Sunday, July 31, 2016

A nice book club pop on the Boswell bestseller lists for the week ending July 30, 2016

I don't normally do paperbacks first, but with a more muted event calendar for the next few weeks, the real story for sales pops with a minor reset and new signage for our book club table, and several groups choosing titles for their upcoming season.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
2. Jade Dragon Mountain, by Elsa Hart
3. The Fishermen, by Chogozie Obioma
4. My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
5. A Reunion of Ghosts, by Judith Claire Mitchell
6. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
7. Faith, by Jennifer Haigh
8. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
9. Florence Gordon, by Brian Morton
10. After You, by Jojo Moyes
11. Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf
12. Those who Leave and Those who Stay V3, by Elena Ferrante
13. Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
14. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald
15. The Dust That Falls From Dreams, by Louis De Bernieres

We consolidated our July addendum sheet into our spring-summer book club flyer, dropping a few books that ran their course, plus 30 books don't quite fit on our table. Three of the titles we're tying to push, Jade Dragon Mountain, The Fishermen, and The Dust that Falls from Dreams, had sales pops this week. I've only read The Fishermen so far (and I highly recommend it for book clubs!), but the other two novels had very strong reads from two other Boswellians and both are being considered for our in-store lit group meetings in November and December. In particular, I'm always on the lookout for a really strong start to a mystery series with crossover potential and with the strong historical setting and Jade Dragaon Mountain, a Barry Award best first novel nominee, fits the bill. Donna Leon offered this praise: "This debut historical mystery deftly combines ingenious plotting and suspense with a subtle understanding of China, its culture, and its people. The protagonist, Li Du, a librarian and intellectual, is well worth keeping an eye on.”

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Creating and Sustaining a Thriving Reiki Practice, by Deb Karpek
2. The Confidence Quadrant, by Darren Fisher
3. Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson
4. My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me, by Jennifer Teege with Nikola Sellmair
5. Fast and Easy Five Ingredient Recipes, by Philia Kelnhofer
6. You Are a Badass, by Jen Sincero
7. Hamilton: Vocal Selections, by Lin Manuel Miranda
8. Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
9. Cream City Chronicles, by John Gurda
10. Dog Medicine, by Julie Barton

Two events sales, followed by two book club picks, followed by two Hamilton books including one published by Milwaukee's Hal Leonard, plus the coffee table book rests comfortably on our hardcover list below. Yes, Hamilton: Vocal Selections hit our bestseller list, and based on the quantities in stock at our wholesaler, those sales are not isolated. One of my friends in Chicago told me that she spent a lot of time wrangling tickets for the opening there - I'm sure she's not alone.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Girls, by Emma Cline
2. Black Widow, by Daniel Silva
3. Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch
4. Heroes of the Frontier, by Dave Eggers
5. I Almost Forgot About You, by Terry McMillan
6. Everyone Brave is Forgiven, by Chris Cleave
7. As Good as Gone, by Larry Watson
8. Charcoal Joe, by Walter Mosley
9. They May Not Mean to But They Do, by Cathleen Schine
10. My Name Is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout

Jason informed me that I didn't catch that Dark Matter released a week earlier than expected. This week we featured it in our email newsletter with not one but two staff recommendations. Boswellian Kelli O'Malley wrote: "Blake Crouch's new novel, Dark Matter, is a complex dark tale of one man's obsessive determination to make it home to his family. Riddled with thought provoking ideas and improbable situations, Crouch takes readers on the ultimate journey of ‘what if?’ This Sci-fi novel heart pounding twists show readers that our choices make us who we are and what were to happen if we tried to live a life not our own. The science of the novel has an incredible quality that leads to situations I could not stop thinking about days after I finished reading."

Need more prodding? Andrew Liptak in The Verge writes: "Dark Matter will satisfy any cravings you might have for the late Michael Crichton's known techno-thrillers like Jurassic Park, Timeline, The Andromeda Strain, and others. Take a couple of characters, drop them into a mess of advanced sciences and technologies with a clear antagonist, and crank the book to 11."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
2. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
3. Wisconsin Supper Clubs: Another Round, by Ron Faiola (event Mon 8/8, 7 pm)
4. Grunt, by Mary Roach
5. Hamilton, by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
6. John Bascom and the Origins of the Wisconsin Idea, by J. David Hoeveler (event Wed 9/7, 7 pm)
7. Hidden Hemingway, by Robert K. Elder, Mark Cirino, and Aaron Vetch
8. Diane Arbus, by Arthur Lubow
9. White Trash, by Nancy Isenberg
10. The Hour of the Land, by Terry Tempest-Williams

One might have thought that Diane Arbus's life was captured in 1984 by Patricia Bosworth, but Arthur Lubow's Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer is almost twice as long and filled with new information and insights. Anthony Lane wrote in The New Yorker: "If, in the end, any biography of her becomes exhausting, that is because she is exhausting. If her genius both astounds and tires, it is because, whatever the courage and the tolerance with which she sought out the eccentric, she always seems to remain at the center, while others revolve around her." So perhaps you too could take a picture of a Jewish giant, but it probably wouldn't have the same impact.

Books for Kids:
1. Babies, by Gyo Fujikawa
2. There Is a Tribe of Kids, by Lane Smith
3. Alan's Big Scary Teeth, by Peter Jarvis
4. Baby Animals, by Gyo Fujikawa
5. Author's Odyssey V5, by Chris Colfer
6. Last Star V3, by Rick Yancey
7. And I Darken, by Kiersten White
8. Hillary Rodham Clinton, by Michelle Balzer Markel
9. Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans
10. Riverkeep, by Martin Stewart

Holding on to the margins of the top 10 is a brand new fantasy novel from Martin Stewart called Riverkeep. It's about a teenage boy named Wullum who is going to take over the job of Riverkeep from his father, only dad becomes possessed by a demon and to save him, Wull must slay Mormorach the sea monster. Kirkus Reviews writes: "Stewart shows a dab hand at crafting memorable characters and thoroughly frightening opponents for them to face. Leaving several supporting storylines up in the air, he navigates the quixotic main mission to a solid resolution that leaves Wulliam truly prepared at last to take up his riverine duties.A rich debut: Huck Finn meets Moby-Dick. "

Over at the Journal Sentinel, book space is condensed to feature State Fair doings, but there's still a nice feature on Jeffrey Toobin's American Heiress: The Wild Saga of The Kidnapping, Crimes, and Trial of Patty Hearst. Toobin brings the 1970s incident back into sharp focus, per ZChris Foran: "In engaging and breezily written prose, he shows that it's more than a footnote to its time. In many ways, Hearst's tale embodied its time, or at least the dark side of it. Toobin — whose book The Run of His Life was the basis for this year's hit FX series The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story — deftly sets the stage by taking us back to the less-than-thrilling days of 1974, with gas prices soaring, faith in government and institutions collapsing, and violence by self-proclaimed terrorists escalating."

Originally published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Pamela Miller's review of The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror, from Joyce Carol Oates, is featured in the print section. Miller's take: "Its six stories are especially bone-chilling because they contain no element of the supernatural. All could have happened in your city or town — and probably have, given Oates' fascination with the gritty crime fodder that is a staple of most U.S. newspapers and TV newscasts."

And online for now, Mike Fischer in the Journal Sentinel takes on Dave Eggers' Heroes of the Frontier, a novel about a woman on the lam in Alaska with her two children. Hey, this can go on our Alaska table. Fischer likes the book though this quote out of context might make it seem like he is rolling his eyes: "Cue the characteristic Eggers mood music, playing a variation on the theme of how America has lost touch with itself. True to form, he is again as earnest, lyrical, passionate — and, yes, sometimes annoyingly preachy — as any contemporary American novelist." Note that the Journal Sentinel generally reviews books two days before on-sale date but Eggers is available now, so feel free to pick one up today. It's featured on the Boswell Best in store.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Reading Log Redux: What I Was Reading 30 Years Ago

I know we're hosting our Harry Potter party tonight, but for me, another celebration is in order. It's not quite the end of July and I've already read more books, nine, than in any month in recent memory. I don't think I'm going to get through ten, because my next book up is Viet Thanh Nguyen's The Sympathizers, for our book club discussion on Monday, and I think my reading is going to bleed into Monday morning for that one, but you never know. My previous best, both for 2016 and all of 2015, was seven, a number I hit three times. But I got as low as three in 2015 too.

I've been keeping a reading list since I was 24. At the time that I started, I was so upset that I'd waited so long and I'd already missed so much, but of course 30+ years later, and I pat myself on the back for thinking it's never too late. Of course I worked out my irritation by trying to go back and fill in the previous months.

I have rules, of course. I must read the complete book to the end. For the most part, I don't count children's picture books, adult photography or art books unless there's a substantial amount of text, and it's really hard to include anything reference-y, though I have been known to read certain books cover to cover that most people would not consider readable. When I was younger, I would occasionally count humor titles with a lot of pictures, but looking back, this also feels like cheating. Cheating who, you ask?

I also have a problem with rereading books and whether to count them or not. When someone says they read 1000 books, do they mean 1000 books or 1000 different books? I think the latter.

So I thought it would be interesting to go back and look at my reading list from 30 years ago this month. I was shocked! How did I read 17 books? And I thought this was by the most I'd ever read, but 18 wasn't unusual in 1986, and once I got to 20. The truth is that this was a good time for reading, a bookstore job that nonetheless had little outside responsibility, plus I had no television, no money to do things, and very few friends. Sounds, great, right? Within two years, I was down to single digits. The nine I am bragging about this month was par for the course for a long time.

Here's the roundup:

1. Reel Power: Struggle for Influence and Success in the New Hollywood, by Mark Litwak (William Morrow)
Type covers can still be popular but not with this typeface.

2. Worldly Power: The Making of the Wall Street Journal, by Edward Scharff (Beaufort)
This wound up being published in paperback by Plume.

3. Roadside Empires: How the Chains Franchised America, by Stan Lexumberg (Penguin)

4. Dance on My Grave, by Aidan Chambers (Harper and Row)
This book was recommended to me by my fellow bookseller Darwin. Funny how you can remember that after all these years.

5. Fifty Years in My Bookstore, by Harry W. Schwartz (Schwartz)

6. The Mexican Pet: More New Urban Legends and Some Old Favorites, by Jan Harold Brunvald (Norton) Boy these used to be popular! When I was the backlist buyer, there was a Brunvald on just about every reorder.

7. And So It Goes: Adventures in Television, by Linda Ellerbee (Putnam) It should become clear here that I was on a media kick.

8. The Milwaukee Journal: The First 80 Years, by Will Conrad, Kathleen Wilson, and Dale Wilson (University of Wisconsin)

9. The Fanciest Dive: What Happened When the Media Empire of Time/Life Leaped Without Looking in the Age of High Tech, by Christopher Byron (Norton)

10. Tales of Times Square, by Josh Alan Friedman (Delacorte)
This is odd. We hosted Mr. Friedman and I had no idea I had read his previous book. And it looks like this was reissued by Feral House.

11. The Metropolitan Midwest: Policy Problems and Prospects for Change, edited by Barry Checkoway and Carl Patton (University of Illinois)
I was clearly still wondering if I should have moved to Milwaukee.

12. Recombinations, by Perri Klass (Putnam)
I was amused to see that Ms. Klass was thanked in the acknowledgements of Elinor Lipman's charming new novel (coming February 2017). I went back and read this novel because I loved her short stories, I Am Having an Adventure, so much. I later pronounced it my favorite book of 1986 and reread it. Attempts to reread my favorite book in later years fell flat.

13. Mrs. Caliban, by Rachel Ingalls (Gambit)
What a strange book that was much beloved by customers! It sold for years and years, first as an independently-produced hardcover and then from Dell and then back to a small press.

14. Mohawk, by Richard Russo (Vintage)
Hey, he turned out to be quite the writer! And now he's a bookseller too. Here's an article from the Portland Press Herald about Print, the new Portland, Maine bookshop.

15. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, by Neil Postman (Viking)
My guess is that he would not be amused by today's landscape.

16. Night Kites, by M.E. Kerr
If you'd looked at an average bookseller's reading list nowadays, I'll bet there would be more young adult novels on it. But hey, I had two on this list.

17. The Soul of Kindness, by Elizabeth Taylor (Virago)
Definitely the influence of my friend John!

Wow, this percentage of nonfiction is much higher than I expected, 2/3. I wondered if I had changed as a reader, but it turns out this was an anomaly. Generally the fiction reading dominated, and there's another month in September where I didn't read a single nonfiction book. I went through a phase where I'd shuffle the exact month of reading to have a focus, such as books set in New Jersey. Yes, I really did this. But the media focus of July 1986 seems to be unintentional.

For what I read in July, you have to view the blog on the web version, not mobile. The reading log is along the right side.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Announcing a ticketed event with bestselling author Jennifer Weiner, in conversation with "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" Book Editor Jim Higgins, Tuesday, October 18, 7 pm, at Boswell

Boswell is excited to announce that Jennifer Weiner will be coming to Boswell for a ticketed event on Tuesday, October 18, 7 pm. Weiner will be in conversation with Jim Higgins of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and appears in conjunction with her latest release, Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing.

But you probably know Weiner best as the author of 11 novels and a collection of stories:
Good in Bed (2001)
In Her Shoes (2002)
Little Earthquakes (2004)
Goodnight Nobody (2005)
The Guy Not Taken:Stories (2006)
Certain Girls (2008)
Best Friends Forever (2009)
Fly Away Home (2010)
Then Came You (2011)
The Next Best Thing (2012)
All Fall Down (2014)
Who Do You Love (August 2015).

You may also remember that In Her Shoes was adapted into a 2005 film with Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette, and Shirley MacLaine.

You also might know Weiner (photo credit Maarten de Boer) as a social media phenomenon. From Rebecca Mead's 2014 profile in The New Yorker: "Her other audience (meaning in addition to readers and other fans) is made up of writers, editors, and critics. Through her blog and her Twitter account, Weiner has stoked a lively public discussion about the reception and consumption of fiction written by women. This audience is smaller than the one that buys her books, and barely intersects with it. Yet social media have given Weiner a parallel notoriety, as an unlikely feminist enforcer."

What you don't know her as (yet) is a guest at Boswell! I am very pleased to be hosting Ms. Weiner in conversation with Jim Higgins, a great supporter of women writers in all sorts of genres. As the book editor at the Journal Sentinel, he's an avid reader and astute critic, who can appreciate that every sort of writing has its own sort of rules for success, and the key is determining whether the writer was successful in accomplishing what they set out to do. And don't forget that Weiner was once a features reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Tickets for our October 18 event are being sold through Brown Paper Tickets. The cost is $28, includes admission for one, a copy of Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing, and all taxes and fees. On the night of the event, a $20 gift card is available in lieu of the book. And if you don't like ordering by website, you can also call for tickets at 800-838-3006. If you don't have the link, you can use keywords "Jennifer Weiner" and "Boswell," and if you are numbers oriented like I am, our event # is 2567707.

Here's a little more about the new book: "No subject is off-limits in this intimate and honest essay collection: sex, weight, envy, money, her mom's late-in-life lesbianism, and her estranged fathers death. From lonely adolescence to modern childbirth to hearing her six-year-old daughters use of the f-word, fat, for the first time, Jennifer dives deep into the heart of female experience, with the wit and candor that have endeared her to readers all over the world." If you're a fan of Weiner's fiction, you will love reading her essays!

Please note, that being that the event is within seven days of the on-sale date, we will not have an early pickup option. And while you must purchase a ticket to attend this event, we are accepting signed copy requests through our website, if you cannot attend. Shipping available to the continental United States only.

And that's the story! We've got 300 tickets available, and one (or maybe two) of them has your name on it. And if you're coming from afar, why not have a Milwaukee vacation and get tickets for Ann Patchett in conversation with Jane Hamilton on October 19.

Monday, July 25, 2016

This week: Darren Fisher, Harry Potter launch party, the last week of Find Waldo in Milwaukee

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

Tuesday, July 26, 7:00 pm, at Boswell
Darren Fisher, author of The Confidence Quadrant: Develop an Attitude That Embraces Both Success and Failure 

Failure! The shamed, shunned, shadowed word that our affluent culture has been rapidly erasing from use may be the very key necessary to making our success most likely. In his premiere release, New Berlin-based management consultant Darren Fisher teaches how we can gain confidence for positive risk-taking in our professional and personal lives by focusing on our wins. 2

Furthermore, he shows the importance of owning our losses - an approach that allows us to realign our goals, attaining positive achievement, and begin crushing it in all we do! Discover your natural attitude application and the exercises that will have you performing as a Confident Enterpriser in The Confidence Quadrant.

Darren Fisher is a New Berlin-based entrepreneur, tech consultant, business coach, Air Force veteran, husband, and father of four.

Saturday, July 30, 10:00 pm, at Boswell:
A release party for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts 1 and 2, the new release from J.K. Rowling

Are you brave like Gryffindor or loyal like Hufflepuff? Or perhaps wise like Ravenclaw or cunning as a Slytherin? Come represent your house and show your pride at our Harry Potter and the Cursed Child midnight release party! There will be everything that a witch and wizard could wish for from Trivia to a costume contest-so polish your wands, grab your robes, and join us at Boswarts to experience the magic once again.

The special Save Dobby sock drive is coordinated by the Harry Potter Alliance, Rufus Kingsley chapter. Bring your new or clean socks to Boswell, and we’ll donate them to St. Ben’s Community Meal, one of Milwaukee’s oldest and largest programs serving the homeless.

At midnight, you'll be able to purchase your copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts 1 and 2. And yes, you can reserve your copy now.

Monday, August 1, 4:00 pm, at Boswell
Where's Waldo Wrap Party

We've had a great time searching for Waldo around the Milwaukee area. And now we're gathering together for some activities, refreshments, and a drawing for prizes provided by our Find Waldo Local partners, including Fischbergers and Brass Bell Music. All kids who find Waldo in 10 locations get a button and Boswell Waldo coupon. If you find Waldo in 20 locations, you are entered in the drawing. Some (but not all) prizes will require you attend to win. Please note there is no purchase necessary for these drawings.

A big thank you to all our fellow retailers who participated in the program: Art Smart's Dart Mart, Beans and Barley, Board Game Barrister (Bayshore), Brass Bell Music, Community Bark (Bay View), Downer True Value Hardware, Fischberger Variety (Riverwest), Fyxation Bicycle Company, Goody Gourmet, Holey Moley Doughnuts, Hot Pop, Indulgence Chocolatiers (Walkers Point and Shorewood), Little Monsters, Little Read Book , Neihring's Sendiks (Oakland and Downer), Niemann's Candies and Ice Cream, Outpost Natural Foods (Riverwest and Capitol Drive), Purple Door Ice Cream, Red Cap Luggage, Rushmor Records, Sydney b. (Shorewood), Soaps and Scents, The Waxwing, Winknie's,

Sunday, July 24, 2016

What's a bookstore bestseller list without dogs and Paris? Here's the annotated Boswell list for the week ending July 23, 2016

Here's what sold at Boswell this week.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Light of Paris, by Eleanor Brown
2. Before We Visit the Goddess, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
3. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
4. Black Widow, by Daniel Silva
5. End of Watch, by Stephen King
6. Belgravia, by Julian Fellowes
7. Pond, by Claire-Louise Bennett
8. Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley
9. How to Set a Fire and Why, by Jesse Ball
10. First Comes Love, by Emily Giffin

A lot of folks ask whether I've read something but when I get two questions in short order, I start paying attention, and that's been the case with Claire-Louise Bennett's novel Pond. Alexis Burling does a good job describing it in the San Francisco Chronicle: "The book is a collection of 20 interconnected short stories, some lasting not even a page. Each is narrated by the same woman of indeterminate age and loosely centers on — even fixates on, in a stream-of-consciousness fashion — an object, string of emotions or theme. When spliced together, these mostly plotless thought pieces paint a patchwork yet intimate portrait of the woman’s mostly solitary life in the Irish countryside."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube, by Blair Braverman
2. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
3. Hidden Hemingway, by Robert K Elder, Mark Cirino, and Aaron Vetch
4. Hamilton, by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
5. Grunt, by Mary Roach
6. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
7. Seinfeldia, by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong (event Mon 9/12, 7 pm, now $5 ticketed at Soup House downtown*)
8. Terror in the City of Champions, by Tom Stanton
9. Harley Davidson, by Darwin Holmstrom
10. Wisconsin Summer Clubs: Another Round, by Ron Faiola (event Mon 8/18, 7 pm, with Kyle Cherek)

*$6.17 including service fee. Now includes a bowl of soup, while supplies last

Mary Roach's latest, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, has been steadily selling at Boswell since release, with its biggest champion being our now-in-Madison former bookseller Halley. Why does it appear that the book has a sales pop every time she comes east for a haircut or to visit her sister? Steve Mirsky in Scientific American writes: "In her book, Roach takes a deep dive into military science and medicine and how even the simplest activities are complicated by the realities of combat or readiness for it. For example, most of us may take for granted being able to hear co-workers when collaborating on a task. But ears take a constant beating in the service—weapons and explosions, Roach writes, 'are the biggest contributors to the $1 billion a year the Veterans Administration spends on hearing loss and tinnitus.'"

Paperback Fiction:
1. Exodus Code, by John and Carole E. Barrowman
2. Luck, Love and Lemon Pie, by Amy E. Reichert
3. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
4. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
5. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, by Amy E. Reichert
6. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
7. The Weird Sisters, by Eleanor Brown
8. My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
9. The Marriage of Opposites, by Alice Hoffman
10. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, by Fredrik Backman

Alice Hoffman certainly got her groove back by diving into history. The Marriage of Opposites got a great review from Wendy Smith in The Washington Post, who calls it "A fierce, sorrowful tale of the conflict between personal desire and social constraints that echoes through three generations on the island of St. Thomas in the first half of the 19th century. Like her most recent novels, this story is grounded in historical events and assiduous research, but Hoffman goes a step beyond The Dovekeepers and The Museum of Extraordinary Thing by taking real-life figures as her protagonists. Staying close to the known facts about the artist Camille Pissarro and his parents, she forcefully imagines their interior lives and surrounds them with a full-bodied supporting cast of characters." Note that her next novel, Faithful, out in November, veers back to contemporary.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Fast and Easy Five Ingredient Recipes, by Philia Kelnhofer
2. The Big Thirst, by Charles Fishman
3. Dog Medicine, by Julie Barton
4. Night, by Elie Wiesel
5. My Holiday in North Korea, by Wendy E. Simmons
6. H Is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald
7. The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
8. Cream City Chronicles, by John Gurda
9. Elizabeth and Hazel, by David Margolick
10. Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari

Some folks might wonder how tiny Rosettabooks has placed into our top ten more than once since a May release for My Holiday in North Korea. Boswellian Conrad is selling off his rec shelf. He writes: "North Korea is a truly bizarre and comical place. Wendy Simmons introduces each chapter with quotations from Lewis Carroll to perfectly heighten the sense that you have passed into a distorted world: one in which the ridiculous is commonplace, the normal is surreal, truths are lies, and reality is whatever the Party says it is...I read this book in one sitting and have seldom laughed so hard." You can read more about the book, including how the country responded to Simmons' trip to a soccer game, on our website.

Books for Kids:
1. Hollow Earth, by John and Carole E. Barrowman
2. The Hidden Oracle, by Rick Riordan
3. Zoo Break, by David Macaulay
4. Frank and Lucky Get Schooled, by Lynne Rae Perkins
5. School for Good and Evil Ever Never Handbook, by Soman Chainani
6. Darkstalker Wings of Fire: Legends, by Tui T Sutherland
7. Stories from Bug Garden, by Lisa Moser with illustrations by Gwen Millward (event Sun 8/28 at Boswell)
8. Pax, by Sara Pennypacker with illustrations by Jon Klassen
9. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Board Book, by Eric Carle
10. A is for Activist, by Innosanto Nagara

Once you finish a series, how do you get readers to stay connected? Soman Chainanin's Ever Never Handbook is a companion to The School for Good and Evil trilogy, "full of everything students need to learn in order to survive their own fairy tale from dress codes and school rules to alumni portraits, kingdom maps, and much, much more." And yes, IMDB says the film is still in devlopment.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins reviews Eau Claire professor's This Is Only a Test, a collection of essays that Higgins notes, "mixes memoir, storytelling and research in a way that can be labeled creative nonfiction, Hollars writes in an accessible, personable voice. A high school student could read this book, and appreciate much of it." His Pick is "Buckethead," a cautionary tale about a boy who hides in a disused refrigerator that becomes "a cautionary tale about cautionary tales."

Also featured:

Jonathan Unleashed, by Meg Rosoff, reviewed by Laurie Hertzel in the Star Tribune (Minneapolis). For folks who attended our event with Julie Barton for Dog Medicine, or our upcoming one with Mel Miskimen for Sit Stay Heal on September 14, this story of a young man who moves to New York "to live the life he thinks he is supposed to lead. He might have the right job, apartment, and girlfriend, but in actuality, they are all so wrong. As Hertzerl writes, "Dog to the Resucue!"

Sarong Party Girls, by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, reviewed by Kaitlynn Martin of the Dallas Morning News, the story of a woman from Singapore who vows to marry a rich Caucasian in New York. Martin calls particular attention to the style, much of it is written in Singlish : "The flavor of this novel is robust, offering a taste to an audience that is willing to learn more about modern Asia, and to look beyond what first meets the eye.

The Singles Game, by Lauren Weisberger, reviewed by Connie Ogle of The Miami Herald. You might not think a novel about a tennis protege connects to Weisberger's still best-known novel, The Devil Wears Prada, but she "says what she's really interested in exploring is how young women build their careers and live in a competitive society." Ogle's profile indicates that Weisberger didn't realize how grueling the tennis schedule is: "The women play 10-plus months out of 12."

And finally Underground Airlines, by Ben H. Winters, from Newsday. Sachs notes that unlike many alternate history books, there's no way to read this one about a United States where slavery is still legal, at a safe distance: "The story reverberates eerily and unsettlingly with the anti-black violence profiling and open racism that have fueled the Black Lives Matter movement." As Sachs notes: Underground Airlines tells us we all need to be saved and we all need to do the saving."

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Tickets now on sale for Ann Patchett, in conversation with Jane Hamilton - Wednesday, October 19, 7 pm.

Announcing tickets for our event with Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto, State of Wonder, and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Her new novel Commonwealth is one of the most anticipated novels of fall! And what a format! Patchett will be interviewed by Jane Hamilton, and honestly, I can't think of a better evening!

Tickets are $28, including admission for one and a copy of Commonwealth, and all taxes and fees. We know it's tough to have a ticketed event when our October 19 event is a full month after release. So we've made it possible to pick your book for the event on or after September 13 release date. Simply choose "Early Pickup" when you purchase your ticket. Please note that this option is nonrefundable and will only be valid until September 12.

If you are going to wait until the event, choose general admission. You'll get your copy of Commonwealth on the night of the event, and yes, there is a Boswell gift card option of $20 in lieu of the book, available on the night of the event only.

Here's a little more about the new novel. One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating's christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny's mother, Beverly, thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

Publishers Weekly raves: Patchett elegantly manages a varied cast of characters as alliances and animosities ebb and flow, cross-country and over time. Scenes of Franny and Leo in the Hamptons and Holly and Teresa at a Zen meditation center show her at her peak in humor, humanity, and understanding people in challenging situations. And Kirkus Reviews calls Patchett "one of our finest writers."

Ann Patchett has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including Britain's Orange Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Book Sense Book of the Year, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Chicago Tribune's Heartland Prize, the Governors Award for Excellence in the Arts, the American Booksellers Association's Most Engaging Author Award, and the Women's National Book Association Award. In 2012, Time magazine named her one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. And of course she is the co-owner of Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee.

Once again, here's the Brown Paper Tickets link to buy tickets!

Here's the game of the day: how many books have you read in this author photo? Right away I see two from my reading list, Days of Awe from Lauren Fox and Julia Claiborne Johnson's Be Frank with Me.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Events this week: a ticketed event with Eleanor Brown, plus Philia Kelnhofer, Amy E. Reichert, Robert K. Elder and Mark Cirinio, Blair Braverman, Julie Barton, and Deb Karpek

Here's what bookish things Boswell is involved with this week.

Monday, July 18, 7:00 pm, at Milwaukee Public Market, 400 N Water St in the Third Ward:
Philia Kelnhofer, author of Fast and Easy Five-Ingredient Recipes: A Cookbook for Busy People

From Alison Sherwood's profile of Philia Kelnhofer in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Last September, Kelnhofer was in the midst of self-publishing an e-book featuring 52 new five-ingredient recipes themed around sharing food with family and friends. She had been diligently testing and photographing dozens of recipes for the e-book when Countryman Press contacted her about publishing a cookbook. Kelnhofer brushed off the email, thinking it was some sort of too-good-to-be-true offer...But a week later, the publisher followed up, and after talking it through, Kelnhofer was on board. "'I was really grateful because they shared my vision,' she said. That vision included a friendly tone, with photos and stories of family and friends woven into the book. Instead of 52 recipes, there would be 105, each accompanied by a luscious photograph. Kelnhofer photographed the recipes herself, right at her tiny kitchen table, which she said gets perfect light in the early afternoon."

Join Kelnhofer today at 6 pm at the Milwaukee Public Market, 400 N Water St, for a celebration of the new book. Fast and Easy Five-Ingredient Recipes: A Cookbook for Busy People. About the Author: Philia Kelnhofer (aka Phi) started her food blog as a place to share her favorite recipes with friends and family. After getting numerous requests for more of her five-ingredient meals, she introduced Five Ingredient Fridays with the simple belief that "five ingredients is all it takes to create fantastic dishes." A native of Chicago, Phi attended graduate school at Cornell University in New York, has lived in North Carolina, and now calls Milwaukee home, where she lives with her husband and their dog.

Monday, July 18, 7:00 pm, at Boswell
Amy E. Reichert, author of Luck, Love and Lemon Pie

Let's hear from Boswellian Sharon with her recommendation for Luck, Love and Lemon Pie: "This is the second book by Milwaukee author Reichert who also wrote The Coincidence of Coconut Cake. In this fun story, MJ and her husband Chris have been married for twenty years, and they have two children, Kate and Tommy. When Chris stands her up for their anniversary lunch, MJ is concerned that they are growing apart, and that her husband is more interested in poker than in her. She decides to learn poker herself so that they can share the activity. Instead, she discovers that she has an affinity for the game, and soon leaves her husband behind. Things move rapidly out of control when MJ attends a poker tournament in Las Vegas and catches the eye of poker superstar Doyle Kane." (Sharon K. Nagel)

I was recently at a family luncheon and across the room I could hear Kirk's cousin talking about a comedy set in Milwaukee that she just loved. I heard a tidbit about food and called out, "Hey, are you talking about The Coincidence of Coconut Cake?" and Kimberly replied, "Yes, I am! Did you ever have her at the bookstore?" and I replied "She's coming next Monday" and now Kimberly's buying some copies for gifts too, and I should note that I don't think I gave anything away because I don't think her friends read this blog, but it is indicating that the novel is rather infectious and the Milwaukee-ana strewn throughout the story is quite fun!

About the Author: Amy E. Reichert loves to write stories that end well with characters you’d invite to dinner. A wife, mom, amateur chef, Fix-It Mistress, and cider enthusiast, she earned her MA in English Literature and lives in suburban Milwaukee. She also serves on the board of directors of the Hartland Public Library.

Tuesday, July 19, 7:00 pm, at the Lynden Sculpture Garden, 2145 W Brown Deer Rd in River Hills:
A ticketed evening with Eleanor Brown, author of The Light of Paris
Please note, we are just about sold out of this event. It may be standing room only, if at all. Please call the Lynden with questions - (414) 446-8794

Boswell and producer Milwaukee Reads are proud to co-sponsor Eleanor Brown, author of The Weird Sisters, as the next featured speaker for the Women’s Speaker Series at the Lynden Sculpture Garden. Tickets are $30, $25 for Lynden members, and include admission for one, wine and light refreshments, and an autographed copy of The Light of Paris. Tickets are available online or by calling (414) 446-8794. This event is also cosponsored by Bronze Optical and Alliance Française de Milwaukee. Light refreshments of a cheese tray and eclairs are provided by Larry's Market.

We're big fans of Eleanor Brown. Here's Jane Glaser's recommendation of The Light of Paris: "Inspired by reading her grandmother's 1920s Paris journals of awakening to the light of seeking her artistic passion as a Jazz Age writer, trophy wife Madeleine leaves a loveless marriage to embrace her long suppressed desire to fulfill her life's purpose of becoming the artist she has long dreamed of being. This is a beautifully written story of a woman's courageous journey into self-discovery by a talented writer who vividly portrays characters and settings that will fully engage readers. I loved Madeleine's spirit!"

Also note that Boswellian Sharon Nagel proclaims The Light of Paris "every bit as wonderful" as The Weird Sisters. And if you'd like a little more insight into the book and what Ms. Brown might talk about at Tuesday's event, here's an interview with her by Jenn Fields of The Denver Post. When asked about the inspiration, she replied: "I was casting around for a story, and I’m talking to my parents, and I don’t even remember how the subject of 1920s Paris comes up, because I don’t think it does in normal conversation, and my dad mentioned that my grandmother had lived there. And then my mom chimes in and says, 'Oh, and we have all of her letters from when she was there.' And it was this moment of, 'Why were you keeping this secret from me?' I’d never really known my grandmother, so this was an interesting way to connect with her. And as a writer, it was, 'Oh, there is totally a story here.'"

About the Author: Eleanor Brown’s first novel, The Weird Sisters, sold nearly a half million copies in all formats, making the bestseller lists of The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Indie Bound. It was translated into Chinese, Dutch, French, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish. Her work has appeared in various magazines, journals, and anthologies, and she’s also worked in education in South Florida. She currently lives in metropolitan Denver.

Wednesday, July 20, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Robert K. Elder and Mark Cirino, coauthors of Hidden Hemingway: Inside the Earnest Hemingway Archives of Oak Park

Thinking of Ernest Hemingway often brings to mind his travels around the world, documenting war and engaging in thrilling adventures. However, fully understanding this outsized international author means returning to his place of birth. In their new book, Hidden Hemingway, Robert K. Elder and Mark Cirino, as well as a third coauthor, Aaron Vetch, present highlights from the extraordinary collections in Hemingway’s hometown of Oak Park, Illinois.

Thoroughly researched, and illustrated with more than 300 color images, Hidden Hemingway includes never-before-published photos; letters between Hemingway and Agnes Von Kurowsky, his World War I love; bullfighting memorabilia; high school assignments; adolescent diaries; Hemingway’s earliest published work, such as the Class Prophecy that appeared in his high school yearbook; and even a dental X-ray. Hidden Hemingway also includes one of the final letters Hemingway wrote, as he was undergoing electroshock treatment at the Mayo Clinic. These documents, photographs, and ephemera trace the trajectory of the life of an American literary legend.

Jane Glaser's Literary Journeys group is excited about this opportunity to learn more about Hemingway. This program, formerly at Cardinal Stritch, now meets at the Whitefish Bay Library, and offers a series of classes connected to a rotating selection of classics. For timetable and fees, contact Jane at Boswell,

Robert K. Elder is a journalist, author and former editor-in-chief of the Oak Leaves, which Ernest Hemingway delivered as a teen. Elder’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times. His previous books include Last Words of the Executed and The Film That Changed My Life. He is currently the Director of Digital Product Development and Strategy for Crain Communications.

Mark Cirino is associate professor of English at the University of Evansville. He is the coeditor of Ernest Hemingway and the Geography of Memory and the author of Ernest Hemingway: Thought in Action. Cirino serves as the editor of the Kent State University Press’s Reading Hemingway series, for which he published a volume on Across the River and into the Trees.

Thursday, July 21, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Blair Braverman, author of Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North

Blair Braverman fell in love with the North at an early age: by the time she was 19, she had left her home in California, moved to Norway to learn how to drive sled dogs, and worked as a tour guide on a glacier in Alaska. Determined to make a life for herself in the North, she slowly developed the strength and resilience the landscape demanded of her.

By turns funny and sobering, bold and tender, Braverman charts her attempt to become a tough girl - someone who courts danger in an attempt to become fearless. As she ventures into a ruthless arctic landscape, Braverman faces down physical exhaustion - being buried alive in an ice cave, and driving a dogsled across the tundra through a white-out blizzard in order to avoid corrupt police - and grapples with both love and violence as she negotiates the complex demands of being a young woman in a man's land.

Braverman's Lake Effect interview aired just before the book's release and lots of folks came in letting us know how much they enjoyed it. I would recommend listening to it now! A taste: "While Braverman spent much of her childhood in California, she really grew up north of the Arctic Circle. She lived in a remote village in Norway as well as on a glacier in Alaska. Her time there was challenging, both for the physical climate and the metaphorical one – often dealing with men who were as inhospitable as the tundra. Braverman now lives and trains sled dogs in northern Wisconsin, and she's the author a new memoir, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube. The stories she shares are a bit risque, so Braverman was elated when her parents were able to connect with the book..."

About the Author: Blair Braverman graduated from the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program, where she was also an Arts Fellow. She has been a resident fellow at Blue Mountain Center and the MacDowell Colony and her work has appeared in Buzzfeed, The Best Women's Travel Writing, High Country News, and on This American Life. She lives in Mountain, Wisconsin.

Friday, July 22, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Julie Barton, author of Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved Me from Myself

At 22, Julie Barton collapsed on her kitchen floor in Manhattan. She was one year out of college and severely depressed. Summoned by Julie’s incoherent phone call, her mother raced from Ohio to New York and took her home.

Haunted by troubling childhood memories, Julie continued to sink into suicidal depression. Psychiatrists, therapists, and family members tried to intervene, but nothing reached her until the day she decided to do one hopeful thing: adopt a Golden Retriever puppy she named Bunker. Dog Medicine captures the anguish of depression, the slow path to recovery, the beauty of forgiveness, and the astonishing ways animals can help heal even the most broken hearts and minds.

Boswellian Sharon K. Nagel offers this recommendation: "Clinical Depression is one of those diseases that is almost impossible to understand unless you have experienced it. Usually when a depressed person attempts to explain just how they are feeling, a healthy person responds by saying things like ‘It can’t possibly be that bad,’ and ‘Have you tried Yoga?’ The truth is that clinical depression is so unbelievably awful, that you really can’t imagine it unless you have gone through it. Julie Barton’s book Dog Medicine manages to do the impossible. She tells her story with great detail and candor, in a way that allows for a reader who is unfamiliar with this illness to attempt to comprehend it. After she experienced a breakdown in her apartment, she came home to live with her parents, and adopted a dog that changed her life, by allowing her to change his."

About the Author: Julie Barton holds a B.A. from Kenyon College, an M.F.A. in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and an M.A. in women’s studies from Southern Connecticut State University. She lives in Northern California with her husband, two daughters, and small menagerie of pets.

Sunday, July 24, 3:00 pm, at Boswell:
Deb Karpek, author of Creating and Sustaining a Thriving Reiki Practice

Here's Rhiana Tehan, Holy Fire Usui and Karuna Reiki Master/Teacher on Creating and Sustaining a Thriving Reiki Practice: "Deb Karpek is the embodiment of Spirit in action! As her student, she has taught me what it means to be a Reiki Master/Teacher, and that is a constant surrender to the Reiki energy so that it masters you. She has taught me this through the way she lives her life, by journeying within oneself to reach truth, unconditional love and authentic presence. Meeting Deb has changed the course of my life. Her mentoring and guidance gave me the courage to leave my career and create my own thriving Reiki practice."

From Sunday Larson, Sedona author and story mentor: "In the work of Deb Karpek, a positive and passionate new voice emerges in the field of spiritually-inspired businesses. By sharing her courageous journey to love for herself, Deb proves that a business inspired by a quest for peace of heart and mind and grounded with solid and practical business savvy can indeed be profitable."

And finally, here is Reiki Master/Teacher Theresa Toporsh: "Through the gift of Reiki and Deb’s guidance, I have started my own Reiki practice. Not only do I feel that the education and training I received from Deb has assisted with this accomplishment, but the example she has set in her practice has guided me as well. The time she takes with her clients, her passion for sharing Reiki with others, and her professionalism, wit and humor are all qualities I try to incorporate into my own practice." About the Author: Former Milwaukeean Deb Karpek is the owner of Peaceful World Reiki located near Sedona, Arizona. She has been studying Reiki since 2001, practicing since 2003, and teaching since 2006.