Monday, August 2, 2021

Event Alert - Kristine Hansen with Lori Fredrich (in person), Jennifer Chiaverini (Readings from Oconomowaukee virtual), plus Andrea Bartz next Monday

Boswell events for this week. There have been a few changes since two events were first announced:
--Kristine Hansen's event was originally virtual, but is now in-store. Masks required for attendees.
--Andrea Bartz's event was originally at the Elm Grove Library, but is now virtual.
Pivot, pivot, pivot!

Wednesday, August 4, 7 pm
Kristine Hansen, author of Wisconsin Farms and Farmers Markets: Tours, Trails and Attractions
in conversation with Lori Fredrich
in person at Boswell Book Company
Register for this event here. Masks required of attendees. Ask for your signed copy.

Kristine Hansen is a nationally recognized food and travel writer who has covered Wisconsin’s cheese producers for Travel + Leisure, Fodors, and Cheese Professor. Her writing has appeared in Time Magazine, Midwest Living, and Milwaukee Magazine. She is the author of Wisconsin Cheese Cookbook: Creamy, Cheesy, Sweet, and Savory Recipes from the State’s Best Creameries.

For the release of Wisconsin Farms and Farmer's Markets: Tours, Trails and Attractions, she talks with Lori Fredrich of OnMilwaukee about her new book, which covers Badger State farm stays, pick your owns, trail rides, farming museums, county fairs, cheese trails, dairy centers, wine tastings, petting zoos, tree farms, farmer's markets, and so much more.

With its fertile soil and more than a century of agricultural heritage, Wisconsin ranks #2 in the nation for its number of organic farms, second only to California. From the boho-chic Driftless Region to cherry orchards hugging Lake Michigan in Door County, not to mention pizza farms nestled along the Mississippi River, the Dairy State is the ideal vacation for farm-loving travelers in search of authentic culinary experiences. Whether it’s stepping into a cranberry bog or sipping cider fermented from antique apples, this book’s profiles of farms (and its farmers) has that itinerary covered. The agritourism opportunities abound throughout the state.

Thursday, August 5, 2 pm
Jennifer Chiaverini, author of The Women's March: A Novel of the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession
in Conversation with Daniel Goldin and Lisa Baudoin for a Virtual Event
Register for this event here. Ask for your signed copy.

Jennifer Chiaverini is the New York Times bestselling author of acclaimed historical novels, such as Resistance Women and Mrs Lincoln's Dressmaker. She joins us for the popular Readings from Oconomowaukee virtual event series, presented in partnership with Books & Company to discuss her latest novel, set during the woman’s suffrage movement.

Inspired by actual events, The Women’s March offers a fascinating account of a crucial moment in American history, a turning point in the struggle for women’s rights. 25-year-old Alice Paul returns to her native New Jersey after several years on the front lines of the suffrage movement in Great Britain. Weakened from imprisonment and hunger strikes, she is nevertheless determined to invigorate the stagnant suffrage movement in her homeland. To inspire support for the campaign, Alice organizes a magnificent procession down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, the day before the inauguration of President-elect Woodrow Wilson, a firm antisuffragist.

Joining the march is 39-year-old New Yorker Maud Malone, librarian and advocate for women’s and workers’ rights. The daughter of Irish immigrants, Maud has acquired a reputation - and a criminal record - for interrupting politicians’ speeches with pointed questions they’d rather ignore. Civil rights activist and journalist Ida B Wells-Barnett resolves that women of color must also be included in the march and the proposed amendment. Born into slavery in Mississippi, Ida worries that white suffragists may exclude Black women if it serves their own interests. On March 3, 1913, the glorious march commences, but negligent police allow vast crowds of belligerent men to block the parade route, endangering not only the success of the demonstration but the women’s very lives.

Booklist
offers this recommendation: "Chiaverini adeptly evokes the obstacles they all face, from Wilson's opposition to inadequate police protection and internal divisions over appeasing bigoted southern white women. Although some expressions feel overly modern, this politically aware novel about a historic quest for democratic justice compels readers to contemplate everything that has and hasn't changed regarding voting rights and gender and racial equality."

And Kirkus Reviews notes: "Chiaverini's latest work of historical fiction weaves together the actions of these three real women, effective character choices for highlighting the disparate groups advocating for social and legal change while also speaking to the tensions regarding race, class, and rhetorical arguments that prevent these groups from working together smoothly (if at all)."

Next week preview
Monday, August 9, 7 pm
Andrea Bartz, author of We Were Never Here
In Conversation with Jennifer Hillier for a Virtual Event
Register for this event here.

Andrea Bartz is author of The Lost Night and The Herd. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Vogue, and Cosmopolitan. Now Elm Grove Public Library and Boswell present Milwaukee-area native Andrea Bartz, author of The Lost Night and The Herd for an event featuring her latest thriller, We Were Never Here, a novel that travels from Milwaukee to Cambodia for a backpacking trip with deadly consequences. For this event, Bartz will be in conversation with fellow novelist Jennifer Hillier.

Emily is in the mountains of Chile with her best friend, Kristen, on their annual reunion trip. But on the last night of the trip, Emily enters their hotel suite to find blood and broken glass on the floor. Kristen says the cute backpacker she brought back to the room attacked her, and she had no choice but to kill him in self-defense. Even more shocking: The scene is horrifyingly similar to last year’s trip, when another backpacker wound up dead. Back home in Wisconsin, Emily struggles to bury her trauma, diving head-first into a new relationship and throwing herself into work. But when Kristen shows up for a surprise visit, Emily is forced to confront their violent past.

Publishers Weekly
writes: "Bartz does a good job dramatizing the increasingly creepy relationship between the two women as the twisty plot builds to a slightly confusing conclusion. Suspense fans will look forward to seeing more from this talented author." And Kirkus Reviews notes: "Up to the unexpected climax and beyond, Bartz's writing will keep readers on their toes, questioning everything and looking for hidden meanings in every communication between Emily and Kristen...A slow-burn thriller that gradually suffocates both the protagonist and the reader - in a good way."

A major announcement regarding this book to come!  

Photo credit 
Andrea Bartz by Bill Wadman

More on Boswell upcoming events page.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Boswell bestsellers, week ending July 31, 2021

The hits from coast to coast!* Boswell top tens for the week ending July 25, 2021

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Godspeed, by Nickolas Butler (Conversation video)
2. The Women's March, by Jennifer Chiaverini (Register for August 5 event here)
3. The Book of Accidents, by Chuck Wendig (Conversation video)
4. The Final Girl Support Group, by Grady Hendrix
5. The Midnight Library, By Matt Haig (Conversation video)
6. Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir
7. The Comfort of Monsters, by Willa C Richards (Conversation video)
8. Shoulder Season, by Christina Clancy (Conversation video)
9. The Cellist, by Daniel Silva
10. Great Circle, by Maggie Shipstead (Conversation video)

It's our perception that sales are up at Boswell, but betseller numbers are down. But when I looked at Daniel Silva's The Cellist, pretty much the only author in our top ten that had a comparable title last year, his numbers tracked identical to the first two weeks of The Order, which is now out in paperback. From Olivia Flores Alvarez in Houston Magazine: "Lots of books and movies use the 'torn from the headlines' tag line. It’s usually just PR, but, in this case, it’s a literal description of The Cellist."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. I Alone Can Fix It, by Carol Leoning and Philip Rucker
2. Effortless, by Greg McKeown
3. Athropocene Reviewed, by John Green
4. How the Word Is Passed, by Clint Smith
5. Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner
6. Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson
7. This Is Your Mind on Plants, by Michael Pollan
8. What Happened to You, by Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey
9. The Orphans of Davenport, by Marilyn Brookwood
10. Frankly We Did Win This Election, by Michael C Bender

While we did not have a huge sales pop for What Happened to You?:Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing, sales have been fairly consistent since. They were on Brené Brown's podcast last May.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
2. The People We Meet on Vacation, by Emily Henry
3. Anxious People, by Fredrik Backman
4. Leonard and Hungry Paul, by Rónán Hession (conversation video)
5. Circe, by Madeline Miller
6. Northernmost, by Peter Geye (conversation video)
7. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
8. How to Stop Time, by Matt Haig
9. Transcendent Kingdom, by Yaa Gyasi
10. The Restaurant Inspector, by Alex Pickett (Register for August 17 event here)

Larry Watson, in a recent conversation, reinforced that he doesn't write Western Fiction, despite being connected to Montana. Like Louise Erdrich (#1 paperback this week), he considers his closest literary state tie to be North Dakota, and champions the cause of Northern Fiction. You'd probably add Nickolas Butler to that list, whose previous books were in Wisconsin, but currently has a #1 Wyoming-set bestseller here, and Peter Geye, whose latest novel, Northernmost, takes place in Minnesota and Norway (corrected). Urban Waite in the San Francisco Chronicle called the book "an intricate and beautifully written story" about surviving nature and darkness, but also "the story of love, marriage and, in the broader sense, life."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes, by Anna Lardinois (event video)
2. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
3. Superior, by Angela Saini
4. The Beauty in Breaking, by Michele Harper
5. Sacred Path Companion, by Lauren Artress
6. Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari
7. Four Chinese Classic, by David Hinton
8. Stamped from the Beginning, by Ibram X Kendi
9. From Coin Toss to Championship, by Rick Schabowski
10. The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson

While The Beauty in Breaking had a nice pop on the hardcover bestseller lists, it's ensconced on the paperback list for a long haul. Doctor narratives have had long and storied bestseller runs, and Harper, telling the story from a less-told perspective of a Black Woman, breaks new ground. You'll find the book on our book club recommendation table at Boswell. From my staff rec: "In each chapter, she treats patients through the prism of her own experience – her abusive father, her failed marriage, her lifeline of meditation and yoga, the compassion she’s learned, and the racism and sexism she’s experienced...Dr. Harper eloquently chronicles her own life experiences as we learn valuable life lessons, and that’s the beauty in The Beauty in Breaking.

Books for Kids:
1. Mightier than the Sword, by Rochelle Melander (conversation video)
2. What Is God Like, by Rachel Held Evans
3. Saint Spotting, by Chris Raschka
4. The Assignment, by Liza Wiemer (conversation video)
5. What Are the Summer Olympics, by Gail Herman
6. All Our Hidden Gifts, by Caroline O'Donoghue
7. Concrete Rose, by Angie Thomas
8. Gods and Monsters, by Shelby Mahurin
9. Paz, by Baptise Pauland Miranda Paul (yes, this is the Spanish-language version)
10. Skunk and Badger, by Amy Timberlake (Register for September 15 event here)

Whatever the Olympics are, they are different this year than they are normally. In What Are the Summer Olympics?, Gail Herman explains the games' history, starting in 775 BC and revived in 1896. The book came out for 2016, but our buyer brought some in to repromote for the 2021 games.

We have to do another shout out here, for All Our Hidden Gifts, the Young Adult novel from Caroline O'Donoghue, "an emotionally rich novel of loneliness, friendship, and sacrifice," per Boswellian Jenny Chou.

Jenny got to interview O'Donoghue for The Boswellians blog. Here she talks about her long-time interest in tarot cards, which connects to the story: "I got my first pack of tarot cards when I was twelve, and much like Maeve, brought them into class and read for anyone. I was terrible, I didn’t really understand the point of tarot cards at all, but it didn’t matter because all the girls in my class were immediately swept up in the romance of them. Years later, in my 20s, I got back into them again and they became a huge hobby and interest of mine. I love their history, how open for interpretation they are, how wonderful they are as a tool for self reflection."

This is a reference to American Top 40, which I listened to regularly for many years growing up. Lake Michigan to the Milwaukee River? Rock River? Hard to say.

Monday, July 26, 2021

This week at the Boswell virtual event series: Kristin Harmel, Rochelle Melander, Chuck Wendig, Nickolas Butler

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

Monday, July 26, 7:30 pm
Kristin Harmel, author of The Forest of Vanishing Stars
a virtual event
$5 tickets available here.
Ask for your signed bookplate.

Kristin Harmel is New York Times bestselling author of a dozen novels including The Book of Lost Names, The Winemaker’s Wife, and The Room on Rue Amélie. She is also the cofounder and cohost of the popular web series, Friends and Fiction. The Lynden Sculpture Garden, Milwaukee Reads, and Boswell are pleased to host Kristin Harmel for a virtual BYOSAW (bring-your-own-snacks-and-wine) event. She’ll chat about The Forest of Gathering Stars, an evocative coming-of-age World War II story about a young woman who uses her knowledge of the wilderness to help Jewish refugees escape the Nazis.

Inspired by incredible true stories of survival against staggering odds, and suffused with journey-from-the-wilderness, The Forest of Vanishing Stars is a heart-wrenching, suspenseful novel. From Heather Webb, author of The Next Ship Home, “With breathtaking natural descriptions, vivid historical details, and a brave heroine worth cheering for who must fulfill a destiny prophesied since birth, this novel is not to be missed!”

After being stolen from her wealthy German parents and raised in the unforgiving wilderness of eastern Europe, a young woman finds herself alone in 1941 after her kidnapper dies. Her solitary existence is interrupted, however, when she happens upon a group of Jews fleeing the Nazi terror. Stunned to learn what’s happening in the outside world, she vows to teach the group all she can about surviving in the forest, and in turn, they teach her some surprising lessons about opening her heart after years of isolation. But when she is betrayed and escapes into a German-occupied village, her past and present come together in a shocking collision that could change everything.

Your $5 admission goes back to the Lynden Sculpture Garden as a donation. And don't forget, a lucky attendee will get a special rope-handled tote with matching can cooolers. Show your Harmel pride on your next picnic or outing!

Tuesday, July 27, 7 pm
Rochelle Melander, author of Mightier Than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers, and Revolutionaries Who Changed the World Through Writing
in conversation with Jane Kelley for a Virtual Event
Register for the event here.
Signed copies available.

Rochelle Melander is founder of Dream Keepers, a writing workshop that encourages young people to write about their lives and dreams for the future. Her books include Level Up and Write-a-Thon, the official book of National Book Writing Month. She appears for Mightier than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers, and Revolutionaries Who Changed the World Through Writing, a richly illustrated collection of biographies featuring forty people - scientists, explorers, authors, poets, activists - who changed the world by wielding their word. Best for ages eight and up.

Throughout history, people have picked up their pens and wielded their word - transforming their lives, their communities, and beyond. Representing a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences, Mightier Than the Sword connects over forty inspiring biographies with life-changing writing activities and tips, showing readers just how much their own words can make a difference.

Readers will explore nature with Rachel Carson, experience the beginning of the Reformation with Martin Luther, champion women's rights with Sojourner Truth, and many more. These stories will engage and encourage young people to pay attention to their world, to honor their own ideas and dreams, and to embrace the transformative power of words to bring good to the world.

From Jim Higgins in the Journal Sentinel: "This book for children also profiles writers who made their mark as young people, including diarist Anne Frank, Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and Sophie Cruz, who was only 5 when she delivered her plea for immigrant and refugee rights to Pope Francis."

Wednesday, July 28, 7 pm
Chuck Wendig, author of The Book of Accidents
in conversation with Kiersten White for a virtual event
Register for the event here.
Ask for your signed copy!

Chuck Wendig is of books such as Wanderers, Zer0es, Star Wars: Aftermath, and the Miriam Black thrillers, as well as other works across comics, games, and film. He was a finalist for the John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer and served as the co-writer of the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus. We're excited to welcome this horror and sci-fi master for a virtual event celebrating The Book of Accidents, in which a family returns to their hometown and the dark past that still haunts them. He'll chat with Kiersten White, the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of books like the Slayer series and the Camelot Rising trilogy. Her novel, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is in development with Sony Pictures Television.

Long ago, Nathan lived in a house in the country with his abusive father and Maddie was a little girl making dolls in her bedroom when she saw something she shouldn’t have. Long ago, something sinister walked in the tunnels and the mountains and the coal mines of their hometown in rural Pennsylvania. Now, Nate and Maddie Graves are married, and they have moved back to their hometown with their son, Oliver. And what happened long ago is happening again – and this time, it is happening to Oliver. Dark dark magic puts them at the heart of a battle of good versus evil and a fight for the soul of the family and perhaps for all of the world.

We're fans! From Chris Lee: "In the best way possible, Chuck Wendig has quite clearly taken all his favorite parts from all of his favorite Stephen King novels and mashed them into one book. An everything-and-the-kitchen-sink novel. I love it. After an active shooter drill creates real trauma, a Philadelphia cop moves his wife and his dangerously empathetic (one could even say supernaturally so!) teenage song to his rural PA hometown, where a lot of gruesome, terrible things have happened over the last century. And away we go on a winding adventure that asks that oh-so central question: can one family’s love keep the world from collapsing under the weight of a globe’s worth of murder, destruction, and evils? Along the way, we’ll meet a dead father’s violent ghost, a trailer park kid full of tricky magic, a lightning-riding serial killer, a charming fish and game warden, and a cantankerous true-crime author with his own secrets. Definitely my top beach read pick of the year for both everyone who loves horror and anyone else who wants to dip their toes into some murky, magic waters this summer."

From Jason Kennedy: "Nate and Mads move to rural Pennsylvania with their son, Olly, after he has some unfortunate breakdowns at his school in Philadelphia. Not so bad until you find out that they are moving into the house where Nate grew up with an abusive, evil father. On top of that, this area has some real scary history - serial killers, a haunted tunnel, an old mine disaster, and a park filled with weird moving boulders. Olly meets an older kid named Jake, and from there stuff starts to get real creepy as the past starts to catch up to the family. So much happens in this twisty tale - I loved this book, it took me back to horror of the eighties, from King to McCammon to Koontz."

Couldn't be simpler. If you know someone who loves classic Stephen King (it might be you!), you'll want to read The Book of Accidents.

Thursday, July 29, 7 pm
Nickolas Butler, author of Godspeed
in conversation with Andrew J Graff for a virtual event 
Register for this event here.
Hoping to have bookplates soon!

Wisconsin’s Nickolas Butler is author of Shotgun Lovesongs, The Hearts of Men, and Little Faith, and the story collection Beneath the Bonfire. His writing has appeared in Ploughshares, Narrative, and The New York Times Book Review, among other outlets. A graduate of UW-Madison and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he now lives in rural Wisconsin. We're pleased to welcome back Butler to Boswell virtually, for a conversation about Godspeed, his riveting new novel, in which three troubled construction workers get entangled in a dangerous plan to finish building a home against an impossible deadline. For this event, Butler will be in conversation with Andrew J Graff, author of the Boswell bestseller Raft of Stars.

Early praise for Bulter’s latest outing is already rolling in. CJ Box calls Godspeed “a page-turning, race-against-the-clock novel about fatal obsession, love, violence, addiction, and faith beautifully set in my home state of Wyoming. After you turn the last page it’ll stay with you for a long, long time.” And fellow Midwesterner Peter Geye adds, “Not many writers can turn any subject into gold, but Nick Butler is one of them. This novel is about addiction, ambition, and America at the crossroads of its own demise, and in Butler’s brilliant, capable hands, it ends up feeling like a lived experience.” And how about from Wisconsin’s Larry Watson, who adds, “Readers won’t be able to turn the pages of Godspeed fast enough.”

A recommendation from Boswellian Tim McCarthy: "True Triangle Construction is just three guys who've managed the modest step of starting their own company with three matching trucks. They don't even have a website. So why would a wealthy, worldly, beautiful San Francisco lawyer pick them to build the majestic house she plans to tuck perfectly into the Wyoming Tetons, next to hot springs and a cold, pure river? How did Gretchen Connors even find them? These are the questions they ask as they start to dream of all the ways a project like this will change their business, and their individual lives. There’s all that money and a shiny new reputation, but can they do it, and at what price? Gretchen’s expectations are so high, and the timeline! Why? Butler has given us a study in desire, where it comes from and the damage it can cause. It’s a fascinating and very intense ride, and the best part is that we see both sides of the story in the detailed lives of characters, the rich woman and the men struggling with a transformation that’s making regular guys like them feel less at home in their own town. I felt compelled to stay with them, and I felt rewarded for seeing them through to the end."

Rob Thomas at The Cap Times profiled Butler on Godspeed. On why he set the book in Wyoming: "Putting it in a place like Jackson, you can sort of up the ante in a lot of different ways. The housing market is just that much more tony and expensive, and the landscapes that much more dramatic. We’ve taken a family trip out there years ago, and I guess I was pretty naïve. We went to Jackson, this amazing little town, and I wondered if a person lived there, what his real estate costs would be like. I looked it up and was like ‘Oh, my God, you can’t be a normal person and live here.'"

I love that Butler is comparing his book to Treasure of Sierra Madre. The late Harry W Schwartz was a big fan, and corresponded with the author, B Traven.  I'm going to see if I can find more info in Fifty Years in My Bookstore, Schwartz's memoir.

More on the Boswell upcoming event page. And coming next week - our first in-person event with Kristine Hansen for Wisconsin Farms and Farmers Markets. Register here.

Photo credits!
Kristin Harmel by Phil Art Studio
Rochelle Melander by self
Chuck Wendig by Michelle Wendig
Nicholas Butler by Tim Fitch

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending July 24, 2021 - reading for vacation about people on vacation and more

Who's selling what? Boswell bestsellers for the week ending July 24, 2021

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Shoulder Season, by Christina Clancy
2. The Book of Accidents, by Chuck Wendig (Register for July 28 event here)
3. The Forest of Vanishing Stars, by Kristin Harmel (Tickets for July 26 event here)
4. The Comfort of Monsters, by Willa C Richards
5. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
6. The Sweetness of Water, by Nathan Harris
7. Razorblade Tears, by SA Cosby
8. Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir
9. Malibu Rising, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
10. The Paper Palace, by Miranda Cowley Heller

It's the second week in the top 10 for Miranda Cowley Heller's The Paper Palace, a summer novel, in which you are sitting at your summer place reading a book about someone else sitting at their summer place, only they are having an affair or something, from a former series development executive at HBO. From Publishers Weekly: "In Heller’s captivating debut, a woman’s visit to her family’s summer home on Cape Cod forces her to make a momentous decision ... When the details are revealed later on, they put the somber mood of the first half in a new light."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. I Alone Can Fix It, by Carol Leoning and Philip Rucker
2. Finding the Mother Tree, by Suzanne Simard
3. This Is Your Mind on Plants, by Michael Pollan
4. Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson
5. Verge, by Patrick Wyman
6. Noise, by Daniel Kahneman
7. Anthropocene Reviewed, by John Green
8. Landslide, by Michael Wolff
9. How the Word Is Passed, by Clint Smith
10. The Sound of the Sea, by Cynthia Barnett

Washington Post reporters Carol Leoning and Philip Rucker have a good first week with I Alone Can Fix It, a sequel, of sorts, to A Very Stable Genius - it outsold by a strong margin last week's Landslide, from Michael Wolff. But wow, nothing will beat that first Michael Wolff book. Dwight Garner reviewed them both in The New York Times, but wound up liking Landslide better, noting: "Wolff is a sometimes-mocked figure in the worlds of journalism and politics. He’s been accused of being less than diligent in his fact-checking. He’s been ticketed for careless writing violations. These complaints are valid, up to a point. But Landslide is a smart, vivid and intrepid book. He has great instincts. I read it in two or three sittings."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
2. The People We Meet on Vacation, by Emily Henry
3. Tropical Lung, by Roberto Harrison
4. Interior Chinatown, by Charles Yu
5. Anxious People, by Fredrick Backman
6. Transcendent Kingdom, by Yaa Gyasi
7. The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune
8. Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid
9. Adventure Zone: Crystal Kingdom, by Clint McElroy and Sons
10. What the Chickadee Knows, by Margaret Noodin

It is unusual to have two poetry books in our top ten, and even more unusual when they are both locals, and there's no event currently involved. I've already said a bit about Margaret Noodin's What the Chickadee Knows, so I'll give a shout out to Roberto Harrison's Tropical Lung which is sometimes written as Tropical Lung: Exi(s)t(s), though the book jacket doesn't have the subtitle. Gabriel Ojeda-Sague writes: "I am incredibly thankful for this new book of poetry, prose, and drawing from the great Latino surrealist and one of the most generous and generative voices in poetry today, Roberto Harrison (a former Milwaukee Poet Laureate). In Tropical Lung, Harrison redoubles his commitment to sewing together the animal, the land, the human, the climate, and the technological. With sleight-of-hand and dense runic images, this book leads its reader into ‘the anti-silence of the Amazon,’ where we may just find a better way to belong. To think clearly in unclear sound is Harrison’s persistent aspiration, and the addition of Tropical Lung to his rich body of work brings this aspiration closer to reality for all of us.”

Paperback Nonfiction
1. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
2. Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari
3. 111 Places in Milwaukee that You Must Not Miss, by Michelle Madden
4. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk
5. Dignity, by Donna Hicks
6. The Golden Thread, by Kassia St Clair
7. Undocumented Americans, by Karla Cornejo Villavalvicencio
8. Classic Restaurants of Milwaukee, by Jennifer Billock
9. Epic Hikes of the World, by Lonely Planet
10. Fresh From Poland, by Michal Korkosz

We had a lot of orders for schools and nonprofits this week and while I sometimes mix in these quantities with our bestsellers, in one case they crowded out all the new books, making the list sort of meaningless. But by taking the large ones out, it left some of the lists a little thin, especially paperback nonfiction, which generally has the lowest bestseller numbers of the five we track. But being that Epic Hikes of the World has now hit the lower reaches of the top 10 twice, it seems like a good time to give it a shout out. It's stories about 50 incredible hikes in 30 countries, and there's no question that it's selling because it's on Rose's recommendation shelf. I found a review of the hardcover on the Social Hiker website: "The book is beautifully illustrated and makes a perfect coffee table book for yourself or the aspiring adventurer in your life."

Books for Kids:
1. Mightier Than the Sword, by Rochelle Melander (Register for July 27 event here)
2. Attack on Pearl Harbor, by Kate Messner
3. Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, by Eleanor Coerr
4. Firekeeper's Daughter, by Angeline Boulley
5. The Ones We're Meant to Find, by Joan He
6. Absolutely Emma, by Amy Webb
7. When Charley Met Emma, by Amy Webb
8. Clash, by Kayla Miller
9. The Land of Permanent Goodbyes, Atia Abawi
10. Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo

Back in May, Jenny Chou interviewed Joan He for her YA novel The Ones We're Meant to Find, which is in our top ten this week. Jenny calls it "spectacularly twisty" and compares it to We Were Liars. You can read her interview on The Boswellians. Plus Nathalie DeFelice in The Nerd Daily: "If you’re looking for a deeply atmospheric book that has serious Studio Ghibli vibes, then you’re going to want to drop everything and read The Ones We’re Meant to Find. It’s a stunning masterpiece that not only showcases Joan He’s incredible writing versatility, but this new world she’s created will be one that readers won’t soon forget."

Two book features in the Journal Sentinel this week. First up is Jim Higgins's profile of Rochelle Melander's latest. From Higgins: "Mightier Than the Sword features many writers an adult reader would expect to see in such a book, including activist Helen Keller, novelist-essayist James Baldwin and playwright William Shakespeare. But this inclusive book also introduces readers to Sequoyah, creator of the syllabary that made reading and writing in Cherokee possible; Cece Bell, who drew on her own experiences as a deaf child to create the graphic novel El Deafo; and Dave the Potter (David Drake), who inscribed verses on the ceramic pots he made as a slave."

Also in the Journal Sentinel, Victoria Magee profiles Genesee Depot native Greta Kelly, whose first book Frozen Crown series came out in January and the second, The Seventh Queen, comes out in November. Kelly talks about being influenced by classic fantasy and war movies.

Monday, July 19, 2021

This week on the Boswell Zoom website - Elinor Lipman, S.A. Cosby, Mike Gayle, plus Kristin Harmel preview

Here's what's going on this week with Boswell.

Monday, July 19, 7 pm
Elinor Lipman, author of Rachel to the Rescue
in Conversation with Jane Hamilton
Register for this event here.
Ask for your signed bookplate when ordering.

Join us for an evening with Elinor Lipman, the Countess of Romantic Comedy, for her mischievous novel of political satire. Lipman will be in conversation with her long-time friend Jane Hamilton, acclaimed author of The Excellent Lombards and A Map of the World, recognized by Milwaukee Public Library's Wisconsin Writers Hall of Fame.

Rachel Klein is sacked from her job at the White House after she sends an email criticizing Donald Trump. As she is escorted off the premises, she is hit by a speeding car, driven by what the press will discreetly call "a personal friend of the President." Does that explain the flowers, the get-well wishes at a press briefing, the hush money offered by a lawyer at her hospital bedside?

Rachel’s recovery is soothed by comically doting parents, matchmaking room-mates, a new job as aide to a journalist whose books aim to defame the President, and unexpected love at the local wine store. But secrets leak, and Rachel’s new-found happiness has to make room for more than a little chaos. Will she bring down the President? Or will he manage to do that all by himself?

Laurie Hertzel at the Star Tribune writes that "Elinor Lipman's latest novel, Rachel to the Rescue, might not stand the test of time, but for this particular time, it's hilarious," going on to call it "a great novel for a long and lazy summer afternoon."  And Beck Dorey-Stein called it "an entertaining romp of a political satire" in The New York Times

And event with either Elinor Lipman or Jane Hamilton is always a treat. But together? Not to be missed.

Tuesday, July 20, 7 pm
SA Cosby, author of Razorblade Tears
in Conversation with Carole E Barrowman for a Virtual Event
Register for this event.
Ask for your signed bookplate.

We welcome back SA Cosby, author of Boswellian favorite Blacktop Wasteland, for a conversation about his sophomore novel Razorblade Tears, now a New York Times bestseller, with mystery critic and author Carole E Barrowman. Cosby's latest is the story of a Black father and a white father who join forces to get revenge on the men who murdered their gay sons.

We loved our event last summer with the dynamic Cosby, so it’s a thrill to have him return for this provocative, fast-paced novel. Here's more about it: Ike Randolph has been out of jail for fifteen years, with not so much as a speeding ticket in all that time. But a Black man with cops at the door knows to be afraid. The last thing he expects to hear is that his son Isiah has been murdered, along with Isiah’s white husband Derek. Isiah was a gay black man in the American South; Ike couldn’t bring himself to attend his son’s wedding. Derek’s father Buddy Lee is also suffering. He’d barely spoken to his son in five years; he was as ashamed of Derek for being gay as Derek was ashamed his father was a criminal. Buddy Lee still has contacts in the underworld, though, and he wants to know who killed his boy.

Ike and Buddy Lee, two ex-cons with little else in common other than a criminal past and a love for their dead sons, band together in their desperate desire for revenge. In their quest to do better for their sons in death than they did in life, alpha-males Ike and Buddy Lee will confront their own prejudices, about each other and their sons, as they rain down vengeance upon those who hurt their boys.

SA Cosby is author of Blacktop Wasteland, a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, as well as Brotherhood of the Blade and My Darkest Prayer. He won an Anthony Award for best short story as well. Carole E Barrowman is Director of Creative Studies in Writing at Alverno College and a regular contributor on books to WTMJ4’s The Morning Blend. She is coauthor of the Hollow Earth series and has written comics for DC and Titan.

Thursday, July 22, 2 pm
Mike Gayle, author of All The Lonely People
in Conversation with Daniel Goldin and Lisa Baudoin for A Virtual Event
Register for this event here
We're hoping to have signed bookplates soon. It's a big pond!

Join us for a special Readings from Oconomowaukee afternoon featuring Mike Gayle, author of a delightful novel about Jamaican immigrant Hubert, who rediscovers the world he'd turned his back on in this warm, funny book. Cohosted by Books & Company of Oconomowoc, this is our monthly series readers have been loving in which we host authors for a conversation with bookstore proprietors Daniel Goldin and Lisa Baudoin. Gayle joins us all the way from Birmingham, UK.

Publishers Weekly
called All the Lonely People "a winning tale."

This is the book fans of A Man Called Ove have been waiting for. With the origin of Hubert’s isolation always lurking in the shadows, will he ever get to live the life he's pretended to have for so long? All the Lonely People is by turns a funny and moving meditation on love, race, old age, and friendship that will not only charm and uplift, but also remind you of the power of ordinary people to make an extraordinary difference.

Books & Company had a delightful conversation about the joys of All the Lonely People on their Facebook page. You can watch it here.  

Mike Gayle wrote an advice column for a teenage girls' magazine before becoming Features Editor for another teen magazine. That's the official bio - the magazines in question are Just Seventeen and Bliss. And advice columnist translates to Agony Aunt in British English. For more about that, please consider registering for our AJ Pearce event on August 18 for Yours Cheerfully, the follow-up to Dear Mrs Bird.

Mike Gayle has written for a variety of publications including the Sunday Times, the Guardian, and Cosmo. He has written thirteen novels, which have been translated into more than thirty languages. Several of them are available stateside!

Monday, July 26, 7:30 pm
Kristin Harmel, author of The Forest of Vanishing Stars
A Virtual Event
Tickets for this event here - $5 or upgrade to a book with ticket.
Ask for your signed bookplate

The Lynden Sculpture Garden's Women's Speaker Series, sponsored by Milwaukee Reads and Boswell Book Company, hosts Kristin Harmel, author of novels like The Book of Lost Names, for a virtual, BYOS (bring-your-own-snacks) event. She’ll chat about her latest, an evocative coming-of-age World War II story about a young woman who uses her knowledge of the wilderness to help Jewish refugees escape the Nazis.

Inspired by incredible true stories of survival against staggering odds, and suffused with journey-from-the-wilderness, The Forest of Vanishing Stars is a heart-wrenching, suspenseful novel. From Heather Webb, author of The Next Ship Home, “With breathtaking natural descriptions, vivid historical details, and a brave heroine worth cheering for who must fulfill a destiny prophesied since birth, this novel is not to be missed!”

After being stolen from her wealthy German parents and raised in the unforgiving wilderness of eastern Europe, a young woman finds herself alone in 1941 after her kidnapper dies. Her solitary existence is interrupted, however, when she happens upon a group of Jews fleeing the Nazi terror. Stunned to learn what’s happening in the outside world, she vows to teach the group all she can about surviving in the forest, and in turn, they teach her some surprising lessons about opening her heart after years of isolation. But when she is betrayed and escapes into a German-occupied village, her past and present come together in a shocking collision that could change everything.

Kristin Harmel is New York Times bestselling author of a dozen novels including The Book of Lost Names, The Winemaker’s Wife, and The Room on Rue Amélie. She is also the cofounder and cohost of the popular web series, Friends and Fiction.

A lucky attendee will win a stylish rope-handled tote with matching drink holders.  

This event is cohosted by the Lynden Sculpture Garden. The $5 ticket fee, or $3 if you purchase the book upgrade, is donated back to the Lynden Sculpture Garden.

More on the Boswell upcoming event page.

Photo credits:
--Elinor Lipman by Michael Benabib

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Boswell bestsellers, week ending July 17, 2021

Here's what's selling at Boswell

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Comfort of Monsters, by Willa C Richards
2. Shoulder Season, by Christina Clancy
3. The Cellist, by Daniel Silva
4. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro
5. The Final Girl Support Group, by Grady Hendrix
6. Malibu Rising, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
7. All the Lonely People, by Mike Gayle (Register for July 22 event here)
8. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
9. Night Came with Many Stars, by Simon Van Booy (Ask for your signed bookplate - coming soon)
10. Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir
11. The Personal Librarian, by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
12. Razorblade Tears, by SA Cosby (Register for July 20 event here)

I'm not sure how many staff recommendations we have for The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires, but it's enough, and duplicated at enough others stores that Hendrix jumped from Quirk to Berkley for the latest, The Final Girl Support Group, which has this clever tagline: "In horror movies, the final girls are the ones left standing when the credits roll. They made it through the worst night of their lives… but what happens after?" Boswellian Madi Hill notes that "Hendrix's style is so much fun but surprisingly tense, perfect for the horror fan who doesn't take themselves too seriously." Barbara VanDenBurgh in USA Today writes: "Final Girl indulges but doesn’t coast on nostalgia, and is itself a page-turning thriller with survival on the line."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Finding the Mother Tree, by Suzanne Simard
2. This Is Your Mind on Plants, by Michael Pollan
3. Landslide, by Michael Wolff
4. How the Word Is Passed, by Clint Smith
5. Crying in H Mart, Michelle Zauner
6. Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson
8. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, by George Saunders
9. Hola Papi, by John Paul Brammer
10. Subpar Parks, by Amber Share

New York Times reporters Sheera Frenkel and Cecelia Kang, part of the team that received a Pulitzer for their work, now have a book inspired by their reporting on Facebook - An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook's Battle for Domination is based on over 400 interviews. John Naughton reviewed the book for The Guardian, and after reading more about it, one begins to see Facebook as a successful version of WeWork, at least from the perspective of the founder (I just read The Wall Street Journal story where Neuman was projecting a $10 trillion valuation). Naughton notes: "The co-authors’ exhumation of these ghastly skeletons makes for gripping as well as depressing reading."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Adventure Zone V4: Crystal Kingdom, by Clint McElroy
2. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
3. Anxious People, by Fredrik Backman
4. Hamnet, by Maggie O"Farrell
5. The People We Meet on Vacation, by Emiliy Henry
6. Leonard and Hungry Paul, by Rónán Hession
7. Transcendent Kingdom, by Yaa Gyasi
8. Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid
9. The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires, by Grady Hendrix
10. Rachel to the Rescue, by Elinor Lipman (Register for July 19 event here)
 
I'm going to use copy again to explain Adventure Zone: "Based on the blockbuster podcast where the McElroy brothers and their dad play a tabletop RPG (role-playing game) and illustrated by cartooning powerhouse Carey Pietsch, The Adventure Zone: The Crystal Kingdom takes this #1 New York Times bestselling series to haunting new heights." And to be clear, there are actually four writers and an illustrator - Clint McElroy does this with his three sons, Griffin, Justin, and Travis, plus the illustrator is Carey Pietsch. To be even clearer, this book gets shunted to graphic novels/comics for bestseller lists, but it outsold all the traditional fiction this week. More details: 1) Loosely Based on Dungeons and Dragons 2) You can listen to the podcast here 3) It's going to be a streaming series on NBC's Peacock.
 
Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes, by Anna Lardinois
2. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
3. Vesper Flights, by Helen Macdonald
4. My Grandmother's Hands, by Resmaa Menakem
5. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, by Yuval Noah Harari
6. Memorable Milwaukee, by Darlene Rzezotarski
7. Michelin North America Road Atlas 2022
8. Lonely Planet Epic Hikes of the World
9. The Vapors, by David Hill
10. Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

As I was looking for an interesting narrative nonfiction book to read for our In-Store Lit Group, I came upon The Vapors, David Hill's history of Hot Springs, Arkansas, once in contention to be the Las Vegas of the South, and we're not talking about the family-friendly magic shows. The Vapors: A Southern Family, the New York Mob, and the Rise and Fall of Hot Springs, America's Forgotten Capital of Vice is a New York Times notable book of the year. From the starred Publishers Weekly: "Expertly interweaving family memoir, Arkansas politics, and Mafia lore, Hill packs the story full of colorful characters and hair-raising events. This novelistic history hits the jackpot."

Books for Kids:
1. Curious George First Day of School, by Margaret Rey
2. The Night Before First Grade, by Natasha Wing
3. Merriam Webster Elementary Dictionary
4. Mightier than the Sword, by Rochelle Melander (Register for July 27 event here)
5. The Assignment, by Liza Wiemer
6. Any Way the Wind Blows, by Rainbow Rowell
7. Firekeeper's Daughter, by Angeline Boulley
8. Dog Man: Mothering Heights, by Dav Pilkey
9. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom board book, by Bill Martin Jr/Lois Ehlert
10. The Bad Guys in Cut to the Chase, by Aaron Blabey

Curious George First Day of School was published (I think!) in 2005, well after both H.A. (1977) and Margaret Rey (1996) passed away. I thought maybe the writer of the book would appear on the copyright page, but no, just the illustrator of this edition, Anna Grossnickle Hines. But this led me to the question, what exactly did HarperCollins buy when they bought the trade division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. They will likely sell the Curious George books. But did they buy the rights to Curious George? Did they buy The American Heritage Dictionary or just the right to sell the trade edition? I have no clue.
 
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