Sunday, February 23, 2020

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending Feb 22, 2020

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending Feb 22, 2020

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid (event Thu March 19, 7 pm at Boswell - register here)
2. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
3. The Long Petal of the Sea, by Isabel Allende
4. The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett
5. Olive Again, by Elizabeth Strout
6. Tyll, by Daniel Kehlmann, translated by Ross Benjamin
7. Weather, by Jenny Offill
8. The Boy, The Horse, the Fox, and the Mole, by Charlie Mackesy (commas courtesy of Boswell)
9. The Authenticity Project, by Clare Pooley
10. Strange Planet, by Nathan W Pyle

Our announcement of Kiley Reid's event pushed Such a Fun Age back to #1 - it's not ticket with book but just registration, so you might as well buy it now. No, you should buy it now!

Continue to be confused as to why The Boy, the Horse, the Fox, and the Mole is not classified as fiction by one of our national arbiters of these things. If we moved every inspirational work like this over to miscellaneous, I think our fiction section would have a lot of holes.

And finally, nice to see a work of translation in the top 10. Per the publisher, Tyll is "a transfixing retelling of the German myth of Tyll Ulenspiegel: a story about the devastation of war and a beguiling artist’s decision never to die." James Woods notes in The New Yorker that Tyll is a classic trickster of European folklore, and set his story during The Thirty Years War of the 17th century: "Through this riven world, bristling with boundaries both political and ideological, dances our slippery survivalist, our great expansionist, Tyll - amoral, rebellious, untrustworthy, and exciting."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. A Very Stable Genius, by Philip Rucker and Carol Leoning
2. The Man in the Red Coat, by Julian Barnes
3. Milwaukee Rock and Roll, 1950-2000, by David Luhrssen, Phillip Naylor, Bruce Cole
4. Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump, and an Epic Trail of Destruction, by David Enrich
5. Say Nothing, by Patrick Radden Keefe
6. Capital and Ideology, by Thomas Piketty
7. Blue Zones Kitchen, by Dan Buettner
8. Untrumping America, by Dan Pfeiffer (event March 9 at Turner Hall Ballroom - tickets here)
9. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, by Lori Gottlieb (lunch event March 15 at ICC with REDgen - tickets here)
10. You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington, by Alexis Coe

Julian Barnes usually shows up on the fiction list but The Man in the Red Coat is, per the publisher, "a rich, witty, revelatory tour of Belle Époque Paris, via the remarkable life story of the pioneering surgeon, Samuel Pozzi." From Helen McAlpin on the NPR website: "Want a great antidote to distress over current events? Julian Barnes found it in his immersive plunge into the incredible flowering of sexual and artistic expression in Belle Epoque France, and into one man's mostly admirable life in particular. His 24th book (and eighth volume of nonfiction), The Man in the Red Coat, is a wonderful demonstration of the sort of free-range intellectual curiosity Barnes feels has been stymied by the xenophobia and national chauvinism behind Brexit."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Lucky One, by Lori Rader-Day (signed copies available)
2. The Bear, by Andrew Krivak
3. The Story of a Goat, by Perumal Murugan (In-Store Lit Group Mon Apr 6, 7 pm)
4. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
5. Mercy House, by Alena Dillon
6. The Lost Children Archive, by Valeria Luiselli (In-Store Lit Group, Mon Jun 1, 7 pm)
7. The Stationery Shop, by Marjan Kamali
8. Girl Woman Other, by Bernardine Evaristo (In-Store Lit Group, Mon Mar 2, 7 pm)
9. Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng (Hulu previews have given the novel another pop)
10. Daisy Jones and the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I have had several friends recommend The Stationery Shop (including former Boswellian Rose) to me, so I just started reading it this morning, perhaps driven by the book's appearance, and perhaps because I have a copy and I've just read several event books in a row. Yesterday I finished Anna Solomon's The Book of V. She's doing Inklink and Boswell in late May. Here's Kamali's Publishers Weekly review: "In this tender story of lifelong love, Kamali (Together Tea) moves from 2013 New England to violence in 1953 Tehran as citizens, a new Prime Minister, and the Shah of Iran clash...Readers will be swept away." I could do with a good sweeping!

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Jesus Wasn't Killed by the Jews, edited by Jon M Sweeney
2. Fading Ads of Milwaukee, by Adam Levin (we sold out at our event! More coming)
3. Don't Overthink It, by Anne Bogel (event Thu Apr 9 at the Pfister Hotel - tickets here)
4. God Is Not Nice, by Ulrich Lehner
5. God Calling, by AJ Russell
6. Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari
7. This Life, by Martin Hägglund
8. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
9. The Library Book, by Susan Orlean
10. 50 States, 5000 Ideas, by National Geographic

The arrival of Lent next week is apparent in a number of books that look at religious contemplation - or sometimes secular contemplation, in the case of Martin Hägglund's This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom. This Swedish philosopher, per James Wood (again) in The New Yorker, "involves deep and demanding readings of St. Augustine, Kierkegaard, Marx, and Martin Luther King, Jr. (with some Theodor Adorno, Charles Taylor, Thomas Piketty, and Naomi Klein thrown in), but it is always lucid, and is at its heart remarkably simple."

Books for Kids:
1. Jinxed, by Amy McCulloch
2. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
3. A Place for Pluto, by Stef Wade, with illustrations by Melanie Demmer
4. From an Idea to Disney, by Lowey Bundy Sichol
5. From an Idea to Nike, by by Lowey Bundy Sichol
6. From an Idea to Google, by by Lowey Bundy Sichol
7. From an Idea to Lego, by by Lowey Bundy Sichol
8. Run, Hide, Fight Back, by April Henry
9. Guts, by Raina Telgemeier
10. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott (Puffin in Bloom edition)

School visits are gearing up again - we've got Lowey Bundy Sichol visiting several area schools for her business biographies for kids. For example, From an Idea to Nike is a fully-illustrated look into how Nike stepped up its sneaker game to become the most popular athletic brand in the world. Booklist wrote: "Throughout the books, upbeat drawings add a child-friendly look. An appealing series combining biography, history, and financial literacy."

Last week we hosted Amy McCulloch, whose Jinxed originally came out from Simon and Schuster UK. Booklist spells it out: "Kid-genius Lacey Chu is determined to join the Profectus Academy of Science and Technology in her quest for a career developing bakus, robotic animal companions with the utility of a smartphone. A disappointing rejection seems to end her dream, until she comes upon a broken-down, black-cat baku named Jinx. After repairing it, her newfound pet somehow gets her into the school, and the mysteries grow from there."

Over at the Journal Sentinel:

Tod Goldberg at USA Today reviews Jenny Offill's Weather: "The last time we heard from Jenny Offill – 2014’s brilliant Dept. of Speculation – the world was a fundamentally different place, at least in the day-today- living sort of way. Most of us weren’t terribly obsessed by a man in a large white house spinning the world into chaos one tweet at a time, though the actual planet already was waistdeep in the quicksand of our worst decisions, environmentally speaking.

"In Weather, Offill’s much-anticipated return, the author reclaims her distinctive narrative style – she writes in declarative bullets more than scenes – to deliver us a woman on the edge of our collective oblivion, both before and after 2016 election. The results are glorious, dizzying, disconcerting and often laugh-out-loud hysterical, in all the meanings of that last word."

Over at the Associated Press, Jeff Rowe looks at Olympic Pride, American Prejudice: The Untold Story of 18 African Americans Who Defied Jim Crow and Adolf Hitler to Compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, by Deborah Riley Draper, Blair Underwood and Travis Thrasher. Rowe notes: "The book...grew from a documentary of the same name produced by Underwood. Conversations and details related in the book are drawn from reporting for the documentary and from family members of the 18 athletes profiled in the book."

USA Today's Barbara VanDenburgh reivews Caffeine, an Audible original from Michael Pollan. Apologies, but we're not able to sell this to you but here's the review.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Boswell events for week of February 24 - Mark Greaney with Nick Petrie, Mary Kubica at Lynden, poet David Southward, Michael Zapata's genre-bending novel, Mark Rader's Indie's Introduce pick

Here's what's happening with Boswell this coming week.

Monday, February 24, 7 pm, at Boswell
Mark Greaney, author of One Minute Out: Gray Man V9, in conversation with Nick Petrie

New York Times bestseller Mark Greaney, author of Mission Critical and a coauthor of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan novels, visits Boswell with his latest high-stakes thriller featuring the world's most dangerous assassin. He’ll chat with Nick Petrie, Milwaukee author of the Peter Ash series.

Is it ever the wrong time to do the right thing? While on a mission to Croatia, Gray Man Court Gentry uncovers a human trafficking operation with a trail that leads from the Balkans all the way to Hollywood. Gentry is determined to shut it down, but his CIA handlers have other plans, and the criminal ringleader has intelligence about a potentially devastating terrorist attack on the US. The CIA won’t move until they have that intel. It’s a moral balancing act with Gentry at the pivot point.

Greaney’s Gray Man series has earned starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, which says, “Outstanding… Fans will close the book happily fulfilled and eagerly awaiting his next adventure.” And Steve Berry, bestselling author of the Cotton Malone novels, says, “Mark Greaney reigns as one of the recognized masters of action and adventure.”

Tuesday, February 25, 7 pm reception, 7:30 pm talk, at Lynden Sculpture Garden, 2145 W Brown Deer Rd
Mary Kubica, author of The Other Mrs.

The Lynden Sculpture Garden’s Women’s Speaker Series, produced by Milwaukee Reads and cosponsored by Boswell Book Company, presents the bestselling author of The Good Girl, Pretty Baby, and Don’t You Cry. Mary Kubica will chat about her twisty new psychological thriller in which a young couple moves from bustling Chicago to small-town Maine.

Tickets cost $31, $26 for Lynden members, and include a copy of The Other Mrs., light refreshments, and admission to the sculpture garden - come early to stroll the grounds. Register at or by phone at (414) 446-879. Register today, as walk-up tickets may not be available.

Sadie and Will have just moved their family from bustling Chicago to small-town Maine when the murder of their neighbor rocks their tiny coastal island. No one is more shaken than Sadie, who is terrified by the thought of a killer in her very own backyard. As the eyes of suspicion turn toward the new family in town, Sadie is drawn deeper into the mystery, but the more she uncovers, the more she has to lose if the truth ever comes to light.

Wednesday, February 26, 7 pm, at Boswell:
David Southward, author of Bachelor’s Buttons: Poems

Southward, a member of the UWM Honors Faculty and winner of the Lorine Niedecker Prize from the Council for Wisconsin Writers, reads from and chats about his new collection of poems.

Marilyn L Taylor, former Wisconsin Poet Laureate, says, “Southward's Bachelor's Buttons offers new insights and sensations that stimulate the mind while simultaneously sharpening one's sensory perceptions. The poet's skillfully crafted and often witty verse on human subjects as disparate as Walt Whitman, Teena Marie, and the Earl of Sandwich, along with vistas as unique as the shoreline at Sanibel or the muddy banks of the Milwaukee River, plus a handful of love sonnets, ekphrastics, and considerable metrical whimsy, all combine to make this collection a uniquely memorable read.”

Thursday, February 27, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Michael Zapata, author of The Lost Book of Adana Moreau

Chicago author Zapata chats about his mesmerizing debut novel, a genre-bending literary sci-fi of storytelling, heritage, and theoretical physics. Cosponsored by UWM’s Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and Cultures and Communities.

Blending the high-stakes mystery of Shadow of the Wind, the science fiction echoes of Exit West, and the lyrical signatures of Bolaño and Marquez, Zapata shines a breathtaking light on the experiences of displacement that define our nation. The Lost Book of Adana Moreau tells the story of a Latin American sci-fi writer living in exile from her home country and the lives her lost manuscript unites decades later in post-Katrina New Orleans.

Laura van den Berg, author of The Third Hotel calls Zapata’s debut “a stunner - equal parts epic and intimate, thrilling and elegiac. As the novel bounds effortlessly through time, a powerful ode to the mysteries that echo across generations, the wonder of artistic creation, and the profound unknowability of what exactly constitutes ‘reality’ emerges. Michael Zapata’s inventive, twisty plot will keep you reading through the night, and his indelible characters will make a home in your heart.”

Sunday, March 1, 3 pm, at Boswell:
Mark Rader, author of The Wanting Life

Boswell presents a special Indies Introduce event with Green Bay native Mark Rader. Rader’s stories have appeared in Glimmer Train, Epoch, The Southern Review, and he was shortlisted for an O Henry Award, and the Best American Non-Required Reading anthology.

Rader’s novel is a poignant, panoramic family drama that travels from Sister Bay, Wisconsin to Cape Cod and Rome through the intertwined stories of Father Paul, a closeted gay Catholic priest who’s dying of cancer, his sister Britta, still mourning her husband’s death, and his niece Maura, who is torn between her own husband and family and a new man.

Of the new book, Publishers Weekly says, “Fans of The Great Believers will appreciate this story of heartfelt empathy.” Booklist also offers this starred review: “With indelible images, exquisite emotional nuance, and genuine wisdom, Rader explores faith, regret, shame, fear, and, most of all, love.” Finally, Boswellian Chris Lee says, "Rader's writing is immersive. He's a writer's writer, with an eye for pinpointing the overlooked details that draw you into each scene. The Wanting Life explores the complexities of the guilt that accompanies happiness and the regret that accompanies duty in this lovely novel about the choices people make through their years and the unlived lives they leave behind."

More on Boswell's upcoming events page.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending February 15, 2020

Here are the Boswell bestsellers for the week ending February 15, 2020.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Weather, by Jenny Offill
2. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
3. American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins
4. The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett
5. The Long Petal to the Sea, by Isabel Allende
6. The Water Dancer, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
7. Agency, by William Gibson
8. The Ninth House, by Leigh Bardugo
9. The End of the Ocean, by Maja Lunde
10. The Mercies, by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

February brings several new releases to the top ten, but the strong sales are for Jenny Offill's Weather. From Heller McAlpin on the NPR website: "Jenny Offill broke through the funk of a 15-year gap between her first and second novels with Dept. of Speculation, a wonderful series of witty, plangent short dispatches about marriage, motherhood, and thwarted aspirations from an unnamed female writer whose life ventures dangerously close to the brink. Offill's new novel, Weather, takes a similarly clever diary-like tack, but it's even better — darkly funny and urgent, yet more outwardly focused, fueled by a growing preoccupation with the scary prospect of a doomed earth."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Lost and Found, by Paul Florsheim
2. A Very Stable Genius, by Philip Rucker and Carol Leoning
3. The Book of Delights, by Ross Gay
4. Brilliant Maps for Curious Minds, by Ian Wright
5. Salt Fat Acid Heat, by Samin Nosrat
6. Nothing Fancy, by Alison Roman
7. Friendship, by Lydia Denworth
8. Something that May Shock and Discredit You, by Daniel Mallory Ortberg
9. Capital and Ideology, by Thomas Piketty
10. Catch and Kill, by Roman Farrow

Several new books on this top ten, but the big story is the long long road to the New York Times bestseller list for The Book of Delights, from Ross Gay, one of our bestsellers from our holiday season, with Chris leading the charge. It was almost a year ago that Geoffrey Cowles wrote about the book in The New York Times New and Noteworthy column. Nicole Rudick wrote about it in >The New York York Review of Books: "Gay wrote the book’s essays (and many others that didn’t make it into the final draft) over the period of a year, one each day, for the simple reason that he thought it would be nice to write about delight every day. The handful of rules he set out for himself included composing the essays quickly and writing them by hand. I decided to read one entry from the book each day, to follow the model of how he’d written them and to give each entry its own space to unfold in my mind—to let it warm me, I’d come to realize, like sunshine." And yes, the book's out of stock temporarily.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton
2. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
3. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
4. Fledgling, by Octavia Butler
5. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
6. The Story of a Goat, by Perumal Murugan
7. Girl Woman Other, by Bernardine Evaristo
8. Ohio, by Stephen Markley
9. Brooklyn, by Colm Toibín
10. Black Leopard Red Wolf, by Marlon James

Now in paperback is Black Leopard, Red Wolf, finalist for the National Book Award and one of the Washington Post ten-best books of the year. I can give you a bunch of reviews (spoilers: the book is excellent), but the most interesting news is that Marlon James teamed up with his editor Jake Morrissey for a new podcast, Marlon and Jake Read Dead People, per The New York Times's Peter Libbey. It hasn't started yet so get in on the ground floor!

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Inside Game, by Wayne Embry
2. Fading Ads of Milwaukee, by Adam Levin (event at Boswell Fri Feb 21, 7 pm)
3. Seasonal Associate, by Heike Geisssler
4. Disassembled, by Tim Cullen
5. Upstream, by Mary Oliver
6. No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference, by Greta Thunberg
7. Falter, by Bill McKibben
8. The Library Book, by Susan Orlean
9. Code Name Lise, by Larry Loftis
10. Midnight in Chernobyl, by Adam Higginbotham

New in paperback is Adam Higginbotham's Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster, winner of the nonfiction Carnegie Medal (that's the Caldecott and Newbery for grown-ups), and also made the best-of lists for the New York Times (ten-best of 2019), Time, and Kirkus. From Wired: "“Higginbotham’s scrupulously reported book catalogues the chain of events that occasionally reads as stranger than fiction. The book is more than a gripping history that recounts in great detail events at the reactors; it also offers contextual insights into the Soviet era that help to explain how such a failure could occur. . . . As is the case with many great nonfiction books, it has the urgency and intrigue of the very best thrillers." Please note that this actually might be from Wired UK, written by Greg Williams.

Books for Kids:
1 A Friendship Yard, by Lisa Moser, with illustrations by Olga Demidova
2. Monster in the Backpack, by Lisa Moser, with illustrations by Noah Z Jones
3. Girl Stolen, by April Henry
4. The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die, by April Henry
5. Squirrel's Fun Day, by Lisa Moser, with illustrations Valerie Gorbachev
6. Stories from Bug Garden, by Lisa Moser, with illustrations by Gwen Millward
7. Squirrel's World, by Lisa Moser, with illustrations by Valerie Gorbachev
8. The Lonely Dead, by April Henry
9. I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic 1912 Graphic edition, by Lauren Tarshis, with illustrations by Haus Studio
10. Here We Are, by Oliver Jeffers

Will every popular kids book at Boswell eventually have a graphic equivalent? It could happen. Breaking into our top 10 is I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic 1912, with illustrations from Haus Studio. School Library Journal (which notes that it's being adapted "like so many other popular series") notes: "Dark, subdued, inky art sets a somber tone, while a parade of mostly small panels builds suspense and promises to engage readers."

Jeff Rowe of the Associated Press reviews The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War, from Fred Kaplan. He notes: "While we’re fretting about global warming, The Bomb gives us an even greater worry: nuclear war that would render much of the Earth a smoldering, radioactive wasteland littered with hundreds of millions of bodies and chilling, as a cloud cover of dust and debris blocks sunlight for years. Millions would require medical care that would be unavailable; the living would envy the dead."

Barbara VanDenburgh offers ten books for Black History Month, courtesy of USA Today/Arizona Republic. Read more about each book here.

1. Hitting a Straight Lick With a Crooked Stick, by Zora Neale Hurston
2. Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid
3. Parable of the Sower, by Octavia E. Butler, adapted into a graphic novel by Damian Duffy and John Jennings
4. How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi
5. Children of Virtue and Vengeance, by Tomi Adeyemi
6. Red at the Bone,  by Jacqueline Woodson
7. All the Days Past, All the Days to Come, by Mildred D. Taylor
8. Riot Baby, by Tochi Onyebuchi
9. How We Fight for Our Lives, by Saeed Jones
10. The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead

I don't normally read new books months after they come out unless we schedule an event or I pick it for our In-Store Lit Group, but one of our Group attendees asked me about How We Fight for Our Lives and I said, "I'll read it when you read it." I would love to read more about Jones's relationship with is mom. It's clear it's very important in his life, and I'd love more of those seminal moments that cemented their bond.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Boswell events - Lori Rader-Day with Erica Ruth Neubauer, Adam Levin on old Milwaukee signs, Mark Greaney with Nick Petrie

Here is the Boswell list of events for next week.

Thursday, February 20, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Lori Rader-Day, author of The Lucky One, in conversation with Erica Ruth Neubauer

Chicago’s Edgar-nominated author of Under a Dark Sky visits with her chilling new novel about a young woman who recognizes the man who kidnapped her as a child. She’ll chat with Milwaukee author and crime fiction critic, Erica Ruth Neubauer.

The Lucky One is a deep dive into the world of true crime, a perfect thriller for fans of everything from My Favorite Murder to I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. Publishers Weekly says, “Rader-Day creates deeply believable, empathetic characters and puts the power in the hands of women, including older women…The tightly crafted storytelling brings heat back into the familiar cold case plot, digging deep into those aches that never really fade.”

As a child, Alice was stolen from her backyard in a tiny Indiana community. Now, an adult in Chicago, she devotes her spare time volunteering for The Doe Pages, searching for clues that could help reunite families with their missing loved ones. When a face appears on Alice’s screen that she recognizes, she’s stunned to realize it’s the same man who kidnapped her decades ago. On a search for the truth, she enlists the help of friends from The Doe Pages to find her kidnapper. Twisting and compulsively readable, Lori Rader-Day explores the lies we tell ourselves to feel safe.

The Lucky One made Barbara VanDenburgh's USA Today buzz list. And Kirkus Reviews called Rader-Day's latest "Another harrowing nightmare by a master of the sleepless night."

Friday, February 21, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Adam Levin, author of Fading Ads of Milwaukee

As curator of the Old Milwaukee Facebook group, Levin has provided thousands of Milwaukeeans with the preservation of and access to photos and tidbits of the past which help us appreciate the rich history of our Cream City. Now, with his new book of photography and history, Levin captures and shares the fading advertisements and ghost signs that tell the story of Milwaukee as it was in years gone by.

Near Riverside Park, Schlitz still touts its national dominance decades after the brewery's dissolution. A recently restored downtown sign reminds passersby of the John Ernst Café, a once-beloved German eatery. In West Allis, Sealtest makes an expired pitch for its ice cream. On the northwest side of the city, a sign for Roundy's Foods stands as tall, bright, and clear as the day it first went up. Join Milwaukee native and ghost sign hunter Adam Levin as he explores the national brands and local shops of the Cream City's past.

Levin got some recent press in Milwaukee by helping dig out a Gimbels sign for the public market. Here's Michael Horne's Urban Milwaukee report. We had a great first week of sales with Fading Ads of Milwaukee. I'm sure you'd like to weigh in on your favorite fading sign - let everyone know about it at our event on February 21.

Monday, February 24, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Mark Greaney, author of One Minute Out: Gray Man V9, in conversation with Nick Petrie

New York Times bestseller Mark Greaney, author of Mission Critical and a coauthor of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan novels, visits Boswell with his latest high-stakes thriller featuring the world's most dangerous assassin. He’ll chat with Nick Petrie, Milwaukee author of the Peter Ash series.

Is it ever the wrong time to do the right thing? While on a mission to Croatia, Gray Man Court Gentry uncovers a human trafficking operation with a trail that leads from the Balkans all the way to Hollywood. Gentry is determined to shut it down, but his CIA handlers have other plans, and the criminal ringleader has intelligence about a potentially devastating terrorist attack on the US. The CIA won’t move until they have that intel. It’s a moral balancing act with Gentry at the pivot point.

Greaney’s Gray Man series has earned starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, which says, “Outstanding… Fans will close the book happily fulfilled and eagerly awaiting his next adventure.” And Steve Berry, bestselling author of the Cotton Malone novels, says, “Mark Greaney reigns as one of the recognized masters of action and adventure.”

Here's Jon Land in the Providence Journal on Greaney's latest: "One Minute Out casts Gentry as a younger and even more jaded version of John Le Carre’s seminal George Smiley. In that respect, Greaney’s latest demonstrates how the American action thriller has now fully supplanted the more highbrow efforts of the British spy masters who invented the genre. Court Gentry is this generation’s James Bond, and his latest adventure is not to be missed.

More on our upcoming event page.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

What did the book club think times four? Catching up with the In-store Lit Group

It's been a few months since I've done a recap of the In-Store Lit Group selections. I'm not planning on doing a full post on any of them, but let's have a mini write up of what did the book club think?

November: The Incendiaries, by R.O. Kwon
Set on a college campus, The Incentiaries is told from three perspectives. Phoebe Lin is a well-off student holding onto guilt for her mother's death in a car accident. Will Kendall is a student transfering in from Bible College. And John Leal is an escapee from a North Koean prison camp who is now the charismatic leader of a religious group on campus. The story may start with Will and Phoebe but slowly John's pull becomes clearer until things get out of control.

Both The Incendiaries and R.O. Kwon had a massive amount of media attention, but the book was rather quiet at Boswell and I thought our book club could jump start some energy in the paperback. There were great reviews, like Thu Huong-Ha's in The New York Times. And Ron Charles's review in The Washington Post was particularly insightful, and definitely helped generating conversation. He discusses how religious fanaticism is at the heart of the book. He also noted that all three of the story protagonists are lying in one way or another. Kwon noted in an interview that this book is inspired by her loss of religious faith despite the plot development being the journey of Phoebe from faithless to faithful. Fascinating to me, but I just didn't have many folks who wound up liking the book. There's something about the way the book is written that puts distance between the book and the reader. Oh well.

December: The Library Book, by Susan Orlean
Susan Orlean offers a love letter to the Los Angeles Public Library with a three-or-perhaps-four sided narrative. The story is framed by the famous Los Angeles Public Library fire of 2006. Then there is a history of the Los Angeles Public Library system, with more than its fair share of quirky characters. And then there's a tour of the library system's various departments. And finally, there'a a little bit of memoir, as Orlean is inspired by her mother and their relationship with libraries. And Susan Orlean can make any subject interesting, so imagine what she can do with a library.

If you are a professional librarian, you might get a little bored of the system tour - I heard this from librarians. If you love true crime, you'll be let down a bit by the fire, which is never quite solved, though it does have a particularly lively suspect. Advice to suspects: one alibi is usually better than seven. And the memoir seems almost like a ghost element - there's one particularly emotional piece in the middle of the book about Orlean's inspiration for writing the story, and she returns to that in the end, but mostly, it seems like this was a long manuscript and that angle got a lot of cutting. The library history is particularly fascinating - especially the Great Library War of 2005. But really, if you love libraries, it's almost impossible to not love The Library Book. If nothing else, your book club will just tell library stories.

January: Ohio, by Stephen Markley
Four plotlines converge on New Canaan, Ohio, a small-to-medium city between Columbus and Cleveland. Instead of interweaving the four voices of the four, all high school classmates, Markley tell four novellas (would one call that Corrections style?), and while it would give away too much plot to explain each story, the opener, from Bill Ashcraft, a progressive, drugged-up bro with some hypocrisy issues, sets the tone. The story itself opens with the the wartime death of the effective hero of the story, who gets honorary memorial parade and all the trimmings. Pretty soon we learn that another character with a big voice has died of a drug overdose.

With the story taking place mostly over one night, with each character back in town for a reason, we get to relive a lot of the plot points from multiple perspectives (what I call Go, style, referencing the John August and Doug Liman film set in a dumpy Los Angeles supermarket), and so if at first you're confused, by the second or third time , you've got a better handle on things. This was Chris's favorite novel of 2018 and now wonder - about 80% of the group loved the book and another 20% despised it. There was no middle ground. Discussion was heated and it was very nice that we were able to have some intergenerational banter. Highly recommended, well, except for the people who hated it.

February 2020: Family Trust, by Kathy Wang.
I do love a dysfunctional family comedy and this one has the classic "fighting over the inheritance" plot that has brought life to a books like Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney's The Nest. Wang has an insider's knowledge of Silicon Valley, which of course gave it a vibe like the HBO series Silicon Valley, and it's got a Chinese cultural spin (more specifically Taiwanese) that makes it more distinctive. The book club recently read The Wangs Vs the World, which was more of a road trip novel. Several us conjectured that this might have been bought in the wake of Crazy Rich Asians' success.

Could this book have also been called Crazy Rich Asians? No, because they don't feel rich. For the Huangs, there's clearly money floating around, but they all live in a bubble where they have this perception that everyone has more money than they do. And on top of that, they are all being roped into one scam or another, from shady investments to cheating spouses, to well, online romances - Linda Huang decides to start dating via the Tigerlily app, and she quickly spends her way to VIP status. It appears that online romance scams are the story for this Valentine's Day.

I was a little worried the group wouldn't have enough to talk about, but Family Trust kept us chatting for over an hour. The only hiccup was dealing with the complaint that the characters weren't likable enough. I don't know why that's an issue and why women writers seem to face that critique more than men do.

Here are our coming selections for In-Store Lit Group

Monday, March 2, 7 pm, at Boswell - Girl Woman Other, by Bernardine Everaristo - Man Booker co-winner. Lots of enthusiastic buzz from attendees for this already

Monday, April 6, 7 pm, at Boswell - The Story of a Goat, by Perumal Murugan - Murugan was longlisted for the National Book Award translation prize for a different novel

Monday, May 4, 6 pm (note time), at Boswell - Mostly Dead Things, by Kristen Arnett, who will join us for spoiler questions at 6:30 in advance of her 7 pm public event

Monday, June 8, 7 pm (note date), at Boswell - Lost Children Archives, by Valeria Luiselli - New York Times Ten-best books of 2019

Monday, July 6, 7 pm, by Trust Exercise, by Susan Choi - National Book Award winner

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Boswell bestsellers,for the week ending Feb 8, 2020

Here are the Boswell bestsellers for the week ending February 8, 2020

1. American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins
2. The Long Petal of the Sea, by Isabel Allende
3. Best Kept Secrets, by Tracey S Phillips (event)
4. Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens
5. The Wild One, by Nick Petrie
6. The Lost Book of Adana Moreau, by Michael Zapata (event at Boswell 2/27, 7 pm)
7. The Resisters, by Gish Jen
8. Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid
9. The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead
10. Lost Hills, by Lee Goldberg (also in paperback)

Here's the setup for The Resisters - in a future time, the haves (the Netted) live on high ground while the have-nots (the Surplus) are on swampland or living in water. To a family of have-nots is born a child with a powerful arm for baseball. Our friend Carole Horne at Harvard Bookstore said "I don’t know how a book can be so devastating yet so miraculously wonderful at the same time," while another prominent bookseller, Ann Patchett, called Gish Jen's latest novel,"palpably loving, smart, funny, and desperately unsettling."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Three Seconds in Munich, by David A.F. Sweet (event)
2. A Very Stable Genius, by Philip Rucker and Carol Leoning
3. How Yiddish Changed America and How America Changed Yiddish, by Ilan Stavans
4. From Here to Financial Happiness, by Jonathan Clements
5. The Making of Milwaukee, by John Gurda
6. Dining In, by Alison Roman
7. Nothing Fancy, by Alison Roman
8. Talking to Strangers, by Malcolm Gladwell
9. Catch and Kill, by Ronan Farrow
10. The Body, by Bill Bryson

Great to see a sales pop for indie Restless books, whose new linguistic anthology, How Yiddish Changed America and How America Changed Yiddish, has an official rave from Kirkus: which note that its entries show how 'Yiddish is so deeply woven into the fabric of the United States that it can sometimes be difficult to recognize how much it has transformed the world we live in today.'" Lithub has excerpted an essay from Isaac Bashevis Singer.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Girl Woman Other, by Bernardine Evaristo (In-Store Lit Group 3/2, 7 pm, at Boswell)
2. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
3. Morning Will Come, by Billy Lombardo (event)
4. The Drifter, by Nick Petrie
5. Lost Hills, by Lee Goldberg
6. Abigail, by Magda Szabo
7. The Story of a Goat, by Perumal Murugan (In-Store Lit Group 4/6, 7 pm, at Boswell)
8. Life and Fate, by Vasily Grossman
9. The Ambassador's Daughter, by Pam Jenoff
10. The Tattooist of Auschwitz, by Heather Morris

Magda Szabo's novels from New York Review of Books Classics continue to pop after the breakout success of The Door. Abigail is a coming-of-age story set in Hungary, originally published in 1970. Our publisher contact tells us this is her most popular work in Hungary and concerns a spoiled wealthy teenager is sent to boarding school with no warning. It has its own Wikipedia page. Despite its appearance as a television series and a musical, it has never before been translated into English. Thanks, Len (Rix)!

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Traveling Mercies, by Anne Lamott
2. Fading Ads of Milwaukee, by Adam Levin (event at Boswell Fri 2/21, 7 pm)
3. Just Kids, by Patti Smith (UWM course)
4. Seasonal Associate, by Heike Geissler (UWM course)
5. 111 Places in Milwaukee You Must Not Miss, by Michelle Madden
6. White Fragility, by Robin D'Angelo
7. Riverwest, by Tom Tolan
8. Fibershed, by Rebecca Burress
9. Spinoza's Ethics, by Benedictus De Spinoza, translated by George Elliot
10. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer (just hit the NYT bestseller list)

Princeton University Press just released an authoritative edition of Spinoza's Ethics. Translated by the novelist George Elliot, this edition was edited by Claire Carlisle. Philip David calls it "valuable to readers of George Eliot as well as students of Spinoza."

Books for Kids:
1. The Friendship Yarn, by Lisa Moser, illustrated by Oliga Demidova (schools)
2. Monster in the Backback, by Lisa Moser, With illustrations by Noah Z Jones
3. Squirrel's Fun Day, by Lisa Moser, with illustrations by Valeri Gorbachev
4. Prisoner B-3087, by Alan Gratz
5. Squirrel's World, by Lisa Moser, with illustrations by Valeri Gorbachev
6. Stories from Bug Garden, by Lisa Moser, with illlustrations by Gwen Millward
7. Guts, by Raina Telegemeier
8. Unteachables, by Gordon Korman
9. Bad Guys in the Baddest Day Ever, by Aarbon Blabey
10. The Velocity of Being, by Maria Popoova

The Bad Guys are just the worst! And now in The Bad Guys in the Baddest Day Ever, they, well, after much research, I have no idea. Here are some great Good Reads reviews: "Funny and cute" and "Made me laugh out loud." Here are some bad ones: "Stupid, but boys love them" and "I wouldn't recommend starting with this."

From the Journal Sentinel:

Felecia Wellington Radel in from USA Today reviews the graphic adaptation of Parable of the Sower: "In 1993, science-fiction writer Octavia E. Butler released Parable of the Sower, a novel that told of a future where people suffered the consequences of these same situations. Recently, four years shy of when Butler’s dystopian tale takes place, the Parable of the Sower, adapted by Damian Duffy and illustrated by John Jennings, brings that world to life."

Jennifer Forker reviews a new anthology from Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman for Associated Press: "The essays in Fight of the Century: Writers Reflect on 100 Years of Landmark ACLU Cases may be brief, but each packs a mighty wallop. Brief is the name of the game for drawing readers into a compendium that holds this much heft. For in these pages are works of immense importance, covering landmark U.S. cases, primarily before the Supreme Court, that were argued or supported by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Edited by authors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, the book commemorates the ACLU’s 100th anniversary."

Set in a farm manor turned makeshift hospital in 1969 Laos, Paul Yoon's latest, Run Me to Earth, is reviewed by Kendal Weaver in Associated Press: "The house is an eerie, exhausting place where the teens hold each other to survive – sleeping, as one says, 'like young animals in a den... He calmly builds memorable scenes even when events turn violent."

Friday, February 7, 2020

Boswell events - Tim Cullen on Janesville, and Paul Florsheim, in conversation with Taran Powell

Here's what's happening at Boswell next week.

Wednesday, February 12, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Tim Cullen, author of Disassembled: A Native Son on Janesville and General Motors - A Story of Grit, Race, Gender and Wishful Thinking and What It Means for America

Former Wisconsin state senator Tim Cullen, a Janesville native, tells the inside story of what happened after General Motors closed its plant in Wisconsin and what it means for the future not only of Janesville, but cities across America.

Cullen, who co-chaired the governor’s task force that tried to save the Janesville plant, provides a sweeping history of the plant from its boom years to the abyss, while noting the struggles African Americans and women faced in getting hired and treated fairly. Along the way, he finds some heroes, including an early African American GM employee, a woman who insisted on gender equity in the plant, and legendary labor leader Walter Reuther.

Cullen worked in the Janesville GM plant as a college student and he was there, decades on, when presidential candidate Barack Obama told a hopeful gathering of GM employees and other stakeholders he could do what he could to ensure its success. Less than a year later, the plant closed. With Disassembled, Tim Cullen reveals what happened.

Thursday, February 13, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Paul Florsheim, author of Lost and Found: Young Fathers in the Age of Unwed Parenthood, in conversation with Taran Powell, Race and Ethnicity Reporter for WUWM News.

Professor of Community and Behavioral Health Promotion at UWM’s Joseph J Zilber School of Public Health Florsheim discusses his latest work, which examines the challenges and joys facing adolescent fathers and how adolescent fathering manifests in the context of the changing family institution, race, gender, and social class.

Over the past six decades, there have been dramatic changes in the dynamics of family life in the United States. Today, about half of all babies born to mothers under the age of 25 will not live with their fathers for much of their childhood. Lost and Found tells the stories of young men as they struggle to become fathers and outlines a strategy for helping young fathers remain constructively involved with their partners and children.

Drawing from their research with over 1,000 young parents in Chicago and Salt Lake City, Florsheim focuses on a group of about 20 young fathers, whose stories, conveyed in their own words, help the reader make sense of what is happening to fatherhood in America. Lost and Found provides concrete recommendations for strengthening fathers' roles and helping young fathers and mothers create stable home environments for their children, whether the parents are together or not.

More on our upcoming events page.