Monday, July 19, 2021

This week on the Boswell Zoom website - Elinor Lipman, S.A. Cosby, Mike Gayle, plus Kristin Harmel preview

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

Monday, July 19, 7 pm
Elinor Lipman, author of Rachel to the Rescue
in Conversation with Jane Hamilton
Register for this event here.
Ask for your signed bookplate when ordering.

Join us for an evening with Elinor Lipman, the Countess of Romantic Comedy, for her mischievous novel of political satire. Lipman will be in conversation with her long-time friend Jane Hamilton, acclaimed author of The Excellent Lombards and A Map of the World, recognized by Milwaukee Public Library's Wisconsin Writers Hall of Fame.

Rachel Klein is sacked from her job at the White House after she sends an email criticizing Donald Trump. As she is escorted off the premises, she is hit by a speeding car, driven by what the press will discreetly call "a personal friend of the President." Does that explain the flowers, the get-well wishes at a press briefing, the hush money offered by a lawyer at her hospital bedside?

Rachel’s recovery is soothed by comically doting parents, matchmaking room-mates, a new job as aide to a journalist whose books aim to defame the President, and unexpected love at the local wine store. But secrets leak, and Rachel’s new-found happiness has to make room for more than a little chaos. Will she bring down the President? Or will he manage to do that all by himself?

Laurie Hertzel at the Star Tribune writes that "Elinor Lipman's latest novel, Rachel to the Rescue, might not stand the test of time, but for this particular time, it's hilarious," going on to call it "a great novel for a long and lazy summer afternoon."  And Beck Dorey-Stein called it "an entertaining romp of a political satire" in The New York Times

And event with either Elinor Lipman or Jane Hamilton is always a treat. But together? Not to be missed.

Tuesday, July 20, 7 pm
SA Cosby, author of Razorblade Tears
in Conversation with Carole E Barrowman for a Virtual Event
Register for this event.
Ask for your signed bookplate.

We welcome back SA Cosby, author of Boswellian favorite Blacktop Wasteland, for a conversation about his sophomore novel Razorblade Tears, now a New York Times bestseller, with mystery critic and author Carole E Barrowman. Cosby's latest is the story of a Black father and a white father who join forces to get revenge on the men who murdered their gay sons.

We loved our event last summer with the dynamic Cosby, so it’s a thrill to have him return for this provocative, fast-paced novel. Here's more about it: Ike Randolph has been out of jail for fifteen years, with not so much as a speeding ticket in all that time. But a Black man with cops at the door knows to be afraid. The last thing he expects to hear is that his son Isiah has been murdered, along with Isiah’s white husband Derek. Isiah was a gay black man in the American South; Ike couldn’t bring himself to attend his son’s wedding. Derek’s father Buddy Lee is also suffering. He’d barely spoken to his son in five years; he was as ashamed of Derek for being gay as Derek was ashamed his father was a criminal. Buddy Lee still has contacts in the underworld, though, and he wants to know who killed his boy.

Ike and Buddy Lee, two ex-cons with little else in common other than a criminal past and a love for their dead sons, band together in their desperate desire for revenge. In their quest to do better for their sons in death than they did in life, alpha-males Ike and Buddy Lee will confront their own prejudices, about each other and their sons, as they rain down vengeance upon those who hurt their boys.

SA Cosby is author of Blacktop Wasteland, a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, as well as Brotherhood of the Blade and My Darkest Prayer. He won an Anthony Award for best short story as well. Carole E Barrowman is Director of Creative Studies in Writing at Alverno College and a regular contributor on books to WTMJ4’s The Morning Blend. She is coauthor of the Hollow Earth series and has written comics for DC and Titan.

Thursday, July 22, 2 pm
Mike Gayle, author of All The Lonely People
in Conversation with Daniel Goldin and Lisa Baudoin for A Virtual Event
Register for this event here
We're hoping to have signed bookplates soon. It's a big pond!

Join us for a special Readings from Oconomowaukee afternoon featuring Mike Gayle, author of a delightful novel about Jamaican immigrant Hubert, who rediscovers the world he'd turned his back on in this warm, funny book. Cohosted by Books & Company of Oconomowoc, this is our monthly series readers have been loving in which we host authors for a conversation with bookstore proprietors Daniel Goldin and Lisa Baudoin. Gayle joins us all the way from Birmingham, UK.

Publishers Weekly
called All the Lonely People "a winning tale."

This is the book fans of A Man Called Ove have been waiting for. With the origin of Hubert’s isolation always lurking in the shadows, will he ever get to live the life he's pretended to have for so long? All the Lonely People is by turns a funny and moving meditation on love, race, old age, and friendship that will not only charm and uplift, but also remind you of the power of ordinary people to make an extraordinary difference.

Books & Company had a delightful conversation about the joys of All the Lonely People on their Facebook page. You can watch it here.  

Mike Gayle wrote an advice column for a teenage girls' magazine before becoming Features Editor for another teen magazine. That's the official bio - the magazines in question are Just Seventeen and Bliss. And advice columnist translates to Agony Aunt in British English. For more about that, please consider registering for our AJ Pearce event on August 18 for Yours Cheerfully, the follow-up to Dear Mrs Bird.

Mike Gayle has written for a variety of publications including the Sunday Times, the Guardian, and Cosmo. He has written thirteen novels, which have been translated into more than thirty languages. Several of them are available stateside!

Monday, July 26, 7:30 pm
Kristin Harmel, author of The Forest of Vanishing Stars
A Virtual Event
Tickets for this event here - $5 or upgrade to a book with ticket.
Ask for your signed bookplate

The Lynden Sculpture Garden's Women's Speaker Series, sponsored by Milwaukee Reads and Boswell Book Company, hosts Kristin Harmel, author of novels like The Book of Lost Names, for a virtual, BYOS (bring-your-own-snacks) event. She’ll chat about her latest, an evocative coming-of-age World War II story about a young woman who uses her knowledge of the wilderness to help Jewish refugees escape the Nazis.

Inspired by incredible true stories of survival against staggering odds, and suffused with journey-from-the-wilderness, The Forest of Vanishing Stars is a heart-wrenching, suspenseful novel. From Heather Webb, author of The Next Ship Home, “With breathtaking natural descriptions, vivid historical details, and a brave heroine worth cheering for who must fulfill a destiny prophesied since birth, this novel is not to be missed!”

After being stolen from her wealthy German parents and raised in the unforgiving wilderness of eastern Europe, a young woman finds herself alone in 1941 after her kidnapper dies. Her solitary existence is interrupted, however, when she happens upon a group of Jews fleeing the Nazi terror. Stunned to learn what’s happening in the outside world, she vows to teach the group all she can about surviving in the forest, and in turn, they teach her some surprising lessons about opening her heart after years of isolation. But when she is betrayed and escapes into a German-occupied village, her past and present come together in a shocking collision that could change everything.

Kristin Harmel is New York Times bestselling author of a dozen novels including The Book of Lost Names, The Winemaker’s Wife, and The Room on Rue Amélie. She is also the cofounder and cohost of the popular web series, Friends and Fiction.

A lucky attendee will win a stylish rope-handled tote with matching drink holders.  

This event is cohosted by the Lynden Sculpture Garden. The $5 ticket fee, or $3 if you purchase the book upgrade, is donated back to the Lynden Sculpture Garden.

More on the Boswell upcoming event page.

Photo credits:
--Elinor Lipman by Michael Benabib

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Boswell bestsellers, week ending July 17, 2021

Here's what's selling at Boswell

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Comfort of Monsters, by Willa C Richards
2. Shoulder Season, by Christina Clancy
3. The Cellist, by Daniel Silva
4. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro
5. The Final Girl Support Group, by Grady Hendrix
6. Malibu Rising, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
7. All the Lonely People, by Mike Gayle (Register for July 22 event here)
8. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
9. Night Came with Many Stars, by Simon Van Booy (Ask for your signed bookplate - coming soon)
10. Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir
11. The Personal Librarian, by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
12. Razorblade Tears, by SA Cosby (Register for July 20 event here)

I'm not sure how many staff recommendations we have for The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires, but it's enough, and duplicated at enough others stores that Hendrix jumped from Quirk to Berkley for the latest, The Final Girl Support Group, which has this clever tagline: "In horror movies, the final girls are the ones left standing when the credits roll. They made it through the worst night of their lives… but what happens after?" Boswellian Madi Hill notes that "Hendrix's style is so much fun but surprisingly tense, perfect for the horror fan who doesn't take themselves too seriously." Barbara VanDenBurgh in USA Today writes: "Final Girl indulges but doesn’t coast on nostalgia, and is itself a page-turning thriller with survival on the line."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Finding the Mother Tree, by Suzanne Simard
2. This Is Your Mind on Plants, by Michael Pollan
3. Landslide, by Michael Wolff
4. How the Word Is Passed, by Clint Smith
5. Crying in H Mart, Michelle Zauner
6. Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson
8. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, by George Saunders
9. Hola Papi, by John Paul Brammer
10. Subpar Parks, by Amber Share

New York Times reporters Sheera Frenkel and Cecelia Kang, part of the team that received a Pulitzer for their work, now have a book inspired by their reporting on Facebook - An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook's Battle for Domination is based on over 400 interviews. John Naughton reviewed the book for The Guardian, and after reading more about it, one begins to see Facebook as a successful version of WeWork, at least from the perspective of the founder (I just read The Wall Street Journal story where Neuman was projecting a $10 trillion valuation). Naughton notes: "The co-authors’ exhumation of these ghastly skeletons makes for gripping as well as depressing reading."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Adventure Zone V4: Crystal Kingdom, by Clint McElroy
2. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
3. Anxious People, by Fredrik Backman
4. Hamnet, by Maggie O"Farrell
5. The People We Meet on Vacation, by Emiliy Henry
6. Leonard and Hungry Paul, by Rónán Hession
7. Transcendent Kingdom, by Yaa Gyasi
8. Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid
9. The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires, by Grady Hendrix
10. Rachel to the Rescue, by Elinor Lipman (Register for July 19 event here)
I'm going to use copy again to explain Adventure Zone: "Based on the blockbuster podcast where the McElroy brothers and their dad play a tabletop RPG (role-playing game) and illustrated by cartooning powerhouse Carey Pietsch, The Adventure Zone: The Crystal Kingdom takes this #1 New York Times bestselling series to haunting new heights." And to be clear, there are actually four writers and an illustrator - Clint McElroy does this with his three sons, Griffin, Justin, and Travis, plus the illustrator is Carey Pietsch. To be even clearer, this book gets shunted to graphic novels/comics for bestseller lists, but it outsold all the traditional fiction this week. More details: 1) Loosely Based on Dungeons and Dragons 2) You can listen to the podcast here 3) It's going to be a streaming series on NBC's Peacock.
Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes, by Anna Lardinois
2. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
3. Vesper Flights, by Helen Macdonald
4. My Grandmother's Hands, by Resmaa Menakem
5. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, by Yuval Noah Harari
6. Memorable Milwaukee, by Darlene Rzezotarski
7. Michelin North America Road Atlas 2022
8. Lonely Planet Epic Hikes of the World
9. The Vapors, by David Hill
10. Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

As I was looking for an interesting narrative nonfiction book to read for our In-Store Lit Group, I came upon The Vapors, David Hill's history of Hot Springs, Arkansas, once in contention to be the Las Vegas of the South, and we're not talking about the family-friendly magic shows. The Vapors: A Southern Family, the New York Mob, and the Rise and Fall of Hot Springs, America's Forgotten Capital of Vice is a New York Times notable book of the year. From the starred Publishers Weekly: "Expertly interweaving family memoir, Arkansas politics, and Mafia lore, Hill packs the story full of colorful characters and hair-raising events. This novelistic history hits the jackpot."

Books for Kids:
1. Curious George First Day of School, by Margaret Rey
2. The Night Before First Grade, by Natasha Wing
3. Merriam Webster Elementary Dictionary
4. Mightier than the Sword, by Rochelle Melander (Register for July 27 event here)
5. The Assignment, by Liza Wiemer
6. Any Way the Wind Blows, by Rainbow Rowell
7. Firekeeper's Daughter, by Angeline Boulley
8. Dog Man: Mothering Heights, by Dav Pilkey
9. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom board book, by Bill Martin Jr/Lois Ehlert
10. The Bad Guys in Cut to the Chase, by Aaron Blabey

Curious George First Day of School was published (I think!) in 2005, well after both H.A. (1977) and Margaret Rey (1996) passed away. I thought maybe the writer of the book would appear on the copyright page, but no, just the illustrator of this edition, Anna Grossnickle Hines. But this led me to the question, what exactly did HarperCollins buy when they bought the trade division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. They will likely sell the Curious George books. But did they buy the rights to Curious George? Did they buy The American Heritage Dictionary or just the right to sell the trade edition? I have no clue.
Up next, weekly event roundup

Monday, July 12, 2021

Boswell Events - Anna Lardinois, Willa C Richards, Simon Van Booy and next Monday's Elinor Lipman

Here's what's happening...

Tuesday, July 13, 7 pm
Anna Lardinois, author of Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes: Tragedies and Legacies from the Inland Seas
A vitual event - Register here.

Boswell is pleased to present another great evening with Anna Lardinois of Gothic Milwaukee. In her latest, Lardinois covers the sensational wrecks and maritime disasters from each of the five Great Lakes. The Daniel take - On my sister Merrill's last visit, we went on one of Anna's walks and had a great time. This is a virtual event, but it looks like Anna's next event, for a kids book, will be in person.

It is estimated that over 30,000 sailors have lost their lives in Great Lakes wrecks. For many, these icy, inland seas have become their final resting place, but their last moments live on as a part of maritime history. The tales, all true and well-documented, feature some of the most notable tragedies on each of the lakes. Sailors are a superstitious group, and the stories are sprinkled with omens and maritime protocols that guide decisions made on the water.

Maritime disaster enthusiast Anna Lardinois owns Gothic Milwaukee, the Brew City’s most popular haunted, historical walking tour company. The 11th Pfister Narrator, Lardinois loves to celebrate the best Milwaukee has to offer. Lardinois is author of Milwaukee Ghosts and Legends and Storied and Scandalous Wisconsin.

As recommended, please consider playing Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" to get in the mood. Plus Gordon Lightfoot is in Chicago on July 18.

Wednesday, July 14, 7 pm
Willa C Richards, author of The Comfort of Monsters - ask for your signed copy. And if you contact us today or tomorrow, you can get your book personalized. For web orders, put your request in comments.
in conversation with Valerie Laken for a virtual event
Register for this event here.

Debut author Willa C Richards chats about her novel, set in Milwaukee during the 'Dahmer Summer' of 1991, about two sisters - one who disappears and one who is left to pick up the pieces in the aftermath. In conversation with UWM Professor Valerie Laken. Right now, we expect this event to end before the start of Wednesday's Bucks game. Register to make sure you get any last-minute adjustments.

Teenaged Dee McBride vanished. Thirty years later, her sister Peg is haunted by her sister's disappearance. Their mother, on her deathbed, is desperate to find out what happened. Soon, Peg is drawn back to the past, to those final carefree months when she last saw Dee - the summer the Journal Sentinel called “the deadliest . . . in the history of Milwaukee,” when Jeffrey Dahmer’s heinous crimes dominated the headlines. Digging deep into her memory raises doubts and terrifying questions. Was there anything Peg could have done to prevent Dee’s disappearance? Who was really to blame for the family's loss? And what does it mean to bear witness in a world where even our own stories are inherently suspect?

The Daniel rec: "Peg felt so close to her sister Dee growing up in Milwaukee. When Dee goes missing, Peg is certain she had the answers, but being that her disappearance coincides with Jeffrey Dahmer’s killing spree in Milwaukee, there’s not much interest in pursuing the case. Come to think of it, there’s not much interest in the Dahmer case either among the police. The story jumps back and forth between 1991 and 2019, with Peg’s anxiety about the long-unsolved case leading to a downward spiral, making The Comfort of Monsters part of a library of Milwaukee novels (Sorry to Disrupt the Peace, A Door Behind a Door) framed as mystery/thrillers but are more existential character studies. I was impressed by how Richards captures the visceral discomfort that permeates the story, as she touches on many moments of violence, from toxic behavior to sexual assault and other horrors. A memorable story that could well cross over to true crime readers."

From Publishers Weekly: "The author does an excellent job of showing Peg at two different points in her life and depicting how she is perpetually trapped between guilt and hope as she acquiesces to Thomas’s methods. The other characters are equally well drawn. In a glut of dead girl stories and true crime vehicles, Richards pulls of a wrenching and rewarding twist on both."

From Sarah Weinman in The New York Times: "Novels that explore the effects and aftermath of serial murder, especially over the course of decades, always capture my interest.Willa C. Richards’s debut, The Comfort of Monsters is a particularly impressive example, setting its layered narrative of sisterhood, tough upbringings, violence and grief against the backdrop of what happened in Milwaukee during the summer of 1991, when the city reeled after Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested for killing a number of young men."

Read Jim Higgins's profile in the Journal Sentinel.

Willa C Richards is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow. She earned her PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. And yes, she also graduated from Brookfield East High School. Valerie Laken is author of Dream House and Separate Kingdoms.

Thursday, July 15, 2 pm
Simon Van Booy, author of Night Came with Many Stars
in Conversation with Sharon Nagel and Daniel Goldin for A Virtual Event
Cohosted by the Whitefish Bay Public Library
Register for this event here

Boswell Book Company and the Whitefish Bay Library welcome Simon Van Booy (virtually) back to Milwaukee for a conversation about his latest novel, a story that begins when a man in 1930s Kentucky loses his 13-year-old daughter in a game of cards. Van Booy is author of Boswell favorite The Illusion of Seperateness. (A second-hand copy, is also available as of July 12)

Award-winning author Simon Van Booy's spellbinding novel spans decades as he tells the story of Carol, a young girl in 1930s Kentucky who lives in poverty and struggles with abuse. Just one bet in a card game alters her life forever. Incidents intersect and lives unexpectedly change course in this story of chance and choice that leads home again to a night blessed with light. For those of you who read and loved The Illusion of Separateness after we recommended it to you, this novel is the closest Van Booy has gotten in style and structure to that story.

The Daniel rec: "After her mother dies, a young Kentucky girl falls prey to her abusive father, forever known only as Carol’s Daddy, who winds up using her as stakes in a poker game. Fifty years later, Samuel and Eddie are forever bonded by a shop class accident. How the stories connect, and how seemingly small acts can resonate over generations drives the latest novel from the author of the Boswell favorite, The Illusion of Separateness. Van Booy loves bonds, he loves repercussions, he loves large characters on a small stage, and most of all, he loves grace. Is it sentimental? Unabashedly, but it’s counterpointed by a spare style, where often what’s unsaid is as important as what is. There’s no speculative element to the story, and yet, in its contemplativeness, I’d recommend it to folks liking Matt Haig’s books. Affecting and wondrous!"

From Kirkus Reviews: "In the words of one of Carol’s unlikely saviors, everyone reaches a crossroads in life, where they can choose to take another way. The same sage observes that what you give in the world will be returned and what you take will be taken; these lessons, shared with Carol on a miserable ride to redemption, inform just about every action and interaction between and among the myriad characters Van Booy sets loose on the slowly revolving stage of rural, karmic destiny. This well-crafted and often serendipitous saga recognizes that family cannot be escaped but can be expanded."

From Jason Sheehan at the NPR website: "I've been a fan of Van Booy's work for a long time. His short stories read like jagged glass set in beautiful boxes. Night is not a lot different. A novel, yes, and maybe his best — best of all his work I've read, for sure, and better, by a long stretch, than so much I've read that wasn't written by him. But if his short stories are pieces of glass, each distinct and different, Night is a stained-glass window, shattered. It is a series of vignettes - of moments lifted whole and raw from the lives of a Kentucky family, generations deep - and not pieced together but curated. Each on display. Each its own and complete, but part of a greater whole."

Simon Van Booy is author of thirteen books, including Love Begins in Winter, winner of the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, and Everything Beautiful Began After. He has written for the New York Times, NPR, and the BBC. Van Booy attended college in Kentucky on a football scholarship and lived in the state for several years.

Sharon Nagel is a librarian at Whitefish Bay Public Library. She's one half of the writing team of Juneau Black, whose books are Shady Hollow, Cold Clay, and Mirror Lake. Look for 2022 publication of this series from Anchor Books! 

Sneak peak at next week:
Monday, July 19, 7 pm
Elinor Lipman, author of Rachel to the Rescue
in conversation with Jane Hamilton
Register for this event here.

Join us for an evening with Elinor Lipman, one of America's funniest novelists, for her mischievous novel of political satire. In conversation with her long-time friend Jane Hamilton, acclaimed author of The Excellent Lombards and A Map of the World. Ask for your signed Elinor Lipman bookplate with purchase.

Rachel Klein is sacked from her job at the White House after she sends an email criticizing Donald Trump. As she is escorted off the premises she is hit by a speeding car, driven by what the press will discreetly call "a personal friend of the President." Does that explain the flowers, the get-well wishes at a press briefing, the hush money offered by a lawyer at her hospital bedside? Rachel’s recovery is soothed by comically doting parents, matchmaking room-mates, a new job as aide to a journalist whose books aim to defame the President, and unexpected love at the local wine store. But secrets leak, and Rachel’s new-found happiness has to make room for more than a little chaos. Will she bring down the President? Or will he manage to do that all by himself? Rachel to the Rescue is a mischievous political satire, with a delightful cast of characters, from one of America’s funniest novelists.

From Beth Gutcheon: "Utterly, deliciously funny and winning. Just what the doctor ordered." We'll have a fuller portion of Lipman love next Monday for the July 19 event.

More on the Boswell upcoming events page.

Photo credits!
Simon Van Booy by Lucas Hunt
Elinor Lipman by Michael Benabib

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Boswell bestsellers - week ending July 10, 2021

Here's what's selling at Boswell - week ending July 10, 2021

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Shoulder Season, by Christina Clancy
2. The Forest of Vanishing Stars, by Kristin Harmel (Register for July 26 event here)
3. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
4. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro
5. The Paper Palace, by Miranda Cowley Heller
6. The Witness for the Dead, by Katherine Addison
7. Razorblade Tears, by SA Cosby (Register for July 20 event here)
8. Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir
9. The Paris Library, by Janet Skeslien Charles
10. The Personal Librarian, by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

Libraries are the new bookstores, at least when it comes to subject matter! With three library-themed novels in our top ten, we probably should give a nod to The Personal Librarian, by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray. I'm not sure it took me until now to realize that Marie Benedict was a pseudonym for fiction writer Heather Terrell. I can thank Karen Grisby Bates for that revelation, as well as this great review on NPR: "Benedict, who is white, and Murray, who is African American, do a good job of depicting the tightrope Belle walked, and her internal conflict from both sides — wanting to adhere to her mother's wishes and move through the world as white even as she longed to show her father she was proud of her race. Like Belle and her employer, Benedict and Murray had almost instant chemistry, and as a result, the book's narrative is seamless. And despite my aversion to the passing trope, I became hooked."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Sum of Us, by Heather McGhee
2. Stories to Tell, by Richard Marx
3. Finding the Mother Tree, by Suzanne Simard
4. How the Word Is Passed, by Clint Smith
5. This Is Your Mind on Plants, by Michael Pollan
6. Frank Lloyd Wright's Forgotten House, by Nicholas D Hayes
7. Anthropocene Reviewed, by John Green
8. Somebody's Daughter, by Ashley C Ford
9. The Comfort Book, by Matt Haig
10. Untamed, by Glennon Doyle

With The Midnight Library regularly in our top 5 (and that's true for the national bestseller lists too) and How to Stop Time also seeing a sales resurgence, it's a great time for Matt Haig's latest nonfiction title, The Comfort Book. Up until his latest novel, his most popular book was a similarly packaged-to-this nonfiction title, Reasons to Stay Alive. It's got a yay from Booklist ("This is a book we all need and deserve") and a nay from Kirkus (not bothering to quote). Haig was just profiled in Entertainment Weekly by Seija Rankin, where he gives a shout out to my 6-days-a-week breakfast, toast and peanut butter*.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
2. Anxious People, by Fredrik Backman
3. Interior Chinatown, by Charles Yu
4. Leonard and Hungry Paul, by Rónán Hession
5. Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell
6. One Last Stop, by Casey McQuiston
7. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
8. The People We Meet on Vacation, by Emily Henry
9. Woman 99, by Greer Macallister
10. The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune

I shouldn't call Anxious People Fredrik Backman's comeback novel, but it was by far his most successful for both us, and if you look at chart performance at least, nationally, since A Man Called Ove. Our rec from Kira (now resettled in Utah) offered this praise: "His ability to really put into writing all of the facets of human nature, and to weave together a story that's at once multifaceted, compelling, laugh-out-loud funny, and utterly relatable is a gift, and I'm thankful to experience it. Anxious People and all of the ridiculous, complex characters within hold that truly perfect blend of depth and levity that Backman has perfected in his novels..."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley
2. Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes, by Anna Lardinois (Register for July 13 event here)
3. Plenty Good Room, by Marilyn Thornton
4. One Person, No Vote, by Carol Anderson
5. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
6. New York Times Cooking No Recipe Recipes, by Sam Sifton
7. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk
8. Holding Change, by adrienne maree brown
9. Say Nothing, by Patrick Radden Keefe
10. How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

Holding Change: The Way of Emergent Strategy Facilitation and Mediation is the latest in a series of books on Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown, based on the philosophical underpinnings of Octavia Butler's Earthseed books.

Books for Kids:
1. Clap When You Land, by Elizabeth Acevedo
2. Shadowshaper, by Daniel José Older
3. Before We Were Free, by Julia Alvarez
4. Any Way the Wind Blows, by Rainbow Rowell
5. Aru Shah and the End of Time, by Roshani Chokshi
6. Storm Runner, by JC Cervantes
7. Everything You Need to Ace World History, from Workman
8. Wave, by Suzy Lee
9. Pat the Bunny, by Dorothy Kunhardt
10. Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs, by America's Test Kitchen

Any Way the Wind Blows is the third (and final?) title in the Simon Snow trilogy. I've seen too many trilogies become a quartet to be confident that this series has ended. Everything says it's a finale! Rowell talked to Joanna Robinson for Vanity Fair, who noted: "All the same fun trappings of the first two Simon Snow books are also here, including the clever conceit that magic is found in repeating common phrases or lyrics — hence the familiar-sounding book titles. Simon, Baz, and the rest also have to deal with the rise of a new charismatic Chosen One who rushes in to fill the vacuum left by a magic-less Snow."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins profiles Willa C Richards, author of the Milwaukee-set debut, The Comfort of Monsters (on sale July 13). Higgins notes the novel "grew out of an excavation. Patricia Richards, the novelist's mother, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee anthropologist and experienced human burial excavator, was approached for help by people convinced their loved one was buried at the Milwaukee County institutional grounds. Willa volunteered to help her mother on that project. That experience got her pondering why so many cold cases remain 'intractably unsolved,' she said, even with advances in forensic science. She also considered how resources and attention for smaller cases can be subsumed by much larger ones." Our event is July 14. Register here.

*sans Marmite

Monday, July 5, 2021

Events - Richard Marx, Katherine Addison, Christina Clancy

Here's what is virtually happening at Boswell this week.

Tuesday, July 6, 7 pm
Richard Marx, author of Stories to Tell: A Memoir
in Conversation with Duff McKagan for a Virtual Event
Tickets available here.

We are joining up with Anderson's Bookshop of Naperville and Downer's Grove and Left Bank Books of St. Louis to present an evening with Richard Marx, in conversation with Duff McKagan of Guns 'N Roses. Each ticket costs $24.30 plus tax and ticket fee and includes admission for one device to the event and a copy of Stories to Tell. Books can be picked up at Boswell, or shipped for an extra fee. As we say in the business, the event is bundled.

Richard Marx debuted in 1987 and seemed like he came out of nowhere to have four top ten hits off his first album, culminating in the #1 song "Hold on the Nights." But his story in the music business began writing songs and signing backing vocals, after leaving the Chicago suburbs for Los Angeles.

Here's my recommendation: "This is what you want in a music memoir – the story behind the songs, interesting details about recording sessions, crazy tour stories, a whole mess of name dropping (Luther Vandross telling Marx to take his hands off the cashmere walls? A feud with Kenny Loggins? Barbara Streisand rejected ‘Right Here Waiting’ because she doesn’t wait for anyone? All that and plenty more is in there), and the sense that the musician you’re reading about is basically a good egg. I’ve always been curious about how Marx’s breakout first single was about how the music business chews you up and spits you out; now that I know that he was pitching his songs and singing backing vocals for years before his first single, it makes sense. When Lionel Richie sang ‘All Night Long,’ who was responding with ‘All night’? That’s right, Richard Marx."

From 1975 to 2001, I kept track of every song I liked, documenting each track's rise and fall on my own personal chart. This is more common than you think. At one point, I had ten or so friends and acquaintances who were sharing their personal stats. The rise of the internet may have indirectly led to the demise of this hobby - I found a website with hundreds of personal charts. For some reason, it made me feel less like a tribe member and more like a cog. At the time, my two highest charting songs were "Don't Mean Nothing" and "Endless Summer Nights," but now, having listened to a lot of Richard Marx in the last few months, I have taken to "Hazard," which was his second biggest hit in the UK after "Right Here Waiting."

Richard Marx has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide, is the only male artist whose first seven singles reached the Top 5 on the Billboard charts, and has written on a number one single in each of the last four decades - an accolade previously only reached by Michael Jackson. He won a 2004 Song of the Year Grammy and has scored fourteen number-one singles, both as a performer and as a songwriter/producer. For many years he lived in Lake Bluff, Illinois, but is now back in Southern California.

Duff McKagan is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and founding member of bands such as Guns N Roses and Velvet Revolver. He's also written online columns for Seattle Weekly, Playboy, and ESPN as well as a memoir titled It's So Easy: And Other Lies.

Wednesday, July 7, 7 pm
Katherine Addison, author of The Witness for the Dead
in conversation with Jim Higgins for a virtual event
Register for this event here

Wisconsin author Katherine Addison (also known as Sarah Monette) returns to Boswell virtually for a conversation with Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Books Editor Jim Higgins about her new novel, a stand-alone sequel that returns readers to the fantastical world of The Goblin Emperor. We know Higgins is an Addison fan, and it seemed perfect to reunite the two, this time virtually. No geographic boundaries for these two!

Addison took the world by storm with her brilliant and sensitive characterizations in The Goblin Emperor. She continues to immerse readers in the lives of her exotic, yet ever-so-human characters in this delicious stand-alone sequel. When the half-goblin emperor sought to learn who killed his father and half-brothers, he turned to an obscure resident of his Court: a Witness for the Dead. Celehar found the truth, though it did him no good to discover it. Now Celehar lives in the city of Amalo, far from the Court though not exactly in exile. He has not escaped from politics, but his position gives him the ability to serve the common people of the city, which is his preference. He lives modestly, but his decency and fundamental honesty will not permit him to live quietly.

John Scalzi, author of Old Man’s War and Redshirts, says, "I've been wanting to return to the world of The Goblin Emperor from the moment I finished that book, and The Witness For the Dead does not disappoint. At once intimate and literally operatic, it's everything I love about Katherine Addison's writing, in ways I didn't know to expect. I loved it."

From Jim Higgins in the Journal Sentinel: "Witness is satisfying mystery fiction, but it is also strong fantasy, building a complex but believable society, including naming and linguistic conventions. It's gently steampunk: airships! In some pages, it's horror, as Celehar undertakes a frightening ordeal."

Katherine Addison is author of The Goblin Emperor, which won a Locus Award, and The Angel of the Crows. As Sarah Monette, she is the author of the Doctrine of Labyrinths series and co-author, with Elizabeth Bear, of the Iskryne series. Her short fiction has been selected by The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and The Year’s Best Science Fiction. Addison lives near Madison, Wisconsin.

Thursday, July 8, 7 pm
Christina Clancy, author of Shoulder Season
in conversation with Liam Callanan for a virtual event
Register for this event here

Boswell and Books & Company present an evening with Christina Clancy, author of The Second Home and her latest novel, a coming-of-age story set in the 70s at the bygone Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. For this event, she will be in conversation with Liam Callanan, author of Paris by the Book.

A small town in Wisconsin is an unlikely location for a Playboy Resort, and nineteen-year old Sherri Taylor is an unlikely bunny. Growing up in neighboring East Troy, Sherri plays the organ at the local church and has never felt comfortable in her own skin. But when her parents die in quick succession, she leaves the only home she’s ever known for the chance to be part of a glamorous slice of history. In the winter of 1981, in a costume two sizes too small, her toes pinched by stilettos, Sherri joins the daughters of dairy farmers and factory workers for the defining experience of her life.

From the Midwestern prairie to the California desert, from Wisconsin lakes to the Pacific Ocean, this is a story of what happens when small town life is sprinkled with stardust, and what we lose - and gain - when we leave home. With a heroine to root for and a narrative to get lost in, Shoulder Season is a sexy, evocative tale, drenched in longing and desire, that captures a fleeting moment in American history with nostalgia and heart.

Jim Higgins talked to Clancy for the Journal Sentinel about how she got the idea for a book set in East Troy and a chance meeting with Bunny Jojo that gave life to the story.

Christina Clancy is author of The Second Home. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Chicago Tribune, and in literary journals like Glimmer Train, Pleiades, and Hobart. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and lives in Madison with her family. Liam Callanan is Professor of English at UWM; his additional books are The Cloud Atlas, All Saints, and Listen: Stories.

More on the Boswell Upcoming Events page.

Photo credits
Richard Marx by Daisy Fuentes
Duff McKagan by Studio Dudelson
Christina Clancy by James Bartelt
Liam Callanan by Patrick Manning

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending July 3, 2021

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending July 3, 2021 - yes, half of 2021 has happened!

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
2. Malibu Rising, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
3. While Justice Sleeps, by Stacey Abrams
4. The Bombay Prince, by Sujata Massey
5. The Other Black Girl, by Zakiya Dalilah Harris
6. Night Came with Many Stars, by Simon Van Booy (Register for July 15 event here)
7. The President's Daughter, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
8. Golden Girl, by Elin Hildebrand
9. Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir
10. Dream Girl, by Laura Lippman

Here's the plot of the new Clinton/Patterson novel, The President's Daughter: "A madman abducts Keating’s teenage daughter, Melanie—turning every parent’s deepest fear into a matter of national security. As the world watches in real time, Keating embarks on a one-man special-ops mission that tests his strengths: as a leader, a warrior, and a father." I love that the publisher comes up Little Brown Knopf in our system. As opposed to the Big Blue Knopf. From Sarah Lyall in The New York Times: "Let us stipulate that we are not reading this book to gain valuable insights into the inner workings of United States foreign policy. No, we are reading for as many references to military hardware as possible, a formidable alphanumeric arsenal..." "Highly entertaining," Lyall noted.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Me and White Supremacy, by Layla Saad
2. Pocket Neighborhoods, by Ross Chapin
3. Frank Lloyd Wright's Forgotten House, by Nicholas B Hayes
4. Finding the Mother Tree, by Suzanne Simard
5. The Heartbeat of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben
6. Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson
7. Anthropocene Reviewed, by John Green
8. Cruelty Is the Point, by Adam Serwer
9. Hola Papi, by John Paul Brammer
10. Nice Racism, by Robin DiAngelo

Peter Wohlleben, like Suzanne Simard, has had a larger profile since Richard Powers's The Overstory, but unlike Simard, he already had a national bestseller with The Hidden Life of Trees. Now in The Heartbeat of Trees: Embracing Our Ancient Bond with Forests and Nature, Wohlleben returns to the forest and "draws on new scientific discoveries to show how humans are deeply connected to the natural world." From Marc Bekoff in Psychology Today: "I keep my copy of The Heartbeat of Trees in a place where I can grab it and reread different sections. For people who want to read about facts of nature that likely will be new for them, this should be a go-to book."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, by Quentin Tarantino
2. Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell (Info on Boswell-Run Book Clubs here)
3. The People We Meet on Vacation, by Emily Henry
4. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
5. Leonard and Hungry Paul, by Rónán Hession
6. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
7. The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires, by Grady Henrdix
8. Catch the Rabbit, by Lana Bastašić
9. The Book of Lost Friends, by Lisa Wingate
10. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong

Dwight Garner in The New York Times on Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino's first novel, issued as a dime-store mass market (though it costs more than a dime): "Tarantino isn’t trying to play here what another novelist/screenwriter, Terry Southern, liked to call the Quality Lit Game. He’s not out to impress us with the intricacy of his sentences or the nuance of his psychological insights. He’s here to tell a story, in take-it-or-leave-it Elmore Leonard fashion, and to make room along the way to talk about some of the things he cares about  - old movies, male camaraderie, revenge and redemption, music and style. He gets it: Pop culture is what America has instead of mythology. He got bitten early by this notion, and he’s stayed bitten." 

 Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Life Is Short, by Dasha Kelly Hamilton
2. Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes, by Anna Lardinois (Register for July 13 event here)
3. Vesper Flights, by Helen Macdonald
4. Walking Milwaukee, by Royal Brevvaxling and Molly Snyder
5. Rescuing the Light, by Martin Prechtel
6. Spirit Run, by Noe Alvarez
7. Haunted Wisconsin, by Linda S Godrey
8. Racial Justice and the Catholic Church, by Bryan Massingale
9. Classic Restaurants of Milwaukee, by Jennifer Billock
10. Epic Hikes of the World, from Lonely Planet

Out in paperback this week is Vesper Flights, which officially comes out on July 13, but it's pub date, not on-sale date, so we're selling the books now, but they won't show up on our website. So confusing! Macdonald's event for the hardcover was one of our more successful virtual ticket-with-book events. Boswellian Tim McCarthy raved: "The broad range of topics, the wit alongside intellect, and the stunning depth of wisdom all left me awed, and gratefully surprised!" Plus Michael Schaub on the NPR website wrote: "Macdonald is endlessly thoughtful, but she's also a brilliant writer."

Books for Kids:
1. Firekeeper's Daughter, by Angline Boulley
2. Class Acts, by Jerry Craft
3. Hilda and the Troll, by Luke Pearson
4. Turtle in a Tree, by Neesha Hudson
5. Color Monster, by Anna Llenas
6. Stamped, by Jason Reynolds/Ibram X Kendi
7. Q and U Call It Quits, by Stef Wade
8. Girl from the Sea, by Molly Osterag
9. Molly and the Mathematical Mysteries, by Eugenia Cheng
10. Concrete Rose, by Angie Thomas

It's so hard to know about everything before it comes out if you're not the buyer. So sometimes I get as excited as you do when I see this list. Is there really a Eugenia Cheng children's book? There is! It's called Molly and the Mathematical Mysteries: Ten Interactive Adventures in Mathematical Wonderland, and it's published by Big Picture Press, an imprint of Candlewick. Each spread is a puzzle paired with a mathematical concept, aptly illustrated by Aleksandra Artymouska. From Kirkus: "Considerably more than six 'implausible but not impossible' things to believe before breakfast... and after."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins spoke to Christina Clancy about Shoulder Season, her new novel about an East Troy woman who gets a job at the legendary Playboy Resort of Lake Geneva. From the interview: "Clancy wrote a scene in which an upset Sherri pulled her Bunny ears off, threw them in the garbage and stomped out the door. After she sent that scene to Ellis, the former Bunny called immediately. 'Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, that is all wrong,' Clancy remembers Ellis telling her. 'Never ever in a million years throw away your ears or your tail. Those don't belong to you. They belong to Playboy, and you have to give them back and they're really valuable. And you'll get charged for them.'" 

Register for our virtual joint event with Books & Company on July 8 here, with Clancy in conversation with Liam Callanan.