Wednesday, June 22, 2022

What’s Jane Up To? A Recommendation for JACKIE & ME from Jane (event is June 27)

Many of you have worked for years with Jane Glaser, the award-winning* bookseller from Harry W. Schwartz and Next Chapter, and a long stint at Boswell. Though she may have retired, she hasn’t left the world of books behind; she’s currently organizing a library for St. Ann’s Center and recently did a presentation for a local book club that started at the old Mequon Schwartz store and now meets at Fiddleheads in Thiensville.

Needless to say, Jane and I continue to talk about books. Last year her top three titles were Lauren Fox’s Send for Me, Nancy Johnson’s The Kindest Lie, and Swimming Back to Trout River, by Linda Rui Feng. But this year, there hasn’t been anything that’s really stood out for her – until today’s conversation, where she waxed enthusiastically about Louis Bayard’s Jackie & Me. This gave me a particular thrill because when I finished the book, I immediately thought, "I have to get this to Jane."

Jane read Bayard’s Courting Mr. Lincoln when she was working at Boswell and liked that as well. She enjoyed the way Bayard imagined what was happening in the margins of the story. But if she liked Courting, her enthusiasm for Jackie & Me has jumped to another level. It’s historical fiction, and like much historical fiction, Bayard has clearly done his research on Kirk LeMoyne Billings, the one-time Kennedy confidant. But what made Jackie & Me so enjoyable was Bayard’s tone. Jane has always liked to call this kind of book 'light with a bite.' There are serious issues to discuss here, but told in an effortless way, often amusing, sometimes poignant. Like if Elinor Lipman was writing historical fiction. Or Steven Rowley.

Wait a minute! Steven Rowley did write historical fiction about Jackie Kennedy, The Editor, which was his book prior to The Guncle. Rowley enjoyed this one too: "A loving and romantic look at an unlikely friendship told with a playful command of language that feels as effortless as it is exciting. Bayard possesses a singular wit and deftly uses it to give fresh insight into even his best-known characters. I never wanted it to end."

It's the kind of book I think a lot of our customers would like, but right now, I didn’t have an obvious Boswellian to pass it to. No Sharon, no Nancy, no Anne. Don’t worry, my Boswell colleagues are reading plenty! I just don’t think this immediately calls their name, though I’ll bet if a few of them tried it, they might be pleasantly surprised.

Jane and I brainstormed on who you might be able to recommend Jackie & Me too. I thought of one book that’s done very well for us – The Paris Hours. Like Bayard’s book, Alex George’s novel takes a what-if tone to historical fiction, and I think there’s some overlap in tone too - sometimes playful, sometimes wistful, with an edge of sadness. Hundreds of you took our suggestion to read The Paris Hours, and a good number of you came back to tell us how much you liked it.

I’m thrilled that we have Christina Clancy doing the conversation for our event with Bayard on June 27, 6:30 pm Central for two reasons - I think her readers will enjoy this book, plus she's such a great conversation partner. I recommended this book to Clancy because several of her writer friends, the aforementioned Steven Rowley and Julia Claiborne Johnson, gave it a plus. And she recommended a book to me too – Jean Thompson’s The Poet’s House, and we’ll be hosting an in-person program with Thompson, also in conversation with Christina Clancy, on July 20, also at 6:30 pm Central. But that’s for another blog.

Join us for this event on June 27. Can’t make it to the store? We’re broadcasting this one too. And that means we’ll have a recording afterwards.

Register for Louis Bayard's event on June 27 here.

Pre-order the paperback edition of Shoulder Season here - out July 12.  
Photo credit: Anna Carson DeWitt

*It's true. Farrar Straus gave a bookseller award to Jane.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Boswell this week - Susan Hartman, Ben Hubing, Mary Laura Philpott, Jack E Davis, Louis Bayard

Here's what's happening at Boswell this week, in person and virtual. This week we're all nonfiction - it isn't until next Monday's Louis Bayard that we've got a novel featured. 

Monday, June 20, 7 pm
Susan Hartman, author of City of Refugees: The Story of Three Newcomers Who Breathed Life into a Dying American Town
in conversation with Mitch Teich for a virtual event - click here to register! 

Boswell hosts an evening featuring journalist Susan Hartman for a conversation about her new book, City of Refugees, which offers an intimate portrait of how newcomers revitalized a fading industrial town which illuminates the larger canvas of refugee life in 21st century America. In conversation with Mitch Teich of North Country Public Radio and former WUWM Lake Effect Producer and Host. Cosponsored by Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition and Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.

Many Americans imagine refugees as threatening outsiders who will steal jobs or be a drain on the economy. But across the country, refugees are rebuilding and maintaining the American Dream. Hartman follows three newcomers to Utica, New York over the course of eight years as they and their families adjust to new lives in America. They are part of an extraordinary migration of refugees from Vietnam, Bosnia, Burma, Somalia, Iraq, and elsewhere, who have transformed Utica over the past four decades. City of Refugees is a complex and poignant story of a small city but also of America - a country whose promise of safe harbor and opportunity is knotty and incomplete, but undeniably alive.

From Jake Halpern, author of Welcome to the New World: "This is an American tale that everyone should read - the story of three refugees who forged a new life in the Rust Belt. Hartman's journalistic dedication is nothing short of astounding. She spent eight years following her subjects, and it shows. The storytelling is so intimate and the characters feel so deeply real that you will know them like neighbors. Sadia, who is a teenage girl when the book begins, is like the heroine of a great young adult novel. You will root for her on every page, and by the end, you will not be able to wall off your heart from her hopes and dreams."

Susan Hartman has written about immigrant communities for over 20 years, and her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, and Newsday. The author of two books of poetry, she was educated at Kirkland College and received an MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where she now teaches.

Tuesday, June 21, 6:30 pm
Ben Hubing, author of George Wallace in Wisconsin: The Divisive Campaigns That Shaped a Civil Rights Legacy
in conversation with Christine Evans, in-person event at Boswell - click here to register.

Boswell hosts an event featuring historian Ben Hubing for a presentation about his new book, George Wallace in Wisconsin, in which he explores the tumult surrounding the so-called little man with the big mouth in the Badger State. Cosponsored by the UWM Department of History.

George Wallace ran for president four times between 1964 and 1976. In the Badger State, his campaigns fueled a debate over constitutional principles and values. Wallace weaponized states' rights, arguing that the federal government should stay out of school segregation, promote law and order, restrict forced busing, and reduce burdensome taxation. White working-class Wisconsinites armed themselves with Wallace's rhetoric, pushing back on changes that threatened the status quo. Civil rights activists and the Black community in Wisconsin armed themselves with a different constitutional principle, equal protection, to push for strong federal protection of their civil rights.

This clash of ideals nearly became literal as protests and counter-protests erupted until gradually diminishing as Wallace's political fortunes waned. Hubing’s new book offers a revealing account of the tensions that embroiled Wisconsinites as Alabama Governor Wallace took his struggle north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Ben Hubing is a high school educator and educational consultant and has been the recipient of a number of awards, including the James Madison Foundation Fellowship and the Herb Kohl Teaching Fellowship. He earned a BA from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, an MS from Cardinal Stritch University, and an MA in History from UWM, where he focused on the intersections of civil rights, politics and constitutional history.

Wednesday, June 22, 6:30 pm
Mary Laura Philpott, author of Bomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives
in-person at Boswell - click here to register!

Boswell hosts an evening with Mary Laura Philpott, author of the bestselling essay collection I Miss You When I Blink, who joins us with Bomb Shelter, a poignant and powerful new memoir that tackles the big questions of life, death, and existential fear with humor and hope.

A lifelong worrier, Philpott always kept an eye out for danger, a habit that only intensified when she became a parent. But she looked on the bright side, too, believing that as long as she cared enough, she could keep her loved ones safe. Then, in the dark of one quiet, pre-dawn morning, she woke abruptly to a terrible sound and found her teenage son unconscious on the floor. In the aftermath of a crisis that darkened her signature sunny spirit, she wondered: If this happened, what else could happen? And how do any of us keep going when we can’t know for sure what’s coming next?

Untamed author Glennon Doyle calls Bomb Shelter: "An unforgettable memoir about holding it together when it’s time to let go, Bomb Shelter met me exactly where I am and gently walked me towards humor and hope. This book is a must read - a treasure to savor now and save for always. I loved it." And from Judith Warner in The New York Times Book Review: "I was struck to my core - all kinds of overripe feelings and neglected memories shook loose - by Mary Laura Philpott, or more precisely, by her new masterwork, Bomb Shelter."

Mary Laura Philpott is author of I Miss You When I Blink and her writing has been featured by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic. A former bookseller, she also hosted an interview program on Nashville Public Television for several years.

Wednesday, June 22, 7 pm
Jack E Davis, author of The Bald Eagle: The Improbable Journey of America's Bird
in conversation with Cheyenne Smith for a virtual event - click here to register.

Boswell Book Company and Schlitz Audubon Nature Center present an evening with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jack E Davis, author of The Gulf, for a conversation about his new book, The Bald Eagle, a sweeping cultural and natural history of the bald eagle in America. In conversation with Schlitz Audubon Raptor Educator Cheyenne Smith. The speakers will be joined during this program by a bald eagle from the Schlitz Audubon Raptor Program!

The bald eagle is regal but fearless, a bird you’re not inclined to argue with. For centuries, Americans have celebrated it as ‘majestic’ and ‘noble,’ yet savaged the living bird behind their national symbol as a malicious predator of livestock and, falsely, a snatcher of babies. Taking us from before the nation’s founding through inconceivable resurgences of this enduring all-American species, Davis contrasts the age when native peoples lived beside it peacefully with that when others, whether through hunting bounties or DDT pesticides, twice pushed Haliaeetus leucocephalus to the brink of extinction.

Filled with stories of Founding Fathers, rapacious hunters, heroic bird rescuers, and the lives of baldeagles themselves, The Bald Eagle is a much-awaited cultural and natural history that demonstrates how this bird’s wondrous journey may provide inspiration today, as we grapple with environmental peril on a larger scale. Vicki Constantine Croke, writing for The New York Times Book Review, says: "Davis shines at most everything in this exuberantly expansive book, but especially at highlighting individual birds like the translocated ones making their way in the world. With eagle numbers now estimated at levels they were before 'America became America,' their comeback is astonishing."

Jack E Davis is the author of the award-winning The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea and An Everglades Providence: Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the American Environmental Century. He is Professor of Environmental History at the University of Florida.

Monday, June 27, 6:30 pm
Louis Bayard, author of Jackie & Me
in conversation with Christina Clancy, in-person at Boswell - click here to register!

Boswell Book Company hosts Louis Bayard, the bestselling author of The Pale Blue Eye and Courting Mr. Lincoln, for a conversation about his witty, sensitive new novel about the young Jacqueline Bouvier during the time before she became that Jackie, and the marriage that almost never happened. In conversation with Christina Clancy, author of Shoulder Season and The Second Home.

In the spring of 1951, debutante Jacqueline Bouvier, working for the Washington Times-Herald, meets Jack Kennedy, a charming Congressman from a notorious and powerful family, at a party in DC. Young, rebellious, eager to break free from her mother, Jackie is drawn to the elusive young politician, and soon she and Jack are bantering over secret dinner dates and short work phone calls. Only gradually does Jackie begin to realize that she is being groomed to be the perfect political wife, whether Jack is interested in settling down or not. Sharply written, steeped in the era and with witty appearances by members of the extended Kennedy clan, this is Jackie as never before seen, in a story about love, sacrifice, friendship, and betrayal.

Jackie & Me has earned starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and Library Journal. And from Angie Kim, author of Miracle Creek: "I absolutely adore this novel! It’s a testament to Louis Bayard’s remarkable gifts as storyteller how suspenseful it is, given that we already know this story... or do we? Full of Bayard’s trademark charm and wit, with prose that sings and a perfect voice, Jackie & Me delighted me from beginning to end."

Louis Bayard is a New York Times Notable Book author and has been shortlisted for both the Edgar and Dagger awards for his historical thrillers, which include The Pale Blue Eye and Mr. Timothy. He teaches at George Washington University. 

Visit the Boswell upcoming events page for more programs.

Photo credits:
Susan Hartman credit Glenmar Studio
Mary Laura Philpott credit Heidi Ross
Jack E Davis credit Giuliano De Portu
Louis Bayard credit Anna Carson Dewitt

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Boswell bestsellers, week ending June 18, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending June 18, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. This Time Tomorrow, by Emma Straub
2. Horse, by Geraldine Brooks (Register for June 30 virtual event here)
3. Hotel Nantucket, by Elin Hilderbrand
4. Jackie and Me, by Louis Bayard (Register for June 27 in-person and virtual event here)
5. The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles
6. The Latecomer, by Jean Hanff Korelitz
7. Meant to Be, by Emily Giffin
8. Two Nights in Lisbon, by Chris Pavone
9. Remarkably Bright Creatures, by Shelby Van Pelt (Reigster for July 11 virtual event here)
10. Search, by Michelle Huneven

It's hard to imagine that Elin Hildebrand can hit a home run every time at bat, but if you ignore The New York Times Book Review write-up from Michelle Ruiz (and there is certainly no reason to expect they would give a good review to such a novel, especially with the retirement of commercial-oriented Janet Maslin), the reviews for Hotel Nantucket are terrific - Booklist, Library Journal, and Kirkus, which I quote: "Bring on the fresh-baked gougères and the hydrangea-blue cashmere throws: A classic fictional setting - the grand hotel - gets the Hilderbrand treatment. The beloved beach novelist's 28th book is another tour de force, deploying all her usual tricks and tropes and clever points of view, again among them a character from the afterlife and the collective 'we' of gossipy island residents."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Happy-Go Lucky, by David Sedaris (signed copies available)
2. Mother Noise, by Cindy House (same)
3. My Life in the Sunshine, by Nabil Ayers (same)
4. The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym, by Paula Byrne
5. I'd Like to Play Alone, Please, by Tom Segura
6. River of the Gods, by Candice Millard
7. Architects of an American Landscape, by Hugh Howard
8. Atomic Habits, by James Clear
9. The End of the World Is Just the Beginning, by Peter Zeihan
10. The Bald Eagle, by Jack E Davis (Register for June 22 virtual event here)

Another week, another comedian who is "massively successful" but is heretofore off my radar because I don't watch the Netflix specials and I am not the target market. Tom Segura's debut collection, I'd Like to Play Alone, Please, didn't get a Book Marks page, even though it has advance reviews from the Los Angeles Times, Kirkus, and Publishers Weekly; I'm not sure how they make these decisions. Kirkus writes: "While Segura's off-color humor is not for everyone, his fans will doubtlessly enjoy both his essays and the included black-and-white photos. Often crude but undeniably funny."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Book Lovers, by Emily Henry
2. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro
3. Shady Hollow, by Juneau Black
4. Beautiful World, Where Are You, by Sally Rooney
5. The Drifter, by Nick Petrie
6. Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
7. Afterparties, by Anthony Veasna So
8. Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J Maas
9. A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagirhara
10. Malibu Rising, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

According to Book Marks, the best reviewed short story collection was Anthony Veasna So's Afterparties, which also had Boswell love from several booksellers here, notably Chris, who got me to read it too. I just learned that So's second collection is coming out in 2023. From Jonathan Dee, whose new book I'm supposed to start reading any second: "Karen Russell, Carmen Maria Machado, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah - you can count on one hand the authors of this century whose debut short-story collections are as prodigious and career-making as Afterparties. This lovingly specific, history-haunted comedy of Cambodian-American manners should put Anthony Veasna So on smart readers' radar to stay."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. America Calling, by Rajika Bhanadari
2. Teaching Community by bell hooks
3. I Was Wrong, but We Can Make It Right, by John B Haydon
4. Wildflowers of Wisconsin Field Guide, by Stan Tekiela
5. North Point Historic Districts, by Shirley Du Fresne McArthur
6. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
7. A Voyage Long and Strange, by Tony Horwitz
8. A Dog Lover's Guide to Hiking Wisconsin's State Parks, by Danielle St Louis
9. The Invention of Nature, by Andrea Wulf
10. Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake

I don't normally highlight what we call bulk sales, but I wanted to make mention of bell hooks's Teaching Community, as Jason and I were just discussing how, of all the folks who've passed away in the last year, the big breakout book seemed to be hooks's All About Love. And then Jason noted that even the Routledge (an imprint of Taylor and Frances, an informa company*) titles were selling well.

Books for Kids:
1. Realm of the Blue Mist, by Amy Kim Kibuishi
2. The Assignment, by Liza Wiemer
3. Mightier than the Sword, by Rochelle Melander
4. I Must Betray You, by Ruta Sepetys
5. First Cat in Space Ate Pizza, by Mac Barnett and Shawn Harris
6. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Saenz
7. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, by Erika L Sánchez (Register for September 16 event here)
8. The Patron Saints of Nothing, by Randy Ribay
9. The Secret Sky, by Atia Abawi
10. I Kissed Shara Wheeler, by Casey McQuiston

Realm of the Blue Mist is a new graphic novel series that has gotten nice write-ups from Kirkus and Booklist. Kirkus lays it out: "A girl seeking answers is drawn onto another world entirely. Fifteen-year-old Tabetha 'Tabby' Simon is drawn to Yggdrasil, the anomalous tree with bizarre, immortality-granting properties that her scientist father was researching before his mysterious death years ago." Booklist brings it home: "Solid, well-thought-out world building keeps this fast-paced, layered story from becoming too complicated. Thrilling action sequences, compelling characters, and gorgeous art and colors all ensure readers will wait impatiently for the next volume in the series."

We've been publishing our Boswell bestseller lists since we opened in 2009, and the truth is, I've been collating lists like this since I first started at Harry W Schwartz Bookshops in 1986. Back at Warner Books (now Grand Central), I did work making sure that our new releases were on the radar of the folks who made up these lists nationally - it wasn't as easy as it was now, and regularly, someone would call me and ask about a book they were getting sales reports on, and I would play detective if I didn't know what it was off the back.

My interest in charts goes back to 1974 when I started listening to American Top 40 and soon became obsessed with the Billboard charts. By 1975, I was tabulating my favorite songs weekly, first as a top 20, then a top 40, then all the way to 100. I continued to do this until 2001, and much of my social network revolved around other people who did the same thing. I will probably be talking about this a bit more this fall, as I anxiously await the release of Tom Breihan's The Number Ones, out November 15. I should also note the passing of Joel Whitburn, the chartmaker's chartmaker. Here's the Jim Higgins-written obituary.

Being that there have been a number of stories about a certain song becoming a huge hit 37 years after its initial release, I thought I would include an excerpt from one of my old charts. 

Daniel's personal top 10 of October 13, 1985:
1. Running Up that Hill, by Kate Bush
2. Marlene on the Wall, by Suzanne Vega
3. Excitable, by Amazulu
4. Love Take Over, by Five Star
5. Round and Around, by Jaki Graham
6. When Love Breaks Down, by Prefab Sprout
7. The Perfect Way, by Scritti Politti
8. Body and Soul, by Mai Tai
9. The Love Parade, by Dream Academy
10. Appetite by Prefab Sprout

*Which is a division of the Sheinhardt Wig Company

Monday, June 13, 2022

Six events coming soon! Rajika Bhandari (in-person), Nabil Ayers (in-person and virtual), Hugh Howard (virtual), Ann Hood (virtual), David Sedaris (ticketed, in-person), Susan Hartman (virtual)

Monday, June 13, 6:30 pm
Rajika Bhandari, author of America Calling: A Foreign Student in a Country of Possibility
in conversation with Elly Fishman, in-person at Boswell - click here to register

Boswell hosts an evening with Rajika Bhandari for her new memoir, America Calling, an unflinching and insightful book that explores the global appeal of a Made in America education that is a bridge to America’s successful past and to its future. In conversation with Elly Fishman, who teaches in the Journalism Department at UWM. This event is cosponsored by Education Credential Evaluators.

Growing up in middle-class India, Bhandari has seen generations of her family look westward, where an American education means status and success. But for a time, she resisted the lure of America because those who left never returned. As a young woman, however, she found herself following her heart and heading to a US university to study. When her relationship ended and Bhandari failed to move back to India as a foreign-educated woman, she found herself in a job where the personal was political. As an expert on international higher education, she has been immersed in the lives of the international students who come to America from over 200 countries, the universities that attract them, and the tangled web of immigration that a student must navigate.

America Calling is both a deeply personal story of Bhandari’s search for her place and an incisive analysis of America’s relationship with the rest of the world through the most powerful tool of diplomacy: education. At a time of growing nationalism, a turning inward, and fear of the 'other,' America Calling is ultimately a call to action to keep America’s borders - and minds - open.

Rajika Bhandari is author of five academic books and one previous nonfiction book, and her writing has appeared in The Guardian, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Diplomatic Courier, among others. Elly Fishman is the author of Refugee High: Coming of Age in America

Tuesday, June 14, 6:30 pm
Nabil Ayers, author of My Life in the Sunshine: Searching for My Father and Discovering My Family
in conversation with Justin Barney, in-person at Boswell - register here!

Boswell Book Company welcomes Nabil Ayers for a conversation about his new memoir, My Life in the Sunshine, about his journey to connect with his absentee father, legendary jazz musician Roy Ayers, a journey which ultimately redefines what family really means. In conversation with Justin Barney, Music Director of 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, our cohost for this event.

Throughout his adult life, whether he was opening a Seattle record store in the 1990s or touring the world as the only non-white band member in alternative rock bands, Nabil Ayers felt the shadow and legacy of his father’s musical genius, and his race, everywhere. Growing up, Nabil only meets his father a handful of times. In 1971, a white, Jewish, former ballerina chose to have a child with the famous Black jazz musician Roy Ayers, fully expecting and agreeing that he would not be involved in the child’s life. In this highly original memoir, Nabil Ayers recounts a life spent living with the aftermath of that decision, and his journey to build an identity of his own despite and in spite of his father’s absence.

The early praise for this book sounds great. From Grammy-nominated Michelle Zauner, author of Crying in H Mart: "Across a soundscape of 70s New York jazz, 90s Pacific Northwest grunge, and 00s indie rock, Nabil traces the image of his father through song. With growing fascination and heartbreak, he draws out meaning from the shadow of absence, and ultimately redefines what it means to be a family." And from Ashley C Ford, author of Somebody’s Daughter: "Ayers writes with a quiet urgency that drove me toward the end of this book with bated breath. Race, class, inheritance, music, family, and love are all up for questioning, pulled apart, and formed with new definitions along the way."

Nabil Ayers has written about music and race for publications including The New York Times, NPR, and The Root. Ayers is the President of Beggars Group US, where he has released albums by many Grammy Award-winning artists.

Boswell presents an evening with biographer Hugh Howard for his new book, Architects of an American Landscape, which explores how Frederick Law Olmsted and Henry Hobson Richardson created original all-American idioms in architecture and landscape that influence how we enjoy our public and private spaces to this day. Cohosted by Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, and Milwaukee School of Engineering.

This event is presented in tandem with the Villa Terrace exhibit In the Park with Frederick Law Olmsted: A Vision for Milwaukee, which runs from April 14 to September 18 this summer. Click here to find more information about that exhibit.

As the nation recovered from a cataclysmic war, two titans of design - Henry Hobson Richardson and Frederick Law Olmsted - profoundly influenced how Americans came to interact with the built and natural world around them through their pioneering work in architecture and landscape design. The small, reserved Olmsted and the passionate, Falstaffian Richardson could not have been more different in character, but their sensibilities were closely aligned. This dual portrait explores their immense impact on the landscape of America.

From the Washington Independent Review of Books: "Hugh Howard gets it marvelously right in Architects of an American Landscape, his joint biography of two Gilded Age luminaries. Both men are strikingly important in our nation’s cultural history, and the author nails his pairing of the two with solid scholarship and graceful, vivid writing… Superb." And from Ralph Gardner, Jr., of WAMC Northeast Public Radio: "A work of serious scholarship. But it also felt like a paid vacation, traveling back to the horse and buggy days of the 19th century through the nation’s transformation into a fledgling world power… One of the book’s many pleasures is Hugh Howard’s talent for describing buildings from the ground up."

Hugh Howard is author of numerous books on architecture and design, including Architecture’s Odd Couple, Thomas Jefferson: Architect, and Houses of the Founding Fathers, as well as the memoir House-Dreams.

Thursday, June 16, 7 pm
Ann Hood, author of Fly Girl
in conversation with Daniel Goldin and Lisa Baudoin for a virtual event - register here! 

Boswell Book Company and our friends of Books & Company present a new installment of the Readings from Oconomowaukee event series with a virtual conversation featuring Ann Hood, author of Fly Girl, an entertaining and fascinating memoir of this gifted author’s adventurous years as a TWA flight attendant.

Be sure to order your copy of Fly Girl now, too! Click here to order from Boswell. Or, click here and order from Books & Company.


In 1978, in the tailwind of the golden age of air travel, flight attendants were the epitome of glamor and sophistication. Fresh out of college and hungry to experience the world and maybe, one day, write about it, Ann Hood joined their ranks. After a grueling job search, Hood survived TWA’s rigorous Breech Training Academy and learned to evacuate seven kinds of aircraft, deliver a baby, mix proper cocktails, administer oxygen, and stay calm no matter what the situation. As the airline industry changed around her, Hood began to write, even drafting snatches of her first novel from the jump-seat. She reveals how the job empowered her, despite its roots in sexist standards. Packed with funny, moving, and shocking stories of life as a flight attendant, Fly Girl captures the nostalgia and magic of air travel at its height, and the thrill that remains with every takeoff.

Early author readers are loving Fly Girl. From Laura Lippman, author of novels like Dream Girl and Lady in the Lake: "At first blush, Fly Girl is a charming, layered memoir about Ann Hood’s life as a flight attendant who knew the industry in its glory days - and its-not-so-glorious days post-deregulation. But it’s also something much more, nothing less than a manifesto calling us to embrace joy and adventure, however we define them. I have always loved Ann’s stories and now I know why she has so many: She has lived, in the best, fullest sense of that word. She can't make the sun stand still, but, boy does she make it run." And from Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train: "A brisk history lesson, an affectionate homage, and a thoughtful critique of the airline industry, Fly Girl soars."

Ann Hood is author of the best-selling novels The Book That Matters Most, The Obituary Writer, and The Knitting Circle, and the memoir Comfort: A Journey Through Grief.

Friday, June 17, 2 pm
David Sedaris, author of Happy-Go-Lucky
A Ticketed Event - register here! Tickets are limited, with a free signing to follow.

Boswell presents a special in-person reading and signing with David Sedaris, celebrating the release of his latest collection of essays, Happy-Go-Lucky, his first new collection in four years, which Library Journal says is "Sedaris at his best, provocative and hysterical." For this event, Sedaris will be joined by opening reader Cindy House, author of Mother Noise.

Please note that this event is almost sold out. 

This event features a ticketed reading followed by a free book signing. Tickets for the reading cost $29 plus sales tax and ticket fee, and include admission to the reading, signing line priority, and a copy of Happy-Go-Lucky. Important ticket purchasing information: ID that matches the ticket-purchaser's name will be required to check in to the event. 

Free signing to follow the reading. Once reading ticket holders have gone through the line, anyone else who would like to meet David Sedaris will be welcomed into the store. Sedaris loves to meet his fans, so we will stay as long as it takes for everyone to get a chance to say hello. Register for the free signing line using the ticket link above and selecting the Free Signing option. On the day of the event, we will email you a notification when our doors are opening for the free signing portion of the evening. We'll have lots of copies of Happy-Go-Lucky and Sedaris's other books for sale; books brought from home are welcome, too.

For this event, Sedaris will be joined by opening reader Cindy House, author of the memoir Mother Noise. House's book is a poignant and beautiful collection of essays and graphic shorts about what life looks like twenty years after recovery from addiction and how to live with the past as a parent, writer, and sober person. And what does Sedaris himself have to say of the book? "The scope of Cindy House’s knowledge is as remarkable as her humor, her depth, and her great skill as an essayist. This is her time."

David Sedaris is the author of twelve previous books, including, most recently, A Carnival of Snackery, The Best of Me, and Calypso. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and BBC Radio 4. In 2019, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is the recipient of the Thurber Prize for American Humor, the Jonathan Swift International Literature Prize for Satire and Humor, and the Terry Southern Prize for Humor. 

Monday, June 20, 7 pm
Susan Hartman, author of City of Refugees: The Story of Three Newcomers Who Breathed Life into a Dying American Town
in conversation with Mitch Teich for a virtual event - register for this event here

Boswell hosts an evening featuring journalist Susan Hartman for a conversation about her new book, City of Refugees, which offers an intimate portrait of how newcomers revitalized a fading industrial town which illuminates the larger canvas of refugee life in 21st century America. In conversation with Mitch Teich of North Country Public Radio and former WUWM Lake Effect Producer and Host. Cosponsored by Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition and Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.

Many Americans imagine refugees as threatening outsiders who will steal jobs or be a drain on the economy. But across the country, refugees are rebuilding and maintaining the American Dream. Hartman follows three newcomers to Utica, New York over the course of eight years as they and their families adjust to new lives in America. They are part of an extraordinary migration of refugees from Vietnam, Bosnia, Burma, Somalia, Iraq, and elsewhere, who have transformed Utica over the past four decades. City of Refugees is a complex and poignant story of a small city but also of America - a country whose promise of safe harbor and opportunity is knotty and incomplete, but undeniably alive.

From Jake Halpern, author of Welcome to the New World: "This is an American tale that everyone should read - the story of three refugees who forged a new life in the Rust Belt. Hartman's journalistic dedication is nothing short of astounding. She spent eight years following her subjects, and it shows. The storytelling is so intimate and the characters feel so deeply real that you will know them like neighbors. Sadia, who is a teenage girl when the book begins, is like the heroine of a great young adult novel. You will root for her on every page, and by the end, you will not be able to wall off your heart from her hopes and dreams."

Susan Hartman has written about immigrant communities for over 20 years, and her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, and Newsday. The author of two books of poetry, she was educated at Kirkland College and received an MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where she now teaches. 

Photo credits
Nabil Ayers by Gabriela Bhaskar
Hugh Howard by Elizabeth Anne Howard
Ann Hood by Beowulf Sheehan
David Sedaris by Anne Fishbein
Susan Hartman by Glenmar Studio

Sunday, June 12, 2022

What's selling at Boswell? Week ending June 11, 2022

Here's what's selling at Boswell.

Hardcover Fiction
1. Sea of Tranquility, by Emily St John Mandel
2. Nightcrawling, by Leila Mottley
3. This Time Tomorrow, by Emma Straub
4. Sparring Partners, by John Grisham
5. Jackie and Me, by Louis Bayard (Register for June 27 in-person event here)
6. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, by Charlie Mackesy
7. The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles
8. The Sentence, by Louise Erdrich
9. Meant to Be, by Emily Giffin
10. Woman of Light, by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Top debut goes to Nightcrawling, the debut from Leila Mottley, the current Oprah Book Club selection. As is frequently noted, Mottley is the youngest author picked for this honor. From Sam Sacks in The Wall Street Journal: "With dizzying speed, a combination of need and misfortune casts her into prostitution, and it isn’t long before she’s been co-opted by a ring of corrupt Oakland police officers and forced to accompany them at depraved all-night parties. Kiara’s retelling of these events is clipped, demotic and, apart from a few moments of emotional catharsis, focused on the brass tacks of staying alive. Her story becomes more and more gripping and desperate as the trap around her closes. Ms. Mottley accesses the feelings one sometimes has while reading Dickens, the breathless sense that some massive unfairness is being inflicted on a good and innocent person."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Happy-Go-Lucky, by David Sedaris (Tickets and free signing following for June 17 here)
2. Battling the Big Lie, by Dan Pfeiffer
3. Illogical, by Emmanuel Acho
4. The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym, by Paula Byrne
5. Architects of an American Landscape, by Hugh Howard (Register for June 15 virtual event here)
6. Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner
7. Catholica, by Suzanna Ivanic
8. Bittersweet, by Susan Cain
9. Speak, by Tunde Oyeneyin
10. My Life in the Sunshine, by Nabil Ayers (Register for June 14 in person and virtual event here)

Normally if we have a ticketed event, people buying books in advance are not planning to attend. But in the case of David Sedaris's appearance on June 17 for Happy-Go-Lucky, anyone can attend the free signing that follows the ticketed reading - you don't even have to buy the book from us. The key here is that we don't expect to get to the free part for a few hours - I'm expecting between 7 and 8. But if you register (!!!), we will keep you posted about when to line up and save you a whole bunch of time. And don't worry, Mr. Sedaris will spend as much time with you as he did with the ticketed folks, maybe more. I spent my Saturday reading Happy-Go-Lucky (which mentions Milwaukee), as well as Cindy House's Mother Noise, which Sedaris is championing. 

Paperback Fiction:
1. A Proposal They Can't Refuse, by Natalie Caña
2. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
3. Dare to Know, by James Kennedy
4. Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom
5. Raft of Stars, by Andrew J Graff
6. Leonard and Hungry Paul, by Rónán Hession
7. The Great Mistake, by Jonathan Lee
8. The Personal Librarian, by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
9. Seven Days in June, by Tia Williams
10. It Ends with Us, by Colleen Hoover

Now in paperback is Seven Days in June a Reese's book club selection in hardcover. When an erotic fiction writer meets an award-winning novelist, sparks fly! From Rumaan Alam: "Tia Williams conjures a seductive fantasy-rich friendships, star-crossed lovers, artistic fulfillment. But Williams, a canny anthropologist of contemporary urban life, is writing realism, exploring personal pain, family entanglements, and the negotiation of black identity in a world defined by whiteness. The result isn't escapism (though the book is a delight) but a vision of life at it truly is: complications and difficulties punctuated by profound joy."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Giannis, by Mirin Fader
2. George Wallace in Wisconsin, by Ben Hubing (Register for June 21 in-person event here)
3. Midwest Gardeners Handbook, by Melinda Myers
4. The Sum of Us, by Heather McGhee
5. How to Be a Woman Online, by Nina Jankowicz
6. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
7. Noise, by Daniel Kahneman
8. Somebody's Daughter, by Ashley C Ford
9. America's Calling, by Rajika Bhandari (Register for June 13 in-person event here)
10. Waterfalls of Wisconsin, by Troy Hess

Out in paperback on the nonfiction side is Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment, by Daniel Kahenman, with Oliver Sibony and Cass Sunstein. If the book has the legs of Thinking Fast and Slow, you'll see it on the Boswell Bestseller list for 2032. I'm guessing somebody else will be writing the blog copy, or maybe we'll just beam it into your brains. Robert Sutton in The Washington Post gets at the issue of random scatter, which can be as problematic as bias: "Fluctuations in a person’s mood, fatigue, physical environment and prior performance that are (objectively) irrelevant, yet shape judgments. Like the study titled 'Clouds Make Nerds Look Good,' which examined 682 actual decisions by college admissions officers: They weighted applicants’ academic strengths more heavily on cloudier days and applicants’ nonacademic strengths more heavily on sunnier days."

Books for Kids:
1. I Must Betray You, by Ruta Septys
2. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Saenz
3. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, by Erika L Sánchez (Sánchez is coming in September)
4. Firekeeper's Daughter, by Angeline Boulley
5. First Cat in Space Ate Pizza, by Mac Barnett and Shawn Harris
6. I Kissed Shara Wheeler, by Casey McQuiston
7. Lizzy and the Cloud, by Terry Fan and Eric Fan
8. She Gets the Girl, by Rachael Lippincott and Alyson Derrick
9. Lulu and Rocky in Milwaukee, by Barbara Joosse and Renée Graef
10. Cat Kid Comic Club On Purpose V3, by Dav Pilkey

Lots of Pride in this list. She Gets the Girl from Rachael Lippincott and Alyson Derrick chronicle the friendship and more of two first-year students at Pitt. Publishers Weekly writes: "Using lightly funny alternating narration, Lippincott and debut author Derrick, spouses, infuse the opposites-attract trope with some real suspense via a rom-com starring two seemingly dissimilar characters seeking the same things." And this from the starred Booklist review: " It's a treat to see Molly's and Alex's authentic growth, and their slow-burn romance pays off for the same reason: Lippincott and Derrick have built characters and relationships that shine with nuance and colorful personality."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins weighs in on the latest from Katherine Addison: "At heart, Madison novelist Katherine Addison is a horror writer. She said as much during a virtual event with Boswell Books last year. Readers of her new novel, The Grief of Stones, can decide which horror is greater: the centuries-old undead abomination that a cleric must face, or the living people who exploit orphaned girls."