Monday, February 11, 2019

Event alert: Robert W Turner on NFL players after the game is over, YA with Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan at Washington Park Library, Karen Babine on caregiving and cancer

What's going on at Boswell, in between the snowflakes. Note that Wednesday and Saturday are two days this week where no precipitation is expected.

Wednesday, February 13, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Robert W Turner II, author of Not For Long: The Life and Career of the NFL Athlete

Former professional football player and current Assistant Professor of Clinical Research and Leadership at George Washington University, Robert W Turner II traces the career trajectory of NFL players before and after their time in the league. Turner will read from his book and then participate in a conversation with former Wisconsin Badger and NFL running back Montee Ball.

The NFL is the most popular professional sports league in America, but for players, making it to the league is not about the promised land of fame and fortune. Turner II draws on his own experience and interviews with current and former NFL players to reveal what it means to be in the league and explain why so many struggle with life after football.

Retirees experience financial ruin, live with chronic pain, and many find themselves on the wrong side of the law. With little job security and few health and retirement benefits, Turner II argues that the fall of so many players is no accident. The NFL powerfully determines their experiences in and out of the league, and the process of becoming an elite football player leaves athletes with few marketable skills and little preparation for their first Sunday off the field.

Robert W Turner II earned a Ph.D. from City University of New York and is Assistant Professor of Clinical Research and Leadership at George Washington University. Dr. Turner played football professionally in the now defunct United States Football League, the Canadian Football League, and the National Football League.

Saturday, February 16, 3:00 pm, at Milwaukee Public Library, Washington Park Branch, 2121 N Sherman Blvd:
Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan, author of Watch Us Rise

Newbery Honoree and Coretta Scott King Award winner Renée Watson teams up with poet Ellen Hagan at MPL’s Washington Park Branch to present this YA feminist anthem about raising your voice. Perfect for adults and teens 13 and up.

Jasmine and Chelsea are sick of the way women are treated even at their progressive NYC high school, so they decide to start a Women's Rights Club. They post everything online - poems, essays, videos of Chelsea performing her poetry, and Jasmine's response to the racial microaggressions she experiences - and soon they go viral.

But with such positive support, the club is also targeted by online trolls. When things escalate, the principal shuts the club down. Jasmine and Chelsea will risk everything for their voices, and those of other young women, to be heard in this story, which Julie Murphy, the bestselling author of Dumplin’ calls “timely, thought-provoking, and powerful… an immediate young adult classic.”

Renée Watson is the Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Author Award-winning author of the novels Piecing Me Together, This Side of Home, and Betty Before X, co-written with Ilyasah Shabazz, as well as the picture books Harlem's Little Blackbird and A Place Where Hurricanes Happen. Watson is founder of the nonprofit I, Too, Arts Collective. Ellen Hagan is a writer, performer, and educator. Her latest collection of poetry, Hemisphere, was published by Northwestern University Press.

Saturday, February 16, 6:00 pm, at Boswell:
Karen Babine, author of All the Wild Hungers: A Season of Cooking and Cancer

Minneapolis author Karen Babine, winner of the Minnesota Book Award, appears with her new memoir, All the Wild Hungers, an affecting chronicle of one family’s experience of illness and of a writer's culinary attempt to make sense of the inexplicable.

When her mother is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Babine can’t help but wonder: feed a fever, starve a cold, but what do you do for cancer? She commits herself to preparing her mother anything she will eat, a vegetarian diving headfirst into the unfamiliar world of bone broth and pot roast.

In these essays, Babine ponders the intimate connections between food, family, and illness. How do we seek meaning where none is to be found, and can we create it from scratch? Book Riot says, “Babine’s essays focus on food as a vehicle for handling the pain of her mother’s cancer diagnosis… her lines are like poetry - which is exactly how good food, and family, should be.”

Karen Babine is author of Water and What We Know: Following the Roots of a Northern Life, winner of the 2016 Minnesota Book Award for memoir/creative nonfiction, and a finalist for the Midwest Book Award and the Northeastern Minnesota Book Award. She also edits Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies. She holds an MFA from Eastern Washington University and a PhD from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

More on Boswell's upcoming events page.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending February 9, 2019 - new releases, paperback originals, Journal Sentinel Book Page (now in Life)

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending February 9, 2019

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Black Leopard, Red Wolf, by Marlon James
2. Good Riddance, by Elinor Lipman (Event at Boswell, Mon Mar 11, 7 pm)
3. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
4. There There, by Tommy Orange
5. The Current, by Tim Johnston
6. Kingdom of the Blind, by Louise Penny
7. Connections in Death, by JD Robb
8. The Winter Soldier, by Daniel Mason
9. Bowlaway, by Elizabeth McCracken
10. The Lost Man, by Jane Harper

Everything's coming up Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Marlon James's new epic fantasy, which landed on February 5. Many have compared this novel to the works of George RR Martin and JRR Tolkien but Amal El-Mohtar rebuts this in this NPR review: "I understand where those comparisons come from, the publicity strategies that underly them, but they are wildly inaccurate to the experience of reading this book, which is more like if Toni Morrison had written Ovid's Metamorphoses: Painful and strange, full of bodies shifting from personhood into meat, and somehow, always, still, upsettingly beautiful. This isn't Tolkien's grief-stricken melancholy, or Martin's calculating, character-forward plot mechanics; it's horror and tragedy by way of fantasy, nothing discrete, everything penetrating everything else."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Educated, by Tara Westover
2. Becoming, by Michelle Obama
3. Dreyer's English, by Benjamin Dreyer
4. Enough to Go Around, by Chip Duncan
5. Women Rowing North, by Mary Pipher
6. Maid, by Stephanie Land
7. Age of Surveillance Capitalism, by Shoshan Zuboff
8. The Library Book, by Susan Orlean
9. Never home Alone, by Rob Dunn
10. Unwinding of the MIracle, by Julie Yip Williams

The #1 Indie Bound pick for February is Stephanie Land's Maid, which is a cross between Nickel and Dimed and The Long Haul (and I think it's fair to make this comparison, since I read all three books). From Ann-Derrick Gaillot in The Nation: "Much of Maid focuses on Land’s experiences of the labor itself. There’s the physical toll - back injuries, pinched nerves, illness - plus the mental toll of her devalued and invisible toil. As she adapts to the job, the homes become their own idiosyncratic realms - the Sad House, the Porn House, the Plant House - in which Land is able to see a more personal and often pathetic side of her wealthy clients - snotty tissues, hair wads, and all. In writing about the spaces outside of her work, though, Land gives shape to the depleting anxiety and isolation that accompany motherhood in poverty for millions of Americans."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Lost Girls of Paris, by Pam Jenoff
2. The Curiosities, by Susan Gloss
3. An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones
4. The Friend, by Sigrid Nunez (April In-Store Lit Group selection)
5. Asymmetry, by Lisa Halliday (March In-Store Lit Group Selection)
6. Paris by the Book, by Liam Callanan (Callanan's at Mount Mary University Mon 2/11)
7. The Orphan's Tale, by Pam Jenoff
8. The Great Gatsby, by F Scott Fitzgerald
9. Half a Reason to Die, by Chip Duncan
10. Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett

A bookseller and I were having a discussion how our top two bestsellers, The Lost Girls of Paris (signed copies available) and The Curiosities, were paperback originals, accompanied by hardcover runs, primarily for library sales. If you look at this week's New York Times bestseller list, there are several other paperback originals, including The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Josie Silver's One Day in December, Jasmine Guillory's The Proposal, and Kristine McMorris's Sold on a Monday, though these three did not do hardcover library editions. James Patterson did, however - his new collection The House Next Door is a simultaneous hard-soft. Two new titles on our list are paperback reprints - An American Marriage and The Friend. As February 5 releases, they are eligible to hit the Times list that is released next week.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. City of God, by Sara Miles
2. Permission to Thrive, by Susan Angel Miller (Event at Boswell Tue Feb 19, 7 pm)
3. Inspiring Change, by Chip Duncan (Event at Boswell Wed Mar 20, 7 pm)
4. Go Ahead in the Rain, by Hanif Abdurraqib
5. Wisconsin Cheese Cookbook, by Kristine Hansen (Event at Boswell Fri Mar 8, 7 pm)
6. The Cooking Gene, by Michael W Twitty (see below)
7. Just Kids, by Patti Smith
8. Drawdown, by Paul Hawken
9. Fascism, by Madeleine Albright
10. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan

This week's bestseller list is almost half upcoming events and would be half if we could get on Hanif Abudurraqib for Go Ahead in the Rain. We know it's a long shot. As you know, Michael W Twitty's event for The Cooking Gene at the Mitchell Street Branch of Milwaukee Public Library on Monday, February 18 is at capacity, but we're thinking there's still room at the panel discussion on February 19 at 4 pm. Also Register here for Taste of the South, also Tue Feb 19, 7 pm. I noted to Miller that Permission to Thrive has been showing up on the Milwaukee Bookscan Top 50 for several weeks in a row. Just in is Wisconsin Cheese Cookbook. Hasnen will be in conversation with Milwaukee Magazine's Carole Nicksin on March 8. You can be sure there will be more events with Hansen to follow.

Books for Kids:
1. How to Properly Dispose of Planet Earth V2, by Paul Noth
2. The Friendship War, by Andrew Clements
3. How to Sell Your Family to the Aliens V1, by Paul Noth
4. The Losers Club, by Andrew Clements
5. Echo, by Pam Munoz Ryan
6. The Losers Club (hardcover), by Andrew Clements
7. Pay Attention, Carter Jones, by Gary D. Schmidt
8. Unstinky, by Andy Rach
9. On the Come Up, by Angie Thomas
10. Eco (in Spanish), by Pam Munoz Ryan

Andrew Clements is coming to Milwaukee on March 15, as part of the Elmbrook Schools all-district read. His new book, just out in January, is The Friendship War, about Grace, who brings her Grandfather's buttons to show and tell. From Publishers Weekly: "But after she shares some of the cache with her classmates, the show-and-tell spirals out of control, and kids schoolwide become obsessed with collecting and trading buttons." There's no public event but we can get you a signed copy.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, the new Life section (which I think is the USA Today standard) folds together several sections, including Tap. There is still a book page!

--Brian Truitt (from USA Today) reviews Golden State, the newest from Ben H Winters: "At a time in the real world when everybody seems to own their version of the truth and phrases like alternative facts are used to cover falsehoods, Golden State is, no lie, a fascinating examination that takes fidelity and correctness down a freaky Orwellian path." And we're also still recommending Underground Airlines - I recommended the book to two folks recently and they both loved it.

--Pam Jenoff's The Lost Girls of Paris is weighed in on by Tod Goldberg, also from USA Today. Alas, Goldberg is not a fan, but plenty of other critics are. Terri Schlichenmeyer in the Quad City Times called the book, "Picture perfect."

--The Associated Press's Ann Levin offers her thgouths on Antiseminism: Here and Now, by Deborah E Lipstadt. She notes: "What made her (Lipstadt's) latest book so challenging - documenting the recent resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe and America, on the right and the the left - was that it was happening now." The result is "an indispensable guide to contextualizing activities as diverse as the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign, also known as BDS."

Monday, February 4, 2019

Event alert: Susan Gloss, Pam Jenoff, United We Read with Liam Callanan, Gary D. Schmidt

The temperature roller coaster continues, but compared to last week, you'll laugh at the lows. Icy streets and sidewalks are another matter. We just restocked our salt.

Wednesday, February 6, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Susan Gloss, author of The Curiosities

Susan Gloss follows up her breakout debut novel Vintage with a charming Wisconsin story of artists, inspiration, and how to reinvent your life with purpose and flair.

Nell Parker has a PhD in Art History, a loving husband named Josh, and a Craftsman bungalow in Madison. But when her pregnancy ends in the second trimester, rather than pausing to grieve, she takes a job as director of a new nonprofit and is left to manage the eccentric artists who live in the

Mansion Hill Artists’ Colony. The metal sculptor keeps everyone awake with late-night welding projects. The dreadlocked granny, known for her avant garde performance pieces, is probably dealing drugs out of the basement. Meanwhile, the art student on the third floor leads a string of bad boyfriends upstairs when she stumbles home late at night. Despite all the drama, Nell finds something akin to a family among the members of the creative community that she’s brought together. Soon, Nell is forced to decide what will bring her greater joy - the creative, inspired world she’s created, or the familiar but increasingly fragile one of her marriage.

Susan Gloss is the Madison-based author of Vintage and a graduate of Notre Dame and UW-Madison Law.

Thursday, February 7, 7:00 pm reception, 7:30, at Lynden Sculpture Garden, 2145 W Brown Deer Rd:
Pam Jenoff, author of The Lost Girls of Paris

Lynden Sculpture Gardern’s Women’s Speaker Series and Milwaukee Reads present a special evening with Pam Jenoff, author of The Orphan’s Tale, speaking about her latest, The Lost Girls of Paris, a novel based on the true story of three women and a ring of female secret agents during World War II.

Tickets cost $23, $18 for Lynden members, and include a paperback copy of The Lost Girls of Paris, light refreshments, and admission to the sculpture garden - come early to stroll the grounds. Register by phone, at (414) 446-8794, or at

1946, Manhattan. Grace Healy, rebuilding her life after losing her husband during the war, finds an abandoned suitcase containing photographs of a dozen different women beneath a bench at Grand Central Terminal. The suitcase belonged to Eleanor Trigg, leader of twelve women sent to Occupied Europe to aid the resistance who never returned home. Setting out to learn the truth, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother-turned-agent named Marie and her daring mission overseas.

Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, The Lost Girls of Paris shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood, and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances.

Pam Jenoff is author of The Orphan's Tale, The Diplomat’s Wife, and The Kommandant’s Girl trilogy. She holds degrees from George Washington University, Cambridge, and the University of Pennsylvania. Jenoff formerly worked for the Pentagon and State Department, and now teaches law at Rutgers.

Can't make our evening event? Pam Jenoff will also be at the JCC on February 7 at 1:00 pm. More information here.

Thursday, February 7, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
UWM Presents United We Read, featuring Molly Beckwith Gutman, Ryan Burden, Beth Vigoren, and Liam Callanan

United We Read is a monthly reading series presented by UWM’s Creative Writing Program at venues throughout the city. Students of UWM’s Creative Writing program read their work, along with UWM Professor Liam Callanan, whose latest publication is the paperback release of his novel Paris by the Book, Boswell’s bestselling hardcover novel of 2018.

Saturday, February 9, 2:00 pm, at Boswell:
Gary D Schmidt, author of Pay Attention, Carter Jones 

 Two-time Newbery Honoree Schmidt, author of The Wednesday Wars and Orbiting Jupiter, brings a new coming-of-age story to Boswell about a boy who one day finds an English butler on his doorstep. Great for adults and kids 10 and up.

Carter Jones is astonished early one morning when he finds a real English butler, bowler hat and all, on the doorstep, one who stays to help the Jones family, which is a little bit broken. Now, in addition to figuring out middle school, Carter has to adjust to the unwelcome presence of this new know-it-all adult in his life and navigate the butler's notions of decorum.

Carter is dealing with grief and anger, emotions he can’t ignore. With the help of the butler, Carter learns that a burden becomes lighter when it is shared. Sparkling with humor, this insightful and compassionate story will resonate with readers who have confronted secrets of their own.

Gary D Schmidt is author of Orbiting Jupiter, the Newbery Honor and Printz Honor book Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, and the Newbery Honor book The Wednesday Wars. He is a professor of English at Calvin College in Michigan.

Get the latest on our events (including any last-minute changes) on our upcoming events page.

photo credits
Pam Jenoff: Mindy Schwartz Sorasky
Gary D. Schmidt: Myna Anderson

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending February 2, 2019

Despite the snow and cold, there is still a bestseller list! This is for the week ending February 2, 2019

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Tear It Down V4, by Nick Petrie
2. Out of the Dark V4: An Orphan X Novel, by Gregg Hurwitz
3. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
4. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
5. Kingdom of the Blind V14, by Louise Penny
6. The Current, by Tim Johnston
7. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles (big paperback announcement soon)
8. Devotions, by Mary Oliver
9. The Collector's Apprentice, by B.A. Shapiro
10. Circe, by Madeline Miller (paperback just got postponed until 2020)

It appears that in mystery, readers want a good mystery. I think you'd call fully half of the top 10 hardcover fiction titles thriller-ish. One would be B.A. Shapiro's The Collector's Apprentice, out since last October. Boswellian's Kay Wosewick said, " You’ll be swept into a quiet tale of intrigue starring a rather traumatized young lady from Europe, a savvy con artist from America, and a wealthy American amassing a huge collection of contemporary European art. The story will take you for a couple of unexpected spins before letting you go well satisfied."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Becoming, by Michelle Obama
2. Make Time, by Jake Knapp
3. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, by Samin Nosrat
4. Dreyer's English, by Benjamin Dreyer
5. The Library Book, by Susan Orlean
6. Educated, by Tara Westover
7. How to Change Your Mind, by Michael Pollan
8. Why Religion, by Elaine Pagels
9. Maid, by Stephanie Land
10. Eat Me, by Kenny Shopskin

Just out is Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style from Benjamin Dreyer, vice president, executive managing editor and copy chief of Random House. Among his admirers is George Saunders, who wrote "A mind-blower -sure to jumpstart any writing project, just by exposing you, the writer, to Dreyer’s astonishing level of sentence-awareness.” And Amy Bloom offered this praise: "If Oscar Wilde had wanted to be helpful as well as brilliant, if E. B. White and Noël Coward had had a wonderful little boy who grew up to cherish and model clarity, the result would be Benjamin Dreyer and his frankly perfect book."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Paris by the Book, by Liam Callanan
2. Hotel Silence, by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir
3. The Maze at Windermere, by Gregory Black Smith
4. Burning Bright V2, by Nick Petrie
5. Snowblind V1, by Ragnar Jonasson
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
7. Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
8. The Lost Girls of Paris, by Pam Jenoff
9. The Tattooist of Auschwitz, by Heather Morris
10. Improvement, by Joan Silber

As always, I'm running late on doing our new book club flier, but one book that will definitely be added to the list is Gregory Blake Smith's The Maze at Windermere, one of my favorite novels of last year. From Zach Graham at Newsday: "The themes that resonate across the five narratives imbue the novel with grander meaning as a whole. Sandy and Franklin are classic cases of outsiders aspiring to a high society that will never accept them. Sandy and Prudy both experience eye-opening revelations with regard to race - Sandy in his romance with a black artist named Aisha and Prudy in her relationship with a slave girl named Ashes, inherited from her deceased mother. The revolutionary soldier falls in love with a Jewish woman, but their romance is undermined by her father, who will never accept the soldier because he is a gentile. Henry James becomes romantically entangled with a Jewish woman named Alice Taylor, an affair which certain Christian members of society view as taboo. Themes of racial tension, anti-Semitism, class dynamics, gender dynamics and sexual orientation saturate the novel, and Smith handles them with impressive clarity and nuance."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. American Advertising Cookbooks, by Christina Ward
2. Preservation, by Christina Ward
3. The Cooking Gene, by Michael W. Twitty (just announced that the Milwaukee Public Library event is at capacity)
4. Killers of the Flower Moon, by Michael W. Twitty
5. The Deepest Well, by Nadine Burke-Harris
6. Permission to Thrive, by Susan Angel Miller
7. Home Deus, by Yuval Noah Harari
8. From the Emerald Isle to the Cream City, by Carl Baehr
9. Raising White Kids, by Jennifer Harvey
10. Fascism: A Warning, by Madeleine Albright

Out now in paperback is The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity from Nadine Burke-Harris. The hardcover event with REDgen and Marquette University (and us) had over 500 attendees. Nadine Burke-Harris was just named California's first state Surgeon General by Gavin Newsom, per the Chronicle of Social Change.

Books for Kids:
1. How to Properly Dispose of Planet Earth V2, by Paul Noth
2. How to Sell Your Family to the Aliens V1, by Paul Noth
3. A Curse So Dark and Lonely, by Brigid Kemmerer
4. The Girl King, by Mimi Yu
5. Imprison the Sky V2, by AC Gaughen
6. Lulu and Rock in Milwaukee, by Barbara Joosse with illustrations by Renée Graef
7. Max and the Midnights, by Lincoln Peirce
8. Brawl of the Wild V6, by Dav Pilkey
9. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
10. Squirm, by Carl Hiaasen

Bloomsbury Kids winds up sweeping our top five this week, between Paul Noth's school and public visits and a YA Boswell! event with Brigid Kemmerer, AC Gaughen, and Mimi Yu. Of A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Boswell's Jenny Chou wrote: "This retelling of Beauty and the Beast captured my heart from page one through powerful storytelling and refreshing new twists on a classic story." And what's particularly interesting about this story is that the heroine has Cerebral Palsy, as does the heroine in the contemporary storyline of The Maze at Windermere. Kirkus in its starred review also offered: "Refreshingly, Harper is the undisputed hero and also not the only significant character with a disability. Avoiding disability inspiration tropes, she is a fallible, well-rounded character who fights for the vulnerable and resists being labeled as such herself despite how others perceive her."

From the Journal Sentinel: --Grace Li in USA Today reviewed What We Were Promised, by Lisa Tan. It is reprinted in the Journal Sentinel in conjunction with Lucy Tan's visit to Milwaukee on February 26, where she'll be in conversation with Chloe Benjamin in The Immortalists. From Li: "What We Were Promised glows through its intimate, skillful prose. Tan’s debut is a beautiful reckoning with the ever-changing definition of 'home' – what it means to have, lose and find family again."

--Jeff Ayers from the Associated Press: "Out of the Dark by Gregg Hurwitz takes the reader on a journey that covers a wide range of emotions from potential love to outright terror. The relentless action and detailed mission planning make the tale both clever and smart. Hurwitz continues to profile this stellar character and improve with each new installment. This novel will be remembered as one of the best thrillers of the year."

--We Cast a Shadow, by Maurice Carlos Ruffin is reviewed by Ragan Clark, also from Associated Press: "Heart-wrenching and morally ambiguous, We Cast a Shadow explores questions of justice and self-actualization. Life’s fulfillment may seem within reach only when cultural assimilation to the most extreme degree takes place. But what is the price that is paid?"

--Sharon Peters from USA Today offers a take on Stephanie Land's Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive: "Land’s resolute honesty, while acknowledging many bad choices, envy (and sometimes contempt) toward the people whose houses she cleans, makes Maid a book with much candid detail of frustrations with the limitations of programs she relied on. Still, it is a picture of the soul-robbing grind through poverty that millions live with every day."

Visit the Boswell event page for more upcoming event information, staff recommendations, and more.