Monday, December 9, 2019

Events this week: Goldie Boldbloom, Brittany Williams, John Hildebrand, Tom Voss and Rebecca Anne Nguyen, Jeanine Basinger

Monday, December 9, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Goldie Goldbloom, author of On Division

Goldie Goldbloom, author and Chasidic mother of eight, in conversation with Marquette Professor CJ Hribal about her latest work, a deeply affecting novel of one woman's life at a moment of change, set in the world of Brooklyn's Chasidim. Cosponsored by the Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center and UWM Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies. For this event, Goldbloom will be in conversation with C.J. Hribal, Professor of English at Marquette University.

In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Surie Eckstein is soon to be a great-grandmother. Her in-laws live on the first floor of their house, her daughter lives on the second. Into this life of counted blessings comes a surprise. Surie is pregnant at 57. It is an aberration, a shift in the proper order of things, and a public display of private life. Exposed, ashamed, she is unable to share the news, even with her husband. But deeper within is another secret, about her son, who died by suicide several years before. And these secrets slowly separate her from her community.

From Lily Meyer in The Chicago Reader: "In Jewish American literature, struggling not to believe is unusual. From Chaim Potok to Philip Roth to Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Jewish novelists in this country have tended to depict secular or nonpracticing Jews, some of whom reject their religion completely. Chicago writer Goldie Goldbloom, who's Hasidic and queer, takes a different approach in her quietly exceptional second novel, On Division... Her protagonist, Surie Eckstein, is a Hasidic Jew for whom there is no lapsing from faith. Surie loves God. What she struggles on are God's rules."

Tuesday, December 10, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Brittany Williams, author of Instant Loss: Eat Real, Lose Weight: How I Lost 125 Pounds

Boswell hosts an evening with Brittany Williams, author of the bestselling Instant Loss Cookbook, who chronicles her struggle with obesity and changing her relationship with food in Instant Loss: Eat Real, Lose Weight . Registration is free at, or upgrade to a purchase-with-registration option for signing line priority and a special price. Registration closes at 2 pm on December 10, but don't worry, we've got plenty of space for walk-ups at this event.

After spending a lifetime struggling with obesity, autoimmune diseases, and chronic fatigue, Williams changed her relationship with food. She cut processed and takeout foods from her diet and eliminated gluten, most grains, and sugar, all without sacrificing the flavors of the foods she loved, and quickly grew legions of fans as she shared her meal plans on

Armed with a collection of 125 all-new delicious recipes for the Instant Pot, air fryer, and more, Williams, champion for the whole foods JERF (Just Eat Real Foods) movement, shows how to make a sustainable lifestyle with kid- and family-friendly meals.

Wednesday, December 11, 7 pm, at Boswell:
John Hildebrand, author of Long Way Round: Through the Heartland by River

Inspired by tales of a mythic Round River, a circular stream where “what goes around comes around,” Wisconsin writer John Hildebrand Professor Emeritus of English at UW-Eau Claire and author of The Heart of Things: A Midwestern Almanac, sets off to rediscover his home state.

Wisconsin is in the midst of an identity crisis, torn by new political divisions and the old gulf between city and countryside. Cobbling rivers together, from the burly Mississippi to the slender wilds of Tyler Forks, Hildebrand navigates the beautiful but complicated territory of home. In once prosperous small towns, he discovers unsung heroes - lockmasters, river rats, hotelkeepers, mechanics, environmentalists, tribal leaders, and perennial mayors - struggling to keep their communities afloat.

Booklist writes: “In a narrative that is rhythmic and thoughtful, Hildebrand captures the natural beauty and idiosyncrasies of Wisconsin small towns with ease. Much like a canoe trip with an old friend, Long Way Round is an enjoyable and worthwhile read.” Here's Bill Lueders in The Isthmus with his take on the book, noting that the journey is set amidst turmoil in state and national politics.

Thursday, December 12, 2019, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Tom Voss and Rebecca Anne Nguyen, author of Where War Ends: A Combat Veteran’s 2,700-Mile Journey to Heal - Recovering from PTSD and Moral Injury through Meditation

Infantry scout-sniper Tom Voss and his sister and coauthor Rebecca Anne Nguyen share Voss’s riveting story of his on-foot journey across America, from Milwaukee to the Pacific Ocean through his burdens of moral injury, and into personal healing and advocacy.

After serving in a scout-sniper platoon in Mosul, Tom Voss came home carrying invisible wounds of war. This was not a physical injury that could heal with medication and time but a “moral injury,” a wound that eventually urged him toward suicide. Desperate for relief from the pain and guilt that haunted him, Voss embarked on a 2,700-mile journey across America.

Walk with these men as they meet other veterans, Native American healers, and spiritual teachers who appear in the most unexpected forms. At the end of their trek, Voss realizes he is just beginning his healing. He pursues meditation training and discovers sacred breathing techniques that shatter his understanding of war and himself, and move him from despair to hope. Voss’s story inspires veterans, their friends and family, and survivors of all kinds.

Monday, December 16, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Jeanine Basinger, author of The Movie Musical!

Leading film historian and founder of the Film Studies department at Wesleyan University Jeanine Basinger reveals, with her trademark wit and zest, the whole story of the Hollywood musical—in the most telling, most incisive, most detailed, most gorgeously illustrated book of her long and remarkable career. This event is cohosted by Milwaukee Film

Registration is requested but not required for this free event at Attendees can upgrade to a book-with-ticket option and get The Movie Musical for 20% off the regular price. For this event, Basinger will be in conversation with Milwaukee based film biographer Patrick McGilligan, whose latest book is Funny Man: Mel Brooks.

From Noah Isenberg in The New York Times Book Review: "For Basinger, one of the most acclaimed film historians of her generation, the movie musical is no mere object of study. Rather, it embodies a personal journey of sorts, beginning with childhood. In the opening pages of her sprawling chronicle, she describes how she was essentially raised on musicals from the moment she first encountered a tuxedo-clad Fred Astaire and his dance partner, Ginger Rogers, dressed in a full-length white sequin gown, gliding across the black Bakelite floor of an empty nightclub in Swing Time(1936)."

More events on the Boswell upcoming event page.

Photo credits
Jeanine Basinger: Jay Fishback

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending December 7, 2019

Boswell Bestsellers for the week ending December 7, 2019

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett
2. Olive Again, by Elizabeth Strout
3. The Water Dancer, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
4. The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood
5. The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern
6. Exhalation, by Ted Chiang
7. The World That We Knew, by Alice Hoffman
8. Nothing More Dangerous, by Allen Eskens
9. The Topeka School, by Ben Lerner
10. The Grammarians, by Cathleen Schine

Here's when we see what's on everyone's Christmas list. We only include ranks here, but I can let you know that The Dutch House's sales are close to triple our #2 contender. While we're seeing sales increases for all the fall prizes announced, they are not making much of an impact in this category. The National Book Award tends to be an award that helps a book that already has a platform do better, but it struggles to take unknowns and break them out, at least in hardcover. We saw similar sales with A Friend last year. It went on to do well for us in paper, and like that book, we'll almost definitely feature Trust Exercise as an In-Store Lit Group selection. I should note that we're getting close to running out of our signed copies of The Dutch House (Patchett signed 100 extra) so if that was on your list and you thought the signature was something you'd want, I wouldn't wait until December 24. I don't normally read GoodReads reviews but some of these get me a little weepy: "Everything about this novel is perfect."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. 100 Years in Titletown, by Vernon Biever, Jim Biever
2. The Body, by Bill Bryson
3. Alice Adams, by Carol Sklenicka
4. The Depositions, by Thomas Lynch
5. Brilliant Maps for Curious Minds, by Ian Wright
6. The Little Book of Lost Words, by Joe Gillard
7. The Book of Delights, by Ross Gay (Chris's pick!)
8. Infused, by Henrietta Lovell (Jen's pick!)
9. The People's Team, by Mark Beech
10. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, by Samin Nosrat

In this category, we've still got three events crowding the top 5, so it's The Body that's #1 for sales with those taken out. Below that are two impulse books, Brilliant Maps for Curious Minds, which I've mentioned before, and The Little Book of Lost Words: Collywobbles, Snollygosters, and 86 Other Surprisingly Useful Terms Worth Resurrecting, which I haven't really paid attention to, but should. Note that a dram of scotch before your wedding can calm your collywobbles, meaning stomach pain or sickness from nervous anxiety.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Unbreakables, by Lisa Barr
2. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
3. Ohio, by Stephen Markley (In-Store Lit Group read for January)
4. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, by Abbi Waxman (PW best of the year)
5. Girl, Woman, Other, by Bernardine Evaristo (Booker!)
6. Milwaukee Noir, edited by Tim Hennessy (our big regional book)
7. Flights, by Olga Tokarczuk (Nobel)
8. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
9. The Current, by Tim Johnston
10. We're All in This Together, by Amy Jones

First of all, I should note that The Overstory had a huge week. It's the must-give paperback fiction for the season.

Since last year I had a relative crowd pleaser as my book of the year (The Great Believers), I thought I'd go out-of-the-box and pick We're All in This Together, which has just about everything going against it for success except a nice book jacket. For one thing, it was published in 2016, and only got imported here in 2019 when nobody would by the American rights. It's a paperback original, but being that McLelland and Stewart has no presence here, it didn't really have any marketing except the might influence of our Knopf/Doubleday sales rep Jason. Most of the stores selling the book well are in his territory. If you like funny family novels (and I know you do, Where'd You Go, Bernadette? fans. It actually reminds me a bit of Kevin Wilson's Nothing to See Here, only with less spontaneous combustion.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference, by Greta Thunberg
2. The Library Book, by Susan Orlean
3. White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo
4. Classic Krakauer, by Jon Krakauer
5. 111 Places in Milwaukee You Must Not Miss, by Michelle Madden
6. How to Resist Amazon and Why, by Danny Caine
7. Making Comics, by Lynda Barry
8. The Good Neighbor, by Maxwell King
9. The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee, by David Treuer
10. World Almanac and Book of Facts 2020, edited by Sarah Janssen (well, what a comfort it is to see this!)

#1 by a good margin this week is Greta Thunberg's No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference, which is collected from her speeches. I was mentioning at an educator talk that Amie told me a lot of publishers are publishing kids books based on Thunberg and her environmental activism, but here's the real thing. From Lucy Diavolo in Teen Vogue: "In a collection of public remarks delivered from September 2018 to September 2019, readers see Greta’s best attempts to boil down a complex range of scientific estimates and calculations into a sort of doomsday clock urging people to take action."

Books for Kids:
1. Dasher, by Matt Tavares
2. Children of Virtue and Vengeance V2, by Tomi Adeyemi
3. Peek-A-Who, by Elsa Mroziewicz
4. Wrecking Ball V14, by Jeff Kinney
5. Troublemaker for Justice, by Jacqueline Houtman (event at Boswell, Wed Jan 8, 6:30 pm)
6. The Snowy Day board book, by Ezra Jack Keats
7. The Story Orchestra: Nutcracker, by Jessica Courtney Tickle
8. The Story Orchestra: Swan Lake, by Jessica Courtney Tickle
9. The Crayons Christmas, by Drew Daywalt, with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers
10. The Toll V3, by Neal Shusterman
11. Peek-A-Who Too, by Elsa Mroziewicz
12. Planetarium, by Raman Prinja
13. A to Z Menagerie, by Suzy Ultman
14. Winter Is Here, by Kevin Henkes/Laura Dronzek (not the board book)
15. Lulu and Rocky in Milwaukee, by Barbara Joosse, with illustrations by Renee Graef

Peek-a-Who and Peek-a-Who Too are lift-the-flap board books with the usual call-and-response of "What does the cow say?" and that's when you say "Moo." The difference is that both books are triangular and that has led to a lot of enthusiasm for them, especially at presentations like the one I did at the Shorewood Public Library yesterday.

In book release news, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, the long-awaited sequel to Children of Blood and Bone came out and we had a very nice pop in sales. Publishers Weekly called it "thrilling" but found the romance element "shoehorned." But hey, there's also a literary gut-puch!

Over at the Journal Sentinel

Sheldon Lubar tells his life story in Climbing My Mountain. Hoping to have copies in soon. From Rick Romell's article: "After more than six decades of shaping himself into one of Milwaukee’s most successful business people, serving his country in Washington and sharing a significant chunk of his wealth with the community, Lubar has more than a few things to say." Milwaukee County Historical Society is having a launch event on Thursday.

At the Associated Press, Jill Lawless reviews The Secret Commonwealth, the latest from Philip Pullman: "Pullman remains convinced that “when religious power acquires political power, terrible things happen.” But the book also takes aim at a strain of hyperrationalism that the author regards as equally dangerous. The title of The Secret Commonwealth refers to the realm of the mysterious, inexplicable and magical."

Michael Hill at Associated Press looks at a new book on catastrophes: "The End Is Always Near: Apocalyptic Moments, from the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses is a book about nasty things: epidemics, famine, sieges, civilizations collapsing and nuclear war. Dan Carlin is fascinated by societal catastrophes. And he’s very interested in the questions these sorts of disasters bring up. What was it like to live through these extreme events?"

Speaking of regional books that are hard to get, if you are a bookstore in the Milwaukee area that would like to stock Milwaukee Rock and Roll, 1950-2000, please contact us and we'll connect you to our contact until books arrive at Baker & Taylor Publisher Services. We're hoping to have this loaded on our website as quickly as possible.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Boswell upcoming events - Jim Biever, Thomas Lynch, Seth Siegel, Allen Eskens, Lisa Barr, Carol Sklenicka, Goldie Goldbloom, plus I'm at the Shorewood Public Library

Look familiar? It's our upcoming event page. One doesn't think there should be that much to do for an event programmer after Thanksgiving.  I'll have a post with the books that were talked about on Wisconsin Public Radio's Larry Meiller Show later today.

Tuesday, December 3, 7 pm, at Boswell:

Boswell presents Jim Biever, former Packers Team Photographer, for a celebration of more than seventy years of one family’s quintessential Green Bay football photography. Register for this free event by 2 pm, but don't worry, we've got plenty of space for walk-ups.
The name Biever is synonymous with Green Bay Packers football. For the better part of eight decades, the late Vernon Biever and his son Jim were there on the sidelines at Lambeau and beyond, capturing the most iconic moments in team history.
In celebration of the Packers' 100th season, 100 Years in Titletown is a stunning showcase of the finest work from the Biever archives, sourced from thousands of film rolls and including rare, never-before-seen images shot by the first family of Packers photography. Jim Biever was the official team photographer of the Packers until his retirement in 2016.

Wednesday, December 4, 6 pm, at UWM Student Union Wisconsin Room, 2200 E Kenwood Blvd:

The UW-Milwaukee Alumni Association presents Master Chats, an evening with bestselling author Seth M Siegel in a conversation with WUWM’s Environmental Reporter Susan Bence, who together will explore how our drinking water got contaminated, what it may be doing to us, and what we must do to make it safe.
If you thought America's drinking water problems started and ended in Flint and Milwaukee, think again. From big cities and suburbs to the rural heartland, chemicals linked to cancer, heart disease, obesity, birth defects, and lowered IQ routinely spill from our taps. Many are to blame, from the EPA and Congress to chemical companies and water utilities. And bottled water is often no safer.
The tragedy is that existing technologies could launch a new age of clean, healthy, and safe tap water for only a few dollars a week per person. Siegel shares shocking stories about contaminated water, the everyday heroes that have pushed for change, and what we must do to reverse years of neglect and inaction.
This event is free. Doors open 5:30 pm. Light refreshments will be served. More information and registration can be found at
Seth M Seigel is a lawyer, activist, serial entrepreneur, and author of Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times. Siegel is currently Senior Water Policy Fellow at the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences.

Wednesday, December 4, 7 pm, at Boswell:

Boswell hosts an evening with essayist and small town undertaker Thomas Lynch, the National Book Award finalist for The Undertaking.
For nearly four decades, Lynch has probed relations between the literary and mortuary arts. His life’s work with the dead and the bereaved has informed his exploration of identity and humanity, to which he brings a signature blend of memoir, meditation, gallows humor, and poetic precision.
The Depositions provides an essential selection of essays on fatherhood, Irish heritage, funeral rites, and the perils of bodiless obsequies. The space between Lynch’s hyphenated identities as an Irish American and undertaker-poet is narrowed by the deaths of poets, the funerals of friends, the loss of neighbors, intimate estrangements, and the slow demise of a beloved dog. The press of the author’s own mortality animates the new essays, sharpening a curiosity about where we come from, where we go, and what it means.
Thomas Lynch is author of five collections of poetry, one of stories, and four books of essays. His first, The Undertaking, won the Heartland Prize for Non-Fiction and was a finalist for the National Book Award. His writing has appeared in the Atlantic, Harper's Magazine, and the New York Times, among other publications. He works as a funeral director in Milford, Michigan, and teaches at the Bear River Writer's Conference.

Thursday, December 5, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Allen Eskens, author of Nothing More Dangerous

Edgar finalist and author of The Shadows We Hide returns to Boswell with his latest novel, a coming-of-age story set in a small town in the Missouri Ozarks.
After fifteen years of growing up in the Ozark hills with his widowed mother, high-school freshman Boady dreams of glass towers and cityscapes. When a black family moves in across the road, in a community where notions of "us" and "them" carry the weight of history, Boady must rethink his understanding of the world. Secrets hidden in plain sight begin to unfold: a mother who wraps herself in the loss of her husband, a neighbor who carries the wounds of a mysterious past that he holds close, and a quiet boss who is fighting his own hidden battle. Boady begins to see the stark lines of race and class that both bind and divide this small town - and he will be forced to choose sides.
Library Journal’s starred review of Nothing More Dangerous says, “This powerful, unforgettable crime novel is a coming-of-age book to rival some of the best, such as William Kent Krueger's Ordinary Grace or Larry Watson's Montana 1948…A must-read.”
Allen Eskens is the bestselling author of The Guise of AnotherThe Heavens May Fall, and The Life We Bury, currently in development for a feature film. He is a practicing criminal defense attorney.

Thursday, December 5, 7 pm, at Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center, 6255 N Santa Monica Blvd
Lisa Barr, author of The Unbreakables

Samson Family JCC present Girls Night In with Lisa Barr, award-winning author and journalist, who will chat about her latest novel about a woman who, after her husband’s affair, jets off to France to rediscover her own joie de vivre. Tickets are $10 for admission, $25 for admission and a copy of The Unbreakables. Details and tickets available at

When the Ashley Madison data breach exposes her husband as the top cheater in town, Sophie Bloom is humiliated and directionless. So she jumps into the unknown, fleeing France to meet up with her teenage daughter, who is studying abroad and nursing her own heartbreak. As she sheds her past and travels an obstacle-filled road-less-travelled, Sophie is determined to blossom. Allowing her true self to emerge in the postcard beauty of Provence, Sophie must decide what is broken forever, and what it means to be truly unbreakable.
Pam Jenoff, author of The Orphan’s Tale, says, “Readers will delight in this effervescent cocktail of second chances, female strength, mother-daughter bonding and the truths that set us free. Smart, sure, and sexy, The Unbreakables is unforgettable.”
Lisa Barr has been an editor at The Jerusalem Post and an editor/reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times. Lisa is also the creator and editor of the popular parenting blog, GIRLilla Warfare.

Friday, December 6, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Carol Sklenicka, author of Alice Adams: Portrait of a Writer, with Flora Coker and Martha Bergland

Carol Sklenicka, author of the biography of Raymond Carver named a New York Times Book Review Best Book, visits with her latest work, a portrait of writer Alice Adams. She’ll be in conversation with area author Martha Bergland, and the evening will feature a dramatic reading by area actor Flora Coker.
With the same meticulous research and vivid storytelling she brought to Raymond Carver: A Writer’s Life, Sklenicka integrates the drama of Adams’s deeply felt, elegantly fierce life with a cascade of events - the civil rights and women’s movements, the sixties counterculture, and sexual freedom.
This biography’s revealing analyses of Adams’s stories and novels from Careless Love to Superior Women to The Last Lovely City, and her extensive interviews with Adams’s family and friends, among them Mary Gaitskill, Diane Johnson, Anne Lamott, and Alison Lurie, give us the definitive story of a writer often dubbed “America’s Colette.” Alice Adams: Portrait of a Writer captures not just a beloved woman’s life in full, but a crucial span of American history.
Carol Sklenicka is the author of Raymond Carver: A Writer’s Life, which was named of one of the 10 Best Books of 2009 by The New York Times Book Review. Martha Bergland is author of the novels A Farm Under a Lake and Idle Curiosity as well as the biography Studying Wisconsin: The Life of Increase Lapham, Early Chronicler of Plants, Rocks, Rivers, Mounds and All Things Wisconsin. Flora Coker is a Riverwest based actor and was a founder of Milwaukee’s Theater X. She has appeared in productions at the Milwaukee Rep, First Stage, Next Act Theater, and more.

Saturday, December 7, 11 am, at Shorewood Public Library, 3920 N Murray Ave:
A Holiday Book Talk with Daniel Goldin

The Friends of Shorewood Public Library present Boswell Book Company's proprietor Daniel Goldin for a presentation on the best books to look for during the holiday season. Daniel is known for giving interesting and varied suggestions, perfect for discerning readers.
Books will be available for purchase, with a portion of sales supporting the Friends of the Shorewood Public Library. This is the perfect opportunity to shop for book lovers on your list - including yourself. Photo by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Monday, December 9, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Goldie Goldbloom, author of On Division

Goldie Goldbloom, author and Chasidic mother of eight, in conversation with Marquette Professor CJ Hribal about her latest work, a deeply affecting novel of one woman's life at a moment of change, set in the world of Brooklyn's Chasidim. Cosponsored by the Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center and UWM Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies.
In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Surie Eckstein is soon to be a great-grandmother. Her in-laws live on the first floor of their house, her daughter lives on the second. Into this life of counted blessings comes a surprise. Surie is pregnant at 57. It is an aberration, a shift in the proper order of things, and a public display of private life. Exposed, ashamed, she is unable to share the news, even with her husband. But deeper within is another secret, about her son, who died by suicide several years before. And these secrets slowly separate her from her community.
From Lily Meyer in The Chicago Reader: "In Jewish American literature, struggling not to believe is unusual. From Chaim Potok to Philip Roth to Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Jewish novelists in this country have tended to depict secular or nonpracticing Jews, some of whom reject their religion completely. Chicago writer Goldie Goldbloom, who's Hasidic and queer, takes a different approach in her quietly exceptional second novel, On Division... Her protagonist, Surie Eckstein, is a Hasidic Jew for whom there is no lapsing from faith. Surie loves God. What she struggles on are God's rules."
Goldie Goldbloom’s first novel, The Paperbark Shoe, won the AWP Prize, was named the Literary Novel of the Year by Forward magazine, and is an NEA Big Reads selection. She has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and has received multiple grants and awards, including fellowships from Warren Wilson, Northwestern University, the Brown Foundation, the City of Chicago, and the Elizabeth George Foundation. CJ Hribal is Professor of English at Marquette University and author of The Company Car and other works of fiction.

What a great week!

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending November 30, 2019

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending November 30, 2019

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern
2. The Water Dancer, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
3. The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett
4. Exhalation, by Ted Chiang
5. Olive, Again, by Elizabeth Strout
6. The Topeka School, by Ben Lerner
7. Under Occupation, by Alan Furst
8. A Better Man V15, by Louise Penny
9. The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood
10. The Age of Anxiety, by Pete Townsend

This time of year, it always seems like someone is celebrating rock and roll Christmas and only giving music star memoirs out as gifts, but it tends to be a little quiet with us. I asked Jason about this (aside from the issue that none of these superstars are scheduling celebrity signings at our store) and he thought our music section is strong, but people tend to buy broadly, with a rare book dominating the category. Pete Townshend's novel, The Age of Anxiety, did hit our top ten this week. He spoke with Raina Douris on NPR World Cafe: "I really wanted to write a proper fiction novel, at last. I was warned by my editor that if I went too far into general fiction, people would lose "me." I am a celebrity; I am known for what I do in a rock band, so with this book, I tried to stay in familiar territory. I'm not taunting people to try and find me in this. If they try and find me in this — they might, they might not, but I don't think I'm really there."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Gift of Our Wounds, by Arno Michaelis and Pardeep Singh Kaleka
2. The Body, by Bill Bryson
3. Talking to Strangers, by Malcolm Gladwell
4. The Yellow House, by Sarah M Broom
5. Blowout, by Rachel Maddow
6. Crime in Progress, by Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch
7. Educated, by Tara Westover
8. Atlas Obscura 2E, by Dylan Thuras, Joshua Foer, Ella Morton
9. Say Nothing, by Patrick Radden Keefe
10. Brilliant Maps for Curious Minds, by Ian Wright

While the fiction year-end picks are all over the place (The Topeka School hit the NYT and Washington Post top 10, but wasn't even a National Book Award Finalist), The Yellow House also hit both year-end top tens, but it won the National Book Award as well. From Lauren LeBlanc in The Atlantic: "Sarah M. Broom was writing long before Hurricane Katrina. What would ultimately become her memoir, The Yellow House, started as a collection of notes and essays on the house she grew up in, her family, her neighbors, and her local community in New Orleans. She began in the late 1990s after leaving home for college, and it eventually became impossible for her to see the work as anything other than a book project: a family portrait and a history of New Orleans, which would explore the larger social narrative of the United States."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Flights, by Olga Tokarczuk
2. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
3. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
4. Severance, by Ling Ma
5. The Winter Soldier, by Daniel Mason
6. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michele Richardson
7. Milwaukee Noir, edited by Tim Hennessy
8. The Apple Tree, by Daphne DuMaruier, with illustrations by Seth
9. The Spiral of Silence, by Elvira Sanchez-Blake, translated by Lorena Terando
10. Killing Commendatore, by Haruki Murakami

One of the books from our translation event last Tuesday hit our top ten, but I should note that many translated titles still don't advertise as such on their front jackets. For example, Murakami's Killing Commendatore is translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen. For some reason, this is not the kind of book that was highlighted in the National Book Awards translation category. All were for authors not yet well known in the United States. I'm sure everyone else knows, but I'm not sure if the award is for the translation or the book itself.

The New York Times review from Hari Kunzru actually wasn't particularly positive, but it was interesting: " The low-key tone of Murakami’s narrators, which in earlier books like Norwegian Wood scanned as hipster cool, has in recent years come to feel more like depersonalization and isolation, a malaise not unlike that associated with hikikomori, the young shut-ins who have become a symbol of contemporary spiritual crisis. In Killing Commendatore, the narrator’s dreaminess mainly feels unfocused, and a story that might have been engaging at 300 or 400 pages is drawn out to almost 700. This is a novel in which no character can go to meet a friend at a restaurant without a description of the route and the traffic conditions."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
2. From Brokenness to Community, by Jean Vanier
3. Calypso, by David Sedaris
4. Getting to Yes, by Roger Fisher, William Ury, Bruce Patton
5. Classic Krakauer, by Jon Krakauer
6. Putting Government in Its Place, by David R Riemer
7. Think Little, by Wendell Berry
8. Democracy without Journalism, by Victor Packard
9. Field Guide to Birds of Wisconsin, by American Birding Association
10. Making Comics, by Lynda Barry

First published in 1972, this repackaged edition of Think Little: Essays is part of the new Counterpoints series. Per the publisher, the collection is an "evergreen, ever-urgent, and now pocket-sized argument for focused and inclusive climate change activism. Designed and priced for point-of-sale (editor's note - that means it's inexpensive and can go on the equivalent of our impulse table), the Counterpoints series will feature essays, poems, and stories from Wendell Berry, Gary Snyder, Mary Robison, Betty Fussell, MFK Fisher, and many more." Hey, it worked!

Books for Kids:
1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Wrecking Ball V14, by Jeff Kinney
2. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, by Robert Frost, with illustrations by Susan Jeffers
3. Dog Man: For Whom the Ball Rolls, by Dav Pilkey
4. Guts, by Raina Telgemeier
5. Little Penguins board book, by Cynthia Rylant, with illustrations by Christian Robinson
6. The Mitten board book, by Jan Brett
7. Winter Is Here board book, by Kevin Henkes with illustrations by Laura Dronzek
8. The Night Before Christmas, by Clement C. Moore, with illustrations by Roger Duvoisin
9. The Velocity of Being, by Maria Popova
10. The Story Orchestra: The Nutcracker, by Jessica Jessica Courtney Tickle

I know that the board book version of children's books aren't the real thing, but they are quite popular and the fact that they are effectively mini-versions plays with my emotions. They literally are baby books. This week in addition to Jan Brett's The Mitten, out in board since 2014, we have two other titles, the popular Winter is Here from Kevin Henkes and Laura Dronzek (we might have some signed editions of the traditional picture book) and Little Penguins, which has delightful illustrations from Christian Robinson, who made the NYT Best Illustrated Childrens Books list this year for Another.

The grand dames dominate the Journal Sentinel Book Page. First is Janet Evanovich, whose Twisted Twenty-Six hit #1 on the national lists. Associate Press's Hillel Italie spoke to her: "'I collected rejections for 10 years,' recalls Evanovich, best known for her Stephanie Plum crime novels. 'At the end they were in a big cardboard packing crate. It was full of rejections. I had a rejection that was on a bar napkin, written in lipstick.' With her children nearing college age, and her husband’s salary as a college professor not enough to support them, she found a job as a secretary, burned all the rejection notices and resigned herself to a traditional working life. Then came the tearful plot twist."

And then there's Mary Higgins Clark, who with her latest, Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry, is still publishing into her nineties. From Jenny Cohen at USA Today: "'As a writer, I want to create a story about a topic people are interested in and talking about at the time the work is being published,' Clark says in an interview via email. 'I also wanted to add an additional element to the MeToo stories that have received so much publicity. ... The MeToo storyline provided a wealth of plot opportunities.'"

Emily Gray Tedrowe reviews Michael Crummey's latest, also for USA Today: "Two children, orphaned at a young age, alone on a barren cove of the Newfoundland coast. Michael Crummey’s harshly beautiful new novel The Innocents takes this brutal scenario – based on a true story – as a starting point, but what begins as a gripping survival tale deepens into a psychological inquiry into intimacy, conflict and what it means to be alone together in the world."

Event round up tomorrow.