Monday, October 18, 2021

Boswell events - Veera Hiranandani, Eddee Daniel, Samira Shackle

Boswell events!

Alas, our cosponsored event with Christina Clancy for Shoulder Season on October 19 at the Whitefish Bay Library is at capacity, but we have a few other programs for your enjoyment and edification.

Wednesday, October 20, 9:30 am
Veera Hiranandani, author of How to Find What You're Not Looking For
in Conversation with Sangita Nayak and Daniel Goldin for a Public Virtual School Visit
Register for this event here.

Boswell presents a special virtual school visit, open to the public, with Newbery Honoree Veera Hiranandani. This event will be structured as a conversation with Veera Hiranandani talking to Sangita Nayak of Fernwood Montessori School and Daniel Goldin of Boswell. Recommended for readers eight and up.

In Hiranandani’s latest, twelve-year-old Ariel Goldberg’s life feels like the moment after the final guest leaves the party. Her family’s Jewish bakery runs into financial trouble, and her older sister has eloped with a young man from India following the Supreme Court decision that strikes down laws banning interracial marriage. As change becomes Ariel’s only constant, she’s left to hone something that will be with her always - her own voice.''

The Daniel rec: "Ariel Goldberg’s family lives in suburban Connecticut, where they run a not good but not particularly successful Jewish bakery in a not particularly Jewish town. She’s struggling with school, what with her chicken scratch handwriting that might indicate a learning disability, as well as harassment from a class bully. But her troubles threaten to be overwhelmed by her older sister Leah’s secret: that her new boyfriend is Raj, a young Hindu man who works at the local record store, and they are planning to elope. The timing of the story is essential, just after the Loving v. Virginia case. And I love how this lovely novel is suffused with Sergeant Pepper and other 1968 references, bakery treats, and Ariel's poetry."

Veera Hiranandani is author of The Night Diary as well as The Whole Story of Half a Girl, a Sydney Taylor Notable Book and a South Asia Book Award finalist. She earned her MFA in creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College, is a former editor at Simon and Schuster, and teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College's Writing Institute.

Thursday, October 21, 6:30 pm
Eddee Daniel, author of The Milwaukee River Greenway: A Wealth of Nature in the Heart of the City
in Conversation with John Gurda for a Hybrid Event at Boswell
Register for this in-person event here or you can also register to watch the program on Zoom webinar.

Boswell hosts a conversation with author and photographer Eddee Daniel for his new book on the Milwaukee River Greenway (which is also the title of the book). Daniel will be in conversation with Milwaukee historian extraordinaire John Gurda.

In the early twentieth century, Milwaukee established a remarkable and enviable park system, organized primarily along its waterways. One of the jewels of this emerald necklace has always been the upper river, or what is now officially called the Milwaukee River Greenway. The Greenway is an eight-mile, 878-acre section of the Milwaukee River that begins at the former North Avenue Dam and ends at Silver Spring Drive, cutting through the northeast side of the city and the suburbs of Shorewood and Glendale.

The images and stories in this book testify to the natural beauty that can be found near at hand and the value that our community places on this extraordinary space. Travel down the river with the many contributors in the pages that follow and listen to their voices as they extol its virtues, lament its travails, honor its resilience, and express gratitude for the hope it engenders.

After the book's publication, my friend John and I walked the Greenway, where he discussed hanging out there in his childhood growing up on Bartlett Avenue through the time he attended Riverside High School. We looked for remains of the old shacks that were once along the river. We found some almost buried steps!

Eddee Daniel is a Milwaukee-based writer, photographer, and arts educator and has served on the boards of Milwaukee Riverkeeper, Friends of the Hank Aaron State Trail, and Preserve Our Parks, for which he curates The Natural Realm website. John Gurda is a Milwaukee historian and author of twenty-two books, including The Making of Milwaukee, Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, and Milwaukee: A City Built on Water.

Monday, October 25, 2 pm
Samira Shackle, author of Karachi Vice: Life and Death in a Divided City
in Conversation with Audrey Nowakowski for a Virtual Event
Register for this event here

Boswell presents a special afternoon virtual event with Samira Shackle in conversation with Audrey Nowakowski, a Producer and Host of WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio's Lake Effect.

Karachi - Pakistan’s largest city is a sprawling metropolis of twenty million people, twice the size of New York City. It is a place of political turbulence in which those who have power wield it with brutal and partisan force. It takes an insider to know where is safe, who to trust, and what makes Karachi tick. Shackle explores the city of her mother’s birth in the company of a handful of Karachiites whose individual experiences tell the bigger story of Karachi over the past decade as it has endured a terrifying crime wave: a period in which the Taliban arrive in Pakistan, adding to the daily perils for its residents and pushing their city into the international spotlight.

The Daniel rec: "Journalist Shackle spent several years following Karachi residents, including a crime reporter, an ambulance driver, an educator and social activist, another advocate who maps the city’s resources and helps get things like sewers installed, and a young woman from a rural village watching a project for the wealthy encroach on their land. The Partition and other localized conflicts have created a megacity where Pashtuns, Sindhis, Baloch, and Mohajirs (Punjabis are a force in Pakistan, but not so much in Karachi) fight for land and resources, where each ethnic group has a political party which shares power with a criminal element. Underfunded police are almost incentivized to corruption. Social services are often underfunded or altogether absent; ambulances are run by a charity. Media channels are in fierce competition for viewers - with journalists putting themselves in great danger to get the best story. All this and The Taliban, too. Shackle’s detailed and sympathetic portrayal of life in this city of 20 million people is fascinating reading, always insightful, plus she’s a great storyteller. If you are one of the millions of people who loved Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, this book is for you."

Samira Shackle is editor of New Humanist magazine and a regular contributor to the Guardian Long Read. She frequently reports from Pakistan, where she has family, and spent extensive time there working on this book. She has twice been a media fellow at Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Social Difference, and in 2019 she was made a MacDowell fellow. Audrey Nowakowski is a Lake Effect host and producer and has also worked at WMSE. She is a graduate of Cardinal Stritch University.

More upcoming events here.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Boswell bestsellers, week ending October 16, 2021

Boswell bestsellers, week ending October 16, 2021

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr
2. Raft of Stars, by Andrew J Graff
3. State of Terror, by Hilary Clinton and Louise Penny
4. Harlem Shuffle, by Colson Whitehead
5. The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles
6. Bewilderment, by Richard Powers
7. Crossroads, by Jonathan Franzen
8. We Are Not Like Them, by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza
9. Silverview, by John Le Carre
10. The Last Graduate V2, by Naomi Novik

A Clinton and a writer walk into a writing conference - so goes the story - but this time it's not Bill and James Patterson but Hilary and Louise Penny. The State of Terror collaboration chronicles a fictional Secretary of State teaming up with a journalist and a foreign service officer to defeat a rogue group of terrorists that come into possession of nuclear weapons. Sarah Lyall in The New York Times writes: "State of Terror may bring Penny into new fictional territory, but her imprint is everywhere. The emotional cast to the writing, the tendency to dangle portents and wait some time before resolving them, the depiction of friendship, the short paragraphs, the philosophical aperçus - these are all marks of Penny’s writing. " They speak to Scott Simon on NPR Weekend Edition here.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Hero of Two Worlds, by Mike Duncan
2. Taste, by Stanley Tucci
3. Midnight in Washington, by Adam Schiff
4. Jew Ish: A Cookbook, by Jake Cohen
5. All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, by Rebecca Donner
6. Peril, by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa
7. There Is Nothing for You Here, by Fiona Hill
8. The Storyteller, by Dave Grohl
9. Where the Deer and the Antelope Play, by Nick Offerman
10. A Confederacy of Dumptys, by John Lithgow

Two political players make debuts this week in the top 10 and if you listen to news programs, you already know about them. Adam Schiff's Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could has endorsements from Ron Chernow, Jon Meacham, and Timothy Snyder, and by the way, it's out of stock everywhere. Fiona Hill's There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century also has a Timothy Snyder quote (someone's busy reading political memoirs!) as well as Robert Putnam and Drew Gilpin Faust, and guess what? It's out of stock everywhere. That's the way things are going to go this fall. We warned you!

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
2. Circe, by Madeline Miller
3. Leonard and Hungry Paul, by Rónán Hession
4. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
5. People We Meet on Vacation, by Emily Henry
6. The Lying Life of Adults, by Elena Ferrante
7. Dune, by Frank Herbert
8. Black Sun, by Rebecca Roanhorse
9. The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
10. The Silence, by Don Delillo

One reader wrote to me and noted that last week, eight of the top ten fiction books were penned by men. Was that unusual? Lately, yes it is. This week we're down to seven, but the reverse is true in paperback fiction where it's seven women to three men, with Madeline Miller holding two slots, a not unusual feat for her. It was released in paperback in late June, but this is the first week in the top 10 for Black Sun, the first volume in an epic fantasy series from Rebecca Roanhorse featuring a number of queer and nonbinary characters and inspired by Indigenous Cultures. Petra Mayer spoke to Roanhorse on NPR, where Roanhorse noted: "I have been reading epic fantasies inspired by European settings since I was a child, and while I'm still a fan of many of these works, I longed to see something different," she says. "So I wrote it. I never made a conscious decision to go in that direction. That direction was simply the natural culmination of my love of the architecture, poetry, politics, and history of these places and people that I've been learning about forever."

The follow-up novel, Fevered Star, releases April 19, 2022.  

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Little Pieces of Hope, by Todd Doughty
2. Fading Ads of Milwaukee, by Adam Levin
3. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk
4. Best American Essays 2021, by Kathryn Schulz/Robert Atwan
5. American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Wisconsin, by Charles Hagner
6. Voice of Milwaukee Bronzeville, by Sandra E Jones (Register for November 18 event here in person, or here to watch the Zoom webinar)
7. Talking to Strangers, by Malcolm Gladwell
8. Milwaukee River Greenway, by Eddee Daniel (Register for October 21 event here in person or here to watch the event on Zoom webinar)
9. Vegan for Everybody, by America's Test Kitchen
10. Homo Deus, by Yuval Noah Harari

With Houghton Mifflin Harper's trade division now owned by HarperCollins and renamed Mariner under the William Morrow direction, it will be interesting to see where they go with the Best American series, which has defeated all comers in the years since it's been published. For Best American Essays 2021, I looked at numbers since we've been open, and at the Downer numbers from 2005-2008 (they generally had the best number in the series of the Schwartz locations), and can definitively say that at least for the past 16 years, the numbers have followed no predictable trajectory, ranging from 10 to 29 copies. Our worst sales were 2009 with Mary Oliver editing and our best was 2014 with John Jeremiah Sullivan. But lest you think that's about the 2009 year when Boswell was just getting its feet wet and had yet to find its audience, when it comes to short stories, there were five years that did worse than 2009, all by the way, after Boswell was open. If you're wondering, our best Short Story year was 2012, followed by 2005.

Books for Kids:
1. Chlorine Sky, by Mahogany L Browne
2. Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World, by Benjamin Alire Saenz
3. Lulu and Rocky in Milwaukee, by Barbara Joosse, with illustrations by Renée Graef
4. Change Sings, by Amanda Gorman, with illustrations by Loren Long
5. Construction Site Road Crew, Coming Through, by Sherri Duskey Rinker, with illustrations by A.G. Ford
6. Regina Is Not a Little Dinosaur, by Andrea Zuill
7. The Beatryce Prophecy, by Kate DiCamillo, with illustrations by Sophie Blackall
8. Chez Bob, by Bob Shea
9. Pony, by R.J. Palacio
10. The Bad Seed Presents the Good, the Bad, and the Spooky, by Jory John, with illustrations by Pete Oswald

I was talking to FOB (Friend of Boswell) Noah, who came in to buy two copies of Construction Site: Road Crew, Coming Through (one for their child, one for a friend) and I mentioned that when my family was visiting, we bought a copy of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site for my great nephew and he loved it enough that we got a second book in the series. I can't sell it better than the publisher: "This new adventure focuses on the importance of teamwork in building a new road and features all of the original vehicles as well as new road-building specific ones. Also has a focus on bridges of safe wildlife crossing which has become a necessary part of road construction." You may know the original is illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, but later books in the series have illustrations by NAACP Image Award recipient A.G. Ford.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Kristine Kierzek has a profile of Madison restaurant owner turned cookbook writer Barb Pratzel, author of Manna Café and Bakery Cookbook.

Tomorrow - Boswell events

Monday, October 11, 2021

What a Boswell Week! Christine Pride and Jo Piazza, Todd Doughty, Anthony Doerr, Mike Duncan (signing only), Andrew J Graff (at Elm Grove Library)

Boswell events for the week of October 11, 2021

Monday, October 11, 7 pm
Christine Pride and Jo Piazza, authors of We Are Not Like Them
in Conversation with Nancy Johnson for a Virtual Event
Register for this event here.

Join us for an evening with Pride and Piazza, coauthors of a powerful and poignant new novel that explores race in America today and its devastating impact on two childhood friends, one Black and one white. In conversation with Nancy Johnson, author of The Kindest Lie. Don't forget to ask foryour signed bookplate.

Jen and Riley have been best friends since kindergarten, though their lives have taken different directions. Jen married young and, after years of trying, is finally pregnant. Riley pursued her childhood dream of becoming a television journalist and is poised to become one of the first Black female anchors of the top news channel in their hometown of Philadelphia. But the deep bond they share is severely tested when Jen’s husband, a city police officer, is involved in the shooting of an unarmed Black teenager.

On getting the Philadelphia setting for the book just right, from Philadelphia Magazine: " There were little things that Jo insisted on getting into the book that Christine didn’t get. There’s a line about how people in Philly ask where you went to high school before they ask what you do - Christine tried to take it out a dozen times, and Jo was insistent." This is also a St. Louis thing. I've never noticed it in MilwAUkee.

Christine Pride has held editorial posts at imprints such as Doubleday, Crown, and Simon & Schuster. As an editor, Christine has published a range of books, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. She pens the Race Matters column for Cup of Jo. Jo Piazza is author of books such as Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win, How to Be Married, and The Knockoff. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and CNN.

Tuesday, October 12, 6 pm
Todd Doughty, author of Little Pieces of Hope: Happy-Making Things in a Difficult World
in conversation with Chelsea Cain and Chuck Palahniuk for a virtual event
Register for this event here.

Boswell Book Company presents an event featuring Todd Doughty for his new book, Little Pieces of Hope, an enchanting collection of lists, musings, and illustrations that will inspire you to cherish all of the things, from the extraordinary to the everyday, that bring hope into our lives. Don't forget to ask for your signed bookplate. This event is brought to you by Watermark Books & Café of Wichita, Anderson's Book Shop of Naperville and Downer's Grove, and Boswell.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic, and our lives began to change in unprecedented ways. Todd Doughty knew he needed to do something to help him stay connected to the everyday joys of daily life. So he wrote down a list of things that make him happy: The musical intro to All Things Considered. Someone forgiving you. Someone believing in you. Your foot sticking out from under a blanket in order to find the cool spot. Freshly cut yellow tulips. A really good burger.

From Associated Press: "This should be a book you keep around when you need a little jolt, something to lift you up if you’re feeling down. As even Doughty suggests in the opening pages, you can read the book in order or flip to random pages." (This link is to ABC News)

Todd Doughty is currently SVP, Deputy Publisher of Doubleday and has worked at Penguin Random House for more than two decades. Doughty is a graduate of Southern Illinois University (Carbondale) and former bookseller.

I love the fact that one of our delightful customers worked with both Christine Pride and Todd Doughty when they were both at Doubleday!

Wednesday, October 13, 7 pm
Anthony Doerr, author of Cloud Cuckoo Land
in Conversation with Quan Barry for a Ticketed Virtual Event
Tickets for the event here.

Boswell Book Company is thrilled to host the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All the Light We Cannot See. Doerr joins us for a conversation about his latest novel, Cloud Cuckoo Land, which is a triumph of imagination and compassion, a soaring novel about children on the cusp of adulthood in a broken world, who find resilience, hope, and story. Doerr will be in conversation with Quan Barry, Professor of English at UW-Madison and author of the novels We Ride Upon Sticks and She Weeps Each Time You're Born. Cosponsored by the Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library.

Tickets cost $30, and each includes a copy of Cloud Cuckoo Land and admission for one electronic device. Signed copies and bookplates no longer available. $5 from each ticket will be donated back to the Milwaukee Public Library Foundation, in the spirit of Cloud Cuckoo Land's celebration of libraries.

From Marcel Theroux in The New York Times: "Cloud Cuckoo, among other things, a paean to the nameless people who have played a role in the transmission of ancient texts and preserved the tales they tell. But it’s also about the consolations of stories and the balm they have provided for millenniums. It’s a wildly inventive novel that teems with life, straddles an enormous range of experience and learning, and embodies the storytelling gifts that it celebrates. It also pulls off a resolution that feels both surprising and inevitable, and that compels you back to the opening of the book with a head-shake of admiration at the Swiss-watchery of its construction."

The heroes of Cloud Cuckoo Land are trying to figure out the world around them: Anna and Omeir, on opposite sides of the formidable city walls during the 1453 siege of Constantinople; teenage idealist Seymour in an attack on a public library in present-day Idaho; and Konstance, on an interstellar ship bound for an exoplanet, decades from now. An ancient text - the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky - provides solace and mystery to these unforgettable characters. Doerr has created a tapestry of times and places that reflects our vast interconnectedness - with other species, with each other, with those who lived before us and those who will be here after we’re gone. Dedicated to “the librarians then, now, and in the years to come,” Cloud Cuckoo Land is a hauntingly beautiful and redemptive novel about stewardship - of the book, of the Earth, of the human heart.

Anthony Doerr is author of All the Light We Cannot See, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Carnegie Medal, as well as The Shell Collector and Four Seasons in Rome. He has won five O Henry Prizes, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award, and the Story Prize. Quan Barry is author of two novels and four poetry books, including Water Puppets, winner of the AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and a PEN/Open Book finalist. She has received NEA Fellowships in both fiction and poetry and is the author of a new novel, out February 2022, titled When I'm Gone, Look for Me in the East. 

Thursday, October 14, 4 pm
Mike Duncan, author of Hero of Two Worlds: The Marquis de Lafayette in the Age of Revolution
Outdoor Book Signing
Register for this signing here.

Mike Duncan, the bestselling author of The Storm Before the Storm and host of the Revolutions podcast, is coming to Boswell for an outdoor book signing. His latest book tells the thrilling story of the Marquis de Lafayette’s lifelong quest to defend the principles of liberty and equality. Admission to the signing line is free with purchase of Hero of Two Worlds or $5, which can be applied to any other book purchase at Boswell. Please note that Mike Duncan is not giving a talk at this event.

Few in history can match the revolutionary career of the Marquis de Lafayette. Over fifty incredible years at the heart of the Age of Revolution, he fought courageously on both sides of the Atlantic. He was a soldier, statesman, idealist, philanthropist, and abolitionist. From enthusiastic youth to world-weary old age, from the pinnacle of glory to the depths of despair, Lafayette never stopped fighting for the rights of all mankind. His remarkable life is the story of where we come from, and an inspiration to defend the ideals he held dear.

From The Wall Street Journal: "Mr. Duncan’s Hero of Two Worlds offers, in readable prose, much informative description alongside measured interpretation. The author’s sympathetic yet balanced and sensible rendering, some may think, mirrors Lafayette’s eventful life in a revolutionary age." And from Adam Gopnick in The New Yorker: "Duncan’s biography is written in a loose, colloquial style that sometimes startles with its informality but more often delights with its directness."

Mike Duncan is author of The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic, and his award-winning series, The History of Rome, remains a landmark in the history of podcasting. Duncan’s current podcast series, Revolutions, explores the great political revolutions that have driven the course of modern history.

Saturday, October 16, 1 pm
Andrew J Graff, author of Raft of Stars
In Person at Elm Grove Public Library, 13600 Juneau Blvd
Register for this event here.

Elm Grove Public Library, along with Boswell Book Company, present an afternoon with Wisconsin native Andrew J Graff, author of Raft of Stars, the debut novel that Richard Russo calls “a rousing adventure yarn full of danger and heart and humor.” When two hardscrabble young boys think they’ve committed a crime, they flee into the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Will the adults trying to find and protect them reach them before it’s too late? Please click here to visit the Elm Grove Public Library website and register for this event.

Raft of Stars was one of our big books of spring, it's going to make a great holiday gift. If you bought a copy from us and didn't paste in your signed bookplate, maybe you should head over to Elm Grove for the event.  

Andrew J Graff grew up in in Wisconsin’s Northwoods. Graff earned an MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, teaches at Wittenberg University, and has published work in Image and Dappled Things.

More at Boswell's upcoming events page.

Photo credit
Christine Pride and Jo Piazza by Bench
Nancy Johnson by Nina Subin
Todd Doughty by Michael Lionstar
Chuck Palahniuk by Alan Amato
Mike Duncan by Brandi Duncan

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Boswell bestsellers, week ending October 9, 2021

Here's what's selling at Boswell for the week ending October 9, 2021

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles
2. Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr (Tickets for October 13 event here)
3. Crossroads, by Jonathan Franzen
4. Harlem Shuffle, by Colson Whitehead
5. We Are Not Like Them, by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza (Register for October 11 event here)
6. Bewilderment, by Richard Powers
7. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
8. The Every, by Dave Eggers
9. The Man Who Died Twice, by Richard Osman
10. What Storm What Thunder, by Myriam J.A. Chancy (Register for October 28 event here)

Our biggest non-event sales in this category this week is Jonathan Franzen's Crossroads, with reviews that are rather ecstatic. Constance Grady links to several of these in her Vox piece on a history of Jonathan Franzen controversies, and why he seems less controversial this time out. She didn't like to the AV Club review from Erin Somers: "Sorry to Franzen’s haters, but Crossroads is an excellent novel."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Taste, by Stanley Tucci
2. The Storyteller, by Dave Grohl
3. Peril, by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa
4. The Secret History of Food, by Matt Siegel
5. Giannis, by Mirin Fader
6. All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, by Rebecca Donner
7. The Sum of Us, by Heather McGhee
8. Home: A Celebration, by Charlotte Moss
9. A Carnival of Snackery, by David Sedaris (Tickets for December 10 event here)
10. Hero of Two Worlds, by Mike Duncan (Register for October 14 signing here)

Here come the fourth quarter memoirs! First up is Stanley Tucci's Taste: My Life Through Food, which has gotten a lot of press over Tucci's revelation that cancer has changed his sense of taste. The same thing happened to my dad. The New York Times review from Frank Bruni is mixed, but Bruni comes in with a bad taste for celebrity food memoirs, calling the genre bloated. He should read Matt Siegel! Dave Davies is more enthusiastic in the Fresh Air interview. Hey, Dave Grohl's The Storyteller also made a splash this week.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
2. People We Meet on Vacation, by Emily Henry
3. Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell
4. Payback's a Witch, by Lana Harper
5. Normal People, by Sally Rooney
6. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
7. Second First Impressions, by Sally Thorne
8. Plain Bad Heroines, by Emily M Danforth
9. A Deadly Education, by Naomi Novik
10. The Ex Hex, by Erin Sterling

If you told me that in X years, our paperback fiction list would be half genre, I would have been surprised, but the decline of literary fiction in paperback for us during COVID has opened an opportunity for romance, horror, and fantasy, some of which is paperback original but some is reprint. October brings Halloween-themed romance with Payback's a Witch and The Ex HexSimilar color palates, too. The Ex Hex has a rec from Rachel: "If you are wanting Practical Magic, Halloweentown, Hocus Pocus vibes with a huge helping of banter and off-the-charts chemistry, this is the one for you." Oh, and I should note that Erin Sterling is also YA writer Rachel Hawkins. There's a lot of YA/Romance crossover.

More romance news. Thanks to Rachel's enthusiasm, we are the #2 independent bookstore in sales on Edelweiss for Second First Impressions, by Sally Thorne.

By the way, The Night Watchman just surpassed The Round House in paperback sales, which had trumped the last few Erdrich sales, as well as the Downer Schwartz sales for a number of titles before that.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Art of Gathering, by Priya Parker
2. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
3. Voices of Bronzeville, by Sandra E Jones (Register for November 18 event here - in person or via Zoom)
4. Consumed, by Aja Barber
5. Northwest Side Community Development Corporation, by Howard Snyder
6. Milwaukee River Greenway, by Eddee Daniel (Register for October 21 event here - in person or via Zoom)
7. The Best of Me, by David Sedaris
8. Having and Being Had, by Eula Bliss
9. Walking Milwaukee, by Royal Brevvaxling and Molly Snyder
10. Ten Patterns That Explain the Universe, by Brian Clegg

Eula Biss's Having and Being Had hits our top ten after about a month floating around the new paperback tables. Considering that the book is about colluding in capitalism, she got a nice review from Emily Bobrow in The Wall Street Journal: "This book is essentially an account of Ms. Biss’s contradictions, her ambivalence as a relatively well-off consumer in a rich and richly unequal country. But instead of being humorless and apologetic, Having and Being Had is incisive, impressive and often poetic."

Books for Kids:
1. What's Inside a Flower?, by Rachel Ignotofsky
2. The Beatryce Prophecy, by Kate DiCamillo, with illustrations by Sophie Blackall
3. Chez Bob, by Bob Shea
4. Ada Twist, Scientist, by Andrea Beaty, with illustrations by David Roberts
5. Lulu and Rocky in Milwaukee, by Barbara Joosse, with illustrations by Renee Graef
6. Little Blue Truck's Halloween, by Alice Schertle, with illustrations by Jill McElmurry
7. Ghostly Tales of Milwaukee, by Anna Lardinois
8. Egg Marks the Spot V2, by Amy Timberlake, with illustrations by Jon Klassen
9. Beasts and Beauty, by Soman Chainani
10. How to Find What You're Not Looking For, by Veera Hiranandani (Register for October 20 event here)

Rachel Ignotofsky's Women in Art, Science, and Sports have been big crossovers from Crown Books for Young Readers, enough that they sister adult division, now, like the kids program, folded into the equivalent Random House division, has spun off postcards sets, calendars, and most notably, jigsaw puzzles. Ignotofsky's What's Inside a Flower?. which was released last winter but was featured in some virtual school visits from Ignotofsky, is a beautiful book that like her other titles, works for both kids and adults. Nicola Davies wrote in The New York Times: "The challenge of igniting children’s curiosity is akin to lighting a fire. You can’t put something as large as a log on a spark; you have to start with something smaller. What’s Inside a Flower?... is the best kind of tinder for little sparks. It is a highly accessible gateway to botany that doesn’t shy away from real scientific words but doesn’t overload readers with too much information."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins talked to Chris Ward of Feral House (who is nonetheless Milwaukee based) and Boswell's Jason Kennedy about the looming stock shortages in books this holiday season. We're out of Bewilderment, and you'll be hearing more of that in the coming weeks.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Boswell This Week: Sara Biren, Matt Siegel, Amor Towles, Zoraida Córdova, Jessica Anya Blau

Here's what's happening on the Boswell events front. No in-person events this go around.

Monday, October 4, 7 pm
Sara Biren, author of Bend in the Road
in conversation with Andrew DeYoung for a virtual event.
Register for this event here.
Looking for a little farm-fresh contemporary romance? Boswell presents a special YA, Boswell! evening with Wisconsin author Sara Biren for a conversation about her latest novel about a teen rock star who returns home to Minnesota and finds himself falling for a local farm girl. If you love Sara Dessen, then... (you know how to complete this sentence.)

For this event, Biren will be in conversation with Andrew DeYoung, author of The Exo Project, winner of the Minnesota Book Award. This event also features Wyatt Kuether from The Production Farm, which provides mental health services for youth in both traditional and innovative, hands-on ways.
From School Library Journal: "Biren's novel is set in the Midwest and is a slow simmer. What appears to be a novel about farming and gardening turns out to focus on relationships and grief. Readers who are musically inclined will appreciate the side story of Gabe's rocky music career. The characters, who are light skinned, are likable and complex in this heartwarming romance that slowly develops between Juniper and Gabe, who seem to have realistic difference."
Marisa Reichardt, author of Aftershocks and A Shot at Normal calls A Bend in the Road "a beautiful and tenderhearted exploration of the meaning of home, Sara Biren's Bend in the Road will stick with you like a favorite song that instantly transports you to a place and time you always want to remember."

Sara Biren is author of The Last Thing You Said and Cold Day in the Sun. She earned an MFA in creative writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Andrew DeYoung is author of the forthcoming book The Temps (forthcoming) and The Exo Project, which won the Minnesota Book Award. Can you read between the lines to figure out that Biren moved to Wisconsin from Minnesota?

Tuesday, October 5, 7 pm
Matt Siegel, author of The Secret History of Food: Strange but True Stories About the Origins of Everything We Eat 
in conversation with Kyle Cherek for a virtual event
Register for this event here.

Boswell presents an evening with food and culture writer Matt Siegel for a conversation about his new book with Milwaukee culinary historian Kyle Cherek. The Secret History of Food offers up an irreverent, surprising, and entirely entertaining look at the little-known history surrounding the foods we know and love. This is one of my sleeper picks for fall. I read it off our break room galley shelf (it's a thing) and loved both the delicious food minutiae and Siegel's fresh-picked voice. I'm going with food imagery here - is it working?

Publishers Weekly
offers a rave: "The food-related trivia surprises throughout, such as the tumultuous history of the tomato, including a fruit-versus-vegetable debate that ended in the U.S. Supreme Court and its long suspected poisonous attributes thanks to its connection to its cousin, the lethal nightshade. An invigorating culinary romp through time, this is a cheeky treat for history buffs and foodies alike."

Here's my recommendation: “Vanilla ice cream, breakfast cereal, corn, tomatoes, and several other foods become the jumping-off point for Matt Siegel’s meandering and quirky food history. How is honey kosher if most samples likely have traces of unkosher insects? Why did Nathan’s Famous employ college students who dress like doctors? Could it possibly be true that the USDA is responsible for open-faced sandwiches, but the FDA monitors closed-faced ones? So much food ephemera!0

"Best of all, there are often interesting points to be made about human nature slathered between the easily transportable iceberg lettuce and tasteless-but-great looking tomato. A multi-course feast of delights! (Daniel)

Matt Siegel has written about food and culture for publications including the Atlantic and the Paris Review. Previously an English professor, he now writes full time and consults with brands in the food and beverage industries. His dog’s name is Waffles. Kyle Cherek was the host of Wisconsin Foodie on PBS and has twice been awarded the Wisconsin Broadcast Association Award for his compelling essays on food culture.

Wednesday, October 6, 7 pm
Amor Towles, author of The Lincoln Highway
in conversation with Ann Patchett for a virtual event
Purchase your ticket here. Book on sale tomorrow.

Boswell Book Company is thrilled to present a virtual event with Amor Towles, the bestselling author of A Gentleman in Moscow and Rules of Civility, for a conversation about his new book, a stylish and propulsive novel set in 1950s America. Towles will chat with Ann Patchett, author of novels such as The Dutch House and Commonwealth. Patchett's Nashville bookstore Parnassus Books is co-hosting this event, along with The Book Stall of Winnetka, Blue Willow Bookshop of Houston, and Boswell.

Each ticket costs $30 and includes a copy of The Lincoln Highway and admission for one electronic device. $5 from each ticket will be donated back to BINC, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, which helps booksellers in need. Shipping and pickup information on the ticketing website.

In June, 1954, eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the juvenile work farm where he has just served fifteen months for involuntary manslaughter. His mother long gone, his father recently deceased, and the family farm foreclosed upon by the bank, Emmett’s intention is to pick up his eight-year-old brother, Billy, and head to California where they can start their lives anew. But when the warden drives away, Emmett discovers that two friends from the work farm have hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden’s car. Together, they have hatched an altogether different plan for Emmett’s future, one that will take them all on a fateful journey in the opposite direction - to New York City.

Advance praise for The Lincoln Highway is glowing. From Publishers Weekly: "Towles's magnificent comic road novel (after A Gentleman in Moscow) follows the rowdy escapades of four boys in the 1950s and doubles as an old-fashioned narrative about farms, families, and accidental friendships... Towles is a supreme storyteller, and this one-of-a-kind kind of novel isn't to be missed."

Amor Towles is the author of The New York Times bestsellers Rules of Civility and A Gentleman in Moscow. The two novels have collectively sold more than four million copies and have been translated into more than thirty languages. Ann Patchett is author of seven novels, including The Dutch House, Commonwealth, and Bel Canto, as well as three books of nonfiction. She’s been awarded the Orange Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, among many others.

Thursday, October 7, 6 pm
Zoraida Córdova, author of The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina
in Conversation with Valeria Cerda of La Revo Books and Daniel Goldin for a virtual event
Register for this event here.

Enjoy an evening with Zoraida Córdova, author of a contemporary fantasy drama that follows three cousins who retrace their family lineage from Four Rivers, USA, to Guayaquil, Ecuador, in an attempt to discover the source of their power and why their family is being murdered by an unknown entity. 

This event is cosponsored by La Revo Books, a new Milwaukee bookstore (online and pop-up) focused on carefully selecting new and used books for and by Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). More on their website. They'd also like you to know that we were using a placeholder logo. Their fresh new logo is below.

From my recommendation: "In the remote town of Four Rivers, the matriarch Orquídea Divina has called the family together one last time, including raised-together cousins Marimar and Rey. They’ve been promised an inheritance, but their grandmother isn’t dead yet. There are complications, likely connected to a deal Orquídea Divina made when she was a young woman with a traveling circus. And then the relatives start dying. Just what is the family secret? And how is connected to the flowers that begin to grow out of their bodies? For the answers, they wind up journeying to Ecuador to unlock their grandmother’s past. This bewitching blend of family drama, adventure (the descriptions of Guayaquil had me contemplating packing a suitcase), and romance, is blended with enough magic to set hearts ablaze. " (Daniel) 

From the starred Booklist review: "The latest from Córdova is a spellbinding immigrant story that follows an Ecuadorian American family as they delve into their ancestry and roots. Told in the past and present from multiple perspectives, this beautifully written generational novel full of magical realism will enchant fans of Isabel Allende, Gabriel García Márquez, and Alice Hoffman."

Zoraida Córdova is the acclaimed author of more than a dozen novels and short stories, including the Brooklyn Brujas series, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: A Crash of Fate, and romance novels under the name Zoey Castile. In addition to writing novels, she serves on the board of We Need Diverse Books, and is the coeditor of the bestselling anthology Vampires Never Get Old, as well as the cohost of the writing podcast Deadline City.

Friday, October 8, 2 pm
Jessica Anya Blau, author of Mary Jane
in conversation with Daniel Goldin and Lisa Baudoin of Books & Company for a virtual event
Register for this event here.

The October entry in the locally loved Readings from Oconomowaukee virtual event series presents Jessica Anya Blau, whose latest novel is a 1970s coming-of-age novel about a girl nannying for a progressive couple who are secretly hiding a rock star for the summer. It's set in Roland Park, the Baltimore neighborhood made famous by the novels of Anne Tyler. 

Boswellian Margaret Kennedy loves this book! Here’s her take: “Amidst the clashing viewpoints and lifestyles of 1970s America one teen girl tries to make sense of it all and find out who she wants to be. Mary Jane is surprised and strangely delighted when the Cones turn out to be a bohemian, openly amorous rock n' roll couple with a rock star and his famous wife living in the attic. Throughout the summer, Mary Jane encounters and embraces new music, new clothes, and a new way of looking at herself and what she wants to be, all while inadvertently helping the Cone family and their guests grow as well. A wonderful read about found families and finding yourself - this is already one of my favorites of the year!"

From Allegra Goodman in The New York Times: "Unlike many young narrators, Mary Jane is neither angry nor rebellious nor twisted. She is a responsible girl who is “still happy helping my mother with the chores in the house,” singing show tunes and “making a simple dessert featured in Good Housekeeping.” This churchgoing teenager is innocent, but her innocence is powerful. While the summer changes her, Mary Jane changes the people she encounters as well. She introduces structure and stability to her young charge. Baths! Bedtime stories! She organizes the house and cooks dinner, charming her hard-rocking housemates Jimmy and Sheba - and the reader too. If this is a coming-of-age story, it is also a story of self-possession and common sense."

From my sister Merrill's text: "Can't stop reading Mary Jane." Lisa and I are also fans. After reading this book, I bought one of her previous novels to read too. I don't think I'll have it done by Friday, but you never know.

Jessica Anya Blau is author of four novels, including The Summer of Naked Swim Parties and The Trouble with Lexie. Her novels have been recommended and featured on CNN, NPR, the Today show, and in Vanity Fair, Cosmo, and Oprah’s Summer Reads. Anya Blau co-wrote the script for Love on the Run and has taught writing at Johns Hopkins University, Goucher College, and The Fashion Institute of Technology.

Coming next week
Monday, October 11, 7 pm
Christine Pride and Jo Piazza, authors of We Are Not Like Them
in conversation with Nancy Johnson for a virtual event
Register for this event here.

Join us for an evening with Pride and Piazza, coauthors of a powerful and poignant new novel that explores race in America today and its devastating impact on two childhood friends, one Black and one White. We Are Not Like Them goes on sale tomorrow, October 5. Ask for your signed bookplate.

As regular readers know, I'm a big fan of Nancy Johnson's The Kindest Lie, which was introduced to me by Christina Clancy, author of Shoulder Season and The Second Home. So I asked Johnson what she was recommending, and she mentioned We Are Not Like Them. And because we've worked with Jo Piazza before, this was the perfect match.

Like Tayari Jones's An American Marriage and Jodi Picoult's Small Great Things, We Are Not Like Them considers complex questions of race and how they pervade and shape our most intimate spaces in a deeply divided world. But at its heart, it's a story of enduring friendship - a love that defies the odds even as two childhood friends, one Black and one white, face their most difficult challenges.

From my rec: "An aspiring television reporter and the wife of a policeman, friends since childhood, find their relationship frayed by the shooting of a young Black man. This powerful story is sure to start a lot of important conversations. The authors do a great job creating sympathetic characters in Riley and Jen (though to my thinking Riley is the true protagonist), with lots of interesting family dynamics and revelations both past (the revelation of a lynching Riley’s family) and present (Jen’s pregnancy complications) move the plot along. There’s some humor too, and even a little romance. I’m not giving anything away by saying there’s no way to have a completely happy ending, but maybe, just maybe, there’ll be at least understanding." (Daniel

Christine Pride has held editorial posts at imprints such as Doubleday, Crown, and Simon and Schuster. As an editor, Christine has published a range of books, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. She pens the Race Matters column for Cup of Jo. Jo Piazza is author of books such as Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win, How to Be Married, and The Knockoff. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and CNN.

More on the Boswell upcoming events page.

Photo credits!
Sara Biren by Maris Ehlers
Matt Siegel by Kenzi Flinchum
Amor Towles by Dmitri Kasterine
Ann Patchett by Heidi Ross
Jessica Anya Blau by the author
Nancy Johnson by Nina Subin

On the social media image for the events, I usually collect either the authors for the week or the authors and their books. If we just have one or two events, I'll also include their conversation partners. Then I use a color from one of the books to make the background color. We do the same thing for the social media connected to the bestseller blog, and for any event alerts that use an image that requires a background color.

For this week, I wanted to us the record label from Mary Jane, which stands in for Atlantic Records. But I guess to avoid getting in some kind of trouble, the label is actually teal and orange, and that just seemed to be beside the point. So I pulled the background colors from the real Atlantic record label of the 1970s, specifically the one used for vinyl albums. The singles were just black and a second color, usually red. A promo copy would often be light blue instead of red.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending October 2, 2021

Boswell bestsellers, week ending October 2, 2021

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr (Tickets for October 13 event here)
2. Harlem Shuffle, by Colson Whitehead
3. Bewilderment, by Richard Powers
4. Beautiful World, Where Are You, by Sally Rooney
5. The Last Graduate V2, by Naomi Novik
6. The Man Who Died Twice V2, by Richard Osman
7. Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir
8. The Book of Form and Emptiness, by Ruth Ozeki
9. Shoulder Season, by Christina Clancy
10. Morning Star, by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Nowadays you expect that week #1 will be the big sales pop, especially with the rise in preorders. That's certainly the case for Cloud Cuckoo Land, for example. And we've had three strong weeks of sale for Harlem Shuffle, but the debut week still had the best sales. Beautiful World, in week four, still peaked in its debut. But both Bewilderment and The Book of Form and Emptiness increased in sales for week two, though despite our huge sales of A Tale for the Time Being in paperback (over 200), I'd still consider her a sleeper, especially in a season as packed as this one is. Patricia Gilman in The Boston Globe called Ozeki's book "an ambitious and ingenious novel that presents a stinging exploration of grief, a reflection on our relationship to objects, a potent testament to the importance of reading, writing, and books."

Our buyer Jason thinks the Oprah pick for Bewilderment might have helped that second week increase.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Feed the Wolf, by Jon M Sweeney
2. Peril, by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa
3. Vanderbilt, by Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe
4. No Cure for Being Human, by Kate Bowler
5. All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, by Rebecca Donner
6. Please Don't Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes, by Phoebe Robinson
7. Fuzz, by Mary Roach
8. Bourdain, by Laurie Woolever
9. Unbound, by Tarana Burke
10. Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner

Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty is the book that Anderson Cooper was meant to write, aside from a memoir or perhaps a foray into thrillers, not uncommon for newscasters. Until his mother's death, Cooper is said to have downplayed his connection to the family. As Christopher Buckley notes in the enthusiastic Washington Post review: "It probably helped that by the time Cooper fils came of age, the Vanderbilt fortune, once among the greatest in American plutocracy, had pretty much gone pfft. His mother was a serial spendthrift who burned through an inheritance that came to her in 1945 of about $4 million, the equivalent today of nearly $60 million. 'No one can make money evaporate into thin air like a Vanderbilt,' Cooper and Howe observe."

Paperback Fiction:
1. A Long Petal of the Sea, by Isabel Allende
2. Send for Me, by Lauren Fox
3. Dine, by Frank Herbert
4. The Kingmaker's Redemption, by Harry Pinkus
5. The Lying Life of Adults, by Elena Ferrante
6. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
7. The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett
8. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
9. People We Meet on Vacation, by Emily Henry
10. The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune

Our paperback fiction numbers have come back to Earth after the we're-all-traveling bump in bestseller numbers this past spring and summer. National lists are being driven by BookTok and we're seeing that as well. Maybe there's a bunch of folks crying as they read Lauren Fox's Send for Me. It's sad, so please consider a good public weeping. There was sort of a black-and-white-and-red theme going on this week for the featured book jackets, which would have been more consistent if Vintage hadn't colorized the Knopf Send for Me jacket. So much fudging - I'm aware that Ozeki's jacket is highlighted with blue, but I'm pretending it's gray.

Last year the paperback fiction category was invigorated when it turned out that both the National Book Award and Booker Prize had early paperback releases in Interior Chinatown and Shuggie Bain. So far we're not seeing a replay of that.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Talking to Strangers, by Malcolm Gladwell
2. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
3. Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes, by Anna Lardinois
4. The Price of the Ticket, by James Baldwin
5. Madame Fourcade's Secret War, by Lynne Olson
6. Come As You Are, by Emily Nagoski
7. One Life, by Megan Rapinoe
8. Dressmakers of Auschwitz, by Lucy Adlington
9. White Rage, by Carol Anderson
10. A Cook's Tour, by Anthony Bourdain

The Price of the Ticket: Collected Nonfiction: 1948–1985 is a reprinted (just out for two weeks) collection of essays by James Baldwin from Beacon. From the 1985 Kirkus review: "It is a stunning achievement, violently personal, gifted, distilled from a lifelong mediation on race, sometimes less intelligent than given to big generalizations and intellectual grandiosity, yet ever a whiplash on the national conscience, if steadily remote in its fury." And if you're wondering if the current paperback price ($24.95) is more than it was originally published for in 1985, it isn't. St. Martin's original price was $29.95, and then it raised to $35. Just shows how little inflation there has been for hardcover books in the last few decades.

Books for Kids:
1. Willodeen, by Katherine Applegate
2. How to Find What You're Not Looking For, by Veera Hiranandani (Register for October 20 virtual school visit here - open to all)
3. The Last Kids on Earth and the Doomsday Race V7, by Max Brallier
4. Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate
5. Fast Pitch, by Nic Stone
6. A Bend in the Road, by Sara Biren (Register for October 4 event here)
7. Superman Smashes the Klan, by Gene Luen Yang
8. Ghostly Tales of Milwaukee, by Anna Lardinois
9. Steelstriker, by Marie Lu (Signed copies available)
10. Peace Train, by Cat Stevens and Peter H Reynolds

Several folks have multiple books appearing on the list this week, but only Anna Lardinois has both an adult and kids book represented. Anna did our first outside event - weather permitting, it seemed like a better idea for kids who weren't already vaccinated. Tim's a big fan of Ghostly Tales of Milwaukee, noting: "Lardinois writes their mysterious stories at a level just right for kids about eight to ten years old, but she kept this old guy captivated with details about very familiar places. As a baseball fan, I was stunned to learn that the Pfister Hotel ghost has frightened so many well-known pro baseball players that some now refuse to stay there, and one admitted to keeping a baseball bat in his bed at night for protection."

Tomorrow will have a preview of this week's events, with some recommendations and review links to whet your appetite.