Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Why you should go see Chuck Klosterman at Boswell in Milwaukee on May 19. Or why you should feel bad if you missed it.

We are gearing up for our event with Chuck Klosterman on Friday, May 19. While there was a time where I might have said, "Who is this man and why do so many people like him?," I am now completely hooked, having read his last three books on publication. And yes, even when he wasn't visiting.

Both I Wear the Black Hat and But What if We're Wrong were fascinating pieces of cultural criticism, blending the high and low and everything in between in a way that I didn't think was possible. His new book, Chuck Klosterman X has a title that is an homage to an earlier collection, Chuck Klosterman IV, which itself is an homage to classic albums, probably most notably Led Zeppelin, but pop nerd that I was, I think of Chicago.

There's not as much philosophy or history or film stuff -- this collection is hardcore music and sports. As Klosterman notes, there was a time when music and sports journalist would have nothing to do with each other, but time has been good to Klosterman and that is no longer the case. And Klosterman is sort of a legend in both fields, having written extensively for Spin and Grantland, among other publications. If I loved sports, I would start weeping about Grantland now; it's missed that much. And ESPN is wondering why it's having money issues. It's bad juju from shuttering Grantland. Yeah, that's the ticket.

As a person who had a friend (not to be revealed), who once played a Nickelback album over and over, I'm going to tell you that any coolness I have ever had in my life was purely accidental. But that's one of the things I love about Klosterman. He can write very extensively about Kiss, know what that means, and keep on writing. Could I write this way about Barry Manilow, who I liked very, very, very much when I was a teenager? I could not. He lost me at "Copacabana," by the way, but up till then, I was putty in his hands. This pretty much explains me, sadly.

All Chuck Klosterman events are great, or well, the two we hosted were. Of course the first time he visited, was the day of Farrah Fawcett-Majors death. He would have had more to say about that, but then Michael Jackson died too. He has something interesting to say about just about everything, but well, Michael Jackson. You can only imagine.

But about Chuck Klosterman X. This may his best looking book ever. I love edge staining and this book is completely dressed in black, like it was going to a Talking Heads concert. Isn't it beautiful?

And yes, we have tour shirts. Tour shirts! We're going to be wearing ours, and yes, we'll have a couple to give away too. Don't ask me for one, as we're leaving that for Mr. Klosterman.

Want to know about the insides? The Associated Press review called Mr. Klosterman "brilliant." I think it's odd that I can't figure out who wrote it, at least from this Daily News item. Ah, the Joplin Globe notes that it's written by Ann Levin. I went back and looked, and yes, they really left the writer's name off the article.

And Jeff Simon in the Buffalo News calls Klosterman "one of the necessary sensibilities of our time." Here's something quotable: "This is a plump collection indeed -- no less than 444 pages. He calls it 'a highly specific, defiantly incomplete history of the 21st century.' It's difficult to resist a fellow who, despite all unavoidable apperances of megalomania, loves 'reading the index to any book I publish ... Exploring the index from a book you created is like having someone split your head open with an axe so that you can peruse the contents of your brain. It's the alphabetizing of your consciousness.'"

I read it cover to cover, and I really don't understand sports at all. But I like music stuff, even if my brain's music muscle got shut off. I am officially an old fogie. But conceptually I still like it. Young'uns, this could happen to you.

So you probably want to know the details. Tickets are $29 and include admission, all taxes and fees, and a copy of the book. I know you are shocked--you're supposed to be surprised by taxes and fees in your shopping cart, but we've also been told that our emails are too long. Different drummer and all that. Also, the night of the event only, you can get a $20 Boswell gift card in lieu of the book. But if I were dating another Chuck Klosterman fan, I'd get two books and use them as bookends.

But that's just me.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Event alert: cultural critic Chuck Klosterman, physicist James Kakalios, acclaimed novelist Mary Gordon, Dean Robbins at Wauwatosa Public Library on NASA's Margaret Hamilton (kids version), and Kate Southwood at the Lynden Sculpture Garden

Tuesday, May 16, 3:30pm, at Wauwatosa Public Library, 7635 W North Ave:
Dean Robbins, author of Margaret and the Moon.

In addition to his work writing children's books, Dean Robbins is a journalist, well-known for his tenure at Madison's Isthmus. His previous books include Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass and Miss Paul and the President. Robbins has become a popular presenter at area schools and we're pleased to cosponsor a public event with him at the Wauwatosa Public Library. If you're an educator and haven't yet hosted Robbins, come meet him.

Margaret Hamilton loved numbers as a young girl. Math led her to MIT and then to helping NASA put a man on the moon! She loved studying algebra and geometry and calculus and using math to solve problems in the outside world.

She handwrote code that would allow the spacecraft's computer to solve any problems it might encounter on Apollo 8, Apollo 9, Apollo 10, and Apollo 11. Without her code, none of those missions could have been completed.

Kirkus Reviews writes: "Robbins successfully translates a complicated subject into an engaging text, with just the right amount of scientific information for young readers. Knisley's cartoonish illustrations, reminiscent of Megan McCarthy's, especially in Margaret's bespectacled eyes, perfectly capture the young white woman's inquisitive spirit while keeping the story light and child-friendly. A superb introduction to the life of one girl whose dreams were out-of-this-world."

Wednesday, May 17, 7:00pm, at Boswell:
Mary Gordon, author of There Your Heart Lies.

Mary Gordon is the author of eight novels, including Final Payments, Pearl, and The Love of My Youth; six works of nonfiction, including the memoirs The Shadow Man and Circling My Mother; and three collections of short fiction, including The Stories of Mary Gordon, which was awarded the Story Prize. She has received many other honors, including a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an Academy Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Marian cut herself off from her wealthy, conservative Irish Catholic family when she volunteered during the Spanish Civil War, an experience she has always kept to herself. Now in her nineties, she shares her Rhode Island cottage with her granddaughter Amelia, a young woman with a good heart but a vague notion of life's purpose.

Their daily existence is intertwined with Marian's secret: the blow to her youthful idealism as she witnessed the brutalities of Franco's war and the romance that left her trapped in Spain for nearly a decade. When Marian is diagnosed with cancer, she finally speaks about what happened to her during those years, the personal and ethical challenges and unexpected gifts of true love and true friendship.

From Autumn Markus at the New York Journal of Books: "Read for the historical narrative about a war overshadowed by World War II, There Your Heart Lies is a lovely, well-conceived, researched, and executed novel about love, loss, and family. The insanity of war is a big enough topic for any writer to bite off, so forgive the weak modern era storyline. Mary Gordon has left big footsteps to fill for any other author writing about this era of history."

Thursday, May 18, 7:00pm, at Boswell:
James Kakalios, author of The Physics of Everyday Things: The Extraordinary Science Behind an Ordinary Day.

James Kakalios is the Taylor Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Minnesota and the author of the bestselling The Physics of Superheroes.

Physics professor, bestselling author, and dynamic storyteller James Kakalios reveals the mind-bending science behind the seemingly basic things that keep our daily lives running, from our smart phones and digital "clouds" to x-ray machines and hybrid vehicles.

Breaking down the world of things into a single day, Kakalios engages our curiosity about how our refrigerators keep food cool, how a plane manages to remain airborne, and how our wrist fitness monitors keep track of our steps. Each explanation is coupled with a story revealing the interplay of the astonishing invisible forces that surround us. Through this "narrative physics," The Physics of Everyday Things demonstrates that sophisticated science is also quite practical. With his signature clarity and inventiveness, Kakalios ignites our imaginations and enthralls us with the principles that make up our lives.

Publishers Weekly writes: "Readers will enjoy lucid explanations of dazzling yet quotidian technology, and those who remember a bit of high school–level science may appreciate them even more."

Friday, May 19, 7:00 pm, at Boswell: A ticketed event with, Chuck Klosterman, author of Chuck Klosterman X: A Highly Specific, Defiantly Incomplete History of the Early 21st Century

Chuck Klosterman is a New York Times-bestselling author and cultural critic and has written five more bestsellers (including the legendary Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs), helped found and establish Grantland. In addition, he served as The New York Times Magazine Ethicist and worked on film and television productions, all while maintaining a consistent stream of writing in outlets such as GQ, Billboard, and The Guardian.

Ten years and four books into his atypical career, Chuck Klosterman released a collection of his previously published journalism, essays, and columns titled Chuck Klosterman IV, solidifying his reputation as a cultural critic who can span the realms of pop culture and sports, but who can also address interpersonal issues, social quandaries, and ethical boundaries. And yes, the new collection contains the legendary essays on Kiss, Creed, and Nickelback.

From Jeff Simon at the Buffalo News, an editor's choice pick: "This is a plump collection indeed -- no less than 444 pages. He calls it 'a highly specific, defiantly incomplete history of the 21st century.' It's difficult to resist a fellow who, despite all unavoidable appearances of megalomania, loves 'reading the index to any book I publish ... Exploring the index from a book you created is like having someone split your head open with an axe so that you can peruse the contents of your brain. It's the alphabetizing of your consciousness.'"

Klosterman's previous events at Boswell have proven to be incredibly popular. The new book is a physical beauty, with beautiful black-stained edges. It will look very smart on your bookshelf or coffee table. And yes, we'll be giving away special tour tee shirts at the event. Tickets are $29 and include admission, a copy of Chuck Klosterman X, and all taxes and fees. On the night of the event only, a $20 Boswell gift card in lieu of the book will be available. Purchase a ticket on the Brown Paper Ticket website or call 800-838-3006.

Monday, May 22, 7:00 pm reception, 7:30 pm talk at Lynden Sculpture Garden, 2145 W Brown Deer Rd:
The Women's Speaker Series presents a ticketed event with Kate Southwood, author of Evensong.

Margaret Maguire is a widow and grandmother home from the hospital in time for Christmas, is no longer able to ignore the consequences of having married an imperious, and arrogant man. Despite her efforts to be a good wife and mother in small-town Iowa, her adult children are now strangers to one another, past the hope of reconciliation. Margaret's granddaughter could be the one to break the cycle, but she can't do it without Margaret's help. It's time to take stock, to examine the past, even time for Margaret to call herself to account.

By turns tenacious and tender, contrary and wry, Margaret examines her life's tragedies and joys, motivations and choices, coming to view herself and the past with compassion, if not entirely with forgiveness. Beautifully rendered and poignantly told, Evensong is an indelible portrait of a woman searching for tranquility at the end of her days.

Tickets are $30, $25 for members. Purchase here, or call the Lynden at 414-446-8794. This event is produced by Milwaukee Reads.

Kate Southwood is also the author of Falling to Earth. Her articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and the Huffington Post.

For our friends in the Oconomowoc area, Southwood will also be at Books and Company on Sunday, May 21, 2 pm.

Keep up with the latest happeneings at the Boswell upcoming events page.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Boswell annotated bestsellers, week ending May 13, 2017

Here are Boswell's bestseller list for the week ending May 13, 2017.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Fallout, by Sara Paretsky
2. The Best of Adam Sharp, by Graeme Simsion
3. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
4. Anything Is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout
5. A Piece of the World, by Christina Baker Kline
6. The Women in the Castle, by Jessica Shattuck
7. The Thirst, by Jo Nesbo
8. The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories, by Penelope Lively
9. Into the Water, by Paula Hawkins
10. There Your Heart Lies, by Mary Gordon (event Wed 5/17, 7 pm, at Boswell)

The newest Harry Hole mystery from Jo Nesbo is The Thirst. It's my feeling that starred reviews of series should be for installments that are substantially better than the predecessors (such as John Sandford's Golden Prey, which several readers told me was a step above the last few novels) but it looks like the Publishers Weekly anonymous reviewer called the #11 exceptional, but there's nothing in the review of the newest that thinks that this is any better. I have nothing to quote. Read the review here.

On the other hand, there is much to quote from in Charles McGrath's profile of Penelope Lively in The New York Times. His article, released with the publication of The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories, notes that "Lively’s prose is sharp, precise, perfectly pitched, but shrinks from flashiness in a way that has sometimes been mistaken for cozy or middlebrow." And it's so great to see 2017 as a year with one great collection of short stories after another.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The President Will See You Now, by Peggy Grande
2. Fearless at Work, by Molly Fletcher
3. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
4. Option B, by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
5. This Fight Is Our Fight, by Elizabeth Warren
6. Janesville, by Amy Goldstein
7. Hallelujah Anyway, by Anne Lamott
8. Make Your Bed, by William H. McRaven
9. Native Plants of the Midwest, by Alan Branhagen
10. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

This week's bestseller list is filled with behind the scenes events. President Reagan's former executive assistant Peggy Grande spoke at a lunch about The President Will See You Now. We have some signed copies. One of the books that brunch guest Barbara Rinella recommended was Make Your Bed, a grad-friendly new release from Navy Seal William H. McRaven. And finally, Molly Fletcher spoke at a corporate conference about her book Fearless at Work. We had a nice chat about signing options--the full-title page, the half-title page, and the endpaper. This topic might be worth further discussion.

One political book with staying power has been Elizabeth Warren's This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America's Middle Class. It's the 4th week in Boswell's top ten, including one week at #1.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Lost City Radio, by Daniel Alarcón
2. The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion
3. A Great Reckoning, by Louise Penny
4. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
5. Brush Back, by Sara Paretsky
6. Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
7. The Nest, by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
8. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
9. The Rosie Effect, by Graeme Simsion
10. Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur

Congratulations to Louise Penny who received the Agatha Award for best novel for A Great Reckoning. The other finalists were Bed on the Bayou, by Ellen Byron, Fogged Inn, by Barbara Ross, Say No More, by Hank Phillippi Ryan, and Quiet Neighbors, by Catriona McPherson, who won best historical novel for a different novel, The Reek of Red Herrings by Catriona McPherson. It's interesting to note that only three imprints from the top 5 publishers are represented in the three categories of best novel, best first novel, historical novel: Minotaur, Forge, and Berkley.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Family Stories, from the Attic, edited by Christi Craig and Lisa Rivero
2. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
3. Wisconsin Literary Luminaries, by Jim Higgins
4. Take It to the Bridge, by Steve Dawson and Mark Caro
5. The Winner's Guide to Negotiating, by Molly Fletcher
6. The Grace in Aging, by Kathleen Dowling Singh
7. Borchert Field, by Bob Buege (event at Tippecanoe Library, Tuesday, 6/20, 6:30 pm)
8. Live and Let Live, by Evelyn M. Perry
9. Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren
10. First Women, by Kate Anderson Brower

I think you can see a bit of Mother's Day purchasing in this week's bestseller lists. The hardcover and paperback fiction list saw resurgent sales pops for several titles we'd been promoting this spring, including A Piece of the World, by Christina Baker Kline, and The Nest, by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney. On this list, I would think that Mom might be the recipient for any of these titles, including First Women (which we mentioned was connected to the Ozaukee Family Services Barbara Rinella brunch) and even Borchert Field. If you missed Bob Buege, he'll be at Tippecanoe Library on South Howell in June.

Books for Kids:
1. The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors, by Drew Daywalt, with illustrations by Adam Rex
2. The Good for Nothing Button, by Cherise Mericle Harper, with illustrations by Mo Willems
3. Posted, by John David Anderson
4. The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt, with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers
5. The Day the Crayons Came Home, by Drew Daywalt, with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers
6. Sidekicked, by John David Anderson
7. Ms. Bixby's Last Day, by John David Anderson
8. The Bone Quill, by John and Carole E. Barrowman
9. The Book of Beasts, by John and Carole E. Barrowman
10. We Are in a Book, by Mo Willems

I'd continue the list out, but it's a lot of Willems, Barrowmans, and Anderson for a bit. This was a very big week for kids books because we rang in a lot of school sales. Here are some highlights of other authors' titles, which would most weeks get them in the top 10:
17. The Someday Birds, by Sally J. Pla
19. Goodbye Days, by Jeff Zentner
20. Windfall, by Jennifer E. Smith
21. Dog Man Unleashed, by Dav Pilkey
22. The Serpent King, by Jeff Zentner

The Goodbye Days is a follow up to The Serpent King, won the William C. Morris YA Debut Award. His new book is also a contemporary novel, which got a starred Publishers Weekly review: "Carver Briggs already feels responsible when his three best friends are killed in a car accident after he sent a 'Where are you guys?' text message to the driver. Now it seems as though the whole town wants him to be prosecuted, and he’s having debilitating panic attacks." Yes, we have signed copies.

From the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins rounds up several new books with Wisconsin ties:
--Buildings of Wisconsin, by Marsha Weisinger and contributors*
--This Storied River: Legends and Lore of the Upper Mississippi, by Dennis McCann
--First Thoughts: Conversations with Allen Ginsberg, edited by Michael Schumacher
--Flock Together: A Love Affair with Birds, by B.J.Hollars (signed copies available0
--Snail and Worm Again: Three Stories About Two Friends, by Tina Kügler
--Valient Women: The First 125 Years of Divine Savior Holy Angels High School, by Frank Miller**

*Because of this book's cost and distribution, we're not stocking it right now, but we'll be looking at bringing it in fourth quarter, but it probably has to be tied in to some sort of event. Long story!

**If we have interest, we'll investigate sourcing!

Also in the print edition.

From Laurie Hertzel, a review of A $500 House in Detroit, by Drew Philip:
"Philp's book is more than an inner-city A Year in Provence. He writes about the rehab, yes, but he also writes about the people who are 'rebuilding this broken city,' resourceful, self-sufficient characters who scrounge and scrap and work hard."
This was originally published in The (Minneapolis) Star Tribune.

From Erin Saxon, a review of Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage, by Dani Shapiro "Part memoir, part meditation on time and marriage, Shapiro expertly moves between present and past...Imbued with tender revelations, Hourglass considers the ever-changing nature of love and identity."
This was originally published in the Kansas City Star.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Boswell Library Week! Graeme Simison at Shorewood, Jim Higgins at Whitefish Bay, Sara Paretsky at Golda Meir, Jennifer E Smith, Jeff Zentner, and Julie Buxbaum at Oak Creek, plus two store events--Mark Caro and Steve Dawson on Friday, and Christi Craig and Lisa Rivero and friends on Saturday.

Here's what Boswell has to say about book events this week.

Tuesday, May 9, 6:30 pm, at Shorewood Public Library, 3920 N Murray Ave:
Graeme Simsion, author of The Best of Adam Sharp.

Celebrate favorite Australian author with TimTams and Vegemite (not together).

Set against a vibrant Melbourne, Simsion’s new novel features an amateur musician and music trivia fanatic who gets a second chance at love with an old flame. Two decades ago, Adam Sharp's piano playing led him into a passionate relationship with Angelina Brown, an intelligent and strong-willed actress. They had a chance at something more but Adam didn't take it.

Now, on the cusp of turning fifty, Adam likes his life and loves his wife, Claire, but he often wonders how different life might be if he hadn’t let her walk away. Don’t miss this new novel from the bestselling author of The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect.

Graeme Simsion is a former IT consultant and the author of two nonfiction books on database design who decided, at the age of fifty, to turn his hand to fiction. His first novel, The Rosie Project, was published in 2013 and translation rights have been sold in over thirty-five languages.

Wednesday, May 10, 6:30 pm, at Whitefish Bay Public Library, 5420 N Marlborough Dr:
Jim Higgins, author of Wisconsin Literary Luminaries: From Laura Ingalls Wilder to Ayad Akhtar

Wisconsin Literary Luminaries offers succinct appreciations of ten writers associated with the Badger state, from the humble cabin in the woods where Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up, to contemporary playwright Ayad Akhtar's multicultural dramas. Explore how Aldo Leopold and Lorine Niedecker drew on their close observations of the natural world. Contrast the distinct novels that Jane Hamilton and Larry Watson set on Wisconsin apple orchards. Delve into Thornton Wilder's enduringly popular Our Town and the wild fiction of Milwaukee natives Ellen Raskin and Cordwainer Smith, who wrote like no one else.

Jim Higgins writes and edits stories about books, the performing arts, and other subjects for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He has reported for the Journal Sentinel and predecessor Milwaukee Sentinel since 1983. He is a graduate of Marquette University.

Thursday, May 11, 6:30 pm, at Oak Creek Public Library, 8040 S 6th St:
A YA Pizza Party with Jennifer E. Smith, author of Windfall, Jeff Zentner, author of Goodbye Days, and Julie Buxbaum, author of Tell Me Three Things.

With pizza from Pizza Man, now open in Oak Creek's Drexel Town Center.

About Windfall: Alice doesn't believe in luck--at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she's been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday--just when it seems they might be on the brink of something--she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy's newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.

About Goodbye Days: Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. But now Carver can't stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, a powerful judge is pressuring the district attorney to open up a criminal investigation..

About Tell Me Three Things: Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that's what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. It's been barely two years since her mother's death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her step-monster, her pretentious teenage son, and to start at a new school where she knows no one.

Just when she's thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from an anonymous person, offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on this person for some much-needed help?

Jennifer E. Smith is the author of seven novels for young adults, including The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. She earned a master's degree in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and her work has been translated into thirty-three languages.

Jeff Zentner is also the acclaimed author of The Serpent King, which received the William C. Morris YA Debut Award from YALSA.

Julie Buxbaum is the author of the critically acclaimed The Opposite of Love and After You, and her work has been translated into twenty-five languages. Tell Me Three Things is her first novel for young adults

Thursday, May 11, 7:00 pm, at UWM Golda Meir Library, Conference Center, 2311 E Hartford Ave:
Sara Paretsky, author of Fallout V18

The Friends of the UWM Golda Meir Library present Sara Paretsky, The New York Times bestselling author of nineteen previous novels, including the renowned V. I. Warshawski series. For more than three decades, Paretsky has entertained millions of readers with her acclaimed series starring investigator V. I. Warshawski. Warshawski’s new case will lead her from her native Chicago and into Kansas, on the trail of a vanished film student and a faded Hollywood star.

Accompanied by her dog, V.I. tracks her quarry through a university town, across fields where missile silos once flourished -- and into a past riven by long-simmering racial tensions, a past that holds the key to the crimes of the present. But as the mysteries stack up, so does the body count. And in this, her toughest case, not even V.I. is safe.

Don’t miss out on one of the greatest mystery writers of all time. Register here.

Sara Paretsky is The New York Times bestselling author of nineteen previous novels, including the iconic V.I. Warshawski series. She is one of only four living writers to receive both the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America and the Cartier Diamond Dagger from the Crime Writers' Association in Great Britain.

Friday, May 12, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Steve Dawson and Mark Caro, co-authors of Take It to the Bridge: Unlocking the Great Songs Inside You.

We all have music inside us: melodies in our sentences, rhythms in our syllables, heartbeats, and steps. Whether we harbor professional aspirations or just a love of playing music, many of us enjoy the art of creation. Some do so with guitar or pen in hand, some while seated at a piano or electronic device, some while taking a stroll and whistling. There is no wrong way -- yet many of us struggle to tap into our abundant sources of inspiration. Now comes a book to remove the barriers between you and your creativity.

Take It to the Bridge offers a lively, instructive dialogue about the art of songwriting; helpful chord, key and song-form charts; and creative assignments designed to inspire anyone who ever has thought of adding songs to the world. It's a book about discovering your artistic voice and adding beauty and truth to the world.

Steve Dawson is a singer/songwriter/musician who leads the rock/folk band Dolly Varden and has taught songwriting and guitar at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music for more than a decade. He has been writing songs for more than 30 years.

Mark Caro, for more than 25 years, wrote about music, film, food, and other cultural topics for the Chicago Tribune, and he since has written for The New York Times and other publications. He is author of The Foie Gras Wars, which won the 2009 Great Lakes Book Award for general nonfiction and two prizes from the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Paris.

Saturday, May 13, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Christi Craig and Lisa Rivero, co-editors to Family Stories from the Attic

This event is cosponsored by Red Oak Writing.

Family Stories from the Attic is an anthology of essays, creative nonfiction, and poetry inspired by family letters, objects, and archives. Nearly two dozen contributors from the United States and Australia tell stories of immigration and migration, loss, discovery, secrets, questions, love, and the search for meaning and identity. Editors Christi Craig and Lisa Rivero bring together both experienced and new authors who will prompt writers and non-writers alike to think about their own family treasures and histories in new ways.

Additionally, appearing at the event, the following contributors: Kristine D. Adams, Aleta Chossek, Sally Cissna, Julia Gimbel, Myles Hopper, Nancy Martin, Patricia Ann McNair, Carolou Nelsen, Joanne Nelson, Pam Parker, Ramona M. Payne, Valerie Reynolds, Jessica Schnur, Meagan Schultz, Yvonne Stephens, and Kim Suhr.

Christi Craig works as a sign language interpreter by day and moonlights as a writer, teacher, and editor. Christi was an Assistant Editor at Compose Literary Journal and an Associate Editor for Noble/Gas Quarterly. Craig is also a volunteer instructor for the Creative Writing Class at a retirement center in Wauwatosa.

Lisa Rivero is a writer, book indexer, and the publisher of Hidden Timber Books in Milwaukee. Some of her publications include a food and wellness column, magazine and journal articles, and a blog at Psychology Today. Lisa has a master's degree in Literary Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Bestseller Stuff!: Boswell's annotated list for the week ending May 6, 2017

Here's what we're selling at Boswell.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Anything Is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout
2. Into the Water, by Paula Hawkins
3. Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman
4. Beartown, by Fredrik Backman
5. Trajectory, by Richard Russo
6. Fallout, by Sara Paretsky
7. The Dinner Party, by Joshua Ferris
8. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
9. The Book of Joan, by Lidia Yuknavitch
10. Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult

So we have three collections of short stories on this week's top ten but George Saunders, after many collections, is ensconced with his first novel while Richard Russo (Trajectory) and Joshua Ferris (The Dinner Party) have previously placed in our top ten with novels, but here they are with story collections. Whatever Anything Is Possible is, one would say that Olive Kitteridge was the same thing. Russo and Strout both share a lot, including sometime Maine residence. In the Washington Post, Carole Burns asked Russo if he understands the Trump voter: "I do! I understand it completely. The discussion in the election was all about jobs. But it’s not just about jobs. It’s about work. It’s not just that their income has gone down. They see themselves as not being valued anymore. They don’t know what their place is in the fabric of society. "

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Janesville, by Amy Goldstein
2. Fearless at Work, by Molly Fletcher
3. Beyond Infinity, by Eugenia Cheng
4. Option B, by Sheryl Sandberg
5. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
6. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
7. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
8. In the Company of Women, by Grace Bonney
9. This Fight Is Our Fight, by Elizabeth Warren
10. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is the new book from Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the Director of the Hayden Planetarium who has become one of the word's most beloved scientists. Carmine Gallo profiled the author in Forbes. While the tour is not coming to Milwaukee (cities on the tour include Kansas City, Omaha, and Nashville), Tyson regularly does shows at the Riverside Theater. He'll be at the Chicago Theatre on May 16, but it looks like that event is sold out.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
2. Father's Day, by Simon Van Booy (in store lit group 7/10)
3. Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
4. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
5. Our Man in Havana, by Graham Greene
6. My Name Is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout
7. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
8. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
9. The Little Red Chairs, by Edna O'Brien
10. Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly

It seems we've been talking up Homegoing's paperback release for months, so it's nice to see a good sales pop on the title, though much of it was due to it being our June In-store Lit Group selection, for a sans-Daniel meeting on June 5 at Boswell. Among its many fans is Roxane Gay, who said "It is hard to overstate how much I LOVE this book." Vintage/Anchor's online reading group guide includes a family tree. If you got to see Isabelle Wilkerson at the Wauwatosa Public Library Foundation luncheon last week, you'll be interested to hear her take--here's her review in The New York Times Book Review.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
2. Direct Action, by L.A. Kauffman
3. How to Bake Pi, by Eugenia Cheng
4. Ocean of Insight, by Heather Lyn Mann
5. Borchert Field, by Bob Buege
6. Live and Let Live, by Evelyn M. Perry
7. White Trash, by Nancy Isenberg
8. Strong Is the New Pretty, by Kate T. Parker
9. Grace in Aging, by Kathleen Dowling Singh
10. You Are a Badass, by Jen Sincero

There's nothing like being in the middle of spring event season. Every list has memories. A highlight from last Sunday was Eugeneia Cheng's talk for Beyond Infinity, which also spurred sales for How to Bake Pi. In fact, we sold out of backlist, and I brought in more of her earlier book than I usually do for events. I would so love to help bring Cheng back for a math concert (yes, she does these!) with perhaps a school visit too. Since this would be after the book publication period, the ball's now in your court. Do you work with a group that would love to invest in a visit? Contact me and I can give you details. Here's Cheng on Chicago Tonight, in conversation with Eddie Arruza.

Books for Kids:
1. Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle V1 (paperback), by N.D. Wilson
2. Outlaws of Time: The Song of Glory and Ghost V2, by N.D. Wilson
3. Rulers of the Playground, by Joseph Kuefler
4. The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors, by Joseph Kuefler
5. Beyond the Pond, by Joseph Kuefler
6. Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle (hardcover), by N.D. Wilson
7. The Good for Nothing Button, by CheriSe Mericle Harper, with illustrations by Mo Willems
8. The Someday Birds, by Sally J. Pla
9. Posted, by John David Anderson
10. The Thank You Book, by Mo Willems

It's one of those weeks where every book in the top ten is tied into school visits. Let's talk a little about N.D. Wilson's Outlaws of Time series, partly because signed copies are still available. Wilson, also known as Captain Awesome Sauce, tells a little about his style on his website: "Not everything I write is for children, but all of it is childish. I love the dark flavor of Flannery O’Connor and the supra-realism of Borges, though I can’t help but try to add the laughter of G. K. Chesterton. P. G. Wodehouse and C. S. Lewis have been with me my entire life, and always will be. J. R. R. Tolkien cannot be imitated." Here's the Publishers Weekly review of The Legend of Sam Miracle.

Over at the Journal Sentinel TapBooks page, Jim Higgins profiles Sara Paretsky, the famed creator of detective V.I Warshawski. Her latest book is Fallout, and she will be at teh UWM Golda Meir Library on May 11. Here's the Higgins take: "Paretsky's tale of a big-city private investigator who turns a small town inside out put me in mind of Dashiell Hammett's classic Red Harvest. But here's a key difference: Hammett's Continental Op deliberately sets out to tear the burg apart. Warshawski's destabilizing magic is just the byproduct of the convoluted thread she keeps yanking — and of her passion for the underdog. Along the way, many locals make a point of telling her she's an outsider who knows nothing about them. But Vic has a good nose for when they're hiding something from her." Registration required using this link: bit.ly/2nk8giv

And then there's Mike Fisher's Journal Sentinel review: "Men Without Women, a new collection of seven stories by Haruki Murakami, could best be summed up by the title of the second one: 'Yesterday.' As one might expect from an author whose breakout novel is named Norwegian Wood, this story’s title refers to the aching Beatles song pining for a receding past. Or, in this new collection, a time before these stories’ male protagonists lost the women they’d most loved." Fischer notes that in these "wise stories," "the past in such stories can become a catalyst for transformation" and should come with "an acceptance of loss."

Finally, in the print edition, Sarah Gish profiles Javaka Steptoe's Radiant Child. You might recognize this review from the Kansas City Star because I linked to it last week when I was highlighting children's book bestsellers.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Event alert: Amy Goldstein on Janesville, Educator Night with John David Anderson (and Boswell and HarperCollins recs, Elephant and Piggie costume tour, Heather Lyn Mann, Drew Daywalt at Wauwatosa Library, L.A. Kauffman at First Unitarian Society, two nights of the Best of the Undergraduate Writers, Sally J. Pla at Schlitz Audubon, and preview for Graeme Simsion at Shorewood Public Library. Alas, Elizabeth Strout is sold out.

Here's what's going on at Boswell this week. Don't forget that you can hold a copy of any of our upcoming books through our website. No registering or credit cards are necessary. Some ticketed events have hold or personalization restrictions.

Monday, May 1, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Amy Goldstein, author of Janesville: An American Story.

This event is cosponsored by Community Advocates Public Policy Institute.

Pulitzer Prize winner and Washington Post reporter delivers an intimate account of the fallout from the closing of a General Motors assembly plant in Janesville and a larger story of the hollowing of the American middle class.

Amy Goldstein has spent years immersed in Janesville where the nation's oldest operating General Motors plant shut down in the midst of the Great Recession, two days before Christmas of 2008. Now, with intelligence, sympathy, and insight into what connects and divides people in an era of economic upheaval, she makes one of America's biggest political issues human. Her reporting takes the reader deep into the lives of autoworkers, educators, and job re-trainers to show why it's so hard in the twenty-first century to recreate a healthy, prosperous working class.

Amy Goldstein has been a staff writer for thirty years at The Washington Post, where much of her work has focused on social policy. Among her awards, she shared the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. She has been a fellow at Harvard University at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Janesville: An American Story is her first book.

Tuesday, May 2, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Educator’s Night with John David Anderson, author of Posted, Sidekicked, The Dungeoneers, and Miss Bixby's Last Day.

We're excited to host our first Educator’s Night of 2017, focusing on great picture books, early readers, and middle grade titles. We'll have recommendations from booksellers Todd Wellman and Barbara Katz, as well as Jennifer Sheridan, our HarperCollins sales rep. Expect a lot of swag for your classroom or library.

Our special guest is John David Anderson, beloved author of Ms. Bixby's Last Day and Sidekicked, and his latest novel Posted, the story of what happens in Branton Middle School when cell phones are banned and kids start leaving sticky notes for each other.

John David Anderson is one of those authors who resonates both with educators and kids alike. Our school outreach coordinator, Todd Wellman, is a huge fan, having read seven of his novels. Booklist’s starred review called Posted “a rewarding novel (that) should resonate with many readers” while Publishers Weekly wrote that “Anderson captures the tumultuous joys and pains of middle school with honesty, creating characters with whom readers will find common ground and insight. Words have lingering and persistent power, Anderson makes clear, but so does standing up for others and making one's voice heard.”

While this event is free, we ask that you register.

Wednesday May 3:
Two Costume Storytime Events with Gerald and Piggie, of Elephant and Piggie Like Reading:The Good for Nothing Button:
--Event #1 Venue: Wednesday, May 3, 4:00 pm, at Cudahy Family Library, 3500 Library Dr
--Event #2 Venue: Wednesday, May 3, 6:30 pm, at Shorewood Public Library, 3920 N Murray Ave.

Please note, there is no author in attendance at these costume storytimes, but it’s a great photo opportunity. Remember to bring your smart phone or camera!

More about The Good for Nothing Button: Yellow Bird has a button. It does . . . nothing! It is a good for nothing button. Red Bird and Blue Bird are excited to try the button. But when they press it, they discover that the button makes them happy. Happy is something! A flabbergasted Yellow Bird insists the button does nothing. But it sure does seem to be making him mad. Mad is something!

The hilarious debate that follows takes readers on an emotional roller coaster that pokes at the power of imaginative play. Each library event will feature a reading of The Good for Nothing Button and a book or two from the Elephant and Piggie series.

Wednesday, May 3, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Heather Lyn Mann, author of Ocean of Insight: A Sailor’s Voyage from Despair to Hope.

Heather Lyn Mann was a battle weary environmental advocate in Madison, Wisconsin, struggling over what to do about climate change when she and her husband decided to explore the Atlantic on a small sloop. This memoir of six years living afloat is a chronological unfolding of disasters and discoveries life threatening storms, the boredom of isolation, societies on the brink of extinction, sinking ships, colorful Caribbean characters, near collisions, a pirate scare, and more. Throughout, the ocean becomes Mann’s teacher, transforming her with uncompromising lessons on how to harmonize with natural order, the exact moments and ways to let in fearlessness, resilience, happiness, impermanence, balance, compassion, skillful action, and beginner’s mind.

Her suspenseful, sometimes hilarious, and always heartwarming journey of body and mind, shaped by ancient Buddhist teachings, entertains as it charts reality’s depths and danger zones so arm chair adventurers, spiritual seekers, and the climate concerned can navigate tumultuous waters and arrive together on the shore of planetary well-being.

Heather Lyn Mann is a Spiritual Ecologist and practitioner of Buddhism, sailing, and mindful advocacy. Mann founded and led the not-for-profit Center for Resilient Cities, an organization mobilizing inner city residents to restore natural beauty and function in damaged neighborhood landscapes. She also co-edits Touching the Earth: A Newsletter of Earth Holding Actions in the Plum Village Tradition.

Thursday, May 4, 4:00 pm, at Wauwatosa Public Library, 7635 W North Ave:
Drew Daywalt, author of The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors.

You’ve played the game. Now read the legend of the three great warriors who started it all. New from Drew Daywalt, the bestselling author of The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home, comes a laugh-out-loud funny picture book about the legend of the classic childhood game Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Please note the following signing restrictions: To enter the signing line, you must purchase a copy of The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors from either Boswell or Wauwatosa’s Little Read Book. There will be no inscriptions or flash photography, but Mr. Daywalt will personalize.

Thursday, May 4, 7:00 pm, at First Unitarian Society, 1342 N Astor St:
L. A. Kauffman, author of Direct Actions: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism.

As Americans take to the streets in record numbers to have their voices heard, L.A. Kauffman's timely, trenchant history of protest offers unique insights into how past movements have won victories in times of crisis and backlash and how they can be most effective today.

Direct Action is 25 years in the making, tracing the evolution of disruptive protest since the Sixties to tell a larger story about the reshaping of America. Kauffman, a longtime grassroots organizer, examines how movements from ACT UP to Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter have used disruptive tactics to catalyze change despite long odds.

Waukesha-raised L.A. Kauffman has spent more than 30 years as an organizer, strategist, journalist, and observer or protest movements. Her writings on grassroots activism and social movement history have been published in The Nation, Mother Jones, n+1, and many other outlets.

Alas, sales for the ticketed luncheon for Elizabeth Strout on Friday, May 5, cosponsored by the Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library, have ended. We'll have signed copies of Anything Is Possible at Boswell after the event.



Best of the Undergraduate Writers:

--Event #1: Friday, May 5, 7:00 pm at Boswell
--Event #2: Saturday, May 6, 7:00 pm at Boswell.

Since 2009 it has been a tradition to host the Best of the Undergraduate Writers from Milwaukee area colleges and universities. Now please join us in our 8th evening of the bookstore debuts of area undergraduates.

On Friday: --Marquette University: Paige Robinson, Brian Higgins, and Anna Miller
--University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: Morgan Finley, Matthew Wamser, Peter McCracken, and Christopher Kactro

On Saturday: --Cardinal Stritch University: Kate Babbitt and Caroline Sommer
--Carroll University: Linda Braus and Jack Sherman
--Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design: Claire Desfor and Lynnzie Palomaki
--Mount Mary University: Samantha Snedeker and Suzanne Skalmoski.

Saturday, May 6, 1:00 pm, at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, 1111 E Brown Deer Rd:
Sally Pla, author of The Someday Birds.

Boswell is cosponsoring this special Schlitz Audubon Raptor Saturday, featuring Sally J. Pla, author The Someday Birds, a heartfelt coming-of-age debut novel about Charlie whose father gets injured in Afghanistan and his struggles to adapt to a world he doesn’t understand.

When arriving, attendees will be greeted by the Center’s Great Horned Owl, Bald Eagle, and Red-tailed Hawk – birds that make appearances in the book. Followed by Pla’s talk at 1:30 pm and a nature walk concluding the event. This event is free with membership or admission, $8 for adults and $5 for children. Boswell will have books for sale as well.

Sally J. Pla graduated from Colgate University and has a Masters in English from Penn State. The Someday Birds is her first novel and is a Junior Library Guild Selection for 2017. Here's a handy Schlitz Audubon event link.

Tuesday, May 9, 6:30 pm, at Shorewood Public Library, 3920 N Murray Ave:
Graeme Simsion, author of The Best of Adam Sharp.

Set against a vibrant Melbourne, Simsion’s new novel features an amateur musician and music trivia fanatic who gets a second chance at love with an old flame. Two decades ago, Adam Sharp's piano playing led him into a passionate relationship with Angelina Brown, an intelligent and strong-willed actress. They had a chance at something more but Adam didn't take it. Now, on the cusp of turning fifty, Adam likes his life and loves his wife, Claire, but he often wonders how different life might be if he hadn’t let her walk away.

Graeme Simsion is a former IT consultant and the author of two nonfiction books on database design who decided, at the age of fifty, to turn his hand to fiction. The result was The Rosie Project, an international bestseller.

This event is cosponsored with the Shorewood Public Library and will feature mate-friendly Australian treats and music.

Yes, that includes Vegemite.