Monday, September 27, 2021

Boswell this week: Mary Roach, Lauren Fox, María Amparo Escandón, Jon M Sweeney, and Anna Lardinois

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

Monday, September 27, 7 pm
Mary Roach, author of Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law
In conversation with Roman Mars for a virtual event
Register for this event here.   
This event is cohosted by Schlitz Audubon Nature Center.

Join us for an evening featuring, per Peter Carlson in The Washington Post, America’s funniest science writer Mary Roach, who will take us along for an irresistible investigation into the unpredictable world where wildlife and humans meet. For this event, Mary Roach will be in conversation with Roman Mars, host and creator of 99% Invisible and author of The 99% Invisible City.

From Erik Larson: "Hilarious! With Fuzz, Mary Roach again takes us into an unfamiliar scientific realm, in this case the science of managing the conflicts between humans and the natural world—lethal leopards, rampaging elephants, jet-downing birds, even killer trees. It’s an ever-widening conflict zone, but one that Ms. Roach gleefully mines for a multitude of bizarre facts that’ll make you snort coffee through your nose." 

From Vicki Constantine Croke's review in The New York Times: "Roach delights in the disgusting details of science. For those of us with, ahem, a taste for scatological humor, she delivers the story of a gull in a crowded nesting area that managed to defecate directly into the mouth of a hooded student. Elsewhere, she tells us that, 'poundage aside, the Canada goose is a frequent crapper.' Rat droppings found all over her balcony at the decrepit lodge in India mystify her. What is the appeal for them? There’s no food, and not much of a view. She concludes: 'It appeared to be simply the place rats go to have a dump.'”

Mary Roach is author of best-selling books of nonfiction such as Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, and, most recently, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War. Her writing has appeared in Outside, National Geographic, and The New York Times Magazine.

Tuesday, September 28, 2 pm Lauren Fox, author of Send for Me
A bonus Readings from Oconomowaukee event - fall book talk!
Register for this event here.

Enjoy a Bonus Readings from Oconomowaukee in September, featuring Milwaukee’s Lauren Fox, celebrating the paperback release event for her nationally bestselling novel with a special fall reading conversation featuring recommendations from both store proprietors and the author.

Lauren Fox’s Send for Me was a Today Show Read with Jenna book club pick, an instant New York Times bestseller, and an Indie Next Great Read. We'll be catching up on how everything's gone with the book, plus sharing some of our favorite books. Look for a Lauren Fox recommends display at Boswell. 

An achingly beautiful work of historical fiction that moves between Germany on the eve of World War II and present-day Wisconsin, unspooling a thread of love, longing, and the powerful bonds of family. Based on letters from Lauren Fox's own family, Send for Me is a major departure for this acclaimed author, an epic and intimate exploration of mothers and daughters, duty and obligation, hope and forgiveness.

Lauren Fox earned an MFA from the University of Minnesota and is author of the novels Days of Awe, Still Life with Husband, and Friends Like Us. Her work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Rumpus, and Salon.

Wednesday, September 29, 7 pm
María Amparo Escandón, author of LA Weather
in conversation with Tessa Bartels and Daniel Goldin for a virtual event
Register for this event here.

Boswell Book Company and the Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee present an evening with author María Amparo Escandón for a conversation about her fun, fast-paced novel of a Mexican American family wrestling with impending evacuations, secrets, deception, and betrayal. In conversation with Daniel Goldin of Boswell and Tessa Bartels of the HPGM Book Club.

From Publisher's Weekly: "Escandón is a pro at capturing the socioeconomic geography of L.A.; even scenes of mundane life such as a trip to get ice cream provide occasions for the characters to comment on the shifting fortunes of acquaintances after being priced out of up-and-came east side neighborhoods. This is by far one of the most endearing L.A. novels in recent memory." I concur!

From my recommendation: “LA Weather’s outrageous plot twists have a telenovela quality, as the Alvarados contend with just about every complication a family can face, except for maybe locusts. But they make it through (mostly), a little wiser for the journey, and it’s hard not to fall in love with them and all their messiness.” And Boswellian Kay Wosewick adds, “This LA-set story will quickly set its claws and pull you through a manic year in the lives of a well-off Mexican American family. You will smile gleefully as the family completes the eventful year with stronger bonds than ever.” 

From Dorany Pineda's profile in the Los Angeles Times, on Los Angeles: "The American city quickly worked its way into her: its ever-evolving gastronomy, its culture and 'fantastic' weather, its 'fabulous expressions of architecture.' Many of her passions are reflected in the Alvarado family. Sisters Claudia, Olivia and Patricia are, respectively, a professional chef, an architect (who feels guilty for abetting gentrification) and a social media guru. Keila, the matriarch, is a ceramicist - another passion of Escandón’s."

María Amparo Escandón is author of Esperanza’s Box of Saints and González & Daughter Trucking Co and was named a writer to watch by both Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times.

Thursday, September 30, 7 pm
Jon M Sweeney, author of Feed the Wolf: Befriending Our Fears in the Way of Saint Francis
in conversation with Adam Bucko for a now-virtual event.
Register for this event here. Ask for your signed copies. 
This event is cohosted by Family of Four Milwaukee Parishes and Eat, Drink, and Be Catholic.
Milwaukee’s award-winning spiritual writer and Saint Francis scholar Jon M Sweeney joins us for a discussion of his latest work, a consideration of the spiritual practices that can be found in the life and teachings of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Our conversation partner Adam Bucko offers this recommendation: "This book is not just something you read; it is something you put into practice. And when we apply the wisdom of Saint Francis, it has the power not only to heal us, but through us, to heal a hurting world."

And from Shemaiah Gonzalez: "Sweeney's Feed the Wolf takes us deeper into the stories of Saint Francis, offering us inspiration to move our heart and hands away from fear and comfort, and toward listening and gentleness."

Jon M Sweeney is author of thirty books, including The Complete Francis of Assisi, and is considered the authoritative voice on the life and spirituality of Saint Francis. He is also a regular speaker at literary and spirituality conferences.

Saturday, October 2, 11 am
Anna Lardinois, author of The Ghostly Tales of Milwaukee
in person at Boswell
Register for this in-person event here. We will be holding this event outdoors.  
Ask for your signed copy.

Join us for an in-person event that’s great for kids and adults with Anna Lardinois, founder of Gothic Milwaukee, featuring her latest book that’s full of ghost stories from the Brew City. So creepy, fun, and full of mystery!

Milwaukee's haunted history comes to life - even when the main players are dead. Explore the caves below the Miller Brewery to see if they're really haunted. Listen at the Lake Park Lions Bridge to hear the laughter of ghostly children. Or tiptoe through La Belle Cemetery to see if the spirit of a young girl throws herself into Fowler Lake (she usually does). Dive into this spooky chapter book for suspenseful tales of bumps in the night, paranormal investigations, and the unexplained. Just be sure to keep the light on.

Anna Lardinois tingles the spines of Milwaukee locals and visitors through her haunted, historical walking tours known as Gothic Milwaukee. The former English teacher is an ardent collector of stories, an avid walker and a sweet treat enthusiast. She happily resides in a historic home in Milwaukee that, at this time, does not appear to be haunted.

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. Ask for your signed copy!

Boswell presents a special YA, Boswell! evening with Wisconsin author Sara Biren for a conversation about her latest contemporary novel about a teen rock star who returns home to Minnesota and finds himself falling for a local farm girl. In conversation with Andrew DeYoung, author of The Exo Project, winner of the Minnesota Book Award.

Here's a nice review from School Library Journal: "Told in alternating perspectives, 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 differences.  Fans of Sarah Dessen will find this novel appealing and will reach for others written by Biren."

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.

More on the Boswell upcoming events page.

Photo credits
Mary Roach by Jen Siska
Lauren Fox by Rachel Dickman
María Amparo Escandón by Chris Fortuna
Sara Biren by Mars Ehlers

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Boswell bestsellers, week ending September 25, 2021

Here's what is selling at Boswell.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Harlem Shuffle, by Colson Whitehead
2. Bewilderment, by Richard Powers
3. Beautiful World, Where Are You, by Sally Rooney
4. Under the Whispering Door, by TJ Clune
5. The Madness of Crowds, by Louise Penny
6. Matrix, by Lauren Groff
7. Apples Never Fall, Liane Moriarty
8. The Last Thing He Told Me, by Laura Dave
9. The Love Songs of WEB DuBois, by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers
10. The Final Girl Support Group, by Grady Hendrix

The top fiction debut this week is Richard Powers's Bewilderment, which is both longlisted for the National Book Award and shortlisted for the Booker Prize. That said, if you look at Bookmarks, you can see mixed reviews and even pans, including Dwight Garner in The New York Times and Sam Sacks in The Wall Street Journal, unusual for a book already getting award mentions. Event Adam Roberts's rave in The Guardian should actually be classified as either positive or mixed, calling it "suffocating" and noting there's "much to admire" but "doesn't reach the heights of his previous work." He compares it to Flowers for Algernon.

I can't let that sit. Let's quote Ellen Akins in the Star Tribune: "This all might sound a bit sci-fi technical, but all the scientific razzle-dazzle, including the details of the planets that Theo elaborately imagines for Robbie, simply underlines the human story at its center - and makes the tenderness between father and son seem so real and heartfelt that the novel becomes its own empathy machine. What's more powerful, though, is how the emotions Bewilderment evokes expand far beyond the bond of father and son to embrace the living world and Robin's anguish at its plight, experienced ever more exquisitely as the experiment progresses."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X Kendi
2. Peril, by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa
3. Provoke, by George Tuff
4. Giannis, by Mirin Fader
5. Fuzz, by Mary Roach (Register for September 27 event here)
6. All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, by Rebecca Donner
7. The Secret History of Food, by Matt Siegel (Register for October 5 event here)
8. Vanderbilt, by Anderson Cooper
9. Unbound, by Tarana Burke
10. Finding the Mother Tree, by Suzanne Simard

Our new releases about President Trump have taken a bit of a downward sales trajectory, but we saw strong sales of Peril, the conclusion of Bob Woodward's Trump trilogy, with help from Robert Costa. We'll be back in stock shortly. Chris Megerian in Los Angeles Times called it "tedious" - that was a pan, while Ron Elway's positive (per Bookmarks - so nice that I don't have to select the adjective, though as above, I can sometimes question their conclusion) NPR review says that while other revelations are familiar, others have an element of discovery.

One book with nothing but raves (albeit from trade sources rather than the big newspapers is Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement, by Tarana Burke. Kirkus Reviews called it "an unforgettable page-turner of a life story rendered with endless grace and grit." But maybe an endorsement and social media push from Brené Brown is more important that that. She notes: "Sometimes a single story can change the world. Unbound is one of those stories. Tarana’s words are a testimony to liberation and love.” The book is also from Oprah Winfrey's Oprah subimprint of Flatiron.

Paperback Fiction:
1. You Exist Too Much, by Zaina Arafat
2. Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell
3. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
4. Dune (two editions), by Frank Herbert
5. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
6. People We Meet on Vacation, by Emily Henry
7. Anxious People, by Fredrick Backman
8. The Lying Life of Adults, by Elena Ferrante
9. Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno Garcia
10. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

When we get a multi-copy purchase, there are several things that will make it show up or not show up on our bestseller list. How new is the book? Is it selling individually as well? Is it a trade title we can easily get for other readers? How crowded is the list - will the bulk orders push out the titles selling to folks shopping at the bookstore or at events? You Exist Too Much passes on all counts, so allow me to share Gabino Iglesias's review on the NPR website: "Arafat tries to do a lot in this novel, and she pulls it off. This is a story about a woman trapped in the interstitial space between different cultures and religions, but it's also about sexual identity and the effects of fear of rejection and codependency. The main character knows what she wants, but she doesn't know why she wants it — and understands that her family will abandon her if she tells them what she wants. Her desires are always in conflict with what she's been told she should want — a good husband, babies, and a nice house. Her struggle with sexuality pushes her towards cocaine, alcohol, and random romantic encounters, but none of that stops the confusion and pain." Plus Roxane Gay called it "my favorite book of the year."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Stamped from the Beginning, by Ibram X Kendi
2. Being Lolita, by Alisson Wood
3. Milwaukee River Greenway, by Eddee Daniel
4. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kemmerer
5. The Best of Me, by David Sedaris
6. The Socrates Express, by Eric Weiner
7. New York Times Cooking No Recipe Recipes, by Sam Sifton
8. The Vapors, by David Hill (Join our virtual book club - details here)
9. Voice of Milwaukee Bronzeville, by Sandra E Jones
10. Inspired, by Rachel Held Evans

The Socrates Express: In Search of Life Lessons from Dead Philosophers has been out in paperback since May and this week pops onto our bestseller list. Eric Weiner (The Geography Genius and The Geography of Bliss, a recent WPR book club selection) gets this praise from Lucinda Robb in The Washington Post: "Part travelogue, part soul-searching memoir and part intellectual matchmaker, Weiner’s book packs an extraordinary amount into 287 pages of text. Erudite, funny and frequently self-deprecating, Weiner serves as your interpreter and guide along the way."

Books for Kids:
1. Change Sings, by Amanda Gorman
2. Antiracist Baby Picture Book, by Ibram X Kendi and Ashley Lukashevsky
3. Stamped, by Ibram X Kendi and Jason Reynolds
4. Last Kids on Earth and the Doomsday Race V7, by Max Brallier
5. Stamped for Kids, by Ibram X Kendi and Jason Reynolds
6. Fallout, by Steve Sheinkin
7. Egg Marks the Spot V2, by Amy Timberlake and Jon Klassen
8. Rite of Passage, by Richard Wright
9. Iron Widow, by Xiran Jay Zhao
10. Eek Halloween, by Sandra Boynton

National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, whose poem "The Hill We Climb" was featured at President Biden's inauguration this week released her first picture book. Change Sings has illustrations by Loren Long. From Booklist: "The positive messaging speaks to building bridges rather than walls and embracing differences, and with each new child encountered, the girl hands them an instrument, inviting them to take up the song. A lovely and loving call to action and kindness."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins has a feature on 21 books by Wisconsin writers for the 21st Century, including works from Ayad Akhtar, Lydia Barry, Jane Hamilton, and Dasha Kelly Hamilton.

Monday, September 20, 2021

This week: Rebecca Donner and Jarrett Adams, plus Mary Roach next Monday

Here's what's going on with Boswell this week. All start times are Central Time.
Thursday, September 23, 5 pm
Rebecca Donner, author of All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days: The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler
in conversation with Sam Goldberg for a virtual event
Register for the event here.

This event is cohosted by the the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center, and Jewish Museum Milwaukee. Sam Goldberg is the Director of Education for HERC. Please note this is now virtual only. When you sign up, please don't be confused by a sold-out-notice general admission. That's a residue of when the event was hybrid. Instead, you will see an active registration link, which will get you your Zoom link.

Wisconsinites know the story of Mildred Fish-Harnack. Born in Milwaukee, Mildred Fish went to UW-Madison, where she met and married Arvin Harnack. We recently celebrated her birthday - the Hoan Bridge was lit up red in her honor. Her story is not well know to others, but this new book, written by her great great niece, could be changing things.

From a profile by Jane Burn in Isthmus: "Donner, who has previously published a novel and a graphic novel, believed there was a story to tell beyond the basics of Mildred’s story (unfamiliar to many, especially outside Wisconsin). Beyond family insights and new documents, Donner says, there were errors and misconceptions that have been perpetuated over the years."

From her interview with Melissa Ingells on Wisconsin Public Radio's Morning Show: "It was very clear that she was hiding a lot, and she was profoundly misunderstood by family members who saw that 'the old Millie' was no longer there. And that the woman who had replaced her - there was something 'hardened' about her, was a quote from somebody. And she seemed very nervous, and when anybody questioned her about what was going on in Germany, she said, 'We don't talk about that.' She couldn't risk saying anything. And she was convinced at that point that she was under surveillance, too. So her brother actually thought she had lost her mind. And ironically, a few of her college friends thought that she had 'gone Nazi' because she was so stern. And because she seemed so severe. Little did they know."

Rebecca Donner is author of the novel Sunset Terrace and the graphic novel Burnout. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Bookforum, and The Believer. Donner was a fellow at the Leon Levy Center for Biography and is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and Columbia University, and has taught writing at Wesleyan University, Columbia University, and Barnard College.

Friday, September 24, 12:30 pm
Jarrett Adams, author of Redeeming Justice: From Defendant to Defender, My Fight for Equity on Both Sides of a Broken System
in conversation with Mike Gousha for a virtual event
Register for this event here

This event is cohosted by Marquette University Law School. Mike Gousha serves as a distinguished fellow in law and public policy at Marquette University Law School. An award-winning journalist, Gousha explores important public policy issues through his work at the Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education.

Adams was seventeen when an all-white jury sentenced him to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Now, in this unforgettable memoir, a pioneering lawyer recalls the journey that led to his exoneration - and inspired him to devote his life to fighting the many injustices in our legal system.

Jarrett Adams talked to the Chicago Bar Foundation about why he wrote this book: "By opening myself up in this book, I hope to inspire a new generation to take up this cause. Jarrett Adams Law can make a real difference in representing young Black men who are my clients and the immediate lives around them. In order for me to really make a bigger impact though, we need to inspire everyone to understand and empathize with these issues to build the base of advocates and resources necessary for change."

From People Magazine on his nonprofit: "Life After Justice is the organization that I co-created to help exonerees - and we need support. We need monetary resources. More importantly, we need law firms to donate pro bono hours to help us fix this thing. You fix it by getting people out of prison and helping them gain stability and staying out. Over 50 percent of the people who are currently incarcerated have been incarcerated before. So, that means that our incarceration system is the problem, not the person."

Jarrett Adams earned his Juris Doctorate from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. After working for the Innocence Project in New York, he launched the Law Office of Jarrett Adams, PLLC and now practices in both federal and state courts throughout the country. 

Monday, September 27, 7 pm
Mary Roach, author of Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law
In conversation with Roman Mars for a virtual event
Register for this event here

Join "America’s funniest science writer" (Peter Carlson, Washington Post), Mary Roach, on an irresistible investigation into the unpredictable world where wildlife and humans meet.

This event is cohosted by Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. Roman Mars is the host and creator of 99% Invisible, a sound-rich, narrative podcast about the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world. He is also a co-founder of Radiotopia, a collective of ground-breaking independent podcasts. Most recently, he co-authored The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design. We still have a limited number of tie-in Fuzz patches available with purchase.

From Terry Gross's Fresh Air interview, on how Roach got the idea for this book: "I was flailing around looking for a book topic, as happens every few years, and I got interested in the forensics of wildlife crime - not when the animals are the 'criminals,' but when the animals are the victims. So I got interested in the forensics of animal trafficking, specifically a woman who published a guide for wildlife law enforcement on how to distinguish real versus fake tiger penis that is dried, which is sold medicinally. And I thought, that's kind of a bizarre expertise, and I spoke to her, and I kind of got interested in wildlife forensics. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to tag along on any open cases, and I always like to be on the scene in my books. And so that was a dead end. But as often happens, it morphed into a related topic in which I kind of turned it inside out: What if the animals were the perpetrators of these 'crimes'?"

From Bethany Brookshire in Science News: "The book brims with Roach’s irreverent humor, which particularly shines when she experiences human-animal conflict firsthand. She tastes rat bait to better understand its allure and gets training on how to tell if a human body was mauled by a bear or by a human pretending to be a bear. She even engineers a robbery: 'I had bananas. I was asking for it. I wanted to know what it was like to be mugged by monkeys.'"

Mary Roach is author of best-selling books of nonfiction such as Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, and, most recently, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War. Her writing has appeared in Outside, National Geographic, and the New York Times Magazine.

Photo credits
Rebecca Donner by Beowulf Sheehan
Mary Roach by Jen Siska
Jarrett Adams by Nagine Sakandari

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Boswell bestsellers, week ending September 18, 2021

Another exciting fall week at Boswell - here are the bestsellers for the week ending September 18, 2021

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Harlem Shuffle, by Colson Whitehead
2. Beautiful World, Where Are You, by Sally Rooney
3. Apples Never Fall, by Liane Moriarty
4. Matrix, by Lauren Groff (NBA Longlist)
5. The Paper Palace, by Miranda Cowley Heller
6. The Love Songs of WEB Du Bois, by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers (NBA Longlist)
7. Velvet Was the Night, by Silvia Moreno Garcia
8. Slow Fire Burning, by Paula Hawkins
9. Lightning Strike, by William Kent Krueger
10. The Guide, by Peter Heller

Another week of high-profile new releases is led by Colson Whitehead's Harlem Shuffle, his take on a mystery. Bookmarks collected 16 raves and 4 positives on his latest, which also got a great recommendation by Tim at Boswell. From Clifford Thompson in The Wall Street Journal: "The book might be called 'Colson Comes to Harlem,' because in bringing his singular gifts to this storied place, the novelist turns to the crime genre ... In his eminently enjoyable new novel, Mr. Whitehead’s various powers have attained something like equilibrium. The humor and flashes of the old word-wizardry are there, as is the philosophical subtext; race, while not foregrounded the way it is in The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys, is woven inextricably into the background, like subtle but effective film music."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Fuzz, by Mary Roach (Register for September 27 event here)
2. Giannis, by Mirin Fader
3. Feed the Wolf, by Jon M Sweeney (Register for September 30 event here)
4. All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, by Rebecca Donner (Register for September 23 event here)
5. Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson
6. Let's Do Dinner, by Antoni Porowski
7. The Reckoning, by Mary Trump
8. Redeeming Justice, by Jarrett Adams (Register for September 24 event here)
9. The Bomber Mafia, by Malcolm Gladwell
10. Wintering, by Katherine May

It usually seems like we have more bestsellers on the fiction side linked to upcoming events, but nonfiction takes the crown this week with four slots linked to programming. At the head of the pack is Mary Roach's Fuzz - the Fuzz patch give-away certainly helped. We're not quite out yet.

Peter Fish in The San Francisco Chronicle, with his of-the-moment comparison: "Mary Roach is the Deborah Vance of science writing. As played by Jean Smart in the HBO series Hacks, Vance is the raucous, sequin-suited Las Vegas comic who’s made a career mining laughs out of cheating husbands, sleazy boyfriends and botched plastic surgery. And Roach? She’s built her impressive literary presence in part by mining laughs out of topics that fascinate us but also make us squirm. In Stiff, the Oakland author explored what happens to our bodies after we die. (Spoiler alert: nothing pretty.)... Here is Roach’s and Vance’s shared secret: Beneath laughter lies wisdom. What the two grasp is that to truly understand life, death, sex, love and the other mysteries of the universe, it helps to wield some killer jokes."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
2. Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo (The current Literary Journeys selection)
3. People We Meet on Vacation, by Emily Henry
4. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
5. Circe, by Madeline Miller
6. Send for Me, by Lauren Fox (Register for September 28 event here)
7. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
8. Anxious People, by Fredrik Backman
9. The Book of Two Ways, by Jodi Picoult
10. Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell

Our bestselling Louise Erdrich hardcover (since we opened in 2009, and going back a little further looking at the Downer Schwartz numbers) remains The Round House by a bit, but It won't be too much longer until The Night Watchman tops that National Book Award winner in paperback sales. It becomes a question of when the award is given and how that falls into the paperback release schedule.

For its second week on sale, the paperback of Jodi Picoult's The Book of Two Ways jumps into our top ten. I can't say whether she's done this before, but this is Picoult's Sliding Doors novel, or should I now call it her Midnight Library novel, about a woman who has two possible futures after a crash landing. Karin Tanabe wrote in The Washington Post, "In the mood to contemplate your own mortality? Then Jodi Picoult has the book for you...The Book of Two Ways is a return for Picoult to the themes of her earliest books - motherhood, complicated romantic love...Picoult, at this point in her career, could skillfully build tension in a broom closet, but the best part of this book is not the suspense; it’s the look at the complexity of a woman as she enters middle age." If you love Picoult, her next book, Wish You Were Here, is coming late November. You might wish to put off preordering for a few weeks - fingers crossed.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Gift of Years, by Joan Chittister
2. My Meteorite, by Harry Dodge
3. New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes, by Sam Sifton
4. We Keep the Dead Close, by Becky Cooper
5. The Lazy Genius Way, by Kendra Adachi
6. Milwaukee River Greenway, by Eddee Daniel
7. On Story Parkway, by Jim Cryns
8. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
9. The Dressmakers of Auschwitz, by Lucy Adlington
10. Universal Christ, by Richard Rohr

There's a story for just about every book in the top 10. We could shout out We Keep the Dead Close, a true crime book that had strong sales and several great recommendations from Boswellians. Or I could note that Milwaukee Greenway (we're getting this book indexed for our website still) inspired a walk with my friend John along the Milwaukee River on Saturday - we found steps to nowhere that probably were the remnants of a path from the train tracks down to the river, where there were several shacks in the past.

Congrats to Jim Cryns for getting his book On Story Parkway: Remembering County Stadium in our top 10 - he's written all kinds of books, but this is selling the best for us of the last few. It's a good year to have a Milwaukee baseball book - The New York Times just profiled Craig Counsell. On Story Parkway has 152 never-seen-before photos.

Books for Kids:
1. Fast Pitch, by Nic Stone
2. Stamped, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi
3. Defy the Night, by Brigid Kemmerer
4. Egg Marks the Spot, by Amy Timberlake and Jon Klassen
5. The Last Kids on Earth and the Doomsday Race V7, by Max Brallier
6. Lulu and Rocky in Milwaukee, by Barbara Joosse and Renee Graef
7. How to Find What You're Not Looking For, by Veera, Hiranandani
8. Eyes of the Forest, by April Henry
9. Playing with Fire, by April Henry
10. Room on the Broom board book, by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Speaking of baseball, Jenny's been working on a school program for Nic Stone, the author of Dear Martin and other Boswell favorites. Fast Pitch is a middle grade (8 and up) story of the Fulton Firebirds, a girl's softball team and a pitcher, Shenice Lockwood, whose aiming for a regional championship, who is given her Great Grampy JonJon's baseball mitt and uncovers a mystery about his life. Kirkus writes, "This energetic, engaging, complex novel will appeal to readers whether or not they are fans of baseball. A grand slam of an adventure." And Publishers Weekly proclaimed, "Black Girl Magic hits a home run in Stone's latest novel." 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Busy, Busy Week - Steve Sheinkin virtual school visit, Naomi Hirahara with Carole E Barrowman, Amy Timberlake talks to Lisa and Daniel, Brigid Kemmerer in person (registration required)

A family-friendly week of Boswell programming includes one virtual school visit (Sheinkin), one virtual daytime event that is also school friendly (Timberlake), one in-person YA event (Kemmerer) and one historical mystery with great cross-over potential for teens (Hirahara).
Tuesday, September 14, 2:15 pm
Steve Sheinkin, author of Fallout: Spies, Superbombs, and the Ultimate Cold War Showdown
A virtual school visit - Open to the Public!
Register for this event here. 
Ask for your signed bookplate when you purchase a copy.

Boswell is pleased to host Newbery Honoree Steve Sheinkin for a virtual school event that we’ve made open to the public for everyone to enjoy. Sheinkin will give a presentation on Fallout, his new book, a follow up to his award-winning book Bomb, which takes readers on a terrifying journey into the Cold War and our mutual assured destruction. Great for ages 10 and up.

Kirkus Reviews
called Fallout "a gripping adventure that isn't over yet."  

This virtual school visit is open to the public and will last 40 minutes. If you're an educator who doesn't want to jump through the hoops to set up your own author program, just register for the event and you're set. Also great for homeschoolers and children's book lovers too. This is a great way for schools and even classrooms to experience our school visit program. 

Steve Sheinkin is author of nonfiction histories for young readers, including Born to Fly, Undefeated, and The Notorious Benedict Arnold. His accolades include a Newbery Honor, three Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards, a Sibert Medal, and three National Book Award finalist honors.

Tuesday, September 14, 7 pm
Naomi Hirahara, author of Clark and Division
in conversation with Carole E Barrowman for a virtual event
Register for this event here.
Ask for your signed bookplate when you purchase your copy.

Boswell presents a Thrillwaukee event with Edgar-Award-winning author Naomi Hirahara, with a stand-alone novel set in Chicago during the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. For this event, Hirahara will be in conversation with book critic, mystery writer, and Alverno Professor Carole E Barrowman.

Hirahara’s eye-opening new mystery, the story of a young woman searching for the truth about her revered older sister’s death, brings to focus the struggles of one Japanese American family released from mass incarceration at Manzanar during World War II. The central mystery is based on a true crime, ignored by the police at that time, that terrorized the resettled Japanese Americans in Chicago.

Here's what Carole E Barrowman wrote about Clark and Division: "Hirahara’s beautifully written and deeply moving historical family saga is set in 1943 and focuses the lives of two sisters after their release from a Japanese concentration camp and their forced relocation to Chicago. Hirahara’s novel is an accomplished and important book about a time in American history that I felt privileged bearing witness to through this story. A perfect Book Club read." More of Carole's summer recommendations here.

Here's my recommendation: "Set during World War II, Clark and Division features a young Nisei woman resettled in Chicago with her family after a stay in a forced internment camp. Aki and her parents expect to be reunited with Rose, Aki’s older sister, but when they arrive, they learn she died on the tracks of the El. The police say it was suicide, but Aki is convinced she was pushed. Clark and Division has a dynamic heroine, a compelling plot, and lots of Chicago detail that would appeal to not just mystery fans but readers of Renée Rosen’s historical novels." (Daniel Goldin)

Naomi Hirahara is the Edgar Award–winning author of the Mas Arai mystery series, including Summer of the Big Bachi, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, Gasa Gasa Girl, and Hiroshima Boy. She is also author of the LA-based Ellie Rush mysteries. A former editor of The Rafu Shimpo newspaper, she has co-written non-fiction books such as Life after Manzanar and Terminal Island: Lost Communities of Los Angeles Harbor.

Amy Timberlake, author of Egg Marks the Spot
a virtual conversation with Lisa Baudoin and Daniel Goldin
Wednesday, September 15, 2 pm
Register for this event here.
Ask for your signed bookplate from Amy Timberlake and Jon Klassen.

Wisconsin native Amy Timberlake returns for a virtual Readings from Oconomowaukee event featuring the sequel to Skunk and Badger, her instant-classic odd couple story: Egg Marks the Spot! Roommates Skunk and Badger head out on a rock-finding expedition that becomes much more dangerous than they ever expected.

Schools and classrooms are welcome at this event. This is more of a conversation than a presentation, but we'll be sure to focus on kid-friendly subjects for this event. And we'll all discuss some of our favorite middle grade books for fall. 

Buried in the heart of every animal is a secret treasure. For rock scientist Badger, it’s the Spider Eye Agate he found as a cub, stolen years ago by his crafty cousin, Fisher. For Badger’s roommate, Skunk, the treasure is Sundays with the New Yak Times Book Review. When an old acquaintance, Mr. G Hedgehog, announces his plan to come for the Book Review as soon as it thumps on the doorstep, Skunk decides an adventure will solve Badger’s problems as well as his own. Together they set off on an agate-finding expedition at Badger’s favorite spot on Endless Lake. But all is not as it seems at Campsite #5. Fisher appears unexpectedly. Then a chicken arrives who seems intent on staying. Something is up!

In a volume that includes full-color plates and additional black-and-white illustrations by Caldecott medalist Jon Klassen, Newbery Honor author Timberlake takes readers on a second adventure in her series that’s been compared to Frog and Toad, Winnie-the-Pooh, and The Wind in the Willows. From Kirkus’s starred review: “Even as its often fantastical premise careens over the edge (and thrillingly so), the series’ titular duo keep it grounded thanks to Timberlake’s clear admiration for these characters and their quirks.”

Amy Timberlake is also the author of One Came Home, which received a Newbery Honor and an Edgar Award. She grew up in Hudson, Wisconsin, is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, and holds an MA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Illinois.

Friday, September 17, 7 pm
Brigid Kemmerer, author of Defy the Night
Hybrid Event at Boswell Book Company - now in conversation with Jenny Chou
Register to attend this event in person here.
Register to watch this event virtually here.

Join us for a special, in-store appearance by Brigid Kemmerer, the New York Times bestselling author of A Curse So Dark and Lonely. Kemmerer joins us with the first book in her new, blockbuster fantasy series about a cruel prince, a corrupt kingdom, and the girl who will risk everything to bring it all down.

This is a hybrid event - it will be live and in-person and broadcast via Zoom webinar. Due to our limited in-person capacity for events, registration is required If you'd like to watch the event from home, click here to register for the Zoom broadcast. 

A rec for Defy the Night from Kemmerer's conversation partner, Boswellian Jenny Chou: "Tessa Cade, the heroine in Brigid Kemmerer’s exciting new fantasy series, is full of rage but also just enough hope to throw herself into danger for the survival of her country. Though she feels the weight of responsibility that a ruler should have, she’s actually an apothecary in a land whose citizens are dying of a plague. And the real rulers are hoarding the Moonflower leaves that offer an antidote for a few lucky citizens in the upper classes, leaving the poor to struggle and die. Helping Tessa is the fearless Weston Lark, a mysterious Robin Hood-like character, who appears at night. Together they make perilous trips to the royal lands to steal whatever Moonflower leaves they can find. Weston is keeping one really big secret though, one that changes everything when Tessa finds out. Defy the Night has plenty of adventure and heart-wrenching romance, but it’s the courage that both Tessa and Weston show when faced with deceit that really keep the pages turning."

And here's an enthusiastic writeup from Rachel Copeland, the Boswellian handling the tech for this event. It's due to Rachel that you can watch this event at home! Defy the Night, the Rachel rec: "In the kingdom of Kandala, people are dying, and Tessa Cade is risking her own safety to bring medicine to those who need it. With King Harristan and his brother, Cruel Corrick, in power, it seems as though only the elite will have a chance of surviving the strange sickness that's persisting throughout the kingdom. But all is not as it seems, and the enemy in the shadows might be the key to saving a kingdom. I thoroughly enjoyed this one! Kemmerer deftly balances the perspectives of her main characters while giving the right amount of weight to the issues of illness, poverty, and the improper use of power and authority. I will be waiting impatiently for the next book in this series."

Brigid Kemmerer is author of the Cursebreaker series and the contemporary young adult romances Call It What You Want, More Than We Can Tell, and Letters to the Lost, as well as paranormal young adult stories, including the Elemental series and Thicker Than Water.

More upcoming Boswell events here.

Photo credits:
Steve Sheinkin credit Erica Miller
Naomi Hirahara credit Mayumi Hirahara
Amy Timberlake credit Phil Timberlake