Monday, July 29, 2019

Events this week - Jazz history with Joey Grihalva and Adekola Adedapo, Lee Zacharias's Great Lakes novel, David Pederson's new mystery, Casey Cep's on the Harper Lee true crime book, Ben L Califf, Claire Lombardo next week

Monday, July 29, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Joey Grihalva, author of Milwaukee Jazz

Milwaukee music and cultural critic Joey Grihalva takes us on a jazz odyssey through his hometown, illuminating the histories and influence of local luminaries. This special evening will also feature songs performed by Milwaukee singer and author of the book’s foreword, Adekola Adedapo.

From Dave Luhrssen in Shepherd Express: "Milwaukee Jazz displays the surprisingly rich history of jazz in our city through an array of black and white photographs from the 1920s through the present. Author Joey Grihalva gathered photos of most of the prominent jazz performers with ties to the city, and drops in a few shots of national artists who played the Jazz Gallery in its original 1970s incarnation."

From the heyday of the 1940s and 1950s to the renaissance of the 1970s, from the streets to the classrooms, grand ballrooms to outdoor festivals, from swing to bebop, smoky bars to dimly lit clubs like the Flame, Thelma's Back Door, and the Jazz Gallery, Grihalva chronicles how Milwaukee has been a hotbed of improvised music, providing a noteworthy contribution to the story of jazz in America.

Joey Grihalva is a Milwaukee writer whose work has appeared in Urban Milwaukee and he is a feature writer for 88Nine Radio Milwaukee. A Milwaukee native, Grihalva holds degrees from University of Minnesota and Concordia University Montreal. Adekola Adedapo is a vocalist based in Milwaukee and Coordinator of Multicultural Programs at Alverno College.

Tuesday, July 30, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Lee Zacharias, author of Across the Great Lake

Midwestern native Lee Zacharias presents her 2019 Michigan Notable Book, the story of a daughter and her father’s journey across Lake Michigan and a secret almost seventy years old.

Zacharias’s historical novel recounts the memories of Fern Halvorson, now in her eighty-fifth year, who tells the story of a childhood journey across Lake Michigan and the secret she has kept since that ill-fated voyage on a huge and powerful ship. This book was the Book Preview event for this week's Shepherd Express.

As his wife lies dying in the brutally cold winter of 1936, Henrik Halvorsen takes his daughter Fern away with him. He captains a great coal-fired vessel, the Manitou, transporting railroad cars across the icy lake. The five-year-old girl revels in the freedom of the ferry, making friends with a stowaway cat and a gentle young deckhand. The sighting of a ghost ship, though, presages danger for all aboard.

Wednesday, July 31, 7 pm, at Boswell:
David S Pederson, author of Death Takes a Bow

Wisconsin author David S Pederson returns to Boswell with the fourth installment of his mystery series starring Detective Heath Barrington. Death Checks In, his previous book in this series, is a 2019 Lambda Literary Award Finalist.

Alan Keyes takes a break from his police duties to scratch his acting itch in a local stage production. But the leading man is murdered during the opening night performance, and Alan’s partner, Detective Heath Barrington, is thrust into the limelight to find the killer. Alan soon learns the theater has a deadly past and ghostly forebodings, including a telegram that seems to have come from the beyond.

Among the large cast of suspects is Oliver Crane, the director whose finances depend on the success of this play, Jazz Monroe, Milwaukee’s sweetheart with a secret, and the handsome actor Henry Hawthorne, who has designs on Alan. When Alan seems to return Henry’s attentions, Heath must put his jealousy and insecurities aside to determine what’s real, what’s illusion, and who’s acting and who’s telling the truth before death takes a bow.

David S Pederson is the Wisconsin author of the Detective Heath Barrington mystery novels, including the 2019 Lambda Literary Award Finalist, Death Checks In. Here's a great review of Death Checks In on the The Novel Approach website.

Thursday, August 1, 2 pm, at Boswell:
Casey Cep, author of Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee

Harper Lee biographer and true crime writer Casey Cep visits Boswell. Cep’s New York Times bestseller delves deeper than ever before into Lee’s life after Mockingbird and reveals never before seen research and information about the author’s struggles with writing, drinking, and her decades long fascination with accused murdered Reverend Willie Maxwell.

Reverend Willie Maxwell was a rural preacher accused of murdering five of his family members in the 1970s who escaped justice until a relative shot him dead at the funeral of his last victim. Despite hundreds of witnesses, Maxwell’s murderer was acquitted. Sitting in the audience during the vigilante’s trial was Harper Lee, who had traveled from New York City to her native Alabama with the idea of writing her own In Cold Blood, the true-crime classic she had helped her friend Truman Capote research seventeen years earlier.

From Michael Lewis's review in The New York Times Book Review: "By the time I got to the section on Harper Lee, I wanted to know more about her than I’ve ever thought I wanted to know — and I didn’t start the book incurious about her. Furious Hours builds and builds until it collides with the writer who saw the power of Maxwell’s story, but for some reason was unable to harness it. It lays bare the inner life of a woman who had a world-class gift for hiding."

Can't attend our event? Cep will be at Room of One's Own in Madison on the evening of July 31 and at Book Stall in Winneta on the evening of August 1.

Thursday, August 1, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Ben L Callif, author of Organumics: An Epigenetic Re-Framing of Consciousness, Life, and Evolution

Milwaukee-based philosopher and scientist Callif appears with his book, which asks, where does consciousness fit into biology, how did life evolve, and what makes us human?

Epigenetics (‘above and beyond genetics’) is an exciting new field that suggests that genetics is not the foundation of inheritance and life. Callif walks us through the history of evolution and modern biology, the basics of genetics and genes, and the complexities of cells and inheritance, and proposes that epigenetics can provide a new perspective on identity, consciousness, and the origins of life itself.

In Organumics, living things are not discrete, isolated units (organisms). Instead, life is an inseparable and interconnected fractal that emerges through the cooperation of self-directed and self-contained individuals - organa. As an organum, we each play a vital role in the direction of evolutionary progress through our thoughts, feelings, and intentions. What we do changes who we are, and who we are influences what our descendants might one day become.

Callif received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Philosophy from Excelsior College, a bachelor’s degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, and a master’s degree in Neuroscience from Marquette University. His current work focuses on circadian rhythms, spinal cord injury, and genetic engineering. He produces the YouTube show The Paradox Perspective.

Tuesday, August 6, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Claire Lombardo, author of The Most Fun We Ever Had, featuring Book Club Recommendations from Jason Gobble

Boswell hosts a book club summer celebration, featuring a talk by Chicago novelist Claire Lombardo about her sweeping debut novel and book club recommendations our Penguin Random House sales rep Jason Gobble. We've even gathered a few recommendations from the author.

Pulitzer Finalist Rebecca Makkai says, “Everything about this brilliant debut cuts deep: the humor, the wisdom, the pathos. Claire Lombardo writes like she’s been doing it for a hundred years, and like she’s been alive for a thousand.” And the Guardian says, “Outstanding… [the] literary love child of Jonathan Franzen and Anne Tyler.”

Spanning nearly half a century, and set against the quintessential American backdrop of Chicago and its prospering suburbs, Lombardo’s debut explores the triumphs and burdens of love, the fraught tethers of parenthood and sisterhood, and the baffling mixture of affection, abhorrence, resistance, and submission we feel for those closest to us. The Most Fun We Ever Had has been named a most anticipated book of the summer by O Magazine, People, Chicago Tribune, and too many more publications to list.

Joumana Khatib talked to Lombardo for The New York Times about writing the book while working for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless: "You have to approach people from a place of zero judgment and complete empathy. It taught me how to interact with any number of people: Here I was, this young kid in her 20s from the Chicago suburbs, and all of a sudden I’m thrown into trying to help a mother of three with three jobs who didn’t know where her kids would sleep that night."

More on Boswell's Upcoming Events page.

Photo credits:
Casey Cep - Kathryn Schulz
Claire Lombardo - Michael Lionstar

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Boswell bestsellers, week ending July 27, 2019

Here's what's selling at Boswell.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead
2. The Philosophers War (V2), by Tom Miller
3. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
4. The Most Fun We Ever Had, by Claire Lombardo (event at Boswell Tuesday, August 6, 7 pm)
5. City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert
6. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong
7. The New Girl (V19), by Daniel Silva
8. Speaking of Summer, by Kalisha Buckhanon
9. Darkness on the Edge of Town, by Adam Christopher
10. The Chain, by Adrian McKinty

We had a very nice first week out for Speaking of Summer, the new novel from Kalisha Buckhanon. Counterpoint isn't necessarily known as a mystery imprint, but this one's getting a lot of buzz, including being one of Carole E Barrowman's picks for the season.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Outspoken, by Veronica Rueckert
2. Independence Corrupted, by Charles Benjamin Schudson
3. For the Good of the Game, by Bud Selig
4. Samurai, by Michael Wert
5. American Carnage, by Tim Alberta
6. Milwaukee: A City Built on Water, by John Gurda
7. Educated, by Tara Westover
8. Three Women, by Lisa Taddeo
9. The Moment of Lift, by Melinda Gates
10. Nanaville, by Anna Quindlen

Lots of interesting events this week, many of a serious nature, which led to a "summer school" tag. Veronica Rueckert's talk on Outspoken: Why Women's Voices Get Silenced and How to Set Them Free was taped for C-Span, but alas, they did not include the opening performance from Amanda Schoofs and Olivia Valenza. Their loss!

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
2. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
3. Milwaukee Noir, edited by Tim Hennessy
4. The Philosophers Flight (V1), by Tom Miller
5. Washington Black, by Esi Edugyan (In-Store Lit Group discussion, Monday, August 5, 7 pm)
6. Vintage 1954, by Antoine Laurain
7. The Only Woman in the Room, by Marie Benedict
8. Paris by the Book, by Liam Callanan
9. Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
10. The President Is Missing, James Patterson and Bill Clinton

While research could prove me wrong, I perceive that collaborations are rare in our top 10 fiction slots, but this week we've got two. The President Is Missing is the paperback reprint of a jointly written thriller, one with many fiction bestsellers under his belt and the other with several nonfiction bestsellers. Good Omens was originally published in 1990 but is now a streaming series. Our buyer Jason recalls walking into a store and seeing piles of the book autographed by both cowriters - imagine how valuable that would be now!

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Less Is More Approach to Wine, by Charles Springfield
2. Milwaukee Jazz, by Joey Grihalva (event at Boswell Monday, July 29, 7 pm)
3. Zoo Nebraska, by Carson Vaughan
4. Locking Up Our Own, by James Forman
5. Calypso, by David Sedaris
6. No Ordinary Time, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
7. 111 Places in Milwaukee You Must Not Miss, by Michelle Madden
8. Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
9. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
10. White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo

In the Milwaukee travel guide highlights competition, the second edition of 100 Things to Do in Milwaukee Before You Die from Jenna Kashou and 111 Places in Milwaukee You Must Not Miss by Michelle Madden are running neck and neck, but Kashou got a bit of a head start. We'll see how this friendly race ends up. I guess either way, Milwaukee wins.

Books for Kids:
1. The Misfits, by James Howe
2. Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes
3. Lulu and Rocky in Milwaukee, by Barbara Joosse with illustrations by Renée Graef
4. Pigeon Has to Go to School, by Mo Willems
5. Just Kidding, by Trudy Ludwig
6. Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon, by Patty Lovell
7. Ada Twist Scientist, by Andrea Beaty, with illustrations by David Roberts
8. Bunnicula, by James Howe
9. Rite of Passage, by Richard Wright
10. A Small Zombie Problem, by K.G. Campbell

Lots of school orders driving our bestsellers this week, with our continuing pop for the local bestseller, Lulu and Rocky in Milwaukee.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Mark Athitakis reviews The Nickel Boys, originally from USA Today: "Race has long been integral to (Colson) Whitehead’s fiction. But he’s typically approached it from slant angles: His 1999 debut, The Intuitionist, 2011’s Zone One, and 2016’s Pulitzer-winning The Underground Railroad all have sci-fi touches. The Nickel Boys is straight-ahead realism, distinguished by its clarity and its open conversation with other black writers: It quotes from or evokes the work of Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison and more."

From Oline Cogdill comes a review of Laura Lippman's Lady in the Lake: "Elegantly written, the novel moves with an eye to how people adapt to changes in culture, or maybe how an evolving culture causes shifts in people. Lady in the Lake works well on several levels — as a look at the mid-1960s and a view of racism, sexism and the intersection of ennui and ambition. It is also a paean to newspapers and the struggle of women reporters during that time."

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Daniel on Wisconsin Public Radio's Larry Meiller Show - A list, a link, and a lot of notes

On Monday, I spoke to Larry Meiller on Wisconsin Public Radio about summer reading. I had a great time and I hope you enjoy the show too. Here are some observations.

1. Apparently I think summer means sisters. No less than four of the ten books I recommended at sisters at the center of the stories, including The Lager Queen of Minnesota which comes out today. It's a good thing The Grammarians isn't coming out until September. For heightened effect, authors like books about twins or near-twins. There's another word for that, but I kind of don't like using it anymore (even though it doesn't seem to be an issue in books published right now - I'm wondering if we'll soon see it as an ethnic slur).

2. While as a bookseller, I pride myself as someone who can recommend titles I haven't read, and in fact, sometimes it's better for me not to have read them, I decided that I should probably have read all the books on my list. When I decided that my theme would be road trip, and knowing that Where the Crawdads Sing was the bestselling book of the year on Bookscan to date, I spent this weekend reading this. Not a bad choice, as we still had an extreme heat warning. Now I kind of get the book better.

3. Wow, that's an awfully long car ferry. My road trip idea came from Margaret's front window idea (below - one day we'll figure out how to take nice pictures of this window without the glare). She made a map of the United States and found a book for each state. Not only do we have a lot of events coming up this can tie into, but we actually have a book coming up from Dan Kois called How to Be a Family: The Year I Dragged My Kids Around the World to Find a New Way to Be Together. Now alas, these are also probably places that are beyond driving distance. In any case, I couldn't not mention Vintage 1954, one of my favorite books of the year. So there's Paris. And South Africa for Bianca Marais? We had just spent a lovely afternoon with Marais and the event glow still resonated as I was working on my list.

4. I thought I was done recommending Michael Koryta (the first murder takes place on a campus that's either Bates or Bowdoin in Maine) but my sisters read If She Wakes in quick succession and both of them really liked it, and that put it on my radar.

5. Aside from Vintage 1954, my other mission book on the list is We're All in This Together. Being that it's a Canadian import, I don't think it's gotten the traction it deserves. It's another book, like The Improbability of Love, that was recommended to us by Jason Gobble*. We're currently the #1 bookstore for this book on Treeline, so we're actually competing against ourselves for book sales. I hand-sold a copy one day and Chris followed that up by selling three, including two to two sisters. This book is so good - my friend John sent me a note after I begged him to read it and he wrote back with the subject heading: "I'm in Love." Message: "with Amy Jones." This is a fine message for any bookseller to receive and I recommend that customers send them more often. Not as loved: "Biloxi just didn't do it for me." Sender will remain anonymous. Note to Ms. Miller: It should be clear from this that I tried.

6. Hot and sticky - road trip? I really wanted books for places like Michigan and other states you go to in the summer. I hoped to read something set in New York's North Country. But instead I'm suggesting going to Alabama, North Carolina, and Tallahassee Florida. I'm sweating just thinking about it. But on the other hand, I'm going to South Carolina in September and that should still be quite hot.

7. Fall is coming! I wanted to mention Colson Whitehead's The Nickel Boys because of that feat of being our bestselling out-of-the-gate non-event fiction book for 2019 so far. But when I thought about it, this book is really the first fall title of 2019. It just feels like fall - important and award-y. He doesn't even have his genre mashup that often happens in his novels. But then Jason noted that historical fiction is a genre. So there, I think.

8. Just missed the list. I offer a list, but one missed. In the past, I have included too many books, but ten really is the right amount for about 45 minutes. The only book that didn't get mentioned is The Most Fun We Ever Had. It's doing great on its own - a solid placing on The New York Times bestseller list and continued strong showing on the Milwaukee Bookscan top 50. And it's very Chicago-y, and we have a lot of customers who are from our neighbor to the south. And what a great event we're going to have for Claire Lombardo on August 6, a book presentation from Jason Gobble, the same rep who introduced us to We're All in This Together. I did notice that he dominated this list too, with four of these ten picks coming from his sales bag.

9. Why do I travel to Madison for a 45 minute show when I could just call in? I just think it's a better show in person. I've done them both ways.

10. I tried not to go to heavy on our event programming, but the three authors I did highlight are also visiting other stores in Wisconsin. Casey Cep will be at Room of One's Own in Madison, J. Ryan Stradal will be at InkLink in East Troy, and Claire Lombardo will be at Books and Company in Oconomowoc. You can do a key word search to easily find out more info. And our upcoming events page is here.

And while I'm thinking about it, you can listen to the Larry Meiller show here.

11. Here's the complete list, alphabetized by title (drop the article, library style), and with the appropriate state, province, or country destination:
-For the Good of the Game, by Bud Selig (Wisconsin)
--Furious Hours, by Casey Cep (Alabama)
--If She Wakes, by Michael Koryta (Maine)
--If You Want to Make God Laugh, by Bianca Marais (South Africa)
--The Lager Queen of Minnesota, by J. Ryan Stradal (Minnesota, of course)
--The Most Fun We Ever Had, by Claire Lombardo (Illinois)
--The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead (Florida)
--Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens (North Carolina)
--Vintage 1954, by Antoine Laurain (France)
--We're All in This Together, by Amy Jones (Ontario)

Want to order a book? Many of our past event books are signed, and you can request to get an upcoming event book signed too.

*Jason also convinced me to read Washington Black for our In-Store Lit Group. We are discussing it on August 5.

Monday, July 22, 2019

What's happening at Boswell this week? Carson Vaughan with Larry Watson, Michael Wert on Samurai, Charles Schudson on judges, Tom Miller's fantasy series, Veronica Rueckert on women's voices, Charles Springfield's wine stylings and jazz history with Joey Grihalva

What's happening at Boswell this week?

Monday, July 22, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Carson Vaughan, author of Zoo Nebraska: The Dismantling of an American Dream, in conversation with Larry Waston

Journalist Carson Vaughan, a native Nebraskan, chats about his book with former Marquette Professor (and author of many wonderful novels) Larry Watson. Zoo Nebraska is the true story of small-town politics and community perseverance and of decent people and questionable choices.

Royal, Nebraska, population eighty-one. The church, high school, and post office stand abandoned. But for nearly twenty years, there was a zoo, seven acres that rose from local peculiarity to key tourist attraction to devastating tragedy, which all began with one man. When Dick Haskin’s plans to assist primatologist Dian Fossey in Rwanda were cut short by her murder, Haskin returned to his hometown with Reuben, an adolescent chimp, and transformed a trailer home into the Midwest Primate Center. As the tourist trade multiplied, so did the inhabitants of what would become Zoo Nebraska, the unlikeliest boon to Royal’s economy in generations and, eventually, the source of a power struggle that would lead to the tragic implosion of Dick Haskin’s dream.

Vaughan's elevator pitch, from his interview with the Los Angeles Review of Books: "I usually tell people that it’s topically about the rise and fall of a roadside zoo in rural Nebraska, and of course I mention the chimpanzee escape to hook them. But I’ve always viewed this book as more of a community portrait, and I keep telling people that I wouldn’t have spent 10 years writing a book about Royal if I didn’t think it served as something of a simulacrum for small towns everywhere. The issues I found simmering beneath the surface of Royal and its biggest attraction — obsession, isolation, big dreams, and big failures — were themes I have come to recognize in communities across the country."

Tuesday, July 23, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Michael Wert, author of Samurai: A Concise History

The idea of the sword-wielding samurai, beholden to a strict ethical code and trained in deadly martial arts, dominates popular conceptions of the samurai. This legacy remains with us today in the legendary Akira Kurosawa films, the shoguns of HBO's Westworld, and countless renditions of samurai history in anime, manga, and video games. Marquette University Associate Professor of East Asian History Michael Wert brings to life the history of the real samurai, both famed and ordinary, who shaped Japanese history.

The samurai controlled Japan from the fourteenth century until their demise in the mid-nineteenth century. On and off the battlefield, their story is one of adventures and intrigues, heroics and misdeeds, unlikely victories and devastating defeats. Wert traces the samurai throughout this history, exploring their roles in watershed events such as Japan's invasions of Korea at the close of the sixteenth century and the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. Wert illustrates accounts of the samurai and their commanding influence over politics, art, philosophy, and religion for centuries.

Love podcasts? Wert was recently on Historically Thinking with Al Zambone.

Wednesday, July 24, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Charles Benjamin Schudson, author of Independence Corrupted: How America's Judges Make Their Decisions

Former Judge of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, Charles Benjamin Schudson explores the decision-making process of judges, going behind the bench to hear judges forging appellate decisions about life and death, multimillion-dollar damages, and priceless civil rights.

With experience as both a trial and appellate judge, Schudson knows the burdens on judges. With engaging candor, he probes judicial minds analyzing actual trials and sentencings of abortion protesters, murderers, sex predators, white supremacists, and others. Schudson exposes the financial, political, personal, and professional pressures that threaten judicial ethics and independence.

As political attacks on judges increase, Schudson calls for reforms to protect judicial independence and for vigilance to ensure justice for all. Independence Corrupted is invaluable for students and scholars, lawyers and judges, and all citizens concerned about the future of America's courts. If you'd like a taste of Schudson, here's an essay on the National Judicial College website about the practice of judge substitution.

Thursday, July 25, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Tom Miller, author of The Philosopher’s War

The Madison-based and Wauwatosa-born author returns to Boswell to talk about the second book in his thrilling adventure series that began with The Philosopher’s Flight.

The Philosopher’s War is the electrifying next chapter in Robert Weekes’s story, filled with heroic, unconventional women, thrilling covert missions, romance and, of course, plenty of aerial adventures. As a rookie Rescue and Evacuation flier on the front lines of World War I in France, Weekes came to save lives, but has no idea how far he’ll have to go to win the war.

Boswellian Olivia Schmitz offers this take: "The Philosopher's War is a thrilling historical fantasy that follows the events of The Philosopher's Flight with high-stakes conflict set in World War I. As the first male member of the elite U.S. Sigilry Corps, Robert Weekes feels pressure to prove himself, both to the more experienced Sigilwomen in their overstretched and short-handed rescue and evacuation unit on the front lines, and to a world that doesn't believe men have a place in advanced sigilry work. Think of the R&E Sigilwomen as EMTs who practice difficult, empirical magic to stabilize and fly out wounded soldiers. Things escalate for Robert when he joins others in his unit in covert operations to recover intelligence from behind enemy lines, and a conspiracy to end the Great War using sigilry unfolds. Elements of tense spy fiction and WWI history meet great fantasy world building in the second installment of the Philosopher’s series. Couldn't put it down!"

Our bookseller-at-large Kelli O'Malley is also a big fan. We've been talking it up to the Harry Potter for grownups crowd (and I should note that one member replied "Harry Potter is for grownups") and others who liked Lev Grossman's The Magicians series.

Friday, July 26, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Veronica Rueckert, author of Outspoken: Why Women’s Voices Get Silenced and How to Set Them Free

Peabody winner Veronica Rueckert, former host of Wisconsin Public Radio’s Central Time and now National Media Relations Specialist for University of Wisconsin-Madison, discusses how women can claim the power of their voices and what needs to change so they can be heard. This event will feature a musical introduction by Boswellian and instrumentalist Olivia Valenza and vocalist Amanda Schoofs. C-Span will be taping this event.

Women’s voices aren’t being heard. From the Supreme Court to the classroom, women find themselves interrupted more often than their male counterparts. A 2015 Yale University study revealed that women executives who spoke more often than their peers were rated 14% less competent, while male executives who did the same thing enjoyed a 10% competency bump. The fault lies not with women, but in a culture that seeks to silence women’s voices. From Rob Thomas's interview with Veronica Rueckert at The Cap Times: "I came in thinking that women could do more with their voices, and be encouraged to use them more. But along the way, I realized that all these women hate their voices, and have been forced into these negative relationships with their voices. They’re told they’re “wrong,” and if you did it “right,” people would hear you. And that’s toxic."

Saturday, July 27, 6 pm, at Boswell:
Charles Springfield, author of The Less Is More Approach to Wine, in conversation with Vivian L King

Spend a delicious evening with certified sommelier and wine educator Charles Springfield, who offers a digestible serving of wine education, sprinkled liberally with generous pinches of entertainment, that will take you a journey from the origins of wine thousands of years ago to the present day. Let us know you're coming for this grapey good evening - RSVP right here today!

When equipped with the proper information, wine lovers can feel confident and empowered to make decisions that are better suited for their own personal enjoyment - not what someone else tells them they should or should not like or drink. Springfield offers an ideal guide for anyone getting into wine for the first time or people who've worked with wine for some time and want to deepen their understanding.

Springfield wants to make wine accessible, approachable and fun, both with his book, his wine classes, and his food and wine pairing events. He is part of a growing number of wine intellectuals and leaders of the new school in wine education throughout the United States that want to democratize wine for the enjoyment of the masses. You can get a taste of Springfield through his web series Maneuvering Wine with Style.

Monday, July 29, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Joey Grihalva, author of Milwaukee Jazz

Milwaukee music and cultural critic Joey Grihalva takes us on a jazz odyssey through his hometown, illuminating the histories and influence of local luminaries. This special evening will also feature songs performed by Milwaukee singer and author of the book’s foreword, Adekola Adedapo.

Milwaukee's jazz scene has forever stood in the shadow of Chicago's illustrious institution, but it stands strong. The Cream City has produced a wealth of talent, attracted top-notch transplants, and hosted legends like Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Billie Holiday, and Wynton Marsalis. From the heyday of the 1940s and 1950s to the renaissance of the 1970s, from the streets to the classrooms, grand ballrooms to outdoor festivals, from swing to bebop, smoky bars to dimly lit clubs like the Flame, Thelma's Back Door, and the Jazz Gallery, Grihalva chronicles how Milwaukee has been a hotbed of improvised music, providing a noteworthy contribution to the story of jazz in America.

Joey Grihalva is a Milwaukee writer whose work has appeared in Urban Milwaukee and Wisconsin Gazette, and he is a feature writer for 88Nine Radio Milwaukee. A Milwaukee native, Grihalva holds degrees from University of Minnesota and Concordia University Montreal. Adekola Adedapo (at right) is a vocalist based in Milwaukee and Coordinator of Multicultural Programs at Alverno College.

More on the Boswell upcoming events page.

Photo credits:
Tom Miller credit Abigail Carlin

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending July 20, 2019

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending July 20, 2019

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Raised in Captivity, by Chuck Klosterman (New York Times reading profile here)
2. The Golden Hour, by Beatriz Williams
3. The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead
4. If You Want to Make God Laugh, by Bianca Marais
5. The New Girl V19, by Daniel Silva
6. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
7. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong
8. Circe, by Madeline Miller
9. City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert
10. The Guest Book, by Sarah Blake

I wanted to pronounce that despite coming in third in sales, The Nickel Boys was our best non-event sales pop for hardcover fiction in 2019, but then I got cold feet and decided to go back through every bestseller list since January 1. And now I can comfortably pronounce that The Nickel Boys was our best non-event sales pop for hardcover fiction in 2019, substantially beating out #2, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, which is solidly ahead of #3 (a number of books bunched together and several weeks of Where the Crawdads Sing). There might be a signed copy or two left. Here's Pamela Paul with Whitehead on the New York Times books podcast.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. For the Good of the Game, by Bud Selig
2. The Ideas That Made America, by Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen
3. I Know What I Saw, by Linda S Godfrey
4. The Second Mountain, by David Brooks
5. American Carnage, by Tim Alberta
6. Three Women, by Lisa Taddeo
7. Salt Fat Acid Heat, by Samin Nosrat
8. A Good American Family, by David Maraniss
9. Independence Corrupted, by Charles Benjamin Schudson (event at Boswell Wed 7/24, 7 pm)
10. Educated, by Tara Westover

From Politico's Chief Political Correspondent Tim Alberta (who formerly wrote for the conservative National Review) comes American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump. Think of this less about Trump and more about schisms in the Republican party that led to Trump, per Jennifer Szalai in The New York Times and other critics. Here's Alexa Buechler in the Journal Sentinel offering excerpts from interviews with Wisconsin politicians Paul Ryan and Reince Priebus.

Paperback Fiction:
1. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
2. Hum If You Don't Know the Words, by Bianca Marais
3. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
4. Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
5. We're All in This Together, by Amy Jones
6. The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton
7. Tear It Down V4, by Nick Petrie
8. My Year of Rest and Relaxation, by Ottessa Moshfegh
9. There There, by Tommy Orange
10. City of Brass, by SA Chakraborty

With several more readers coming back and telling us how much they enjoyed We're All in This Together, Chris and I have gone into competitive hand-selling mode, which is tricky for me, as I'm excited about several other titles. But who doesn't love a competition? I think Chris won this week as he sold two copies to sisters, who are going to read it together. I'm waiting for a group of sisters to come up to us and say they've started a new book club and they are only going to read books about fighting sisters who ultimately make peace with each other, only sometimes not until they are very old and other times after one of them dies. I think we could give them ten years of suggestions. Said one author in the last few weeks, "If they weren't fighting, where would the plot be?" Maybe solving mysteries?

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Radical Guide for Women with ADHD, by Sari Solden and Michelle Frank
2. 111 Places in Milwaukee that You Must Not Miss, by Michelle Madden
3. Milwaukee Jazz, by Joey Grihalva (event at Boswell Mon 7/29, 7 pm)
4. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
5. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, by Chuck Klosterman
6. Live and Let Live, by Evelyn M. Perry
7. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
8. Spying on Whales, by Nick Pyenson
9. Apocalypse Any Day Now, by Tea Krulos
10. The Fall of Wisconsin, by Dan Kaufman

Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth's Most Awesome Creatures is having a nice paperback pop at Boswell. I'm not sure where it was selling (it wasn't designated for the new paperback table), but I just added it to our water table, as it would be nice to keep it going. The curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, author Nick Pyenson offers answers to your biggest whale-oriented questions. From Sasha Vignieri at Science, the magazine of AAAS: "In the end, the reader takes away an improved knowledge of whales, especially their history, but perhaps even more importantly, a deeper understanding of the intertwining of our fates."

Books for Kids:
1. Lulu and Rocky in Milwaukee, by Barbara Joosse, with illustrations by Renée Graef
2. Pigeon Has to Go to School, by Mo Willems
3. Share Your Smile, by Raina Telgemeier
4. Bad Guys in the Big Bad Wolf V9, by Aaron Blabey
5. On the Come Up, by Angie Thomas
6. Rise of Kyoshi V1: Avatar, the Last Airbender, by FC Yee
7. Lawrence in the Fall, by Matthew Farina, with illustrations by Doug Salati (event at Boswell Sat Sep 21, 11 am)
8. Other Words for Home, by Jasmine Warga
9. Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas, by Aaron Blabey
10. Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid V1, by Jeff Kinney

One of the most popular graphic novelists for kids (Smile, Sisters) now offers a nonfiction guide (if I called it a journal, it wouldn't qualify for our bestseller list) for storytellers, Share Your Smile: Raina's Guide to Telling Your Own Story. It also includes a preview of Guts, which releases on September 17. It also includes "behind-the-scenes info from Raina's own comics-making adventures." Here's a video showing you all that's included.

From the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins's essay "How to Read More Books, Starting Right Now": "I read a lot of books. During this decade I’ve finished more than 100 in a year at least twice. Sometimes when people find this out, I get polite chatter about how I find the time, not unlike the kind of talk a person who trains for marathons might get. But once in a while a person wistfully tells me they’d like to read more and asks me how they can. This story is for you, Wistful People."

Jonah Larson's crocheting videos are now part of a book, Hello, Crochet Friends! Amy Schwabe reports "It’s for sale through places like Amazon and Barnes and Noble." It will also be available in independent bookstores, and in fact, Larson has an event coming up at Boswell in November.

The Chain is now being proclaimed the thriller of the summer. Agent Shane Salerno convinced Adrian McKinty to have a book set in the United States instead of Belfast and what was a short story with a compelling concept became a bestseller. Part of the recent parenting thrillers, like The Need, from Helen Philips. Tod Goldberg: "The actions of characters are boiled down to familial ethics, understandable motivations, and good old-fashioned revenge, which makes for a satisfying and deeply rewarding read, no matter the season."

Rob Merrill in the Associated Press on Knife, the new mystery from Jo Nesbo - it's "a sharp example of the genre."

Barbara VanDenburgh of The Arizona Republic offers her picks for summer:
1. The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead
2. The New Girl, by Daniel Silva
3. Tell Me Everything, by Cambria Brockman
4. Talking to Robots: Tales from Our Robot-Human Features, by David Ewing Duncan
5. If You Want to Make God Laugh, by Bianca Marais

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Book in Focus: Furious Hours, by Casey Cep (event at Boswell Thu Aug 1, 2 pm)

Another week, another book that came to my attention at Winter Institute in Albuquerque. One evening I went to a party that was jointly put on by Penguin Random House and Grove Atlantic. It was quite the gathering.

We had just hosted Madhuri Vijay for her debut, The Far Afield, so it was nice running into her. We had just co-hosted a great event for her at the Shorewood Public Library, with the help of the Lawrence alumni group. I was still sort of thrilled for that.

Several booksellers were gathered around Ruth Reichl (at left, below), whose memoir Save Me the Plums, was coming out in April. I had already read it and loved it, but there was a lot of competition for her attention, and after my pilgrimage was done, I moved on - there was certainly no shortage of booksellers to take my place.

I got to speak to Ocean Vuong, who was being touted for On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous. Their touting paid off - the book has been one of our big books of the summer and I can only imagine how well it's going to do come awards-and-best-of-the-year season. Otherwise known as the fourth quarter.

One author I did not get to speak with was Casey Cep, though I really enjoyed hearing her talk about her new book. Smart true crime books are having a resurgence, partly due to the explosion of crime podcasts, and there's always interest in anything about Harper Lee. I left that dinner genuinely excited for Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee.

An aside: I was chatting about our true crime events (we're also hosting Billy Jensen on August 16 for Chase Darkness with Me) with someone at a meeting, and she told me that her daughter was one of those folks who have become obsessed with Stay Sexy and Don't Get Murdered. At their recent stop in Milwaukee, they talked about the Lawrencia Bembenek and her daughter texted her, excited that her mother had worked at Tracks, the bar that figures prominently in the story. How's that fact for jump-starting a mother-daughter relationship?

While Lee obsessives know some of this story, many of us do not. Here are the facts. After Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird but before it was published, Nelle accompanied childhood friend Truman Capote on his research trips to Kansas for what would become In Cold Blood. She wound up doing a lot of the organization for the book.

After To Kill a Mockingbird was published and became a huge hit, she struggled to follow it up. Perhaps the case of Reverend Willie Maxwell would be just the thing. While Maxwell was never convicted, he was curiously at the center of several deaths of family members and one neighbor. In all but the case of the neighbor, Maxwell had taken out multiple insurance policies on the victims. And then, at the funeral of one of the victims, he was shot dead by another relative. And on top of that, the lawyer who defended the victim went on to defend the killer - who shot him was never in doubt, as there were many witnesses.

The story becomes three profiles of three enigmatic personalities - Lee, Maxwell, and Big Tom Radney, a progressive lawyer (he was a huge fan of JFK) in a very conservative state. This was hardly an easy position to take in the Deep South - he was eased out of his earlier political career by death threats.

The story, then is a triptych - one might call it a triptych of failure, to pick up on Casey Cep's still resonating elevator pitch. Nobody in the story could exactly claim success: Willie Maxwell's deadly scam (if there was one) was cut short; Tom Radney might have one his cases, but they were hardly solved; and Harper Lee didn't write the book. Like David Grann's Killers of the Flower Moon (he calls this book "a triumph on every level," by the way), Furious Hours also works as a work of history, whether Cep is chronicling life insurance, mid-century publishing, or the culture of Alabama. It's hard to remember that it wasn't that long ago that there were apartments in Manhattan without hot water. You wouldn't have the term "hot water flat" if the heat was standard, right?

When Lee's sister Alice died and her new attorney, Tonja Carter, discovered the heretofore unpublished manuscript in a safe deposit box and said it would be published with the author's blessing, many thought it might actually be this true crime book, and not what turned out to be Go Set a Watchman. But aside from some notes, there's nothing really to publish, just the story about the book that is Furious Hours. 

Critics have been very kind. Michael Lewis called Furious Hours "the sort of story that even Lee would be proud to write" in The New York Times Book Review. And here's Ilana Masad on NPR's website: "As a relatively recent convert to the true-crime genre, I was hopeful that the book would deal responsibly with its subjects, and I wasn't let down there either. But what I didn't see coming was the emotional response I would have as I blazed through the last 20 pages of the book - yet there I was, weeping."

While we did not get on the initial tour, Cep planned out a summer road that included a Wisconsin leg. She'll be appearing at Prairie Lights on July 30, Room of One's Own on the 31st, and Book Stall on August 1, all in the evening. We suggested she stop by August 1 in the afternoon - 2 pm, to be precise. Publishers are hesitant about these weekday afternoon events, but we have an awful lot of retirees and other customers who like to do things during the day. And this is only the beginning of the tour - Cep is going everywhere! Here's the full schedule.

I so enjoyed Cep's talk in New Mexico and I'm thrilled that many of you will get to hear more from this talented author. For those of you who take part in Osher programs, imagine this as a bonus session - you can learn a lot. And for all of you who ask for more daytime events, you'll give me the proof to ask for more if you come to the ones we have!

photo credit: Kathryn Schulz