Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Events: a daytime event with Wade Rouse/Viola Shipman, a Nigerian Community Conference Center event with Chigozie Obioma, Ladies Literary Night Out with Amy E. Reichert, Colleen Oakley, and Karma Brown, and last chance to get Sheryl Sandberg tickets at the Pabst.

Here's a week's worth of events. We're a bit slim this week, as a couple of us at are at Book Expo in New York. But wait till next week. And the week after!

Wednesday, May 31, 2:00 pm at Boswell:
Wade Rouse writing as Viola Shipman, author of The Hope Chest.

A great daytime event for fans of Mary Alice Monroe, Mary Kay Andrews, Dorothea Benton Frank, and Karen White.

Viola Shipman is the pen name of Wade Rouse, a popular, award-winning memoirist. Rouse chose his grandmother's name, Viola Shipman, to honor the woman whose charm bracelet and family stories inspired him to write his debut novel, The Charm Bracelet, which has been translated into nine languages.

The discovery of one woman's heirloom hope chest unveils precious memories and helps three people who have each lost a part of themselves find joy once again.

Ever since she was diagnosed with ALS, fiercely independent Mattie doesn't feel like herself. She can't navigate her beloved home, she can't go for a boat ride, and she can barely even feed herself. Her devoted husband, Don, doesn't want to imagine life without his wife of nearly fifty years, but Mattie isn't likely to make it past their anniversary.

But when Rose, Mattie's new caretaker, and her young daughter, Jeri, enter the couple's life, happiness and the possibility for new memories return. Together they form a family, and Mattie is finally able to pass on her memories from the hope chest she received from her mother.

Friday, June 2, 7:00 pm, at Nigerian Community Conference Center, 8310 W Appleton Ave:
Chigozie Obioma, author of The Fishermen.

The first thing most people say is, "We have a Nigerian Cultural Center?" Yes, we do and what a great opportunity to visit it.

Chigozie Obioma is the winner of the 2016 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work (Debut Author), finalist for the 2015 Man Booker Prize, and winner of the 2015 FT/Oppenheimer Emerging Voices Award for Fiction.

Told by nine-year-old Benjamin, the youngest of four brothers, The Fishermen is the Cain and Abel-esque story of a childhood in Nigeria, in the small town of Akure. When their father has to travel to a distant city for work, the brothers take advantage of his absence to skip school and go fishing. At the forbidden nearby river, they meet a madman who persuades the oldest of the boys that he is destined to be killed by one of his siblings. What happens next is an almost mythic event whose impact-both tragic and redemptive-will transcend the lives and imaginations of the book's characters and readers. Dazzling and viscerally powerful, The Fishermen is an essential novel about Africa, seen through the prism of one family's destiny.

Obioma was born in Akure, Nigeria. His work has appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Transition, and The Millions. Obioma has lived in Nigeria, Cyprus, and Turkey, and currently resides in the United States, where he teaches Literature and Writing at the University of Nebraska.

Saturday, June 3, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Ladies Literary Night Out featuring Amy E. Reichert, author of The Simplicity of Cider, Colleen Oakley, author of Close Enough to Touch, and Karma Brown, author of In This Moment.

Join Boswell for an evening of literary delights, featuring three great authors, spearheaded by Milwaukee's Amy E. Reichert, author of the bestselling The Coincidence of Coconut Cake.

Here's Boswellian Sharon K. Nagel's take on The Simplicity of Cider: "The third book from Amy Reichert is set in charming Door County. Sanna and her father Einars own a large orchard that has been in the family for generations. Isaac and his ten-year-old son, Bass, are hired on as extra help. They become more important when Einars breaks his leg in an accident. Sanna is struggling to revitalize the orchard with her specially crafted cider. Things get complicated when she finds herself attracted to Isaac, who is trying find a way to explain to his son that his mother has died from a drug overdose. Quirky and romantic!"

In Colleen Oakley's Close Enough to Touch, the new novel from the author of Before I Go, Jubilee Jenkins has a rare condition: she's allergic to human touch. After a nearly fatal accident, she became reclusive, living in the confines of her home for nine years. But after her mother dies, Jubilee is forced to face the world and the people in it that she's been hiding from. New from the author of the acclaimed Before I Go comes an evocative, poignant, and heartrending exploration of the power and possibilities of the human heart, perfect for fans of the emotional novels of Jojo Moyes and Jodi Picoult.

And finally, a little about In This Moment from Karma Brown, author of Come Away with Me. Meg Pepper has a fulfilling career and a happy family. Most days she's able to keep it all together and glide through life. But then, in one unalterable moment, everything changes. Soon Meg's picture-perfect life is unravelling before her eyes. As the painful secrets she's been burying bubble dangerously close to the surface, she will have to decide: Can she forgive herself, or will she risk losing everything she holds dear to her heart?

Monday, June 5, 7 pm, at the Riverside Theatre, 116 W Wisconsin Ave:
A ticketed event with Sheryl Sandberg , co-author of Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy in conversation with Jane Hamilton

Join Sheryl Sandberg, co-author of Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, in conversation with Jane Hamilton, as they talk about building resilience and moving forward after life's inevitable setbacks.

Here's a little more about Option B, which was written with Wharton professor and bestselling author Adam Grant, and will be released April 24, 2017. After the sudden death of her husband, Sheryl felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again. Her friend Adam, a psychologist at Wharton, told her there are steps people can take to recover and even rebound. Option B combines Sheryl's emotional insights and Adam's eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity. Sheryl will share what she and Adam learned together about helping others in crisis, developing compassion for ourselves, raising strong children, and creating resilient families, communities and workplaces. Many of these lessons can be applied to ordinary struggles, allowing us to build resilience for whatever lies ahead. They will discuss the capacity of the human spirit to persevere... and to rediscover joy.

Sheryl Sandberg is chief operating officer at Facebook. In addition to Option B, Sandberg is also the international best-selling author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Prior to Facebook, she was vice president of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google. She previously served as chief of staff for the United States Treasury Department and began her career as an economist with the World Bank. She received B.A. and M.B.A. degrees from Harvard University. Sandberg serves on the boards of Facebook, The Walt Disney Company, Survey Monkey, ONE, and Women for Women International, and also chairs the board of the Sheryl Sandberg and Dave Goldberg Family Foundation.

Jane Hamilton lives, works, and writes in an orchard farmhouse in Wisconsin. Her short stories have appeared in Harper's magazine. Her first novel, The Book of Ruth, won the PEN/Ernest Hemingway Award for best first novel. It and A Map of the World were both named selections of Oprah's Book Club. Of her latest novel The Excellent Lombards, now available in paperback, Ann Patchett wrote: "This is the book Jane Hamilton was born to write, and it is a book that thrilled me to read. The Excellent Lombards is, in fact, magnificent."

Please note that there is no autographing line for this event, and we cannot take signing requests for this book. You can purchase your ticket, here.

Please visit Boswell's upcoming event page for more info on more great author appearances including our ticketed signing with Al Franken on Sunday, June 11, Scott Turow at the Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center on September 25, and Adriana Trigiani on July 12 at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts in Brookfield. David Sedaris's reading is sold out but the signing is free and open to the public. Be prepared to wait: Mr. Sedaris gives quality signings!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Bestseller Blabbing: Boswell Annotated List for the Week Ending May 27, 2017

More of an on-time bestseller list.

1. Evensong, by Kate Southwood
2. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
3. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
4. Since We Fell, by Dennis Lehane
5. Into the Water, by Paula Hawkins
6. Men Without Women, by Haruki Murakami
7. The Fix V3, by David Baldacci
8. The Book of Joan, by Lidia Yuknavitch
9. Saints for All Occasions, by J. Courtney Sullivan
10. American War, by Omar El-Akkad

Earlier this month, Since We Fell was released by Ecco, Dennis Lehane's new home at HarperCollins. Here's what Neely Tucker in The Washington Post had to say about the new book: "Dennis Lehane’s 14th novel takes the author back to his old New England stomping grounds, that fertile place of Mystic River and Shutter Island This tale, Since We Fell, basing its title on an old torch ballad, is a pleasantly twisted character study and a love story told in no particular rush. It turns, down to the last page, on the captivating heart of a disgraced television journalist named Rachel Childs."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Option B, by Sheryl Sandberg with Adam Grant
2. Family Matters, by Robert Evans
3. Strengths Finder 2.0, by Tom Rath
4. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Rath
5. Eat Move Sleep, by Tom Rath
6. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil Degrasse Tyson
7. Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann
8. Churchill and Orwell, by Thomas E Ricks
9. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
10. The Book of Joy, by Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Carlton Abrams

Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom is the new book from Pulitzer winner Thomas E. Ricks. Richard Aldous writes in The New York Times Book Review that World War II redeemed he reputations of both, having fallen out of favor in the 1930s. Aldous notes: "What comes across strongly in this highly enjoyable book is the fierce commitment of both Orwell and Churchill to critical thought. Neither followed the crowd. Each treated popularity and rejection with equal skepticism. Their unwavering independence, Ricks concludes, put them in 'a long but direct line from Aristotle and Archimedes to Locke, Hume, Mill and Darwin, and from there through Orwell and Churchill to the ‘Letter from Birmingham City Jail.'"

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon
2. In the Garden of Angels and Demons, by Stephen Anderson
3. My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter, by Aja Monet
4. The Alchemist 25th anniversary edition, by Paulo Coelho
5. LaRose, by Louise Erdrich
6. The Good Doctor, by Michael Kula
7. Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
8. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi (In-store Lit Group discussion Mon 6/5, 7 pm, at Boswell)
9. Those We Left Behind V1, by Stuart Neville (at Boswell Wed 6/21, 7 pm, with Cara Black)
10. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood

Louise Erdrich's LaRose had not been selling at the level of her last novel, The Round House, but the NBCC award has definitely increased its momentum. The Washington Post noted that Erdrich won this award 30 years ago for Love Medicine. She, along with fellow bookstore owner Emma Straub (Erdrich owns Birchbark while Straub's new store is Books Are Magic, and yes, I've been to both) provided PBS with a summer reading list.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Launch, by John Spencer
2. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
3. Unshakeable Confidence, by Mare Chapman
4. Death from the Skies, by Philip Plait
5. The Collapse of Parenting, by Leonard Sax
6. On Tyranny, by TImothy Snyder
7. Untethered Soul, by Michael Singer
8. Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be, by Frank Bruni
9. The Next American Revolution, by Grace Lee Boggs
10. My Bookstore, edited by Ronald Rice

On The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups, and NPR's Rachel Martin talked to author Leonard Sax on NPR for the hardcover edition: "So many parents think it is their job to be their child's best friend. That's not your job. Your job is to keep your child safe, make sure they get a good night's sleep and give them a grounding and confidence and help them to know who they are as human beings."

Books for Kids:
1. All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
2. Trash, by Andy Mulligan
3. The Someday Birds, by Sally J. Pla
4. There Grows the Neighborhood, by Sharp Literacy and Will Allen
5. The Great Treehouse War, by Lisa Graff
6. A Study in Charlotte V1, by Brittany Cavallaro (event Thu 6/29 at Boswell, with Mackenzi Lee)
7. The Trials of Apollo V2, by Rick Riordan
8. Oh the Places You'll Go, by Dr. Seuss
9. Windfall, by Jennifer E. Smith
10. The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors, by Drew Daywalt with illustrations by Adam Rex

I always like to see what other retailers are doing with books. Target has a book club program where they do a run of books with their logo on them. Sometimes I think they are reading our blog and email newsletter, as there have been several books that they got behind that were not exactly national bestsellers. I was particularly surprised to see Jessica Chiarella's And Again, a book that folks, when they read, really love, but it's hard to get them past the premise, so I'm wondering how it does in a mass merchant, where there's no bookseller to force the issue. I also recently (and yes, this is how it comes down to the kids books comment) saw the Target Book Club*edition of A Study in Charlotte. I'm sure they've done this before, but I certainly didn't spot other YA titles on this display. So there you have it, Cavallaro's novel is a great adult cross-over, per at least one other buyer.

*Yes, I'm linking to a competitor. It's not like you couldn't do this yourself.

Journal Sentinel Book Editor Jim Higgins reviews David Sedaris's Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) (the event is sold out, but if you have patience, you can meet Sedaris on the signing line). He notes: "My gold standard for this kind of project among living writers is the Alan Bennett diaries, which the English playwright excerpts annually in the London Review of Books and which he has distilled into several books. Happily, I can report that this volume of Sedaris' entries is as good as Bennett's. Like Bennett's collations, the Sedaris diaries are laced with snark, wit and trenchant observations, personal and public; also like Bennett, Sedaris tells on himself."

At the Journal Sentinel, Mike Fischer reviews The Factory Girls: A Kaleidoscopic Account of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, from Christine Seifert. It's targeted to the YA market. Fischer isn't a fan.

Laura Patten writes in the Journal Sentinel about Samantha Irby's newest, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, which also got a great read from Boswell's Sharon. From Patten: "Most of her essays will turn your cheeks scarlet. Irby is complex, riddled with hang-ups and likes talking about things that are smelly, SOMETIMES IN ALL CAPS. She shares her inner monologue whether or not we’re prepared to hear it — but not for shock value. She writes because she has something to say, in the way that only Irby can." We hosted Irby for her last collection, back when she lived in Chicago, and she's as funny (and off color) in person as she is in her book.

And on top of that, it's time for 101 books for summer reading. I'm sort of crying here, because my favorite novel of spring, Don Lee's Lonesome Lies Before Us, made the list. Lee is coming June 15.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Event alert: Michael Kula, Stephen Anderson, Mare Chapman, Aja Monet, Natalie Moore

Tuesday, May 23, 7:00 pm at Boswell:
Michael Kula, author of The Good Doctor.

Michael Kula is a tenured Associate Professor in the Writing Studies program at the University of Washington, Tacoma who is best known to Milwaukeeans from his time at Carole University. His work has appeared in work has previously appeared in numerous journals including The Drum, Vehicle, and The Copperfield Review.

In The Good Doctor, Kula offers a passionate story about the summer of 1917 in Waukesha. Based on a true story, Kula draws on a rich variety of sources as he takes readers on a journey through the American heartland at a time of great change for both the country and the tragic lives of the characters who inhabit its pages.

Liam Callanan offers this recommendation: “Though the subjects of this meticulously researched historical novel are long dead, not a page of this evocative novel is anything less than fully alive.”

Wednesday, May 24, 7:00 pm at Boswell:
Stephen Anderson, author of In the Garden of Angels and Demons.

The work of Shorewood-based poet Stephen Anderson has appeared in Southwest Review, Verse Wisconsin, and Free Verse. His new collection, In the Garden of Angels and Demons reflects the author's global vision. The reader is guided through spaces in, around and outside the third planet from the sun, places that are memorable and universal in the weight of their being.

Anderson is not classifiable as a regional poet per se, although some of his poems relate to Milwaukee and the Midwest. His poetry reflects his perspective of not belonging to any one village, town, city or nation. His poetry spans his travels and residence abroad as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Chile, a university lecturer at Queen Mary and Westfield College (University of London), and numerous trips to Europe and the Caribbean. Through the eyes of this poet, the reader is transported to London, Rome, Amsterdam, Jerusalem, Norway, and Milwaukee - even to the rings of Saturn and beyond.

Anderson is also the author of Montezuma Resurrected and Other Poems and The Silent Tango of Dreams. His most recent chapbook is 2015’s Navigating in the Sun. Many of Anderson’s poems have been featured on Milwaukee Public Radio’s Lake Effect, and several of his poems are included in the collection Portals and Piers.

Thursday, May 25, 7:00 pm at Boswell:
Mare Chapman, author of Unshakeable Confidence: the Freedom to Be Our Authentic Selves.

Madison's Mare Chapman is a psychotherapist and mindfulness teacher in private practice since 1983. Mare finds mindfulness to be the most transformative tool for handling the gamut of life's challenges with greater ease and stability. Also trained in interactive guided imagery, Mare brings a holistic approach to her work. In 1976 she founded and directed the Yahara House, the first non-profit in Wisconsin to offer day treatment services to adults with chronic mental illness.

"I don't trust myself and I'm always worrying about what others think of me"... Does this sound familiar? With astounding clarity, Chapman's new book, Unshakeable Confidence, identifies the gender conditioning women receive from the moment of birth. Offering a feminist perspective on how women are culturally conditioned to disconnect from their authenticity and power, the book guides the reader through an intimate journey in applying mindfulness to cultivate connection with authentic self and gain the freedom to live with unshakeable confidence.

Unshakeable Confidence explores the ways women lose themselves in relationships and shows how they can regain connection with their true selves through mindfulness. Using her popular nine-week meditation class that trains the mind, heart, and body as a framework, Chapman builds on "Ownwork" practices the reader can use in formal meditation sits or informally, in daily moments like sitting in the car or waiting in line.

Saturday, May 27, 7:00 pm at Boswell:
Aja Monet, author of My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter.

Aja Monet is a poet, performer, and educator from Brooklyn. She has been awarded the Andrea Klein Willison Prize for Poetry, and the Nuyorican Poet’s Café Grand Slam title.  In My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter, Monet offers an ode to mothers, daughters, and sisters - the tiny gods who fought to change the world. Textured with the sights and sounds of growing up in East New York in the nineties, of school on the South Side of Chicago, and of the olive groves of Palestine, these stunning poems tackle racism, sexism, genocide, displacement, heartbreak, and grief, but also love, motherhood, spirituality, and Black joy.

Angela Y Davis says, “Aja Monet’s poetry off­ers us textures of feeling and radical shifts of meaning that expand our capacity to envision and fight for new worlds. From Brooklyn, USA to Hebron, Occupied Palestine, we take a feminist journey through rage and serenity, through violence and love, through ancient times and imagined futures. This stunning volume reminds us that conflict and contradiction can produce hope, and that poetry can orient us toward a future we may not yet realize we want."

Money is also the author of ­The Black Unicorn Sings and the co-editor, with Saul Williams, of Chorus: A Literary Mixtape. She lives in Little Haiti, Miami, where she is a co-founder of Smoke Signals Studio and dedicates her time merging arts and culture into community organizing with the Dream Defenders and the Community Justice Project.

Sunday, May 28, 3:00 pm at Boswell:
Natalie Y. Moore, author of The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation.

Natalie Y. Moore is the South Side bureau reporter for WBEZ, the NPR-member station in Chicago. In The South Side, Chicago native Natalie Moore shines a light on contemporary segregation in the city’s South Side, showcasing the lives of these communities through the stories of her family and the people who reside there. The South Side highlights the impact of Chicago’s historic segregation—and the ongoing policies that keep the system intact.

Mayors Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel have touted Chicago as a “world-class city.” The skyscrapers kissing the clouds, the billion-dollar Millennium Park, and the Michelin-rated restaurants, tell one story. Yet swept under the rug is another story: the stench of segregation that permeates and compromises Chicago. Though other cities, including Cleveland, Los Angeles, Baltimore, and, of course, Milwaukee, can fight over that mantle, it’s clear that segregation defines Chicago. And unlike many other major U.S. cities, no particular race dominates; Chicago is divided equally into black, white and Latino, each group clustered in various turfs.

Before joining WBEZ, Moore covered Detroit City Council for Detroit News. She worked as an education reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and a reporter for the Associated Press in Jerusalem. Her work has been published in Essence, Black Enterprise, the Chicago Tribune. She was awarded the 21st Century Award from the Chicago Public Library and Foundation in 2017.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Late Post: Boswell bestsellers for the week ending May 20, 2017

Here's what last week's bestsellers were. Seems so long ago.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. There Your Heart Lies, by Mary Gordon
2. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
3. House of Names, by Colm Tóibin
4. Anything is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout
5. Men Without Women, by Haruki Murakami
6. Into the Water, by Paula Hawkins
7. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
8. Testimony, by Scott Turow (ticketed event June 25 at JCC)
9. Beartown, by Fredrik Backman
10. Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid

House of Names, the new novel from the beloved Colm Tóibin, is a retelling of Orestia. Alex Preston in The Guardian writes: "This is a novel that is a celebration of what novels can do. It gives us interiority, specificity, the in-between stuff that is the fabric of life. We see everything that happens off stage in the plays, and this is what really interests us. It’s not just the violence, which famously takes place out of sight of the audience, but the form of the novel allows Tóibín to delve deeply into the inner lives of his characters, to give shape to their everyday worlds."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Chuck Klosterman X, by Chuck Klosterman
2. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance
3. Eat, Move, Sleep, by Tom Rath
4. The Physics of Everyday Things, by James Kakalios
5. Option B, by Sheryl Sandber (ticketed event June 5 at Riverside)
6. Ernest Hemingway, by Mary V. Dearborn
7. This Fight Is Our Fight, by Elizabeth Warren
8. Janesville, by Amy Goldstein
9. The Book of Joy, by Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Carlton Abrams
10. Hallelujah Anyway, by Anne Lamott

Ernest Hemingway by Mary V. Dearborn has a nice pop in sales. Elaine Showalter in The New York Times Book Review said: "Her chief asset as a female biographer, she insists, is her immunity to the hairy-chested, competitive Hemingway legend. Dearborn wants to opt out of the legend business and focus instead on 'what formed this remarkably complex man and brilliant writer.'”

Paperback Fiction
1. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon
2. Arrow: The Dark Archer, by John Barrowman and Carole E. Barrowman
3. World Without End, by John Barrowman and Carole E. Barrowman
4. Lost City Radio, by Daniel Alarcón
5. The Fishermen, by Chigozie Obioma (event June 2, 7 pm, at Nigerian Cultural Community Center)
6. The Alchemist, 25th anniversary edition, by Paulo Coelho
7. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
8. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
9. Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
10. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah

Did you hear that Kristin Hannah, author of The Nightingale, has a new hardcover coming in February 2018. Here's what St. Martin's has to say about The Great Alone: "In 1974, when thirteen-year-old Leni Allbright’s volatile, unpredictable father, Ernt, a former POW, loses another job, he makes an impulsive, desperate decision: he will move the family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the land in a spectacular wilderness." I don't believe things go well. Note to my sisters--sounds familiar, right? And yes, you can place a hold to pick it up from Boswell in 9 months.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Death from the Skies, by Philip Platt
2. Microstyle, by Christopher Johnson
3. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
4. Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be, by Frank Bruni
5. The Physics of Superheroes, by James Kakalios
6. White Trash, by Nancy Isenberg
7. Milwaukee Frozen Custard, by Kathleen McCann and Robert Tanzilo
8. Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee, by Thomas Fehring
9. Unshakeable Confidence, by Mare Chapman
10. Secondhand Time, by Svetlana ALexievich

It's graduation season, and even in it's second year in paperback, Frank Bruni's Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be is calling to gift givers, and this bears out on the metro level, as the book also had a good pop on the Bookscan Milwaukee list. I assume these books also lead to additional requests to speak at commencement. Here's Bruni at Johns Hopkins for the 2017 ceremony.

Books for Kids:
1. Hollow Earth V1, by John and Carole E. Barrowman
2. Margaret and the Moon, by Dean Robbins, with illustrations by Lucy Knisley
3. Bone Quill V2, by John and Carole E. Barrowman
4. The Conjuror, by John and Carole E. Barrowman
5. The Book of Beasts V3, by John and Carole E. Barrowman
6. Great Trouble, by Deborah Hopkinson
7. Trash, by Andy Mulligan
8. Life Like Mine, from DK
9. Miss Paul and the President, by Dean Robbins
10. Ancient Civilizations, from DK

While the Barrowman sibs' Hollow Earth Trilogy was for middle graders, their most recent book for kids, The Conjuror, is for the YA market. Here's what the publisher has to say: "There are three things in this world that 17-year-old Remy would guard with his life: his gold pendant, his blues harmonica, and his mother's journal. This is all he has left of his murdered family. And he believes these objects will lead him to their killers. Remy can't hunt them down alone. He needs Matt and Em Calder, twins who can bring art to life and travel through paintings. For, like them, Remy has supernatural powers. He is a Conjuror, descendant of an ancient bloodline that can change reality with music." On to next week's list!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Why you should go see Chuck Klosterman at Boswell in Milwaukee on May 19. Or why you should feel bad if you missed it.

We are gearing up for our event with Chuck Klosterman on Friday, May 19. While there was a time where I might have said, "Who is this man and why do so many people like him?," I am now completely hooked, having read his last three books on publication. And yes, even when he wasn't visiting.

Both I Wear the Black Hat and But What if We're Wrong were fascinating pieces of cultural criticism, blending the high and low and everything in between in a way that I didn't think was possible. His new book, Chuck Klosterman X has a title that is an homage to an earlier collection, Chuck Klosterman IV, which itself is an homage to classic albums, probably most notably Led Zeppelin, but pop nerd that I was, I think of Chicago.

There's not as much philosophy or history or film stuff -- this collection is hardcore music and sports. As Klosterman notes, there was a time when music and sports journalist would have nothing to do with each other, but time has been good to Klosterman and that is no longer the case. And Klosterman is sort of a legend in both fields, having written extensively for Spin and Grantland, among other publications. If I loved sports, I would start weeping about Grantland now; it's missed that much. And ESPN is wondering why it's having money issues. It's bad juju from shuttering Grantland. Yeah, that's the ticket.

As a person who had a friend (not to be revealed), who once played a Nickelback album over and over, I'm going to tell you that any coolness I have ever had in my life was purely accidental. But that's one of the things I love about Klosterman. He can write very extensively about Kiss, know what that means, and keep on writing. Could I write this way about Barry Manilow, who I liked very, very, very much when I was a teenager? I could not. He lost me at "Copacabana," by the way, but up till then, I was putty in his hands. This pretty much explains me, sadly.

All Chuck Klosterman events are great, or well, the two we hosted were. Of course the first time he visited, was the day of Farrah Fawcett-Majors death. He would have had more to say about that, but then Michael Jackson died too. He has something interesting to say about just about everything, but well, Michael Jackson. You can only imagine.

But about Chuck Klosterman X. This may his best looking book ever. I love edge staining and this book is completely dressed in black, like it was going to a Talking Heads concert. Isn't it beautiful?

And yes, we have tour shirts. Tour shirts! We're going to be wearing ours, and yes, we'll have a couple to give away too. Don't ask me for one, as we're leaving that for Mr. Klosterman.

Want to know about the insides? The Associated Press review called Mr. Klosterman "brilliant." I think it's odd that I can't figure out who wrote it, at least from this Daily News item. Ah, the Joplin Globe notes that it's written by Ann Levin. I went back and looked, and yes, they really left the writer's name off the article.

And Jeff Simon in the Buffalo News calls Klosterman "one of the necessary sensibilities of our time." Here's something quotable: "This is a plump collection indeed -- no less than 444 pages. He calls it 'a highly specific, defiantly incomplete history of the 21st century.' It's difficult to resist a fellow who, despite all unavoidable apperances of megalomania, loves 'reading the index to any book I publish ... Exploring the index from a book you created is like having someone split your head open with an axe so that you can peruse the contents of your brain. It's the alphabetizing of your consciousness.'"

I read it cover to cover, and I really don't understand sports at all. But I like music stuff, even if my brain's music muscle got shut off. I am officially an old fogie. But conceptually I still like it. Young'uns, this could happen to you.

So you probably want to know the details. Tickets are $29 and include admission, all taxes and fees, and a copy of the book. I know you are shocked--you're supposed to be surprised by taxes and fees in your shopping cart, but we've also been told that our emails are too long. Different drummer and all that. Also, the night of the event only, you can get a $20 Boswell gift card in lieu of the book. But if I were dating another Chuck Klosterman fan, I'd get two books and use them as bookends.

But that's just me.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Event alert: cultural critic Chuck Klosterman, physicist James Kakalios, acclaimed novelist Mary Gordon, Dean Robbins at Wauwatosa Public Library on NASA's Margaret Hamilton (kids version), and Kate Southwood at the Lynden Sculpture Garden

Tuesday, May 16, 3:30pm, at Wauwatosa Public Library, 7635 W North Ave:
Dean Robbins, author of Margaret and the Moon.

In addition to his work writing children's books, Dean Robbins is a journalist, well-known for his tenure at Madison's Isthmus. His previous books include Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass and Miss Paul and the President. Robbins has become a popular presenter at area schools and we're pleased to cosponsor a public event with him at the Wauwatosa Public Library. If you're an educator and haven't yet hosted Robbins, come meet him.

Margaret Hamilton loved numbers as a young girl. Math led her to MIT and then to helping NASA put a man on the moon! She loved studying algebra and geometry and calculus and using math to solve problems in the outside world.

She handwrote code that would allow the spacecraft's computer to solve any problems it might encounter on Apollo 8, Apollo 9, Apollo 10, and Apollo 11. Without her code, none of those missions could have been completed.

Kirkus Reviews writes: "Robbins successfully translates a complicated subject into an engaging text, with just the right amount of scientific information for young readers. Knisley's cartoonish illustrations, reminiscent of Megan McCarthy's, especially in Margaret's bespectacled eyes, perfectly capture the young white woman's inquisitive spirit while keeping the story light and child-friendly. A superb introduction to the life of one girl whose dreams were out-of-this-world."

Wednesday, May 17, 7:00pm, at Boswell:
Mary Gordon, author of There Your Heart Lies.

Mary Gordon is the author of eight novels, including Final Payments, Pearl, and The Love of My Youth; six works of nonfiction, including the memoirs The Shadow Man and Circling My Mother; and three collections of short fiction, including The Stories of Mary Gordon, which was awarded the Story Prize. She has received many other honors, including a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an Academy Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Marian cut herself off from her wealthy, conservative Irish Catholic family when she volunteered during the Spanish Civil War, an experience she has always kept to herself. Now in her nineties, she shares her Rhode Island cottage with her granddaughter Amelia, a young woman with a good heart but a vague notion of life's purpose.

Their daily existence is intertwined with Marian's secret: the blow to her youthful idealism as she witnessed the brutalities of Franco's war and the romance that left her trapped in Spain for nearly a decade. When Marian is diagnosed with cancer, she finally speaks about what happened to her during those years, the personal and ethical challenges and unexpected gifts of true love and true friendship.

From Autumn Markus at the New York Journal of Books: "Read for the historical narrative about a war overshadowed by World War II, There Your Heart Lies is a lovely, well-conceived, researched, and executed novel about love, loss, and family. The insanity of war is a big enough topic for any writer to bite off, so forgive the weak modern era storyline. Mary Gordon has left big footsteps to fill for any other author writing about this era of history."

Thursday, May 18, 7:00pm, at Boswell:
James Kakalios, author of The Physics of Everyday Things: The Extraordinary Science Behind an Ordinary Day.

James Kakalios is the Taylor Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Minnesota and the author of the bestselling The Physics of Superheroes.

Physics professor, bestselling author, and dynamic storyteller James Kakalios reveals the mind-bending science behind the seemingly basic things that keep our daily lives running, from our smart phones and digital "clouds" to x-ray machines and hybrid vehicles.

Breaking down the world of things into a single day, Kakalios engages our curiosity about how our refrigerators keep food cool, how a plane manages to remain airborne, and how our wrist fitness monitors keep track of our steps. Each explanation is coupled with a story revealing the interplay of the astonishing invisible forces that surround us. Through this "narrative physics," The Physics of Everyday Things demonstrates that sophisticated science is also quite practical. With his signature clarity and inventiveness, Kakalios ignites our imaginations and enthralls us with the principles that make up our lives.

Publishers Weekly writes: "Readers will enjoy lucid explanations of dazzling yet quotidian technology, and those who remember a bit of high school–level science may appreciate them even more."

Friday, May 19, 7:00 pm, at Boswell: A ticketed event with, Chuck Klosterman, author of Chuck Klosterman X: A Highly Specific, Defiantly Incomplete History of the Early 21st Century

Chuck Klosterman is a New York Times-bestselling author and cultural critic and has written five more bestsellers (including the legendary Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs), helped found and establish Grantland. In addition, he served as The New York Times Magazine Ethicist and worked on film and television productions, all while maintaining a consistent stream of writing in outlets such as GQ, Billboard, and The Guardian.

Ten years and four books into his atypical career, Chuck Klosterman released a collection of his previously published journalism, essays, and columns titled Chuck Klosterman IV, solidifying his reputation as a cultural critic who can span the realms of pop culture and sports, but who can also address interpersonal issues, social quandaries, and ethical boundaries. And yes, the new collection contains the legendary essays on Kiss, Creed, and Nickelback.

From Jeff Simon at the Buffalo News, an editor's choice pick: "This is a plump collection indeed -- no less than 444 pages. He calls it 'a highly specific, defiantly incomplete history of the 21st century.' It's difficult to resist a fellow who, despite all unavoidable appearances of megalomania, loves 'reading the index to any book I publish ... Exploring the index from a book you created is like having someone split your head open with an axe so that you can peruse the contents of your brain. It's the alphabetizing of your consciousness.'"

Klosterman's previous events at Boswell have proven to be incredibly popular. The new book is a physical beauty, with beautiful black-stained edges. It will look very smart on your bookshelf or coffee table. And yes, we'll be giving away special tour tee shirts at the event. Tickets are $29 and include admission, a copy of Chuck Klosterman X, and all taxes and fees. On the night of the event only, a $20 Boswell gift card in lieu of the book will be available. Purchase a ticket on the Brown Paper Ticket website or call 800-838-3006.

Monday, May 22, 7:00 pm reception, 7:30 pm talk at Lynden Sculpture Garden, 2145 W Brown Deer Rd:
The Women's Speaker Series presents a ticketed event with Kate Southwood, author of Evensong.

Margaret Maguire is a widow and grandmother home from the hospital in time for Christmas, is no longer able to ignore the consequences of having married an imperious, and arrogant man. Despite her efforts to be a good wife and mother in small-town Iowa, her adult children are now strangers to one another, past the hope of reconciliation. Margaret's granddaughter could be the one to break the cycle, but she can't do it without Margaret's help. It's time to take stock, to examine the past, even time for Margaret to call herself to account.

By turns tenacious and tender, contrary and wry, Margaret examines her life's tragedies and joys, motivations and choices, coming to view herself and the past with compassion, if not entirely with forgiveness. Beautifully rendered and poignantly told, Evensong is an indelible portrait of a woman searching for tranquility at the end of her days.

Tickets are $30, $25 for members. Purchase here, or call the Lynden at 414-446-8794. This event is produced by Milwaukee Reads.

Kate Southwood is also the author of Falling to Earth. Her articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and the Huffington Post.

For our friends in the Oconomowoc area, Southwood will also be at Books and Company on Sunday, May 21, 2 pm.

Keep up with the latest happeneings at the Boswell upcoming events page.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Boswell annotated bestsellers, week ending May 13, 2017

Here are Boswell's bestseller list for the week ending May 13, 2017.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Fallout, by Sara Paretsky
2. The Best of Adam Sharp, by Graeme Simsion
3. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
4. Anything Is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout
5. A Piece of the World, by Christina Baker Kline
6. The Women in the Castle, by Jessica Shattuck
7. The Thirst, by Jo Nesbo
8. The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories, by Penelope Lively
9. Into the Water, by Paula Hawkins
10. There Your Heart Lies, by Mary Gordon (event Wed 5/17, 7 pm, at Boswell)

The newest Harry Hole mystery from Jo Nesbo is The Thirst. It's my feeling that starred reviews of series should be for installments that are substantially better than the predecessors (such as John Sandford's Golden Prey, which several readers told me was a step above the last few novels) but it looks like the Publishers Weekly anonymous reviewer called the #11 exceptional, but there's nothing in the review of the newest that thinks that this is any better. I have nothing to quote. Read the review here.

On the other hand, there is much to quote from in Charles McGrath's profile of Penelope Lively in The New York Times. His article, released with the publication of The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories, notes that "Lively’s prose is sharp, precise, perfectly pitched, but shrinks from flashiness in a way that has sometimes been mistaken for cozy or middlebrow." And it's so great to see 2017 as a year with one great collection of short stories after another.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The President Will See You Now, by Peggy Grande
2. Fearless at Work, by Molly Fletcher
3. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
4. Option B, by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
5. This Fight Is Our Fight, by Elizabeth Warren
6. Janesville, by Amy Goldstein
7. Hallelujah Anyway, by Anne Lamott
8. Make Your Bed, by William H. McRaven
9. Native Plants of the Midwest, by Alan Branhagen
10. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

This week's bestseller list is filled with behind the scenes events. President Reagan's former executive assistant Peggy Grande spoke at a lunch about The President Will See You Now. We have some signed copies. One of the books that brunch guest Barbara Rinella recommended was Make Your Bed, a grad-friendly new release from Navy Seal William H. McRaven. And finally, Molly Fletcher spoke at a corporate conference about her book Fearless at Work. We had a nice chat about signing options--the full-title page, the half-title page, and the endpaper. This topic might be worth further discussion.

One political book with staying power has been Elizabeth Warren's This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America's Middle Class. It's the 4th week in Boswell's top ten, including one week at #1.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Lost City Radio, by Daniel Alarcón
2. The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion
3. A Great Reckoning, by Louise Penny
4. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
5. Brush Back, by Sara Paretsky
6. Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
7. The Nest, by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
8. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
9. The Rosie Effect, by Graeme Simsion
10. Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur

Congratulations to Louise Penny who received the Agatha Award for best novel for A Great Reckoning. The other finalists were Bed on the Bayou, by Ellen Byron, Fogged Inn, by Barbara Ross, Say No More, by Hank Phillippi Ryan, and Quiet Neighbors, by Catriona McPherson, who won best historical novel for a different novel, The Reek of Red Herrings by Catriona McPherson. It's interesting to note that only three imprints from the top 5 publishers are represented in the three categories of best novel, best first novel, historical novel: Minotaur, Forge, and Berkley.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Family Stories, from the Attic, edited by Christi Craig and Lisa Rivero
2. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
3. Wisconsin Literary Luminaries, by Jim Higgins
4. Take It to the Bridge, by Steve Dawson and Mark Caro
5. The Winner's Guide to Negotiating, by Molly Fletcher
6. The Grace in Aging, by Kathleen Dowling Singh
7. Borchert Field, by Bob Buege (event at Tippecanoe Library, Tuesday, 6/20, 6:30 pm)
8. Live and Let Live, by Evelyn M. Perry
9. Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren
10. First Women, by Kate Anderson Brower

I think you can see a bit of Mother's Day purchasing in this week's bestseller lists. The hardcover and paperback fiction list saw resurgent sales pops for several titles we'd been promoting this spring, including A Piece of the World, by Christina Baker Kline, and The Nest, by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney. On this list, I would think that Mom might be the recipient for any of these titles, including First Women (which we mentioned was connected to the Ozaukee Family Services Barbara Rinella brunch) and even Borchert Field. If you missed Bob Buege, he'll be at Tippecanoe Library on South Howell in June.

Books for Kids:
1. The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors, by Drew Daywalt, with illustrations by Adam Rex
2. The Good for Nothing Button, by Cherise Mericle Harper, with illustrations by Mo Willems
3. Posted, by John David Anderson
4. The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt, with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers
5. The Day the Crayons Came Home, by Drew Daywalt, with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers
6. Sidekicked, by John David Anderson
7. Ms. Bixby's Last Day, by John David Anderson
8. The Bone Quill, by John and Carole E. Barrowman
9. The Book of Beasts, by John and Carole E. Barrowman
10. We Are in a Book, by Mo Willems

I'd continue the list out, but it's a lot of Willems, Barrowmans, and Anderson for a bit. This was a very big week for kids books because we rang in a lot of school sales. Here are some highlights of other authors' titles, which would most weeks get them in the top 10:
17. The Someday Birds, by Sally J. Pla
19. Goodbye Days, by Jeff Zentner
20. Windfall, by Jennifer E. Smith
21. Dog Man Unleashed, by Dav Pilkey
22. The Serpent King, by Jeff Zentner

The Goodbye Days is a follow up to The Serpent King, won the William C. Morris YA Debut Award. His new book is also a contemporary novel, which got a starred Publishers Weekly review: "Carver Briggs already feels responsible when his three best friends are killed in a car accident after he sent a 'Where are you guys?' text message to the driver. Now it seems as though the whole town wants him to be prosecuted, and he’s having debilitating panic attacks." Yes, we have signed copies.

From the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins rounds up several new books with Wisconsin ties:
--Buildings of Wisconsin, by Marsha Weisinger and contributors*
--This Storied River: Legends and Lore of the Upper Mississippi, by Dennis McCann
--First Thoughts: Conversations with Allen Ginsberg, edited by Michael Schumacher
--Flock Together: A Love Affair with Birds, by B.J.Hollars (signed copies available0
--Snail and Worm Again: Three Stories About Two Friends, by Tina Kügler
--Valient Women: The First 125 Years of Divine Savior Holy Angels High School, by Frank Miller**

*Because of this book's cost and distribution, we're not stocking it right now, but we'll be looking at bringing it in fourth quarter, but it probably has to be tied in to some sort of event. Long story!

**If we have interest, we'll investigate sourcing!

Also in the print edition.

From Laurie Hertzel, a review of A $500 House in Detroit, by Drew Philip:
"Philp's book is more than an inner-city A Year in Provence. He writes about the rehab, yes, but he also writes about the people who are 'rebuilding this broken city,' resourceful, self-sufficient characters who scrounge and scrap and work hard."
This was originally published in The (Minneapolis) Star Tribune.

From Erin Saxon, a review of Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage, by Dani Shapiro "Part memoir, part meditation on time and marriage, Shapiro expertly moves between present and past...Imbued with tender revelations, Hourglass considers the ever-changing nature of love and identity."
This was originally published in the Kansas City Star.