Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Korean American writers: musing on Min Jin Lee, Don Lee, Patricia Park, Samuel Park, and one other author I can't remember!

Back when I lived in Queens, one of my father's favorite walks was down Northern Boulevard, all the way from Bell Boulevard, near where we lived, to Main Street, where he would have lunch at one of the many Chinese restaurants. I accompanied him on his walk many times, and one of the things we enjoyed was the changing cultural influences as we moved through the borough. It was a long time since our neighborhood had been heavily Jewish, but there still was a delicatessen on 73rd Avenue which had particularly good potato knishes. Along the way were pockets of Irish, African Americans (despite most Black people living on the south side of Queens, there was a long-established black community just off Northern Boulevard), Greeks, Chinese, and Koreans. By the time our walks ended, that Korean community had expanded, and that's one of the reasons I am enjoying Re Jane, the novel from Patricia Park which came out in 2015. Much of its setting is along the very strip of Northern Boulevard that I used to share with my Dad.

After having a good reading summer, I've been stuck, spending long periods of time reading books I can't finish, and in some cases, can barely start. I knew I needed something that one of my fellow booksellers (Jane) calls light with a bite, and when I saw Park's novel while shelving another book, I picked it up. A contemporary take on Jane Eyre set in Brooklyn and Queens? I think I can do this! I want to sit down and not come up for air for 100 pages. This intoxicating feeling was hammered home to me yesterday when I was speaking to one of the families at the event for Katherine Rundell's The Explorer last night. First Charlie read it, and then his dad got a hold of it, and didn't stop reading for three hours. As Liz Lemon often said in 30Rock, I want to go to there.

There are nobody of reasons why Korean American literature is on my mind. For one thing, tensions with North Korea are at an all-time high. I wonder what it's like to live in South Korea right now. I'm reminded of what my Jewish friends have told me about their relatives who live in Israel, or our former Lebanese customer (he's coming back for an event at Boswell when his novel is published, and it will be) when he visits family in Beirut. But is it that different from living in the prospect of (or the wake of) hurricanes or earthquakes or gang violence? You go on with your life.

But my focus in this post is not on Korean writers in South (or North) Korea. I'm interested in the Korean American experience - how it's parallels the stories of other groups and how it's different. But sometimes, like in this year's Pachinko, the story is not set in the United States, but living here probably affects the narrative.

I'm always thinking about events, and as you know, we're cosponsoring a ticketed event with Min Jin Lee for Pachinko on Thursday evening at the Lynden Sculpture Garden*. Pachinko was just longlisted for the National Book Awards, plus our recent author (and old friend) Bill Goldstein raved about it at his talk for The World Broke in Two. Plus fellow bookseller Jen just told me that the novel is going in her top five for the year, meaning even if it doesn't win the National Book Award (I'm well aware it's a long long long shot) we'll be featuring the novel through the end of the year. If you like historical novels and maybe don't want to read the 34th one set in World War II Europe, maybe you should consider this, a multi-generational saga about Koreans living in Japan. Here's Anita Felicelli's review in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Jen told me that as soon as she finished Pachinko, she knew it would be in her top five and had she not picked it, it might have been in mine. Instead, I went with another recent novel I've written about before, Lonesome Lies Before Us, by Don Lee. It's the novel I can't stop thinking about this year, and being that it focuses in on both cultural identity and class, it should be at the forefront of way more people's consciousnesses. I think that part of the reason it's not is because it takes on identity by not writing about it - almost all the characters are brown, black, or yellow, but nowhere are there any physical descriptions. I'm guessing a lot of folks interested in this sort of thing want to be more, well, direct. And of course there's a place for those books. But there's also a place for this one.

I think I wrote this once before but Don Lee and Allegra Goodman would be great in conversation together, as I think Goodman was trying something similar with her most recent novel, The Chalk Artist. 

But come on, how can you not love a failed alt country singer who blames his weight, his stage fright, and his hearing loss, but not the implied fact that he's Korean? Both my sisters read the book, and while they both liked it a lot, one called it terribly sad. But it's funny too. And I like sad-funny a lot. I think it's the two best emotions to put together in a book. I think most people prefer scary and romantic, but maybe not together. If you've not read this blog before, catch up with Lloyd Sachs's review of Lonesome Lies Before Us in the Chicago Tribune.

Speaking of sad, I keep thinking about another Korean American writer who told me about the second book he was working on when he visited us twice for his first (twice). Samuel Park taught at Columbia College in Chicago and recently passed away. He told me this story about a glamorous Korean actress, and as I remember, the story kind of had a high-drama noir vibe to it. We still have a copy of his first novel, This Burns My Heart on our shelves, and I think you should read it.

Did you know that there's at least one novel about the Milwaukee Korean community and it came out from a major publisher? I read it but here's the thing. I don't remember the author or title. But if I did, I'd mention it now. I think it came out from Dutton and might have been published about twelve years ago. Any ideas? (Editor's note: our friend Jason, who I think worked at Penguin at the time, came up with the answer. It's In Full Bloom, by Caroline Hwang.)

So maybe see you Thursday night, but before I get to work today, i'm going to spend a little more time reading Re Jane. And then I'm going to try to figure out a good place to get sweet potato noodles, a delicacy I haven't had since Seoul restaurant ended their lunch buffet several years ago.

*There's a second daytime event on the UWM campus for Min Jin Lee, focusing on students.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Event blog: Katherine Rundell, Kathie Giorgio, John Nichols, Min Jin Lee, David Barclay Moore, Ann Hornaday

Here's what's happening at Boswell (and other places) this week!

Monday, September 25, 6:30 pm, at Boswell:
Katherine Rundell, author of The Explorer.

Katherine Rundell is one of Boswell buyer Amiee Mechler-Hickson’s favorite writers of contemporary children’s books. Our strong sales of Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms and Rooftoppers are one of the reasons why Rundell’s publisher picked Milwaukee for one of the very limited number of stops on the American tour for The Explorer.

From the starred Publishers Weekly review: " A quieter thread contemplates the nature of exploration and curiosity, tying into the enigmatic city of ruins. Fans of survival stories like Hatchet and My Side of the Mountain are an ideal audience for this fast-paced escapade with a lush and captivating setting."

From me: "This middle-grade novel offers some unexpected twists and a lesson or two, plus a fine recipe for cocoa bean and grub pancakes. It’s a great book for the explorer in every kid!” It's a classic adventure tale with a contemporary perspective.

Katherine Rundell is also the author of Rooftoppers, Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms (a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner and a favorite of Boswellian Barb Katz), and The Wolf Wilder. She grew up in Zimbabwe, Brussels, and London, and is currently a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.

We'll be offering a middle grade galley to attendees and a second if you buy The Explorer. Plus educators on our authors-in-schools program get a special bonus.

Tuesday, September 26, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Kathie Giorgio, author of In Grace’s Time.

In her new book, 56-year-old Grace faces her worst nightmare: the death of her son. Her friend, Virgil, is about to leave for his once-a-year cross-country trip, building inventory for his doll shop. In a haze of grief, Grace asks if she can go along. But Virgil is dealing with worries of his own. At 65-year old, Virgil is gay and unsure how he feels about his longtime, long-distance lover proposing marriage. Together, Grace and Virgil cross road after crossroad, trying to find home and family.

Giorgio’s short stories and poems have appeared in over 100 literary magazines, including Prairie Schooner, Fiction International, and Harpur Palate, and in many anthologies. Her short story, "Half-Dressed," published in Deep Water, was nominated for the 2014 Write Well Award, sponsored by the Silver Pen Writers Association. Giorgio is the director and founder of AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop, an international creative writing studio in Waukesha.

Join us for the debut event for Giorgio's latest novel.

Wednesday, September 27, 7 pm, at Boswell:
John Nichols, author of Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse: A Field Guide to the Most Dangerous People in America.

Madison-based John Nichols is the national affairs writer for The Nation magazine and a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times. He is also the associate editor of the Capital Times, an online newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin, and a cofounder of the media-reform group Free Press. He is the author of numerous books, including Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex Is Destroying America, and with Robert W. McChesney, People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy.

In his new book, John Nichols delivers a pointed guide to the folks in Donald Trump’s administration. Bill Lueders wrote in Isthmus: "Few writers are better at working themselves into a righteous lather than John Nichols."

From Reverend Jesse Jackson: "This is the real story of the Trump administration - not what Trump is tweeting but what his appointees are doing to undermine civil rights, economic security and the environment. John Nichols gets behind the scenes, finds the truth and reveals it all. If you want to go beyond the alternative facts, the fake news, and the media spin, you must read this book.”

From Ralph Nader: "Nichols provides all rationally outraged Americans with factually insightful portraits of the corporatist managers of Trump's giant wrecking machine... The unprecedented cruelty, greed, ignorance and abuses of power over the laws of the land are revealed in the pages of this fast-paced, well documented book... Nichols shows that the fate of our society's health and safety, justice and democracy, freedom and opportunity are being sacrificed on the anvil of giant corporatism - unless 'we the people' stop them.”

Thursday, September 28, 7 pm reception, 7:30 talk:
Min Jin Lee, author of Pachinko.

Milwaukee Reads presents a ticketed evening with Min Jin Lee at the Lynden Sculpture Garden’s Women’s Speaker Series. Pachinko has been recently named to the National Book Award longlist for the fiction award.

Here’s a little more about Pachinko. Beginning in early 1900s Korea, Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan. So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.

Steph Cha, in USA Today, notes: "Pachinko is an unfair game — a gambler’s pinball with strong house odds — one that lends itself rather easily to metaphors about life. 'There could only be a few winners and a lot of losers,' one character reflects. 'And yet, we played on, because we had hope that we might be the lucky ones.'"

Min Jin Lee's debut novel, Free Food for Millionaires, was one of the top 10 novels of the year for The Times (London), NPR's Fresh Air, and USA Today. Her short fiction has been featured on NPR's Selected Shorts. She also served as a columnist for the Chosun Ilbo, the leading paper of South Korea.

Tickets are $31, $26 for Lynden Sculpture Garden members, and are available at lyndensculpturegarden.org/minjinlee, or by calling 414-446-8794. The Lynden Sculpture Garden is located at 2145 W Brown Deer Rd, just west of I-43.

Friday, September 29, 6:00 pm (doors open 5:30), at Milwaukee Youth Art Center, 325 W Walnut St (the First Stage building):
David Barclay Moore, author of The Stars Beneath Our Feet.

This event is cosponsored by First Stage Children's Theater, ALIVE MKE, the Woodruff Group, and the Brewers Community Foundation.

The 4Core (Rasean Bly, John W. Daniels IV, Jeremiah I. Johnson, and Gaulien Smith, III) cordially invite you to a meet and greet with author David Barclay Moore. Light refreshments will be served.

Here’s more about the book from Boswell proprietor Daniel Goldin: “Wallace, better known as Lolly, lives in the Harlem projects. His parents are divorced, his brother is dead, his mom has a girlfriend, and two kids just outside the neighborhood are threatening him and his best friend Vega. The thing that keeps him sane through all of this is his Legos, lots and lots of Legos. One day, he stops creating replicas of the kits and starts building his own stuff. When there’s no more room in the apartment, he turns to the after-school center in the projects, and that’s when he meets Rose, who though very different from Lolly and all his friends, bonds over their shared desire to build stuff. Lolly has to work through his grief over his brother, and still try to figure out how to navigate the projects so he doesn’t go down the same path. What an amazing kid Lolly is, and what a great book Moore’s first novel is!”

From his interview with Scott Simon on NPR: "You know, Lolly is a very creative boy. And I think one of the ways in which he utilizes Legos in this story is kind of exercise in imagination, building this fantasy environment and creating it in the real world, you know, and using that as a way to kind of process his grief. While all this is going on, he's also going through a type of therapy with a local counselor. And I think one of the things that the character finds out is that even though the therapy is helpful..."

David Barclay Moore has served as communications coordinator for Geoffrey Canada's Harlem Children's Zone and communications manager for Quality Services for the Autism Community. He has received grants from the Ford Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, Yaddo, and the Wellspring Foundation. This is his first novel.

Registration is requested at eventbrite.com/e/37254832206.

Sunday, October 1, 12 pm, at Milwaukee Film Festival Inova Gallery, 2155 N. Prospect Ave:
Ann Hornaday, author of Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies.

The Milwaukee Film Festival presents Ann Hornaday, cosponsored by Boswell. This event is free and does not require registration.

Whether we are trying to impress a date after an art-house film screening or discussing Oscar nominations with friends, we all need ways to watch and talk about movies. But with so much variety between an Alfred Hitchcock thriller and a Nora Ephron romantic comedy, how can everyday viewers determine what makes a good movie?

In Talking Pictures, veteran film critic Ann Hornaday walks us through the production of a typical movie-from writing the script and casting to the final sound edit-and explains how to evaluate each piece of the process. How do we know if a film is well-written, above and beyond snappy dialogue? What constitutes a great screen performance? What goes into praiseworthy cinematography, editing, and sound design? And what does a director really do? Full of engaging anecdotes and interviews with actors and filmmakers, Talking Pictures will help us see movies in a whole new light-not just as fans, but as film critics in our own right.

From Lisa Schwartzbaum in The New York Times Book Review: "In Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies, Ann Hornaday provides a pleasantly calm, eminently sensible, down-the-middle primer for the movie lover — amateur, professional or Twitter-centric orator — who would like to acquire and sharpen basic viewing skills."

Ann Hornaday is a film critic at The Washington Post and was a finalist for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism.

Alas, our event with Stephen King and Owen King in conversation this coming Saturday is sold out. We are also not able to offer signed copies. Don't forget to sign up for our email newsletter.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Bestseller blog: what's selling at Boswell? (week ending 9/23/17)

Here's what Boswell has been selling this week.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye, by David Lagercrantz
2. A Legacy of Spies, by John Le Carre
3. Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
4. Forest Dark, by Nicole Krauss
5. Sing, Unburied Sing, by Jesmyn Ward
6. The Ninth Hour, by Alice McDermott
7. A Column of Fire, by Ken Follett
8. Y Is for Yesterday, by Sue Grafton
9. The Golden House, by Salman Rushdie
10. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders

Alice McDermott's new novel is The Ninth Hour. Here's what Sarah Begley said about the book in Time: "Not much happens to the Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor, the stars of Alice McDermott's new novel The Ninth Hour - they live to serve others. But plenty has happened to those in their care." She's goes on to call it a "story with the simple grace of a votive candle in a dark church." Read the rest of the review.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. It Takes Two, by Jonathan Scott and Drew Scott
2. The 3D Body Revolution, by Donald Driver
3. The Happpiness Prayer, by Evan Moffic
4. The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder, by Marta McDowell
5. What Happened, by Hillary Rodham Clinton
6. A Self-Made Woman, by Denise Chanterelle DuBois
7. Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann
8. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
9. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
10. Killing England, by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard

Here's what we learned from selling It Takes Two at the Riverside from Jonathan and Drew Scott. The show is Property Brothers, but Jonathan and Drew are the Scott Brothers. We had a fun time and enjoyed chatting with the fans. The VIPs were especially thrilled.

Here's an interesting column from Caitlin Flanagan in Vulture about how HGTV promulgates house flipping and another bubble in the making. Please note that the Scotts are not flippers; Flanagan just notes their popular diamond-in-the-rough transformations are what many people like about the flip shows and helped lead to them dominating the HGTV lineup. For me, I sort of miss the early Suzanne Whang House Hunters, to say nothing of Design on a Dime and Decorating Cents.

We didn't get to do the Scott autographing, but we had a similar giddy experience working one of the signings for Donald Driver's new book, The 3D Body Revolution. I'd ask a random person who'd just gone through the signing-and-photo line, "Are you a changed person?" and each person would chime "Yes!" very enthusiastically. We have signed copies available.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Moonbath, by Yanick Lahens
2. The Iliad, by Homer, translated by Robert Fagles
3. Karolina's Twins, by Ronald H. Balson (event 10/24 at Chai Point, 3 pm, at Boswell, 7 pm)
4. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
5. Under the Harrow, by Flynn Berry
6. The Atomic Weight of Love, by Elizabeth J. Church
7. Arrows of Light, by Andrea Potos
8. In Grace's Time, by Kathie Giorgio (event 9/25, 7 pm, at Boswell)
9. Chronicle of the Murdered House, by Lucio Cardoso
10. Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly

Last year's Best First Novel Edgar Award, Under the Harrow, by Flynn Berry, has had well over a year of strong sales and continued to make regular appearances in our top ten. Elizabeth Brundage wrote in The New York Times: "I was expecting a knockoff of Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train or another rendition of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Ever since those books’ phenomenal success, any new novel that is at all similar greedily begs comparison. Indeed, Under the Harrow contains similarities that will undoubtedly attract readers — but underneath its hard-driving, page-turning, compulsively readable narrative is a striking, original."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Stop Anxiety from Stopping You, by Helen Odessky
2. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
3. Easy Italian Step-by-Step, from McGraw Hill
4. Cream City Chronicles, by John Gurda
5. Horsemen of the Trumpcalypse, by John Nichols (event 9/27, 7 pm, at Boswell)
6. A Little History of Religion, by Richard Holloway
7. Run, Hide, Repeat, by Pauline Dakin
8. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
9. The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
10. I Hear She's a Real Bitch, by Jen Agg

Just out is Pauline Dakin's Run, Hide, Repeat: A Memoir of a Fugitive Childhood, which is unusual in that it's a Viking paperback original. I'm not a buyer so I don't see every book that comes out, but I haven't noticed a Viking paperback in a long time. This CBC journalist and Halifax professor has written "a memoir of a childhood steeped in unexplained fear and menace. Gripping and suspenseful, it moves from Dakin’s uneasy acceptance of her family’s dire situation to bewildered anger at a cruel charade. As she revisits her past, Dakin uncovers the human capacity for betrayal, manipulation, and deception—-and the power of love to forgive. As compelling and twisted as a thriller, Run Hide Repeat is an unforgettable portrait of a family threatened by those closest to them."

Picture Books and Board Books for Kids:
1. Little i, by Michael Hall
2. Big Machines, by Sherri Duskey Rinker with illustrations by John Rocco
3. Wherever You Go, by Pat Zietlow Miller, with illustrations by Eliza Wheeler
4. The Quickest Kid in Clarksville, by Pat Zietlow Miller, with illustrations by Frank Morrison
5. Pomegranate Witch, by Denise Doyen, with illusrations by Eliza Wheeler
6. Frankencrayon, by Michael Hall
7. Wolfie the Bunny, by Ame Dyckman, with illusrations by Zachariah Ohora
8. Little Poems for Tiny Ears, by Lin Oliver with illustrations by Tomie DePaola
9. John Ronald's Dragons, by Caroline McAlister, with illustrations by Eliza Wheeler
10. The Great Pasta Escape, by Miranda Paul, with illustrations by Javier Joaquin

Last weekend we sold books at the SCBWI. You can tell that one of the featured speakers was illustrator Eliza Wheeler, including Pat Zietlow Miller's Wherever You Go and Denise Doyen's The Pomegranate Witch. Also featured was local writer Pat Zietlow Miller. Here's an interview with Miller by Colleen Riordan in the SCBWI-Wisconsin newsletter.

Of The Pomegranate Witch, which is also featured on our Halloween table, Publishers Weekly writes in its starred review: "Working in ink and watercolor, Wheeler contrasts the rich red of the pomegranates with washes of pale, sickly green, saturating the pages with a sense of otherworldly magic."

Chapter Books through Young Adult
1. Fantastic Frame: Danger! Tiger Crossing, by Lin Oliver
2. Guitar Notes, by Mary Amato
3. Fantastic Frame: Splat! Another Messy Sunday, by Lin Oliver
4. Here's Hank: Bookmarks Are People Too, by Henry Winkler
5. Waking in Time, by Angie Stanton
6. Native People of Wisconsin, by Patty Loew
7. Odin's Promise, by Sandy Brehl
8. Sol Ray Man and the Freaky Flood, by Jane Kelley
9. Mari's Hope, by Sandy Brehl
10. Octo Man and the Headless Monster, by Jane Kelley

Another speaker at SCBWI-Wisconsin, has both picture books and chapter books featured on our bestseller list. The first two entries in the Fantastic Frame series are featured. The Booklist review notes that Danger! Tiger Crossing notes that "Oliver bases this new series on an unusual, promising premise: an ornate magic picture frame that sucks bystanders into any painting it holds...Kallis' color scenes of bug-eyed children add bright notes of comedy and terror, and an afterword about Rousseau's life and art rounds off the breathlessly paced adventure with a dash of arts education. More adventures follow in a copublished sequel, Splat! Another Messy Sunday."

On the TapBooks page of the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins reviews Fred Hersch's Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life in and out of Jazz. Higgins notes: "Writing this memoir, too, has been a way for Hersch to weave the strands of his life together and to accept himself more fully. Hersch spent nearly two months in a coma in 2008, brought on by AIDS-related dementia. In the ICU, when his partner Scott asked Hersch's doctor about his condition, the doctor replied, in a case like this, 'good things happen slowly,' then added, 'but bad things happen fast.'"

Other reviews to check out in the print edition:

1. Laurie Hertzel, originally in the Star Tribune, reviews A Disappearance in Damascus: "It's a pity that Deborah Campbell's new book has such a Nancy Drew-like title, because it is actually a serious, riveting work about a part of the world that too many of us know too little about."

2. Marion Winik, originally in Newsday, reviews our top ten bestseller, Celeste Ng's latest: "While Everything I Never Told You focused intensely and single-mindedly on solving the mystery of a teenage death within a context of gender and racial stereotyping, Little Fires Everywhere has more pages, more characters, and more themes, among them affluence, conformism, and their discontents: cross racial adoption and the rights of biological parents, and what artists have to offer the rest of us."

Monday, September 18, 2017

Event alert: Donald Driver signing on Friday, plus Rabbi Evan Moffic, Marta McDowell, Denise Chanterelle DuBois, Yanick Lahens at Boswell, Michael Hall at Oak Creek Public Library, Sherri Duskey-Rinker and John Rocco at Cudahy Family Library

Here's what's going on, Boswell-wise, for the upcoming week!

Monday, September 18, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Evan Moffic, author of The Happiness Prayer: Ancient Jewish Wisdom for the Best Way to Live Today.

This event is cosponsored by the Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center.

At age 30 Rabbi Evan Moffic became the leader of a large congregation. He had great success. But he couldn't find happiness. Then he found a 2000-year-old prayer. In it were hidden elements of Jewish wisdom. They became a part of his life and those of his congregation and transformed them and him. In the tradition of Harold Kushner, Moffic opens up wisdom that has been at the heart of Judaism for thousands of years. He distills the "Eilu Devarim", an ancient prayer for happiness found in the Talmud, into ten practices that empower us to thrive through setbacks, so nothing can hamper our happiness.

Moffic spoke to Neil Minnow at HuffPost about The Happiness Prayer. Here's his response to the query asking why he wrote the book: "I needed it. I was overwhelmed and stressed and knew I needed to serve my congregation. I also began to see that underlying many of the frustrations my congregants were experiencing was a search for meaning in a confusing world. The happiness prayer helped me see what actions people could take and profound wisdom Judaism held."

Tuesday, September 19, 6:30 pm, at Oak Creek Public Library, 8040 S Sixth St:
Michael Hall, author of Little i.

Little i’s dot has rolled away into the sea! Without his dot, who is he? Little i decides to take a journey but what he learns on the way is not what he expected!

Michael Hall’s visit is part of Oak Creek Library’s Family Fun Night. One Tuesday a month, the Oak Creek Library offers a different fun activity. This family program is free and geared toward children ages 5-10, but all ages are welcome. Children under 10 must be accompanied by an adult at all library programs. And no registration is required for this event.

Mary Ann Grossman discussed the book in the Twin Cities (formerly St. Paul) Pioneer Press. Here's the spoiler: "Since this isn’t a mystery, we’ll tell you Little i does find his dot, but it didn’t fit anymore and didn’t feel right. So Little i left it on the edge of a cliff by the sea and went home to the alphabet to learn that he wasn’t Little i anymore. He’d grown up and become a word: 'I.'"

Tuesday, September 19, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Marta McDowell, author of The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscapes that Inspired the Little House Books.

The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder, by bestselling author Marta McDowell, explores Wilder's deep relationship to the landscape. Follow the wagon trail of the series, starting in the Wisconsin setting of Little House in the Big Woods to the Dakotas and finally to Missouri. Throughout, you'll learn details about Wilder's life and inspirations, discover how to visit the real places today, and even learn to grow the plants and vegetables featured in the stories.

From Library Journal, reviewer Sue O’Brien at the Downers Grove Public Library calls The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder “a well-researched, beautifully illustrated title that entwines the natural world depicted in Wilder's books with her life as a settler, farmer, and writer.”

Jim Higgins profiled Marta McDowell in Sunday's Journal Sentinel. Higgins notes: 'Laura and Almanzo practiced a nothing-gets-wasted philosophy that's familiar today, McDowell said in a telephone interview. And what today we call the farm-to-table concept, for the Wilders that was "the length of a walk from their kitchen garden and barn to their back door,' she said."

Wednesday, September 20, 7 pm, at Boswell: Denise Chanterelle DuBois, author of Self-Made Woman: A Memoir.

Denise Chanterelle DuBois is an actress, environmentalist, and businesswoman. She grew up in Milwaukee and now hails from Portland, Oregon. But DuBois's transformation into a woman wasn't easy.

Born as a boy into a working-class Polish American Milwaukee family, she faced daunting hurdles: a domineering father, a gritty 1960s neighborhood with no understanding of gender nonconformity, trouble in school, and a childhood so haunted by deprivation that neckbone soup was a staple. Terrified of revealing her inner self, DuBois lurched through alcoholism, drug dealing and addiction, car crashes, dangerous sex, and prison time

Of the book, filmmaker and transgender rights activist Andrea James writes:"Denise's colorful life has covered it all in spades: sex, drugs, and a journey of self-discovery that takes her around the world. Buckle up for a wild ride!"

Friday, September 22, 4 pm, at Cudahy Family Library, 3500 Library Dr:
Sherri Duskey Rinker and John Rocco, author of Big Machines: The Story of Virginia Lee Burton.

Everyone in Folly Cove knows Virginia Lee as "Jinnee." With her magical wands she can draw whatever she imagines, but for her sons Aris and Michael, she draws the most wonderful characters of all: Big Machines with friendly names like Mary Anne, Maybelle, and Katy. Her marvelous magical wands can make anything move - even a cheerful Little House.

In addition to a book signing, the library will have a variety of activities for big machine fans of all ages, including; a modular train display set up by the Milwaukee Lionel Railroad Club, light refreshments, a big machines craft, a photo prop area, a train table for children to play with, and a toddler ride-on train. This event is free to the public. No registration is required.

Publishers Weekly wrote: "Burton’s fans will enjoy teasing out the visual references to her work, both in Rocco’s use of color and form (including several circular vignettes), while feeling intimately connected to how these treasured stories came into being."

You'll know Sherri Duskey Rinker as the author of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and Steam Train, Dream Train. John Rocco is a bestselling author and illustrator of numerous books, including Blackout, a winner of the Caldecott Honor title BS the covers for Rick Riordan's internationally bestselling novels.

Friday, September 22, 7 pm, at Boswell:
A Ticketed Signing with Donald Driver, author of The 3D Body Revolution: The Ultimate Workout + Nutrition Blueprint to get Healthy and Lean.

Boswell presents a ticketed signing with Donald Driver, the beloved receiver for the Green Bay Packers NFL franchise, where he played from 1999 until 2012. He holds the all-time team record for receptions and receiving yards. After his storied career, he also went on to win his season of Dancing with the Stars.

Now, following his bestselling memoir, Driven, he presents The 3D Body Revolution. After taking a break from intense workouts upon retiring, Donald Driver found himself sluggish and unhappy. He took it upon himself to get back into the best shape of his life - and along the way has become THE go-to guy for training other pro athletes, as well as regular people just looking for a great workout at his Dallas gym, Driven Elite Fitness and Health Center.

Tickets to this signing are $30.00 and include a signed copy of The 3D Body Revolution, all taxes and fees, and admission to the signing line for up to two people. Each ticket holder can get one posed photo with Donald Driver, using their own cell phone or camera. Please note that due to time constraints, Mr. Driver cannot personalize books, write inscriptions, or sign memorabilia.

Tickets are available at drivermke.bpt.me or fans can call 800-838-3006 to secure a spot in the signing line. Please note this event is a signing only. There is no talk component to this event.

Saturday, September 23, 11 am, at Boswell:
Yanick Lahens, author of Moonbath (Bain de Lune).

This event is cosponsored by Alliance Francaise de Milwaukee, French Consulate of Chicago, and The French Program at UWM.

Yanick Lahens was born in Port-au-Prince in 1953. After attending school and university in France, she returned to Haiti, where she taught literature at the university in Port-au-Prince and worked for the Ministry of Culture. Her first novel was published in 2000, and she won the prestigious Prix Femina for Moonbath in 2014.

From World Literature Today, Robert H. McCormick writes: "Yanick Lahens’s Bain de lune chronicles the history of a family in rural Haiti over four-plus generations. Tertulian Mésidor’s ardent stare at sixteen-year-old Olmène, sitting beside her mother at the fish market, initiates the plot. With cinematographic close-ups, Lahens records the sighting of the young peasant girl by the community’s most powerful don, a fifty-five-year-old man whose family had forced the sale of her family’s land and killed the seller besides. The object of Tertulian’s desire yet aware of his reputation, Olmène, and her mother, are nonetheless impressed by the virility of the man on horseback. Moreover, he buys all their wares."

Monday, September 25, 6:30 pm, at Boswell: Katherine Rundell, author of The Explorer.

From Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner Katherine Rundell comes an exciting new novel about a group of kids who must survive in the Amazon after their plane crashes. Fred, Con, Lila, and Max are on their way back to England from Manaus when the plane they're on crashes and the pilot dies upon landing. For days they survive alone, until Fred finds a map that leads them to a ruined city, and to a secret.

Katherine Rundell is one of Boswell buyer Amiee Mechler-Hickson’s favorite writers of contemporary children’s books. Our strong sales of Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms and Rooftoppers are one of the reasons why Rundell’s publisher picked Milwaukee for one of the very limited number of stops on the American tour for The Explorer.

Imogen Russell Phillips writes in The Guardian: "This month, lucky eight-plus readers can plunge into the green wilds of Katherine Rundell’s marvelous new novel, The Explorer. Stranded in the Amazon rainforest, Fred, Lila, Max and Con overcome their initial terror to adapt to the uncompromising fierceness and beauty of their surroundings, gradually shedding the constraints of home – and discovering much more than they expected. Hannah Horn’s delicate line drawings encroach, vine-like, on Rundell’s dangerous, intoxicating pages in this love-song to the natural world and those who find release in it. This is essential reading for lovers of Eva Ibbotson."

Please note that Boswell will have several special offers for teachers who participate in the Boswell authors-in-schools program.

More Boswell events on our upcoming event page.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

What's selling at Boswell? Big releases, hand-selling, and sales to K-12 and even a couple of college students

Here are the bestsellers for the week ending September 16, 2017

Hardcover Fiction:
1. A Legacy of Spies, by John LeCarre
2. Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee (ticketed event at Lynden Sculpture Garden, Thu Sep 28, 7 pm)
3. My Absolute Darling, by Gabriel Tallent
4. One of the Boys, by Daniel Magariel
5. A Column of Fire, by Ken Follett
6. Anything Is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout
7. The Golden House, by Salman Rushdie
8. Glass Houses, by Louise Penny
9. Forest Dark, by Nicole Kraus
10. Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng

Our buyer Jason noted to me that new releases are coming out fast and furious. It's almost hard to keep up, with new releases such as Ken Follett's A Column of Fire, which came out September 12. Kirkus Reviews said: "A flying buttress of a book, continuing the hefty Kingsbridge saga historical novelist Follett began with Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. It's not that Follett's been slacking between books: he's been working away at the Century Trilogy, set centuries later, and otherwise building on the legacy of high-minded potboilers he began with Eye of the Needle . Here he delivers with a vengeance, with his Kingsbridge story, set in the shadow of a great provincial cathedral, now brought into the age of Elizabeth."

One older book that is likely to have additional appearances in the future is One of the Boys, by Daniel Magariel. Though just out in March, the novel is being read by a class that is being sent to Boswell to buy their book, which of course warrants a big, big thank you. Boswellian Chris Lee is also a big fan of One of the Boys, and wrote: "A boy, his brother, and their father leave behind an ugly divorce and remake their lives in the desert outskirts of Albuquerque. Twelve years old and stumbling through adolescence, the boy learns hard lessons about masculine bonds and the extreme limits of family ties."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. What Happened, by Hillary Rodham Clinton (Clinton is at the Riverside on November 9. Tickets here.)
2. The World Broke in Two, by Bill Goldstein
3. Dream Home, by Jonathan Scott and Drew Scott
4. Fantasyland, by Kurt Andersen
5. Cooks Illustrated Meat Book, from America's Test Kitchen
6. Braving the Wilderness, by Brené Brown
7. State of Craft Beer, by Matthew Janzen
8. Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken
9. Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
10. It Takes Two, by Jonathan Scott and Drew Scott

Out this past Tuesday is the newest from Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone. In the Houston Chronicle, Alyson Ward wrote: "As a social scientist, Brown, a best-selling author whom Oprah once declared her soulmate, uses her research to explore the ways we hold ourselves back and separate ourselves from one another. What she's found is that we hide our true selves in order to fit in. We approach the world as 'us versus them,' shutting out people who disagree with us. And we let politics and party, fear and social media separate us from real connection and belonging." It's a particularly timely book, as Brown teaches social work at the University of Houston, which was a first-hand lab for Brown's thesis during Hurricane Harvey. The Chronicle noted that "In that moment, we were reminded of how connected we were."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Two If by Sea, by Jacquelyn Mitchard
2. Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
3. The Deep End of the Ocean, by Jacquelyn Mitchard
4. News of the World, by Paulette Jiles
5. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
6. It, by Stephen King
7. Swing Time, by Zadie Smith
8. The Mercy Journals, by Claudia Casper
9. Everyone Brave Is Forgiven, by Chris Cleave
10. Miss Jane, by Brad Watson

If the hardcover fiction list was influenced by Bill Goldstein, the author of The World Broke in Two (signed copies available, who hand-sold enough copies of My Absolute Darling and Pachinko to drive them up this week's bestseller list, the paperback list shows the hand of Boswellian Jane, whose picks at a Saturday book club, notably Lilac Girls, News of the World, and Miss Jane, earned higher rankings. Okay, maybe it was a team effort for Jiles and Watson! Jacquelyn Mitchard's books were featured at a dinner for ImpactInc, a fundraiser to combat opioid addiction. Read more here.

We should note that both News of the World and Miss Jane were long-listed for last year's National Book Award. So let's offer congrats to Min Jin Lee, whose Pachinko was just longlisted for the National Book Award. Lee will be at a ticketed event for the Lynden Sculpture Garden on September 28. Tickets here. And expect to see Pachinko on next year's paperback list.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
2. Milwaukee Frozen Custard, by Kathleen McCann and Robert Tanzilo
3. Stop Anxiety from Stopping You, by Helen Odessky (event today at 3 pm at Boswell)
4. Quotes for Nasty Women, by Linda Picone
5. Kinnickinnic Avenue, by Lisa Ann Jacobsen
6. The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
7. The Pigeon Tunnel, by John Le Carre
8. Tales of Two Americas, by John Freeman
9. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
10. Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson

John Freeman, the editor of Freeman's (and formerly Granta) is the editor of a new collection, Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation. The publisher writes: "The brilliant minds of Edwidge Danticat, Roxane Gay, Eula Biss and others traverse the fault lines that separate rich and poor, black and white, native and undocumented to recast the story of America in their words." Jason Heller reviewed the book on the NPR website.

Books for Kids:
1. The Pout Pout Fish and the Bully Bully Shark, by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Dan Hanna
2. The Pout Pout Fish, by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Dan Hanna
3. A Creepy Pair of Underwear, by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown
4. Ghost, by Jason Reynolds
5. Patina, by Jason Reynolds
6. Creepy Carrots!, by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown
7. Miles Morales: A Spider Man Novel, by Jason Reynolds
8. Ghost (hardcover), by Jason Reynolds
9. The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School, by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Dan Hanna
10. Sea Monkey and Bob, by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Debbie Ohi
11. Mari's Hope, by Sandy Brehl
12. Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties, by Dav Pilkey
13. The Boy in the Black Suit, by Jason Reynolds
14. As Brave as You, by Jason Reynolds
15. Warcross, by Marie Lu

We have to at least feature 15 titles in the kids list, because otherwise, our school events would crowd out Marie Lu's Warcross, which had a strong first week in Boswell without a school visit. Not that we'd turn her down! Here's what Wired said about her new book: "Sci-Fi author Marie Lu sets her trilogies in shadowy realms, from a militarized police state (Legend) to a hunted secret society (The Young Elites). But as a former videogame designer for Disney Interactive Studios, Lu was conjuring up dark, fantastical worlds long before her books became best sellers. In Warcross, out this month, Lu embraces her gamer roots."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins profiles Marta McDowell, author of The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscapes that Inspired the Little House Books. Higgins notes: "If McDowell could travel back in time, she would love to know how close the Ingalls fields were to their cabin, and what tools they used. She would like to know more about the wildflowers Laura saw and what the family used for medicinal herbs — she makes only sparing mentions of those herbs in her novels, McDowell said." McDowell will be at Boswell on Tuesday, September 19, 7 pm, and at Books and Company on September 20.

Also on the TapBooks page, Elfrieda Abbe reviews This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm. Of Ted Genoways's book, Abbe writes: "Insightful and empathetic, Genoways interweaves the family’s personal stories, with the factors impacting their decision making: fluctuating markets; trade deals, the rise of agribusiness and mega farms that affect profit margins; the development and widespread use of genetically modified crops, herbicides and pesticides weighed against potential long-term environmental damage; and the stress heavy irrigation places on water sources, such as the aquifer that supplies groundwater for Nebraska and eight other states from South Dakota to Texas."

From USA Today, Alisa Dastagir offers an interview with Vanessa Grigoriadis, author of Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus. Asked what reporting on the campus rape revealed, Gigoriadis noted: "The rape debate is a stalking horse for these much larger themes of gender and power and sex and that are being negotiated right now on college campuses. And we're hearing about it as rape, because that's what makes headlines."

Apologies for the typos!