Monday, October 3, 2022

Six events this week: Jeannée Sacken at Shorewood Public Library, Alexandra Rowland (virtual), Jasmine Warga at Greenfield Public Library, Silas House, Mary Wimmer, and Linda Stephens (all at Boswell!)

Monday, October 3, 6:30 pm 
Jeannée Sacken, author of Double Exposure
in-person at Shorewood Public Library, 3920 N Murray Ave - click here for more info

Shorewood Public Library presents an evening with Jeannée Sacken for Double Exposure, the sequel to her American Writing Awards Book of the Year, Behind the Lens.

Seasoned war photojournalist Annie Hawkins is under investigation for an incident that happened six months earlier in Afghanistan. Her best friend's daughter is still missing, apparently with her Taliban boyfriend. Her own daughter is fundraising to rebuild the Wad Qol Secondary School for Girls and expects Annie to deliver the money. To make matters worse, she and the love of her life are no longer speaking. When Annie returns to Afghanistan to cover peace talks between the government and the Taliban, she takes a side trip to Wad Qol, where she discovers that not everyone wants the new school. Sabotage delays construction, and when a worker ends up dead, it's clear the militants are to blame. It's also obvious that they know exactly where Annie is.

Love in Provence author Patricia Sands says: "Fast-moving, unpredictable, and at times heart-stopping. Sacken’s prose is brilliant." And Maggie Smith, author of Truth and Other Lies, says Double Exposure is full of: "smart narration, nuanced characters, and thought-provoking situations reminiscent of Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns."

Jeannée Sacken is an author and photojournalist who travels the world documenting the lives of women and children. A former English professor, she lives in Shorewood and is currently President of the Friends of the Shorewood Public Library.

Tuesday, October 4, 7 pm
Alexandra Rowland, author of A Taste of Gold and Iron
in conversation with Rachel Copeland for a virtual event - click here to register

Author and Hugo Award-nominated podcaster Alexandra Rowland visits us virtually for a conversation about their new book, A Taste of Gold and Iron, a Boswellian favorite in which a queer central romance unfolds in a fantasy world reminiscent of the Ottoman Empire. In conversation with Rachel Copeland of Boswell.

In this Indie Next selection novel, the shy prince of Arasht finds himself at odds with one of the most powerful ambassadors at court. Rowland’s novel earned a quartet of starred reviews, including from Library Journal, which calls the book: "A beautifully detailed world, the power to touch-taste metal, political schemes, and a slow-burn romance wrap together in a lush fantasy."

Here’s Rachel Copeland’s take: "Following an altercation with the body-father of his sister's newborn child, Prince Kadou must prove his loyalty to his sister, the sultan, and figure out who is behind the counterfeit currency plot that could ruin their country of Arasht. Crippled with anxiety, Kadou finds himself stuck with a terse new bodyguard, Evemer, who doesn't seem to like Kadou all that much. After a series of incidents in which Kadou improbably proves himself more canny, dutiful, and capable than Evemer thought possible, an undying loyalty and trust grows between them - and evolves into something more. In every way, this is the romance I've been waiting for. The slow build between Kadou and Evemer was so well done that I often flipped back to reread passages just for fun. Also, every (non-evil) character in this book is iconic, and Rowland had me cackling, blushing, and screaming at multiple points. Rowland's worldbuilding encompasses not only the touch-taste of precious metals that drives the plot, but also a fully realized system of genders, pronouns, orientations, even degrees of paternity. I finished this work wanting - maybe needing - to revisit it immediately to recapture the feeling of pure joy that infuses every page."

Alexandra Rowland is author of A Conspiracy Of Truths, A Choir Of Lies, and Finding Faeries, as well as a cohost of the podcast Be the Serpent. They hold a degree in world literature, mythology, and folklore from Truman State University.

Wednesday, October 5, 6:30 pm
Jasmine Warga, author of A Rover’s Story 
in conversation with Amanda Zieba, in-person at Greenfield Public Library, 5310 W Layton Ave - click here to register.

Boswell Book Company hosts an evening with Newbery Honoree Jasmine Warga, author of books such as Other Words for Home, for a conversation about her new middle grade book, A Rover’s Story, a book that’s perfect for fans of The Wild Robot and Wall-E. In conversation with Amanda Zieba, this event takes place at Greenfield Public Library and is cohosted by the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition.

Warga’s latest middle grade novel is a deeply moving and unique story about the journey of Resilience, a Mars rover determined to live up to his name. Res was built to explore Mars. He was not built to have human emotions. But as he learns new things from the NASA scientists who assemble him, he begins to develop human-like feelings. Maybe there’s a problem with his programming. Human emotions or not, launch day comes, and Res blasts off to Mars, accompanied by a friendly drone helicopter named Fly. But Res quickly discovers that Mars is a dangerous place filled with dust storms and giant cliffs. As he navigates Mars’s difficult landscape, Res is tested in ways that go beyond space exploration. As millions of people back on Earth follow his progress, will Res have the determination, courage and resilience to succeed - and to survive?

From Christina Soontornvat, two-time Newbery Honor recipient: "As a mechanical engineer and STEM-lover, this beautiful book filled my heart right to the top. Res may be a rover, but he taught me what it means to be fully alive." And from the starred Kirkus review: "Warga follows her cybernetic narrator from first awareness to final resting place - and stony indeed will be any readers who remain unmoved by the journey. The intelligences here may be (mostly) artificial, but the feelings are genuine and deep."

Jasmine Warga is author of Other Words for Home, a Newbery Honor Book and a Walter Honor Book for Younger Readers, and The Shape of Thunder. Her teen books, Here We Are Now and My Heart and Other Black Holes, have been translated into over twenty-five languages.

Thursday, October 6, 6:30 pm
Silas House, author of Lark Ascending
In-Person at Boswell - click here to register

Boswell hosts an evening featuring Silas House, author of novels such as Southernmost, for a conversation about his latest, Lark Ascending, a riveting story of survival and hope, set in the not-too-distant future, about a young man forced to flee the United States and seek refuge across the Atlantic. This one is earning lots of early praise from the Boswellians, too! Perfect for fans of Emily St John Mandel.

As fires devastate most of the United States, Lark and his family secure a place on a refugee boat headed to Ireland, the last country not yet overrun by extremists and rumored to be accepting American refugees. But Lark is the only one to survive the trip, and once ashore, he doesn’t find the safe haven he’d hoped for. As he runs for his life, Lark finds an abandoned dog who becomes his closest companion, and then a woman in search of her lost son. Together they form a makeshift family and attempt to reach Glendalough, a place they believe will offer protection. But can any community provide the safety that they seek? An unforgettable story of friendship, family, and healing.

Early praise from Daniel Goldin: "I’m not generally a dystopian reader, but Lark Ascending’s beautiful language and imagery, combined with the emotional heft of the story, drew me in from the first paragraph."

Silas House is the New York Times bestselling author of seven novels, one book of creative nonfiction, and three plays. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Garden & Gun. A former commentator for NPR’s All Things Considered, House is the winner of the Nautilus Award, the Storylines Prize from the NAV/New York Public Library, and an E. B. White Honor.

Friday, October 7, 6:30 pm
Mary Wimmer, author of The Art of the Break
in conversation with Kim Suhr, in-person at Boswell - click here to register

Wisconsin author and educator Mary Wimmer appears at Boswell for a conversation about her new novel, The Art of the Break, a Wisconsin-set novel about friendship, family, love, and cheesemaking. In conversation with Kim Suhr, Director of Red Oak Writing, our cosponsor for this event.

Charlotte 'Charlie' Sobczak finds the most comfort in making cheese - a craft she
learned at the side of her father. In the wake of his untimely death, she and her daughter return home to Falls River, Wisconsin. With her marriage floundering and the childhood losses of her sister and mother still casting a shadow over her life, Charlie pours all her efforts into reopening the family’s Morgan Cheese Factory. Her degree in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin gives her a leg up, and the quiet joys of working at the cheese vat provide a deep, healing peace that points the way toward happiness. But Charlie is ill-prepared for the pettiness and conventions of small-town life, and facing a lien against her family’s land, she must quickly figure out who is on her side and how to keep her dreams alive.

Conversation partner Kim Suhr says: "With authentic characters and vivid settings, The Art of the Break weaves the art and science of cheesemaking into a rich story of love, friendship, and starting over. It reminds us that, while past grief may follow us into the present, it doesn’t have to swallow us whole. This book sings!" And from Ann Garvin: "The Art of the Break is a lyrical love letter to rural Wisconsin, cheesemaking, and family. This story will stay with you, I promise."

Mary Wimmer is author of Reaching Shore, first-place winner of the Midwest Independent Publishers Association-Young Adult Fiction Award, as well as two nonfiction books. Kim Suhr is author of Nothing to Lose.

Monday, October 10, 6:30 pm
Linda Stephens, author of There Is No Backstage: An Actor’s Life
in conversation with Mike Fischer, in-person at Boswell - click here to register

Boswell hosts an evening with actor Linda Stephens for a conversation about her memoir, There Is No Backstage, a chronicle of a life lived in the theatre. In conversation with Mike Fischer, former drama and book critic for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Linda Stephens recounts her remarkable five decades in the theatre with her new memoir. Stephen’s book offers a journey of openness, humility and depth through her award-winning career until the book's poignant finale. Stephens weaves a narrative of family, love, aging, hard work and hard-earned life lessons to offer an open-hearted, honest look at what it means to dedicate a life to a profession that demands so much and can give back so little. Yet when it does give back, it can change lives forever.

Stephens offers the an unflinching look at her personal journey on the professional stage, from dinner theatre to regional theatre to Broadway, revealing the struggles, triumphs, losses, and above all, the ultimate grace found in a life in the theatre.

Linda Stephens has been acting on stages for fifty years and has been awarded for her work in NewYork, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami and DC. She's appeared on Broadway and Off, in dozens of regional theatres across the country, and has worked with Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, and Stephen Sondheim. Stephens lives in Milwaukee.

Laid out by Rachel Copeland. Photo credit of  Silas House by C Williams

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending October 1, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending October 1, 2022

Hardcover Fiction
1. Less Is Lost, by Andrew Sean Greer (signed copies available)
2. Golden Enclaves V3, by Naomi Novik
3. Shrines of Gaiety, by Kate Atkinson
4. Last Summer on State Street, by Toya Wolfe
5. The Ski Jumpers, by Peter Geye
6. Lark Ascending, by Silas House (Register for October 6 event here)
7. Fairy Tale, by Stephen King
8. Winners, by Fredrik Backman
9. The Bullet that Missed V3, by Richard Osman
10. Horse, by Geraldine Brooks

The Book Marks rating to date on Shrines of Gaiety is nine raves, four positives, and one mixed. This is Kate Atkinson's first book since leaving Little, Brown for Doubleday. Side note: she also moved from St. Martin's Press to Little, Brown with Arthur. I just always assumed she followed Arthur to Knopf, but no, she is being edited by Lee Boudreaux now!

From Anna Mundow in The Wall Street Journal: "A feather-light confection of intersecting dramas that recalls the antic comedies of P.G. Wodehouse, the novel has it all: a runaway teenager, a sleuthing ex-librarian, a dogged Chief Inspector, even a stash of purloined jewels. There is the perfect balance throughout of sweetness and heartbreak... And, as always, there is the unmistakable zest of Ms. Atkinson’s dry wit." Ack, I should have read this. Where does the time go?

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Rise of the Rest, by Steve Case
2. I'm Glad My Mom Died, by Jennette McCurdy
3. Dinners with Ruth, by Nina Totenberg
4. Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner
5. Indigenous Continent, by Pekka Hämäläinen
6. My Two Elaines, by Martin J Schreiber with Cathy Breitenbucher
7. Folk Music, by Greil Marcus
8. Slenderman, by Kathleen Hale (Register for October 13 event here)
9. Healing Through Words, by Rupi Kaur
10. Adrift, by Scott Galloway

Former Wisconsin governor Martin Schreiber was in the bookstore last week to sign our stock of My Two Elaines: Learning, Coping, and Surviving as an Alzheimer's Caregiver, a rare self-published book that went on to be republished by HarperHorizon (which is part of the Nashville division). His memoir of caring for his wife through her Alzheimer's diagnosis and subsequent illness has struck a chord. From former Milwaukee Public Library Director Paula Kiely: "I only wish my father had this book to help him during my own mother's illness."

Paperback Fiction:
1. It Ends with Us, by Colleen Hoover
2. The Magician, by Colm Tóibín
3. Bunny, by Mona Awad
4. Less, by Andrew Sean Greer
5. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro
6. Shady Hollow, by Juneau Black
7. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn (I find it interesting that the book says Alexander but our Ingram database for the book says Aleksandr)
8. The Sentence, by Louise Erdrich
9. Lightning Strike, by William Kent Krueger
10. Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr

Oh, is that out? We often seem to be one week behind on new release sales, especially when we don't get a strong pre-order. This week it's the first week out for Cloud Cuckoo Land in paperback, but it's Colm Tóibín's The Magician that outsells it in its second week, despite having no sales in the first week. It's all very mysterious, but of course also depends on who is browsing the bookstore in any given week. May both paperbacks live long and prosper. Oh, and speaking of Thomas Mann, the subject of The Magician, why doesn't Ingram stock even a single copy of this book in paperback? I just assumed it wasn't available. 

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Life Is Short, by Dasha Kelly Hamilton
2. Active Hope, by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone
3. The Milwaukeean, by Joey Grihalva
4. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk
5. The Cause, by Joseph J Ellis
6. The Secret Network of Nature, by Peter Wohlleben
7. Smile, by Sarah Ruhl
8. Mushrooms of the Upper Midwest, by Teresa Marrone
9. The Shortest History of War, by Gwynne Dyer
10. The History of Milwaukee Drag, by BJ Daniels and Michail Takach (Register for October 24 event here)

Peter Wohlleben has built a strong network of admirers since The Hidden Life of Trees, and his latest (The Secret Network of Nature: Trees, Animals, and the Extraordinary Balance of All Living Things -  Stories from Science and Observation, translated by Jane Billinghurst, not indicated on the book jacket) hits our bestseller list pre-publication, because independently distributed publishers (including those through Ingram) still use pub dates instead of on-sale dates for most of their titles. From the publisher: "In this tour of an almost unfathomable world, Wohlleben describes the fascinating interplay between animals and plants and answers such questions as: How do they influence each other? Do lifeforms communicate across species boundaries? And what happens when this finely tuned system gets out of sync?"

Books for Kids:
1. Moving to Mars, by Stef Wade/Erin Taylor
2. A Place for Pluto, by Stef Wade/Melanie Demmer
3. Best Wishes, by Sarah Mlynowski
4. Little Bear, by Else Minarik/Maurice Sendak
5. Little Bear's Friend, by Else Minarik/Maurice Sendak
6. Violet and Jobie in the Wild, by Lynne Rae Perkins
7. Our World of Dumplings, by Francie Dekker/Sarah Jung
8. The Door of No Return, by Kwame Alexander
9. Crunch V5, by Kayla Miller
10. Foul Lady Fortune, by Chloe Gong

Stef Wade is doing school visits for Moving to Mars! Let us know if you are interested in hosting, too. From the publisher: "Mars likes peace and quiet and is not happy when unexpected visitors start showing up. But when they leave, Mars realizes being alone isn't all that great. Mars reaches out to his space friends for comfort and help. Maybe Mars is a people planet after all!"

Monday, September 26, 2022

Five events this week: Tom Perotta (virtual), Toya Wolfe (in-person at Boswell), Matt Cain (virtual), Andrew Sean Greer (ticketed event at Boswell), Jeanée Sacken (in-person at Shorewood Public Library)

Tuesday, September 27, 7 pm
Tom Perrotta, author of Tracy Flick Can’t Win
in conversation with Daniel Goldin for a virtual event - click here to register

We’re pleased to host a virtual evening featuring Tom Perrotta for a chat about his latest, Tracy Flick Can’t Win, his Election sequel that offers a sharp, darkly comic, and pitch-perfect reflection on our current moment. In conversation with Boswell proprietor Daniel Goldin, who has read all ten of Perrotta's novels and story collections.

It's 2017 and Tracy Flick is the hardworking assistant principal at a New Jersey high school. Still ambitious but feeling stuck and underappreciated in midlife, Tracy gets a jolt of good news when the longtime principal, Jack Weede, abruptly announces his retirement, creating a rare opportunity for Tracy to ascend to the top job. But is she really a shoo-in for the principal job? Is the superintendent plotting against her? Why is the School Board President's wife trying so hard to be her friend? And why can't she ever get what she deserves?

Flick fans and newcomers alike will love this compelling novel chronicling the second act of one of the most memorable characters of our time. From The New York Times: "Even more piercing than its predecessor... With a lyric, polyphonic intensity, [Perrotta] poses a question to the class: What have we learned?" And from Esquire: "Told with Perrotta’s piercing wit, wisdom, and exquisite insight into human folly, Tracy’s second act delivers acerbic insight about frustrated ambition."

Tom Perrotta is author of ten works of fiction, including Election and Little Children, both of which were made into critically acclaimed movies, and The Leftovers and Mrs. Fletcher, which were both adapted into HBO series.

Wednesday, September 28, 6:30 pm
Toya Wolfe, author of Last Summer on State Street
in-person at Boswell - click here to register

Boswell hosts an evening featuring novelist Toya Wolfe with her debut, Last Summer on State Street, a striking coming-of-age novel of friendship, community, and resilience, set in Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes where Wolfe grew up. Great for fans of Jacqueline Woodson and Brit Bennett. This is one of Daniel's top 10 books of 2022.

Felicia 'Fe Fe' Stevens lives with her family in a high-rise that’s next to be torn down by the Chicago Housing Authority. Along with the devout Precious Brown and Stacia Buchanan, daughter of a Gangster Disciple Queen-Pin, Fe Fe forms a tentative trio with whom she carves out a simple life of Double Dutch and innocence. But when Fe Fe welcomes a mysterious new friend into their fold, the dynamics shift, upending the lives of all four girls. As their beloved neighborhood falls down, so do their friendships and the structures of the four girls’ families. Decades later, Fe Fe tries to make sense of the grief and fraught bonds that still haunt her and attempts to reclaim the love that never left.

Profound, reverent, and uplifting, Last Summer on State Street explores the risk of connection against the backdrop of racist institutions, the restorative power of knowing and claiming one’s own past, and those defining relationships which form the heartbeat of our lives. Interweaving moments of reckoning and sustaining grace, debut author Toya Wolfe has crafted an era-defining story of finding a home - both in one’s history and in one’s self.

Toya Wolfe earned an MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago, and her writing has appeared in African Voices, Chicago Journal, Chicago Reader, and more. She is the recipient of the Zora Neale Hurston-Bessie Head Fiction Award, the Union League Civic & Arts Foundation Short Story Competition, and the Betty Shifflett/John Schultz Short Story Award.

Thursday, September 29, 2 pm
Matt Cain, author of The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle: An Uplifting and Unforgettable Story of Love and Second Chances
in conversation with Daniel Goldin and Lisa Baudoin for a virtual event - click here to register

September’s Readings from Oconomowaukee is pleased to reach across the pond once again for an afternoon with British author Matt Cain and his latest novel, The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle. Perfect for fans of Fredrik Backman and TJ Klune, this humorous, life-affirming, and charmingly wise novel tells the story of how the forced retirement of a shy, closeted postman in northern England creates a second chance with his lost love, as he learns to embrace his true self, connect with his community, and finally experience his life’s great adventure.

And be sure to order your copy of The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle now, too! Click here to order from Boswell. Alternatively, click here and order from Books & Company.

Every day, Albert Entwistle makes his way through the streets of his small English town, delivering letters and parcels and returning greetings with a quick wave and a “how do?” Everyone on his route knows Albert, or thinks they do - a man of quiet routines, content to live alone with his cat, Gracie. Three months before his sixty-fifth birthday, Albert receives a letter from the Royal Mail thanking him for decades of service and stating that he is being forced into retirement. At once, Albert’s simple life unravels. So, rather than continue his lonely existence, Albert forms a brave plan to start truly living, to be honest about who he is, and to find George, the man with whom he spent one perfect spring and summer long ago.

The early praise for this one is outstanding. From Sir Ian McKellen, "This rollicking romance entrapped me! True in its detail and its scope, it is amusing yet heart-breaking." And from The Sun: "Albert is the most delicious character and you'll be with him every step of the way."

Matt Cain is an author and commentator on LGBT+ issues. As a journalist, he was Channel 4's first Culture Editor, Editor-In-Chief of Attitude magazine, and won Diversity in Media's Journalist Of the Year award. Cain is an ambassador for Manchester Pride and the Albert Kennedy Trust, plus a patron of LGBT+ History Month.

Friday, September 30, 6:30 pm
Andrew Sean Greer, author of Less Is Lost
in conversation with Liam Callanan, In-Person at Boswell - click here to register

Boswell hosts Andrew Sean Greer, who visits with his new novel, Less Is Lost, a follow-up to his Pulitzer-winning book Less. In this novel, the lovably awkward author Arthur Less returns for an unforgettable road trip across America. David Sedaris calls it "wildly, painfully funny." Greer appears in conversation with Milwaukee's Liam Callanan, author of Paris by the Book.

This is a ticketed event, and each ticket costs $23.20 (20% off the list price) plus tax and ticket fee. Each ticket includes admission for one to the event and a copy of Less Is Lost, available for pick up at the event. This event is cosponsored by Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library, and $5 from each ticket will be donated to the Milwaukee Public Library Foundation. So purchase your tickets now! 

For Arthur Less, life is going surprisingly well: he is a moderately accomplished novelist in a steady relationship with his partner. But nothing good lasts: the death of an old lover and a sudden financial crisis has Less running away from his problems yet again as he accepts a series of literary gigs that send him on a zigzagging adventure across the US. With all of the irrepressible wit and musicality that made Less a bestseller, Less Is Lost is a profound and joyous novel about the enigma of life in America, the riddle of love, and the stories we tell along the way.

Early praise for Greer's latest is glowing. How about this, from Booker-winner Marlon James: "Only Arthur Less could be both frustratingly stuck, yet on the move. Let loose, yet totally lost. Full of wit, but without a clue. And while he runs from himself, finds himself at the same time. Put all of that on a wild road trip through a wilder America, and you end up with something hilarious, affecting, and unforgettable." And then there's this, from Circe author Madeline Miller: "It is a deep pleasure to return to the adventures of Arthur Less and his beloved Freddy. Greer is a brilliant storyteller as always, and the joyfulness of this book is a balm. I loved reading it." And if that's not enough, how about this amazing profile in The New York Times and this enthusiastic review in The New Yorker. Greer and Callanan are both writers of wit and charm - can you imagine them together?

Andrew Sean Greer is author of six works of fiction, including The Confessions of Max Tivoli and The Story of a Marriage. He has taught at the Iowa Writers Workshop, been a New York Public Library Cullman Center Fellow, and been a recipient of a NEA grant and Guggenheim Fellowship. Liam Callanan is Professor of English at UWM and author of three novels.

Monday, October 3, 6:30 pm
Jeannée Sacken, author of Double Exposure
In-Person at Shorewood Public Library, 3920 N Murray Ave - click here for more info

Shorewood Public Library presents an evening with Jeannée Sacken for Double Exposure, the sequel to her American Writing Awards Book of the Year, Behind the Lens.

Seasoned war photojournalist Annie Hawkins is under investigation for an incident that happened six months earlier in Afghanistan. Her best friend's daughter is still missing, apparently with her Taliban boyfriend. Her own daughter is fundraising to rebuild the Wad Qol Secondary School for Girls and expects Annie to deliver the money. To make matters worse, she and the love of her life are no longer speaking. When Annie returns to Afghanistan to cover peace talks between the government and the Taliban, she takes a side trip to Wad Qol, where she discovers that not everyone wants the new school. Sabotage delays construction, and when a worker ends up dead, it's clear the militants are to blame. It's also obvious that they know exactly where Annie is.

Love in Provence author Patricia Sands says: "Fast-moving, unpredictable, and at times heart-stopping. Sacken’s prose is brilliant." And Maggie Smith, author of Truth and Other Lies, says Double Exposure is full of: "smart narration, nuanced characters, and thought-provoking situations reminiscent of Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns."

Jeannée Sacken is an author and photojournalist who travels the world documenting the lives of women and children. A former English professor, she lives in Shorewood and is currently President of the Friends of the Shorewood Public Library. 

Photo credits
Tom Perotta by Beowulf Sheehan
Andrew Sean Greer by Kaliel Roberts
Liam Callanan by Patrick Manning

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending September 24, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending September 24, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Lucy by the Sea, by Elizabeth Strout
2. Less Is Lost, by Andrew Sean Greer (Tickets for September 30 event here)
3. The Bullet that Missed V3, by Richard Osman
4. The Marriage Portrait, by Maggie O'Farrell
5. The Old Place, by Bobby Finger
6. All This Could Be Different, by Sarah Thankam Mathews
7. The Ski Jumpers, by Peter Geye (Register for today's 2 pm event here until 1 - limited walk-up registration available)
8. Fairy Tale, by Stephen King
9. Ink Black Heart, by Robert Galbraith
10. Marple: Twelve New Mysteries inspired by Agatha Christie (no editor listed - I'll do more sleuthing)

Bobby Finger debuts this week with The Old Place, complete with advance blurbs from Emma Straub and Rumaan Alam. Kirkus writes: "In his first novel, New York-based journalist and podcaster Finger delves into the intricate entanglements of a small Texas town with flinty, sharply observed affection. Yes, everyone knows everybody's business in Billington, where gossip is the currency; yes, much of the town's social life during the week in August 2014 when this novel takes place revolves around the annual church picnic; and yes, outsiders are the exception in Billington, where traditional values hold sway. But do not expect cowboy swagger or cartoonish hayseeds from Finger, who grew up in Texas...A surprising page-turner - homey, funny, yet with dark corners of anger and grief."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Dinners with Ruth, by Nina Totenberg
2. What If 2, by Randall Munroe
3. I'm Glad My Mom Died, by Jennette McCurdy
4. The Divider, by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser
5. The Mosquito Bowl, by Buzz Bissinger
6. Catching Excellence, by Chuck Carlson
7. The Constitution in Jeopardy, by Russ Feingold and Peter Prindiville
8. Sacred Nature, by Karen Armstrong
9. Indigenous Continent, by Pekka Hämäläinen
10. An Immense World, by Ed Yong

After a relatively light summer of nonfiction (I guess publishers don't see these books for beach reading), serious nonfiction heats up in September. This week saw the release of Indigenous Continent: The Epic Contest for North America from Oxford University scholar and Bancroft Prize-winner Pekka Hämäläinen. From Kirkus: "A vigorous, provocative study of Native American history by one of its most accomplished practitioners." And Publishers Weekly: "This top-notch history casts the story of America in an astonishing new light."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Witches of Moonshyne Manor, by Bianca Marais
2. The Sentence, by Louise Erdrich
3. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro
4. Verity, by Colleen Hoover
5. The Second Home, by Christina Clancy
6. Shoulder Season, by Christina Clancy
7. This Tender Land, by William Kent Krueger
8. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
9. The Kiss Curse, by Erin Sterling
10. Shady Hollow, by Juneau Black

Only one new release this week - The Kiss Curse by Erin Sterling. It continues the march of witchy fiction that has come to define Spooktember. Booklist is enthusiastic: "This glittery romance featuring the cousin and brother of Vivi and Rhys from The Ex Hex is truly a delight."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Growing Up Little Chute, by John M Van Lieshout
2. Owning Grief, by Gael Garbarino Cullen (Register for November 11 event here)
3. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
4. The Book of Delights, by Ross Gay
5. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk
6. Invisible Child, by Andrea Elliott
7. Fever of Unknown Origin, by Judith Ford
8. Tacky, by Rax King
9. Fuzz by Mary Roach
10. Entangled Life, by Merlin Sheldrake

The Book of DelightsRoss King's exuberant collection of essays, was released in paperback in April after three years, just in time for his newest collection, Inciting Joy, which has a pub date of October 25. From the new book's Kirkus review: "A prizewinning poet's thoughts about grief, gratitude, and happiness... Gay, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry for Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude, ruminates about joy in a warm, candid memoir composed of 12 essays. In prose that veers between breezy and soulful, the author reflects on a wide range of topics, including basketball, dancing, skateboarding, couples' therapy, music, masculinity, and his father's cancer."

Books for Kids:
1. Best Wishes V1, by Sarah Mylnowski
2. Shot Clock, by Caron Butler and Justin A Reynolds
3. Upside Down Magic, by Sarah Mlynowski
4. Our World of Dumplings, by Francie Dekker (signed copies available)
5. Fairest of All V1: Whatever After, by Sarah Mylnowski
6. Farmhouse, by Sophie Blackall
7. Spy School Project X, by Stuart Gibbs
8. The Girl from the Sea, by Molly Knox Ostertag
9. Moving to Mars, by Stef Wade
10. Noodle and the No Bones Day, by Jonathan Graziano/Dan Tavis

We recently did a virtual school visit with Sarah Mlynowski for Best Wishes, her latest. From Kirkus, a bestseller annotator's best friend, so it appears: "Be careful what you wish for. Becca, who lives on New York City's Upper West Side, is planning a sleepover for her 10th birthday. But her best, and only, friend, Harper, seems uninterested, admitting that she has a new best friend. After the two have a falling out, Becca is truly friendless. Everything changes when she receives a mysterious box containing a magic bracelet with a poem saying that the bracelet will ease her sadness and will provide a single wish. She is instructed to mail the bracelet forward when it is no longer needed...A coming-of-age tale told with humor, compassion, and more than a touch of magic."

Monday, September 19, 2022

Eight events this week: Marie Kohler (in-person), Elizabeth Strout (virtual), Bianca Marais (ticketed in-person), John M Van Lieshout (in-person), Mark Bergen (virtual), Judith M Ford, Francie Dekker, and Peter Geye (all in-person)


Monday, September 19, 6:30 pm
Marie Kohler, playwright of Boswell
in-person scene reading at Boswell - click here to register until 5:30 pm.

Milwaukee-based playwright Marie Kohler visits Boswell for a presentation and dramatic scene-reading from her play titled, aptly for us, Boswell. This event is a special preview to the play’s Off-Broadway run.

Kohler’s Boswell is set in the 1950s when an American graduate student discovers lost journals from James Boswell’s wild and woolly Tour of the Scottish Hebrides with Samuel Johnson. She falls in love with the lively narrative and the possibility of a more authentic life.

The Edit gives Kohler’s play 4 stars, and calls it: "an excellent example of history being brought to lifeand it undoubtedly is a fabulous platform for the talent it showcases." And from Broadway Baby, which also gives the play 4 stars: "There is an infectious energy and clear commitment to detail in this production: it is very well loved and immaculately researched...and playwright Marie Kohler certainly seems to enjoy the opportunities to draw out elements of bawdiness and humour to lighten the earnest literary tone."

Marie Kohler is a director, writer, actor, dramaturg, and award-winning playwright. Kohler is a co-founder of Renaissance Theaterworks, where she served as Co-Artistic Director from 1993-2012 and Resident Playwright from 1993-2020. She is a freelance writer for local and national publications and has been Playwright Respondent and Director Respondent at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. She was named Artist of the Year by the Milwaukee Arts Board in 2005, and Friend of the Arts in 2020.

We are close to capacity on this event. Much of the store will be closed to browsing after 6 pm.

Tuesday, September 20, 7 pm 
Elizabeth Strout, author of Lucy by the Sea
a ticketed virtual event - purchase a ticket here

Boswell is happy to join a group of independent bookstores around the country to present a special virtual launch event for Elizabeth Strout, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of novels such as Olive Kitteridge, My Name Is Lucy Barton, and Oh William!. Strout appears to celebrate the launch of her latest novel, Lucy by the Sea. In conversation with Pico Iyer. 

Tickets start at $28 plus ticketing fee and include access to the virtual event and a copy of Lucy by the Sea, which can be picked up at Boswell Book Company or, for an additional fee, shipped via USPS media mail. A very limited number of autographed copies are available to the first folks to purchase tickets! 

Strout's latest is a poignant, pitch-perfect novel about a former couple (Lucy Barton and her first husband William) in lockdown together - and about the love, loss, despair, and hope that animate us even as the world seems to be falling apart. As a panicked world goes into lockdown, Lucy Barton is uprooted from her life in Manhattan and bundled away to a small town in Maine by her ex-husband and on-again, off-again friend, William. For the next several months, it’s just Lucy, William, and their complex past together in a little house nestled against the moody, swirling sea.

Here's Daniel Goldin's take on Lucy by the Sea: "Starting moments after the close of Oh William!, Elizabeth Strout’s latest finds Lucy Barton in lockdown with her first husband William in a small town in Maine. The joy of Lucy is in her astute observations; the peril is that her heightened sensitivity and sometimes passive nature can lead her into many a fraught relationship. I loved the way Strout showed that Lucy is a citizen of Strout’s Yoknapatawpha, with appearances not just by Bob Burgess, but also Olive Kitteridge’s aide at the assisted living center. Reading Lucy by the Sea recaptures every small memory of early COVID, from the panic about surfaces and the desire to escape urban environments to the eventual politicization of the virus, so beautifully that I was willing to relive them."

Elizabeth Strout is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of books such as Anything Is Possible, winner of the Story Prize, Olive Kitteridge, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and Amy and Isabelle, winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. Her most recent novel, Oh William!, was longlisted for the Booker Prize. She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize.

Tuesday, September 20, 7 pm reception, 7:30 pm event
Bianca Marais, author of The Witches of Moonshyne Manor
in conversation with Christina Clancy, in-person at Shully’s Across the Street, 143 Green Bay Rd, Thiensville - click here to purchase a ticket

Milwaukee Reads and Boswell Book Company present a special evening with Bianca Marais, author of Hum If You Don’t Know the Words, for a conversation about her magical, feminist new novel, The Witches of Moonshyne Manor. Marais will be in conversation with Christina Clancy, the Wisconsin author of Shoulder Season and The Second Home.

This is a ticketed event, and each ticket costs $45 plus tax and fee. Each ticket includes admission, a glass of wine, light appetizers, and a copy of The Witches of Moonshyne Manor

The Witches of Moonshyne Manor is a funny, tender, and uplifting feminist tale of sisterhood featuring a coven of aging witches who must unite their powers to fight the men determined to drive them out of their home and town. In a race against time, five octogenarian witches are determined to save their home and themselves, but fear their aging powers are no match against increasingly malicious threats. As the deadline approaches, fractures among the sisterhood are revealed, and long-held secrets are exposed, culminating in a fiery confrontation with their enemies.

We've got a great staff recommendation for Marais's new novel from Tim McCarthy. Here's his take: "Oh, man! By that I mean oh, how does a man review a book like this!? Let's start (and end) with the fact that I loved every minute. I loved the characters, and the plot twists, and the very verbal crow. Most of all, I loved the sense that Marais was having as much fun writing as I was reading about a sisterhood of glorious old witches with a long history in a town that’s been mostly ok with them, until something changes. Now their manor and their popular distillery are being attacked by a mob of irrational townsmen (go figure), and reliving their own tragic past could offer them either salvation or destruction. They’re not sure which. So take a break from our very strange real world and pour yourself into this spellbound concoction of laughter and full-blown feminist power, mixed with suspense and dashes of potent wisdom likely to fly into my thoughts forevermore."

Bianca Marais is author of Hum If You Don't Know the Words and If You Want to Make God Laugh. Sheteaches at the University of Toronto's School of Continuing Studies and runs the Eunice Ngogodo Own Voices Initiative. Marais also hosts the podcast The Shit No One Tells You About Writing.

Wednesday, September 21, 6:30 pm
John M Van Lieshout, author of Growing Up Little Chute
in-person at Boswell - click here to register until 5:30 pm on the day of the event.

Boswell hosts an evening featuring Milwaukee attorney and Wisconsin native John M Van Lieshout, author of Growing Up Little Chute, his memoir of coming of age in a small Wisconsin river village.

Van Lieshout’s Growing Up Little Chute is his memoir of life in a small village in

northeastern Wisconsin in the 1960s and 70s. He recalls things like soda pop caps imprinted with pictures of NFL stars, pagan baby cardboard coin collectors, Bic pens turned into blow-guns, games of Red Rover, and hanging from the monkey bars, and all of it set to the strains of "Stairway to Heaven."

John M Van Lieshout was born in Little Chute, WI. He earned a BA from Marquette University and a JD from Marquette Law. He’s published scholarly articles in National Environmental Enforcement Journal, Wisconsin Lawyer, and Hofstra Property Law Journal. He is a Shareholding Attorney at Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren.

Thursday, September 22, 7 pm
Mark Bergen, author of Like, Comment, Subscribe: Inside YouTube's Chaotic Rise to World Domination
in conversation with Chris Lee for a virtual event - click here to register!

Boswell hosts a virtual evening featuring leading tech and business journalist Mark Bergen for a conversation about his new book, Like, Comment, Subscribe, in which he offers a definitive and deeply reported account of YouTube, the company that upended media, culture, industry, and democracy. In conversation with Chris Lee of Boswell.

Across the world, people watch more than a billion hours of video on YouTube every day. YouTube invented the attention economy we live in, forever changing how people are entertained, informed, and paid online. Everyone knows YouTube, yet virtually no one knows how it works. Now, Bergen offers a riveting, behind-the-scenes account of YouTube’s technology and business, detailing how it helped Google, its parent company, achieve unimaginable power, a narrative told through the people who run YouTube and the famous stars born on its stage.

Bergen, a top technology reporter at Bloomberg, might know Google better than any other reporter in Silicon Valley, having broken numerous stories about its successes and scandals. From Margaret O'Mara, author of The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America: "An absorbing, alarming, and essential modern history of Silicon Valley’s supersized platform age. YouTube has redefined celebrity, upended entertainment and politics, and unleashed the best and worst of humanity online. Mark Bergen’s deeply reported page-turner takes us on the company’s journey from scrappy startup to internet juggernaut, revealing the dark consequences of the pursuit of growth at any cost."

Mark Bergen writes for Bloomberg and Businessweek, and previously reported on technology and media for Recode and Ad Age. He has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Yorker, and has frequently discussed his Google reporting on Bloomberg TV, CNBC, and NPR stations.

Friday, September 23, 6:30 pm
Judith M Ford, author of Fever of Unknown Origin: A Memoir
in conversation with Rochelle Melander, in-person at Boswell - click here to register until 5:30 pm on the day of the event.

Boswell hosts an event featuring Judith Ford, author of Fever of Unknown Origin, a memoir about a strange illness and the combination of Western medicine and shamanic journeys that saved her life. In conversation with author and writing coach Rochelle Melander. 

Judith Ford was a successful psychotherapist, runner, yoga-practitioner, dancer, and
writer living life fully when she came down with a mysterious illness that landed her in the hospital for a full summer and nearly ended her life. She recovered through a combination of Western medicine and shamanic journeys. A few years later she helped her parents through their final illnesses. This book is both her story and theirs, about how they held onto hope and sometimes despaired. It's about how they each suffered and rallied, laughed, loved, forgave, and let go. And it's about how all of us live in the shadows of the unknown and the unanswerable.

From Susannah Waters, author of Cold Comfort: "Fever of Unknown Origin tells the moving story of one woman's battle with a debilitating illness. Ford leads us through the bewildering ups and downs of this struggle, culminating in a recovery as richly surprising and nuanced as the illness itself, as well as a deeper understanding of what it means to be fully alive and present in this world. An inspiring read."

Judith M Ford’s writing has appeared in magazines including Connecticut Review, Evening Street Review, and Southern Humanities Review, and her work has been nominated three times for Pushcart prizes. She was a psychotherapist for thirty-five years and taught creative writing in a private elementary school, at the University of Wisconsin Extension, and in a teen runaway shelter. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Saturday, September 24, 4 pm
Francie Dekker, author of Our World of Dumplings
in-person at Boswell - click here to register until 3 pm on the day of the event

Milwaukee nature and nutrition educator visits Boswell with her debut picture book, Our World of Dumplings, a delicious story that celebrates the many different types of dumplings that exist in our world and how food brings people and cultures together! While this event will be kid-friendly, the presentation will be mostly focused for a grown-up audience.

An apartment complex is having a dumpling festival, and all the kids are excited to watch and help each family cook up different versions of the delicious treats. From kreplach to khinkali and Johnny cakes to jiao zi, each household has its own way of making dumplings, uniquely hand-crafted and based upon their culture. As the children wrap, cook, and eat all the different types of dumplings, they learn how dumplings are the ultimate labor of love!

Underscoring the power of food to both bring us together and help us celebrate our differences, Our World of Dumplings is a rich story that shows the tender relationship between food and company and its natural ability to create a sense of community and will leave you hungry for more.

Francie Dekker has been a contributing writer for Edible Milwaukee Magazine, where she wrote a quarterly "Kids Table" column that explored how gardening, food, culture, and youth intersect. In 2016, she received a Food Writing Fellowship from the Culinary Trust.

Sunday, September 25, 2 pm
Peter Geye, author of The Ski Jumpers
in-person at Boswell - click here to register until 1 pm on the day of the event.

Join us for an afternoon featuring Midwestern writer extraordinaire Peter Geye, author of novels such as Wintering and Northernmost, who joins us with his latest novel, The Ski Jumpers, about a former ski jumper facing a terminal diagnosis who takes one more leap - into a past of soaring flights and broken family bonds.

A ski jumper must be fearless - Jon Bargaard remembers this well. His memories of
daring leaps and risks might be the key to the book he’s always wanted to write: a novel about his family, beginning with Pops, once a champion ski jumper himself, who also took Jon and his younger brother Anton to the heights. But Jon has never been able to get past the next, ruinous episode of their history, and now that he has received a terrible diagnosis, he’s afraid he never will.

Early praise for this novel comes from Leif Enger, author of Virgil Wander: "Peter Geye writes full-hearted novels made for winter, and The Ski Jumpers is his best to date... Geye wraps his tale in prose that soars as we hold our breath, then brings it all home with the elegance of a Telemark landing. If you already know his work, this book will surprise and delight you; if you're new to Peter Geye, The Ski Jumpers is the perfect place to start."

Peter Geye is author of the award-winning novels Safe from the Sea, The Lighthouse Road, and Wintering, winner of the Minnesota Book Award. He teaches at the Loft Literary Center.

Photo credits
Christina Clancy by Kate Berg
Mark Bergen by David Paul Morris