalks Door County, Death Rides the Ferry, and Death Washes Ashore. She divides her time between Milwaukee and Door County.

Thursday, July 28, 6 pm
Batja Mesquita, author of Between Us: How Cultures Create Emotions
in conversation with Sally Haldorson for a virtual event - click here to register

Boswell hosts a virtual event featuring social psychologist and pioneer of cultural psychology Batja Mesquita for a conversation about Between Us, her new book in which she argues that emotions are not innate, but made as we live our lives together. In conversation with Sally Haldorson, Managing Director of Porchlight Book Company, our cohost for this virtual event.

"How are you feeling today?" We may think of emotions as universal responses, felt inside, but Mesquita asks us to reconsider them through the lens of what they do in our relationships, both one-on-one and within larger social networks. From an outside-in perspective, readers will understand why pride in a Dutch context does not translate well to the same emotion in North Carolina, or why one’s anger at a boss does not mean the same as your anger at a partner in a close relationship. By looking outward at relationships at work, school, and home, we can better judge how our emotions will be understood, how they might change a situation, and how they change us.

Synthesizing original psychological studies and stories from peoples across time and geography, Mesquita skillfully argues that acknowledging differences in emotions allows us to find common ground, humanizing and humbling us all for the better. Carol Dweck, author of Mindset, says: "Batja Mesquita’s work on culture and emotion is highly original and highly important and has been influential in shaping the science of emotion. It’s no surprise that Between Us is a groundbreaking book."

Batja Mesquita is Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Leuven, Belgium, where she studies the role of culture in emotions, and of emotions in culture and society. She is also Director of the Center for Social and Cultural Psychology in Leuven. Mesquita spent her postdoctoral years at the University of Michigan, where she was part of the "culture and cognition group" that played a key role in the start of cultural psychology.

Saturday, July 30, 2 pm 
New Date! Adriana Trigiani, author of The Good Left Undone
a ticketed, in-person Event at Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, 3270 Mitchell Park Dr

Our event featuring Adriana Trigiani at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center has a new date, and we are very happy to present her in support of her latest, The Good Left Undone, a lush, immersive novel about a hardworking family of Tuscan artisans with long-held secrets. Cosponsored by Books & Company of Oconomowoc, the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, and Boswell.

If you already purchased tickets for this event’s previous date, your tickets will be honored for the new date. Tickets are still available, cost $35 plus fees each, and include admission to the event and a copy of The Good Left Undone. Ticketholder books can be picked up at the event, or, if you prefer, pick up your book now at Boswell or Books & Company.

Matelda, the Cabrelli family’s matriarch, has always been brusque and opinionated. Now, as she faces the end of her life, she is determined to share a long-held secret with her family about her own mother’s great love story: with her childhood friend, Silvio, and with dashing Scottish sea captain John Lawrie McVicars, the father Matelda never knew.

Early readers are loving Trigiani’s latest. Jess Walter, author of The Cold Millions and Beautiful Ruins says, "The Good Left Undone is at once epic and intimate, a delightful novel about the mysterious lore of an unforgettable Italian family whose characters walk right off the page." And Kristin Hannah, author of The Nightingale, says, "Adriana Trigiani is a gifted, natural storyteller and The Good Left Undone is her at the top of her game. This beautiful, sweeping historical epic about three generations of women paints an exquisite portrait of love, loss, the ravages of time and the price a family pays for its secrets. Brava!"

Adriana Trigiani is author of twenty books, including The Shoemaker’s Wife. She is an award-winning playwright, television writer/producer, and filmmaker. Trigiani wrote and directed the major motion picture adaptation of her novel, Big Stone Gap. Trigiani is Cofounder of the Origin Project and serves on the New York State Council on the Arts.

Sunday, July 31, 4 pm
Decoteau J Irby, author of Stuck Improving: Racial Equity and School Leadership and Magical Black Tears: A Protest Story
In-Person at Boswell - click here to register!

Creator, activist, and Associate Professor of Educational Policy Studies at University of Illinois at Chicago Decoteau J Irby joins us at Boswell with his two latest books, Stuck Improving and Magical Black Tears.

With Stuck Improving, Irby analyzes the complex process of racial equity reform within K-12 schools. Those who accept the challenge of reform find themselves "stuck improving," caught in a perpetual dilemma of both making progress and finding ever more progress to be made. Rather than dismissing stuckness as failure, Irby embraces it as an inextricable part of the improvement process. This timely work contributes both to the practical efforts of equity-minded school leaders and to a deeper understanding of what the work of racial equity improvement truly entails.

With Magical Black Tears, Irby celebrates the resilience of Black communities and families. It acknowledges the role Black children’s creative imaginations play in fortifying us all against the harms of racism and injustice. Caregivers and educators who help children read about and discuss current events play a special role in nurturing their imaginations.

Decoteau J Irby’s work focuses on creating and sustaining organizations that contribute to Black people’s self-determined well-being, development, and positive life outcomes. He is Associate Professor at University of Illinois at Chicago in the Department of Educational Policy Studies.

Photo credits
Batja Mesquita by Eve Eysermans

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending July 23, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending July 23, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Poet's House, by Jean Thompson
2. Horse, by Geraldine Brooks
3. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin
4. Upgrade, by Blake CroUch (Register for August 12 in-store event here)
5. Portrait of an Unknown Woman, by Daniel Silva
6. Switchboard Soldiers, by Jennifer Chiaverini (Register for July 25 Greendale Public Library event here - almost at capacity!
7. Lapvona, by Ottessa Mosghfegh
8. The It Girl, by Ruth Ware
9. This Time Tomorrow, by Emma Straub
10. Bewilderment, by Richard Powers

Boy, doesn't Riverhead wish that Paula Hawkins could write as quickly as Ruth Ware, similarly strong critical reviews with book releases on a regular timeline. She's been compared to golden age greats with past works and The It Girl is no exception. From Tom Nolan in The Wall Street Journal: "Ms. Ware’s stories are often compared to Agatha Christie’s, but in mood she’s closer to Daphne du Maurier or Francis Iles. In previous works, such as The Death of Mrs. Westaway, the author placed psychologically vulnerable characters in heightened physical and mental jeopardy to great suspenseful effect. Here, through careful descriptive scrutiny of Hannah’s emotional barometer, Ms. Ware makes even her heroine’s most misguided decisions seem plausible. The It Girl  may well be her best book yet."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Slaying the Dragon, by Ben Riggs
2. The Book of Delights, by Ross Gay
3. Help Thanks Wow, by Ane Lamott
4. Happy-Go-Lucky, by David Sedaris
5. The Book of Common Prayer, from Church Publishing
6. Crying in the Bathroom, by Erika L Sánchez (register for September 16 event here)
7. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
8. An Immense World, by Ed Yong
9. All That Moves Us, by Jay Wellons
10. Dirtbag, Massachusetts, by Isaac Fitzgerald

All That Moves Us: A Pediatric Neurosurgeon, His Young Patients, and Their Stories of Grace and Resilience may not have major reviews posted on Book Marks, but it was featured on NPR's Fresh Air, and that alone will pop sales. From the interview with Dave Davies: "Wellons, who's from south Mississippi, says he didn't set out to become a pediatric surgeon. When he first went to medical school, he envisioned himself as a small-town family medicine doctor, who might "occasionally get paid in tomatoes and chickens." But a gross anatomy lab where he learned about the spinal cord and the nerves of the brachial plexus changed his path: "I remember just spending hours dissecting that out and just being absolutely entranced by it."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
2. Book Lovers, by Emily Henry
3. The Love Songs of WEB Dubois, by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
4. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
5. The Lost Apothecary, by Sarah Penner
6. The Final Girl Support Group, by Grady Hendrix
7. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro
8. The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle, by Matt Cain
9. The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon
10. Animal, by Lisa Taddeo

Nowadays when we look up a publisher on our wholesaler's database it leads to dead ends, so I had to go to Edelweiss to learn that John Sconamaglio Books is an imprint of Kensington when I was trying to learn more about The Secrt Life of Albert Entwistle from Matt Cain. Hey, I'm not the buyer. The book was an Indie Next and Library Reads Selection. And our buyer Jason liked it. Oh, and someone compared it to Leonard and Hungry Paul! Sir Ian McKellan offered this praise: “This rollicking romance entrapped me! True in its detail and its scope, it is amusing yet heart-breaking.”

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Letters to a Young Artist, by Ana Deveare Smith
2. Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold
3. Do the Work, by W. Kamau Bell and Kate Schatz
4. Beyond Katrina, by Natasha Trethewey
5. A History of Milwaukee Drag, by BJ Daniels and Mikhail Takach
6. Art in the After Culture, by Ben Davis
7. The Invention of Nature, by Andrea Wulf
8. The Viking Heart, by Athur Herman
9. London's Number One Dog Walking Agency, by Kate MacDougall
10. Stuck Improving, by Decoteau Irby (Register for July 31 event here)

Something happened to our initial order of Do the Work!: An Antiracist Activity Book, by W. Kamau Bell so of course we're having a run on it and trying to figure out what happened. This is a Workman-style guide with "creative, practical, actionable ideas, advice, and guidance via humorous, thought-provoking activities on antiracism." From Kirkus: "Overall, the narrative is practical and accessible, balancing historical context with self-reflection and direct action. The dialogues between the authors are informative, frank, and vulnerable, creating a safe space for both learning and taking risks."

Books for Kids:
1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar's ABC, by Eric Carle
2. Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Septys
3. Lulu and Rocky in Milwaukee, by Barbara Joosse and Renée Graef
4. Heartstopper V4, by Alice Oseman
5. The Summer I Turned Pretty, by Jenny Han
6. The Inheritance Games, by Jennifer Barnes
7. The Merciless Ones V2, by Namina Fona
8. The Dawn of Yangchen V3, by FC Yee
9. Our Crooked Hearts, by Melissa Albert
10. What Feelings Do When No One's Looking, by Tina Oziewicz

From the BookTok Display comes The Inheritance Games, the New York Times-bestselling series that has sold over 750,000 copies fom Jennifer Lynn Barnes that is now up to three installments and finally gets a mention here. Katherine McGee (American Royals) writes: "A thrilling blend of family secrets, illicit romance and high-stakes treasure hunt, set in the mysterious world of Texas billionaires. The nonstop twists kept me guessing until the very last page!" From Kirkus: "Part The Westing Game, part We Were Liars, completely entertaining."

From the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins talks to Maya Payne Smart about Reading for Our Lives, her new book arriving August 2. From Payne's interview: "'I think what sets this book apart from most raising-a-reader books is that it's not a collection of book recommendations,' Smart said. 'I mentioned very few children's books by name in the book, because I don't want people to feel like there's some specific set of books that they need to get and read. … I want to give parents an understanding of how reading unfolds.'" From Kirkus: "Smart is a knowledgeable, capable guide who has distilled a vast amount of research into an approachable package. A solid resource for diligent parents who want to create readers for life."

Register for the Milwaukee Public Library event on August 2 with Maya Payne Smart in Conversation with pediatrician-librarian Dipesh Navsaraia.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Three upcoming events to look forward to! Ben Riggs for Slaying the Dragon, Jean Thompson for The Poet's House (both at Boswell), Jennifer Chiaverini for Switchboard Soldiers (at Greendale Public Library)

Tuesday, July 19, 6:30 pm
Ben Riggs, author of Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons & Dragons
In-Person at Boswell Book Company - click here to register

Milwaukee author, educator, and podcaster Ben Riggs joins us for a special launch celebration of his debut book, Slaying the Dragon, which exposes the secret, untold story of how TSR, the company that created Dungeons & Dragons, was driven into ruin by disastrous management decisions, then purchased and saved by their bitterest rival.

For years, a story has been told about TSR, the company that made Dungeons & Dragons – TSR created the role-playing genre in 1974, then in the 90s a company named Wizard overtook the scene with a card came called Magic: The Gathering. The competition killed TSR, and in a twist worthy of a Greek tragedy, Wizards ended up buying TSR. That story is entirely wrong.

Through hundreds of hours of interviews, endless research, and the help of sources providing secret documents, the true story of what happened to TSR and Dungeons & Dragons can finally be told. The true history is that of disastrous mistakes and decisions founded on arrogance rather than good sense. Debts were racked up, geniuses driven from the company, and countless of thousands of products were shipped and sold at a loss. The story of TSR provides a negative blueprint, an example of what a company should not do in the geek business space.

Two great staff reads on this one! From Jason: "A good portion of my youth was spent playing D&D and reading Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms novels. Riggs does an amazing job of highlighting both the success and failure of one of the great iconic gaming companies." And from Daniel: "I’ve never played a game of Dungeons & Dragons in my life. And yet I found Slaying the Dragon thoroughly enjoyable, partly because of the near-local setting, and partly because Riggs is a good storyteller who also highlights the corporate missteps in a way that I think will appeal to folks who read business narratives."

Ben Riggs is creator of the Plot Points RPG podcast, and his work has appeared on NPR and Geek & Sundry. He teaches English and history in Milwaukee.

Wednesday, July 20, 6:30 pm
Jean Thompson, author of The Poet’s House
in Conversation with Christina Clancy, In-Person at Boswell - click here to register

National Book Award finalist and author of the New York Times bestseller The Year We Left Home joins us at Boswell for an in-person conversation about her new novel, The Poet’s House, an unforgettable, lighthearted story about a young woman who discovers the insular world of writers. In conversation with Wisconsin’s Christina Clancy, author of Shoulder Season and The Second Home.

A wry meditation on art as both transformative and on the ways in which it can be leveraged as commerce, as well as a perceptive examination of the female artist, Thompson’s latest novel is at once delightfully funny and wise, and will resonate with readers who loved Lily King's Writers & Lovers, Meg Wolitzer's The Female Persuasion, and Susan Choi’s Trust Exercise. When landscaper Carla is hired to work at Viridian's house, she is perplexed by this community of writers, yet she becomes enamored with Viridian, her circle, and especially with the power of words, a hunger that Carla feels sharply at this stagnating moment in her young life.

Dan Chaon, author of Sleepwalk and Ill Will, says: "Jean Thompson is a national treasure. She's the kind of writer who can make you laugh and cry at the same time, a consummate prose stylist whose work is full of insight and wisdom and a deadly keen eye for the foibles and self-deceptions of her characters. The Poet's House is yet another indelible masterpiece in her oeuvre."

Jean Thompson is author of fourteen books of fiction, including Who Do You Love, The Year We Left Home, and New York Times Notable Book Wide Blue Yonder. Her work has been published in the New Yorker and anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and the Pushcart Prize. She has been the recipient of Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, among other accolades, and has taught creative writing at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Reed College, Northwestern University. Christina Clancy received a PhD from UWM and has taught at Beloit College.

Monday, July 25, 6:30 pm
Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Switchboard Soldiers
In-Person at Greendale Public Library Hose Tower Community Room, 5647 Broad Street - click here to register

Wisconsin’s own New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction, Jennifer Chiaverini returns to the Milwaukee area for an evening with her latest, Switchboard Soldiers, a novel set during WWI about the very first women ever recruited into the US military. Boswell will be on hand at the event selling copies of this and Chiaverini’s other books, too. Switchboard Soldiers goes on sale tomorrow, July 19.

In 1917, US Army Signal Corps needed telephone operators. At a time when women could not serve, nearly all well-trained operators were women. This is the story of four very different women who were among the very first to be sworn in - a group that could do their jobs six times as fast as the men they replaced. While mocked at by men at the time as the “hello girls,” the women of the U.S. Army Signal Corps broke down gender barriers in the military, smashed the workplace glass ceiling, and battled a pandemic as they helped lead the Allies to victory.

The risk of death was real - the women worked as bombs fell around them - as was the threat of the deadly Spanish Flu. Not all of the telephone operators would survive. Their story has never been the focus of a novel… until now.

Jennifer Chiaverini is author of acclaimed historical novels such as The Women’s March and Resistance Women as well as the beloved Elm Creek Quilts series. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives in Madison.

Photo credits:
Jean Thompson by Marion Ettlinger
Christina Clancy by Kate Berg 

Thanks to Rachel for putting this update together.