Monday, May 17, 2021

Events this week - Nicholas Hayes with Catherine Boldt, Linda Rui Feng with Ji Hao, Claudia Ross, and Daniel Goldin, Jerry Enzler with Douglas Brinkley, Barrett Swanson with Steven Wright

More information about this week's events. All events Central Time. All events virtual for now.

Monday, May 17, 7 pm
Nicholas D Hayes, author of Frank Lloyd Wright's Forgotten House: How an Omission Transformed the Architect's Legacy
in Conversation with Catherine Boldt
Register for the event here.
The Shorewood Public Library, Shorewood Historical Society, and Boswell present Nicholas D Hayes for a conversation about his latest book, which chronicles an oft-overlooked part of Lloyd Wright’s architectural legacy - his forays into affordable housing. In conversation with Frank Lloyd Wright scholar Catherine Boldt.  Hayes is also the author of Saving Sailing and is a columnist for Sailing Magazine. He leads innovation at a water technology company.

While the grandiosity of Fallingwater and elegance of Taliesin are recognized near universally, Frank Lloyd Wright’s work on his American System-Built Homes is less appreciated. The project fell apart following wartime shortages and disputes between the architect and his developer. While continuing to advocate for the design of affordable small homes, Wright never spoke publicly of ASBH. As a result, the heritage of many Wright-designed homes was forgotten, like the home in question in Shorewood, whose legacy was temporarily misplaced in the 1970s.

Bobby Tanzilo talked to Nicholas D Hayes in OnMilaukee: Tanzilo called Frank Lloyd Wright's Forgotten House "a book that is part history, part home restoration, part architecture, part memoir and a work much more monumental than its slim size might suggest. Such a readable, personal and deep-diving work about a local Wright house hasn’t been written in years, if ever."

Tuesday, May 18, 7 pm
Linda Rui Feng, author of Swimming Back to Trout River
In conversation with Ji Hao, Claudia Ross, and Daniel Goldin
Register for the event here

Linda Rui Feng, Professor of Chinese Cultural History at the University of Toronto, chats about her new book, a lyrical novel set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution. This is a novel that’s won over the critics (starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist) and booksellers alike. She'll talk to Ji Hao and Claudia Ross of the College of the Holy Cross Chinese Studies program, as well as Boswell bookseller Daniel Goldin.

How did this event come together? Why is Boswell working with Holy Cross professors? As you probably can guess, most of the folks in my family are voracious readers. Being that my sister Claudia is a Professor of Chinese Studies, we often share our thoughts about books written by Chinese and Chinese American writers, both fiction and nonfiction. After finishing and enjoying my copy of Swimming Back to Trout River, I sent to her, knowing that she would particularly enjoy the author's thoughts on Language and translation. And then I did a little more research and found out that my sister's colleague and friend Ji Hao had hosted Linda Rui Feng for a conference called "Love and Desire in Premodern China" at Holy Cross several years ago. And so the connections were already there.

1986 in a small Chinese village, ten-year-old Junie receives a letter from her parents who had left for America years ago: her father promises to return home and collect her by her twelfth birthday. But Junie’s growing determination to stay in the idyllic countryside with her beloved grandparents threatens to derail her family’s shared future. What Junie doesn’t know is that her parents, Momo and Cassia, are newly estranged from one another in their adopted country, each holding close private tragedies and histories from the tumultuous years of their youth during China’s Cultural Revolution. 

Wednesday, May 19, 7 pm
Jerry Enzler, author of Jim Bridger: Trailblazer of the American West
in conversation with Douglas Brinkley
Register for this event here

Boswell hosts an evening of conversation featuring Jerry Enzler, former Founding Director of the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, for his biography of the iconic frontiersman and mountain man of the American West, Jim Bridger. For this event, Enzler will be in conversation with historian Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Rice University, contributor to Vanity Fair, CNN's official historian and author of books such as American Moonshot and The Wilderness Warrior.

Even among iconic frontiersmen like John C Frémont, Kit Carson, and Jedediah Smith, Jim Bridger stands out. Straddling the fur trade era and the age of exploration, Bridger lived the life legends are made of. In a biography that finally gives this outsize character his due, Enzler taps newly discovered sources and takes this frontiersman’s full measure for the first time and tells a story that would do Jim Bridger proud.

Of the new book, Candy Moulton writes in Historynet: "Enzler lays out Bridger’s life chronologically and with the right amount of detail to take full measure of the legendary figure. This biography should be on the bookshelf of anyone interested in the fur trade and early era of overland travel."

Thursday, May 20, 7 pm
Barrett Swanson, author of Lost in Summerland: Essays
in Conversation with Steven Wright
Register for this event here

Madison-based (and former metro Milwaukeean) essayist Barrett Swanson chats about his debut book of reportage, in which he embarks on a personal quest across the United States to uncover what it means to be an American amid the swirl of our post-truth climate. Swanson's essays have appeared in Harper'sThe New Yorker, and the Paris Review, and he's been anthologized in two editions of Best American Travel Writing. He’ll chat with Steven Wright, author of the novel The Coyotes of Carthage. Cohosted by Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library.

Traversing the country, Swanson introduces us to a new reality. At a moment when grand unifying narratives have splintered into competing storylines, these critically acclaimed essays document the many routes by which people are struggling to find stability in the aftermath of our country’s political and economic collapse, sometimes at dire and disillusioning costs.

From Publishers Weekly: “Journalist Swanson investigates in his searching debut what he sees as America’s pervasive spiritual restlessness and alienation. In probing his central concern of how American communities cope with and find meaning in the wake of “national turmoil or geopolitical crisis,” Swanson mixes in personal stories about his own search for greater fulfillment."

And don't forget next week!
Mary Alice Monroe, author of The Summer of Lost and Found
in conversation with Margy Stratton
Monday, May 24, 7 pm
$5 tickets for the event here. Upgrade to ticket-with-book for $28 plus sales tax and ticket fee.

Friends and Fiction fans rejoice! The Lynden Sculpture Garden's Women's Speaker Series, sponsored by Milwaukee Reads and Boswell Book Company, welcome Mary Alice Monroe back to Milwaukee for a virtual, BYOS (bring-your-own-snacks) event for her latest novel, the latest in her New York Times bestselling Beach House series. $5 from each ticket is donated back to the Lynden Sculpture Garden.

This tender and compassionate novel follows the historic Rutledge family of Charleston, South Carolina as they face a summer of upheaval and change with perseverance, a spirit of unity, and a dose of humor, discovering unexpected joys and lessons that will endure long past the season. Monroe once again delves into the complexities of family relationships and brings her signature sensitive storytelling to this poignant and timely novel of love, courage, and resilience.

More on the Boswell upcoming event page.

photo credits
Linda Rui Feng, by Anastasia Brauer
Jerry Enzler, by Michael Morain
Mary Alice Monroe, by Mic Smith

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Boswell bestsellers, week ending May 15, 2021

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending May 15, 2021
Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Summer of Lost and Found, by Mary Alice Monroe (Tickets for May 24 event here)
2. Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir
3. While Justice Sleeps, by Stacey Abrams
4. The Hill We Climb, by Amanda Gorman
5. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro
6. The Paris Library, by Janet Skeslien Charles
7. The Five Wounds, by Kirstin Valdez Quade
8. Raft of Stars, by Andrew J Graff
9. Swimming Back to Trout River, by Linda Rui Feng (Register for May 18 event here)
10. At the End of the World, Turn Left, by Zhanna Slor

Today's big breakout is politician Stacey Abrams's While Justice Sleeps, but unlike most politicians, this is no political platform or a gimmick where a noted pol teams up with a famous writer. Jeff Rowe writes for the Associated Press, reprinted in the Tulsa World: "While Justice Sleeps is a deftly written page-turner - understated action, vivid characters and a tense, plausible plot...Supreme Court justice Howard Wynn, suffering from a rare illness, falls into a coma, leaving his young law clerk, Avery Keene, as his legal guardian with power of attorney. Keene soon finds herself the key figure in the planned merger of an American biotech company and an Indian genetics company. At stake, a weaponized genetic editing capability and the tenure of a corrupt American president. Wynn is the swing vote on the merger and his fate now is controlled by Keene."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Reaganland, by Rick Perlstein
2. No One Succeeds Alone, by Robert Reffkin
3. Finding the Mother Tree, by Suzanne Simard
4. Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner
5. The Promonition, by Michael Lewis
6. Frank Lloyd Wright's Forgotten House, by Nicholas D Hayes (Register for May 17 event here)
7. What Happened to You? By Oprah Winfrey and Bruce Perry
8. The Sum of Us, by Heather McGhee
9. Broken in the Best Possible Way, by Jenny Lawson
10. The Code Breaker, by Walter Isaacson

It's the second week on the list for another Father's Day gift hopeful - The Premonition, by Michael Lewis. In his latest, Lewis looks at some untold stories behind the recent COVID pandemic, and as he usually does, calls out some heretofore under-the-radar prophets, like Charity Dean, a public health doctor in California, and Carter Mescher, one of the doctors on the disbanded-by-Trump pandemic response unit. Mark O'Connell writes in The Guardian: " As with his last book, The Fifth Risk, Lewis’s approach here is to find a small number of unheralded individuals working within vast systems, and use them to portray the workings (or, in this case, not-workings) of those systems. The malevolent force in The Premonition is institutional malaise."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Leonard and Hungry Paul, by Rónán Hession (it's here in paperback!)
2. Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid
3. The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune
4. Sharks in the Time of Saviors, by Kawai Strong Washburn
5. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
6. People We Meet on Vacation, by Emily Henry
7. A Raising in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry
8. The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides
9. The Blue Star, by Pam Jenoff
10. The Bookshop of Second Chances, by Jackie Fraser

With The Underground Railroad the big streaming release this week and Leonard and Hungry Paul's sales pop in paperback, you'd think I'd be talking about them. But no, this week we feature a new paperback original romantic comedy with a nice AP review (reprinted in the Gillette News Record) from Alicia Rancilio: "A truly good romantic comedy, whether it be a novel or a movie, justifies why two people are drawn to each other. It builds a case for the relationship so it makes sense why they’re together. In Emily Henry’s latest book, People We Meet on Vacation, she does just that, introducing Poppy and Alex, two polar opposites who met in college but happened to both be from the same town in Ohio. It’s a shared ride home for the summer (hello, wink to one of the greatest rom-coms ever, When Harry Met Sally) where they talk about everything and anything, and a friendship is born." And yes, they go on vacation and have a terrible split and the question is whether they can piece their friendship (and more?) back together again.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Stay Sexy and Don't Get Murdered, by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
2. Healing the Human Body with God's Remedies, by Lester Carter
3. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
4. Dirt, by Bill Buford
5. The Body, by Bill Bryson
6. The End of Everything, by Katie Mack
7. Trees of Wisconsin Field Guide, by Stan Tekiela
8. New Day Yesterday, by Mike Barnes
9. 111 Places in Milwaukee You Must Not Miss, by Michelle Madden
10. The Year 1000, by Valerie Hansen

I don't remember this book going top 10 in hardcover, but we've got a nice paperback pop for The End of Everything from theoretical astrophysicist Katie Mack, who writes a column for Cosmos Magazine. From James Gleick in The New York Times: "Many books have been written about our cosmic origins: the creation of the universe 13.8 billion years ago; the Big Bang and all that followed. The denouement, presumably tens of billions of years away, remains comparatively mysterious. How does it all end? For that matter, does it all end, or can we keep on in our merry way indefinitely? In The End of Everything: (Astrophysically Speaking), Mack, a theoretical cosmologist at North Carolina State University, attempts to answer what might seem the most remote of scientific questions."

Books for Kids:
1. Firekeeper's Daughter, by Angeline Boulley (Register for June 29 event here)
2. One Thing You'd Save, by Linda Sue Park and Heng Sae
3. Dog Man V10: Mothering Heights, by Dav Pilkey
4. City Spies V1, by James Ponti
5. Golden Gate V2: City Spies, by Mames Ponti
6. Stamped for Kids, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi
7. Dog Man V5: Lord of the Fleas, by Dav Pilkey
8. Goodnight Moon board book, by Margaret Wise Brown
9. Jungle Night, by Sandra Boynton/Yo Yo Ma
10. And Then Came Hope, by Stephen Savage

We're getting close to the end of our school year visits, but we still have an event with James Ponti coming up next week and we're still soliciting sales for Stephen Savage's And Then Came Hope. It's a new book for the vehicle obsessed young reader, based on the true story of the SS Hope hospital shop, which Booklist calls "sometimes comical, sometimes exciting, and most of all, comforting... Savage's hospital ship looks like a nurse - facial features are drawn on the bow of the ship, and the rectangular superstructure on top, with the Red Cross symbol in the middle, looks like a nurse's white cap." They publishers are rushing a board book edition for fall.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, it's time for Carole E Barrowman's summer mystery roundup. Her picks:

--Quiet in Her Bones, by Nalini Singh
--The Bombay Prince, by Sujata Massey (Register for June 17 event here)
--Bad Moon Rising, by John Galligan
--Dead Before Dawn, by Paul Doiron
--The Hollywood Spy, by Susan Elia MacNeal
--Razorblade Tears, by S.A. Cosby (Register for July 20 event here)
--For Your Own Good, by Samantha Downing
--Mrs. March, by Virginia Feito

Next up, Boswell events for next week

Monday, May 10, 2021

Boswell week in virtual events - Joan Silber, Sanjena Sathian, Kirstin Valdez Quade, Todd Lazarski, Zhanna Slor

We start off with a cosponsorship.
Monday, May 10, 6:30 pm
Zhanna Slor, author of At the End of the World, Turn Left
Hosted by the Shorewood Public Library
Join this virtual event. No registration necessary.

Bethanne Patrick offered a glowing review of At the End of the World, Turn Left on NPR - it's thrilling to see an independently published book get a major shout out: "It's rare to find a debut mystery crafted with such elegance and authenticity, let alone in a place that has been so neglected as a literary location." 

Slor is part of the generation of Soviet Jewish emigrés who settled in Milwaukee area in the 1990s. Though the novel is set in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood, the family settled in Shorewood, which of course led to the Library hosting the event. She's also a UWM alum. Slor recently moved back to town after living in Chicago. She's been a frequent contributor to The Forward and her work has appeared in the Michigan Quarterly Review and Another Chicago Magazine.

The placiness of At the End of the World, Turn Left is important to the novel. She spoke to Matt Wild in for Milwaukee Record about reckoning with Riverwest: "When you’re young, the friendships you make can feel like these train wrecks that you will never be able to unravel yourself from—which can be both good and bad—but then as you get older, people change a lot. It’s not necessarily the case that your college best friend remains your best friend into your thirties. It took a long time for me to understand that it’s just a natural part of growing up. I think I wanted to blame Riverwest, or the people I knew in Riverwest, but it was much more complicated than that, which is sort of what I wanted to portray through Masha’s POV in the book."
The book was scheduled to come out April 20 but had COVID-related delays. We're finding that publishers can't always get press time and a smaller press might have more troubles with this, as their booking less time that they can play around with. The books got to the distributor warehouse and we were able to push through one of our orders. So the good news is that we were able to fulfill all of our preorders and some new demand, but we're now out again. We should have more books this week. 

Monday, May 10, 7 pm
Todd Lazarski, author of Spend It All
in conversation with Justin Kern, editor of The Milwaukee Anthology
Cohosted by Porchlight Book Company
Register for this virtual event here

When it comes two novelists, home is where you aren't anymore. I've heard many writers talk about how they can't write about a place until they leave it. In the case of Slor, she left, wrote the book, and came back. In the case of Todd Lazarski, he's writing about Buffalo, the place he's from.  Spend It All features Teddy Rawski, a guy who's an obsessive eater, half-hopeful novelist, reluctant food journalist, and football fanatic who returns home for maybe the last time.

I know Todd from his day job, but you might know him as a fellow reluctant food journalist. He's reported for The Shepherd Express,  Milwaukee Record, and Eater, who used to do more multi-metro coverage, but has been cut back since Vox was folded into the New York Magazine family of websites and blogs. That said, they just did an update on where to eat here, and it came from Lazarski. 

Spend It All notes that chicken wings play a role in the book and sure enough, most Milwaukeeans are aware of Buffalo's iconic wing combo, and the more hard core know about Buffalo's official sandwich, beer on weck. But I've just discovered the ubiquitous loganberry drink and that's what I'd be talking about if I were the conversation partner. But I'll leave the questions to conversation partner Justin Kern.

Tuesday, May 11, 7 pm
Joan Silber, author of Secrets of Happiness
in conversation Marquette University's C.J. Hribal
Register for this virtual event here.

For a number of years, CJ Hribal and I have been talking about how much we love the work of Joan Silber. After she won the NBCC award for Improvement, it became a selection of our in-store book club, which along with the award, led to a nice pop in sales for us. I had previously read Fools and Ideas of Heaven. But I never thought we'd be in a position where Silber would travel to Milwaukee for an event.

And then came the pivot to virtual events. And Silber attended our event with Charles Baxter for his most recent novel, The Sun Collective. And Silber commented to CJ Hribal, who teaches with Silber at the Warren Wilson program)  that he did a great job with the interview - I concur. So when I heard that, I asked him to ask Silber if she'd like the same excellent conversation partner for her own book. And that went right into our proposal to the publisher. We're thrilled this came together. 
Here's an enthusiastic recommendation for Secrets of Happiness from me: "What I love about Joan Silber’s books is how her novel-stories rocket me through space and time without any fear of crashing. In my opinion, the connecting thread of Secrets of Happiness is Gil, a contractor in the garment business whose work takes him to wherever the costs are cheapest – Indonesia, China, Bangladesh, and most notably Thailand, where he brings back more than just the beautiful scarves he buys as souvenirs for his wife. From there, the story spins out to two of his sons (who don’t know each other), and from there to a documentary filmmaker, a librarian turned cancer patient, a labor organizer in Asia, and more than one soul who are not quite sure what they are doing. They are all searching for the happiness of the title – is it money, vocation, love, spirit, or something else?" (Daniel Goldin)

Need another take? Here's Joshua Ferris in The New York Times.

Wednesday, May 12, 7 pm
Sanjena Sathian, author of Gold Diggers
in conversation with Anuradha D Rajurkar, author of American Betiya
Register for this virtual event here

 I'm really excited about how this conversation came together. I was working with Anuradha D. Rajurkar on her virtual event for her debut, American Betiya, and that involved several trips bringing over copies for signing and personalization. That gave us the chance to chat a bit outside. Talk turned to books. I had just finished reading Gold Diggers at my rep Stefan's urging and wanted to talk to everyone about it. And as I spoke to Rajurkar, a light went off. Maybe I can pitch her as a conversation partner. Both books sort of crossed over from adult to teen, though in different directions, and there were some overlapping themes.

Being that the event is on Wednesday, our proposal was successful. Gold Diggers has been getting a lot of great reviews, including Ilana Masad in NPR, Ron Charles in The Washington Post, and Constance Grady in Vox. There's also this New York Times profile from Alisha Haridasani Gupta. And did we mention that Mindy Kaling is adapting Gold Diggers for television/streaming? More from Peter White in Deadline.

I was going to include my recommendation, but I'm using fellow bookseller Jenny Chou's instead. - you can read mine on our web page Here is Jenny: "Sanjena Santhian draws readers effortlessly into the magical world she’s created where parents are so desperate to bring success to their children that they turn to a powerful and dangerous alchemy. What started in India continues in Atlanta as teenaged Neil Naryan, who lacks the drive of his overachieving sister, discovers his neighbors Anita and her mom are not only gold thieves but have also managed to siphon off the ambitions of the smarter, more motivated kids in their close-knit but competitive Indian community. What follows veers between hilarious and tragic, and the results haunt Neil for the next decade, until he and Anita reunite for one final heist. The actual drinking of gold is a symbol, of course, of the hopes, dreams, and ultimately the fears of Asian immigrant parents. How will their kids survive in a cut-throat America without a prestigious degree and job? This novel will leave you with lots to consider about the price of ambition. Neil’s slightly cynical voice mixed with his never-ending longing for an Anita, who’s always a bit out of reach, make this story of love and aspiration so much fun to read."

Thursday, May 13, 7 pm
Kirstin Valdez Quade, author of The Five Wounds
in conversation with Jennifer Morales, author of Meet Me Halfway
Register for this virtual event here

When events are in person, I can beg all I want, but unless the author happens to live here or being within commuting distance, or maybe has a relative or close friend in town, the business of events can be quite limited. Even Chicagoans don't always want to come up to Milwaukee. But once again, a great read set in motion a proposal and the right conversation partner took it to another level. 

In this case, the read was from fellow bookseller Jen, who had been talking the book up to me for a while. Of course our rep Dave was also a fan. And when I read the book, I also fell in love. It turned out that I was working on another event with Norton, our joint program with Schlitz Audubon Nature Center for Michelle Nijhuis's Beloved Beasts, and I asked if I could write a proposal to add Kirstin Valdez Quade to the tour. And lucky for me, same publicist! And since I was working with Wisconsin Public Radio on underwriting the Larry Meiller book club, I knew their next selection with Jennifer Morales's Meet Me Halfway, so I asked Morales to take part and she agreed. It turns out their work had some overlapping themes - I feel like one of those professional dinner party organizers. I think it's going to be great!

Kirstin Valdez Quade received the NBCC John Leonard Prize for Night at the Fiestas, her debut story collection. The Five Wounds is getting great press! Here's Hamilton Cain in the Star Tribune, Mark Athitakis in USA Today, and a starred review from Publishers Weekly. I'm guessing there is still more to come. 

Once again, I've got a staff rec you can read on the book's web page, but I'd prefer to reprint Jen Steele's recommendation. Here it is: "A poignant novel set in New Mexico, The Five Wounds follows the lives of the Padilla family: 33 yr. old Amadeo, his pregnant 15 yr. old daughter, Angel, the family matriarch Yolanda, and Tio Tive, who has initiated Amadeo into the hermandad and casted him to portray Jesus in their reenactment of the crucifixion. Jobless, living with his mother, and estranged from his teenage daughter, Amadeo searches for purpose and perhaps redemption. His daughter Angel has shown up unannounced and eight months pregnant, and Yolanda returns home with a life-altering secret. 

"Amadeo and Angel’s fragile relationship starts to mend as they navigate through daily life and welcome the newest member into the family. Kirstin Valdez Quade tells a captivating story about family, loss, redemption and the power of faith. I could not put this book down! You will laugh, cry, get angry, and want to hug these characters. Masterful storytelling!"

But wait, there's more. One lucky attendee of our event on Thursday will get a pair of evenings inspired by cover of The Five Wounds. Beautiful, right?  You're automatically entered into the drawing when you sign on. We'll just make sure you want them.

Preview for next week!
Monday, May 17, 7 pm
Nicholas D Hayes, author of Frank Lloyd Wright's Forgotten House: How an Omission Transformed the Architect's Legacy
in conversation with Catherine Boldt
Cohosted by Shorewood Public Library and Shorewood Historical Society  
Register for this virtual event here

Shorewood author Hayes joins us for a conversation about his latest book, which chronicles an oft-overlooked part of Lloyd Wright’s architectural legacy - his forays into affordable housing. 

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Forgotten House includes a wealth of drawings and photographs, many of which have never been previously published. Historians, architecture buffs, and Wrightophiles alike will be fascinated by this untold history that fills a crucial gap in the architect’s oeuvre. 

More on Boswell's upcoming events page.

Photo credits:
Joan Silber by Shari Diamond
Sanjena Sathian by Tony Tulathimutte
Kirstin Valdez Quade by Holly Andres

*The only problem with the review was that Patrick listed two other Milwaukee novels - The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and American Gods, only neither book is actually set in or near Milwaukee. 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending May 8, 2021

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending May 8, 2021

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir
2. The Paris Library, by Janet Skeslien Charles
3. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
4. The Secrets of Happiness, by Joan Silber (Register for May 11 event here)
5. The Hill We Climb, by Amanda Gorman
6. Great Circle, by Maggie Shipstead (Register for June 8 event here)
7. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro
8. Raft of Stars, by Andrew J Graff
9. The Five Wounds, by Kirstin Valdez Quade (Register for May 13 event here)
10. Send for Me, by Lauren Fox
11. Early Morning Riser, by Katherine Heiny
12. A Man Named Doll, by Jonathan Ames
13. At the End of the World, Turn Left, by Zhanna Slor (More info about the May 10 event here)
14. The Four Winds, by Kristin Hannah
15. Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell

Alas, we are just about out of the free patches that came with initial copies of Project Hail Mary, the new novel from Andy Weir. From The New York Times Alexandra Alter profile: "Weir has made a name for himself among hard-core sci-fi fans for his dizzyingly detailed explanations of the quantum physics, chemistry, engineering, aerodynamics and rocket science underpinning the plots in his novels. When he was writing his blockbuster debut, The Martian, he built software to calculate the constant thrust trajectories for a spaceship’s ion engine, studied NASA satellite images to map out his astronaut character’s 3,200-plus-kilometer course across Mars, and gave a detailed formula for how to make water out of oxygen and hydrazine."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner
2. Premonition, by Michael Lewis
3. Frank Lloyd Wright's Forgotten House, by Nicholas D. Hayes (Register for May 17 event here)
4. Finding the Mother Tree, by Suzanne Simard
5. The Bomber Mafia, by Malcolm Gladwell
6. Persist, by Elizabeth Warren
7. What It's Like to Be a Bird, by David Allen Sibley
8. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, by George Saunders
9. The Secret to Superhuman Strength, by Alison Bechdel
10. World Travel, by Anthony Bourdain and Laura Woolever

Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest, by Suzanne Simard is from the scientist whose work influenced the work of Peter Woleben and Richard Powers. From Eugenia Boone in The Wall Street Journal: "These days I’m drowning in alerts about mushroom hunting, medicinal mushrooms, psychedelic mushrooms, fungi in fashion and fungi as a metaphor for the common good. This last notion derives from predominantly 21st-century research showing that the forest is not merely a collection of trees but a community connected by fungi. The idea has captured the imagination of the public, through movies such as Avatar, books like Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees and the mycologist Paul Stamets’s TED talk, 'Six Ways That Mushrooms Can Save the World,' which has been viewed almost 10 million times. What all of these ideas have in common is research conducted by a shy Canadian forest ecologist named Suzanne Simard, whose doctoral thesis changed the way we understand the woods."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan
2. The Rose Code, by Kate Quinn
3. The Most Fun We Ever Had, by Claire Lombardo
4. Foundryside V1: Robert Jackson Bennett
5. Sharks in the Time of Saviors, by Kawai Strong Washburn
6. Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid
7. The Drifter V1, by Nick Petrie
8. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, by Deesha Philyaw
9. Complete Stories, by Flannery O'Connor
10. The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett

After Milwaukee PBS aired the recent Amy Tan documentary, I was surprised by how many of my fellow Boswellians had seen it - why weren't we all streaming something or other? And then the orders started coming in for The Joy Luck Club, her debut 1989 novel. From Ryan Lattanzio in Indie Wire: "Remember when people read novels? That might seem like an inane statement to those seeking out this review or the story of Amy Tan, but it’s hard to remember the last time a novel dominated the conversation outside the now seemingly narrowed world of people who regularly read fiction. The documentary Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir waxes nostalgic for that time, immersing us in the author’s meteoric success with The Joy Luck Club in 1989 as a blockbuster work of fiction, while also showing how that level of success and her self-informed pressure to deliver a massive followup, plagued her on a personal level.".

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Living Buddha, Living Christ, by Thich Nhat Hanh
2. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
3. Classic Restaurants of Milwaukee, by Jennifer Billock
4. Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson
5. The Library Book, by Susan Orlean
6. New York Times Cooking No Recipe Recipes, by Sam Sifton
7. Homo Deus, by Yuval Noah Harari
8. Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee, by Thomas H Fehring
9. Best Hikes Milwaukee, by Kevin Revolinski
10. Minor Feelings, by Cathy Park Hong

We've heard this is going to be a summer of road trips and outdoor activities, so it's no surprise that Kevin Revolinski's Best Hikes Milwaukee made the top 10 this week. Revolinski has written numerous collections about hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities for Wisconsin and Michigan, and he's also a fiction writer. His story collection, Stealing Away, came out earlier this year and it has blurbs from Nickolas Butler and J. Ryan Stradal.

Books for Kids:
1. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupery
2. La Linea, by Ann Jaramillo
3. Butterflies Belong Here, by Deborah Hopkinson
4. Firekeeper's Daughter, by Angeline Boulley
5. Concrete Rose, by Angie Thomas
6. Peace, by Baptiste Paul and Miranda Paul
7. Children Just Like Me, from DK Publishing
8. We Are Water Protectors, by Carole Lindstrom and Michael Goade
9. Golden Gate V2 City Spies, by James Ponti
10. Heartstopper V3, by Alice Oseman

Okay, the next time that someone comes in telling me how much they like Rainbow Rowell, I should probably make sure they know about Alice Oseman, a British novelist (graphic and otherwise) whose Heartstopper series (Volume 3 is the latest) is a queer romance featuring two minor characters from Oseman's novel Solitaire. It started as a web comic and is now being adapted for a Netflix series, per The Beat: The News Blog of Comics Culture. From Kelley Gile in School Library Journal, on volume 1: "Realistic yet uplifting, this tale of self-discovery will make readers' hearts skip a beat as they root for Charlie and Nick."

Monday, May 3, 2021

Boswell's events for the week of May 3-10 - Michelle Zauner with Justin Barney, Janet Skeslien Charles with Anne Laplae (and me), Jonathan Ames with Doug Gordon, Katherine Heiny with Lisa Baudoin (and me again)

How can Boswell have so many events and not have any chairs? - the first week of May edition. All start times are Central Time.

Tuesday, May 4, 7 pm
Michelle Zauner, author of Crying in H Mart
in conversation with Justin Barney
Register for this virtual event here.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee and Boswell host Michelle Zauner, the musician known as Japanese Breakfast fame and author of the viral 2018 New Yorker essay that shares the title of her new book book, an unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity. Justin Barney is 88Nine Radio Milwaukee's Music Director.

In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. She tells of growing up one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of a painful adolescence and struggling with her mother’s expectations of her, and of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food. Vivacious and plainspoken, lyrical and honest, Zauner’s voice is as radiantly alive on the page as it is onstage. Rich with intimate anecdotes that will resonate widely, and complete with family photos, Crying in H Mart is a book to cherish, share, and reread.

From Malavika Praseed in the Chicago Review of Books: "I came to Crying in H Mart expecting to cry (which I did), but what I did not expect was the amount of self-reflection it would cause. Zauner eschews broad platitudes and makes her work relatable, both on a cultural and personal level. She does not overexplain her Korean heritage, doesn’t provide a footnote for every morsel of food. She unpacks a difficult mother-daughter relationship without falling victim to stereotype."

From Sonia Rao in The Washington Post: "For as long as she could recall, Michelle Zauner had connected with her Korean mother, Chongmi, through their shared love of the cuisine. Chongmi would often make two meals for dinner: one Korean and the other American, for her husband. Zauner opted for the former, relishing the scalding jjigaes and immaculately crisped samgyupsal. This, Chongmi used to say, was how she knew her daughter was a 'true Korean.'"

Japanese Breakfast's new album, Jubilee, releases June 4. You can probably preorder from Exclusive Company or Rush-Mor if you still like physical stuff like we do.

Wednesday, May 5, 2 pm
Janet Skeslien Charles, author of The Paris Library
in conversation with Anne Leplae and Daniel Goldin 
Register for this virtual event here.

Alliance Française de Milwaukee and Boswell Book Company present and afternoon with New York Times bestselling author Paris-and-Montana-based Janet Skeslien Charles for a chat about The Paris Library, the #1 Indie Next Pick for February 2021. Anne Leplae is Executive Director of Alliance Française de Milwaukee.

Skeslien Charles first became interested in the incredible true story of the American Library in Paris during World War II when she worked as the program manager in htat storied institution. The Paris Library chronicles the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, using many of the people who kept the library operating, surreptitiously delivering books to the Jews who were not allowed entry. This is an unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together, perfect for World War II historical fiction fans, as well as all of you who love all those bookstore novels and memoirs where the characters talk about books they love, 84 Charing Cross Road and its progreny.

Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.

From Kirkus Reviews: "The author has a clear affection for both Paris and the American Library, where she worked as a programs manager in 2010, and she integrates the stories of many of the real-life employees and patrons of the library into the story with finesse, earning the novel its own place in the pantheon of World War II fiction." It's also got the Jane G seal of approval.

Wednesday, May 5, 7 pm
Jonathan Ames, author of A Man Named Doll
in conversation with Doug Gordon 
Register for this virtual event here.

Wisconsin Public Radio and Boswell present an evening with Jonathan Ames, the creator of HBO's Bored to Death. If you love that show, and many of you do, you will enjoy Ames's latest, his first in a mystery series.

Happy Doll is a charming, if occasionally inexpert, private detective living just one sheer cliff drop beneath the Hollywood sign with his beloved half-Chihuahua half-Terrier, George. Doll supplements his meager income working nights at a local Thai spa that offers its clients a number of special services. But when things get out-of-hand with one particularly violent patron, Doll finds himself wildly out of his depth, and then things take an even more dangerous twist when an old friend from his days as a cop shows up at his door with a bullet in his gut.

From Chris Lee's recommendation: "Just an odd fellow, his beloved dog, and a whole lot of dead bodies. This is crime fiction the way it was meant to be: sly, sad, and a little weird. And I love it. It’s also a Jonathan Ames book that feels like it was written by a Jonathan Ames character – read it as the book Ames’s Bored to Death alter ego broke out with. But then, don’t, because it’s not just a goof or some literary lark. Ames captures the soul of classic American noir with a perfect balance of violence, money, and irreverence. His Los Angeles is heir to the City of Angles as penned by Raymond Chandler and Elmore Leonard. The kind of book that reminds me why I fell in love with detective novels."

From Adam Sternbergh in The New York Times: "Crime readers may notice some superficial similarities between Doll and the kind of fabled gumshoes that Ames has long been enamored with — figures like Chandler’s Philip Marlowe or Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer, or quick-fisted pulp avatars like Parker or Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. But it quickly becomes clear that Happy owes more to the rumpled Marlowe played by Elliott Gould in Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye than to any hard-boiled toughs inhabited by Humphrey Bogart."

Thursday, May 6, 7 pm
Katherine Heiny, author of Early Morning Riser
in conversation with Daniel Goldin and Lisa Baudoin 
Register for this event here.

A shout-out to Whitefish Bay Librarian Sharon, who turned us on to Katherine Heeiny's work when she was a Boswell bookseller. Now Heiny is our latest guest in the Readings from Oconomowaukee series. She’ll chat about her latest, a wise, bighearted, boundlessly joyful novel of love, disaster, and unconventional family Lisa Baudoin of Books and Company and me.

Jane falls in love with Duncan easily. He is charming, good-natured, and handsome but unfortunately, he has also slept with nearly every woman in Boyne City, Michigan. Jane sees Duncan’s old girlfriends everywhere - at restaurants, at the grocery store, even three towns away. Then any notion Jane had of love and marriage changes with one terrible car crash. Soon Jane’s life is permanently intertwined with Duncan’s, and she knows she will never have Duncan to herself. But could it be possible that a deeper kind of happiness is right in front of Jane’s eyes? A novel that is alternately bittersweet and laugh-out-loud funny, Early Morning Riser is Heiny’s most wonderful work to date.

From my recommendation: "If Heiny had stayed in the romantic comedy lane, I would have been perfectly content. But she throws a curveball when Jane gets a happy ending, only not the way she expected, and that turns out to not be the end of the story. Heiny has a rare gift for bringing characters to glorious life, warts and all. Sometimes, in the case of Jane’s mother or her neighbor’s husband Gary, perhaps all warts." (Daniel)

Cosponsorship - Thursday, Mary 6, 7 pm
The Faye Sigman Women of Valor Lecture, featuring Lauren Fox, author of Send for Me, Molly Antopol, author of The UnAmericans, and Elisa Albert, author of How This Night is Different
Register for this virtual event here.

The Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies presents a conversation with fiction writers Lauren Fox, Elisa Albert, and Molly Antopol. With stories and novels that have garnered significant acclaim, these authors continue to comment on the contemporary Jewish world with insight, pathos, and at times, biting wit. This virtual event will feature a lively salon-style discussion moderated by Stahl Center Deputy Director Rachel Baum and Director Joel Berkowitz.

Albert is author of The Book of Dahlia and How This Night Is Different. Antopol’s debut story collection won the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award and was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. And Milwaukee’s own Lauren Fox is also author three previous novels -  Days of Awe, Still Life with Husband, and Friends Like Us.

Monday, May 10, 7 pm
Todd Lazarski, author of Spend It All
in conversation with Justin Kern 
Register for this virtual event here

Milwaukee author Todd Lazarski chats about his novel about a guy who’s an obsessive eater, half-hopeful novelist, reluctant food journalist, and football fanatic who returns home to Buffalo for maybe the last time. With Justin Kern, editor of The Milwaukee Anthology. Fry up your Buffalo wings, carve your beef on weck, and pour yourself a loganberry drink (really, it's a thing!) for slice of literary Buffalo-iana.

photo credits:
Michelle Zauner by Barbara Mrazkova
Janet Skeslien Charles by Richard Biban
Jonathan Ames by Anne Thornton
Katherine Heiny by Leila Barbaro