Sunday, February 27, 2022

Boswell bestsellers, week of February 26, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending February 26, 2022

1. When I'm Gone, Look for Me in the East, by Quan Barry (signed copies available)
2. The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles
3. Mercy Street, by Jennifer Haigh
4. The Family Chao, by Lan Samantha Chang
5. House of Sky and Breath, by Sarah J Maas
6. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
7. The Books of Jacob, by Olga Tokarczuk
8. To Paradise, by Hanya Yanagihara
9. Moon Witch, Spider King, by Marlon James
10. The Swimmers, by Julie Otsuka

In two weeks of sale, Mercy Street is officially Jennifer Haigh's bestselling novel in hardcover at Boswell, including three previous books since we've been open in 2009 and I also see the Downer Schwartz numbers for 2008's The Condition. Though all of her books have been published by HarperCollins, this is her third publishing imprint - starting at William Morrow, then Harper, and now for the last two books, at Ecco. Books about abortion (fiction or otherwise) are not easy to sell, but Richard Russo's review in The New York Times might help, which ends: "I’ll offer here that some readers may be disappointed that so many of the characters in Mercy Street get precisely what’s coming to them. They may suspect authorial — what? interference? artifice? — at work. But I’d argue the opposite: that it’s the characters themselves who have been working overtime, their entire lives, to arrive where they land. Haigh isn’t manipulating them, just paying close attention to their choices, large and small. That’s not artifice, it’s art. And I was gobsmacked."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Madame C.J. Walker's Gospel of Giving, by Tyrone McKinley Freeman
2. The Trial of Julian Assange, by Nils Melzer
3. The 1619 Project, created by Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times
4. Atlas of the Heart, by Brené Brown
5. The Nineties, by Chuck Klosterman
6. The Dawn of Everything, by David Graeber and David Wengrow
7. The Light of Days, by Judy Batalion (register for March 6 event here)
8. The Book of Joy, by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu
9. Hero of Two Worlds, by Mike Duncan
10. Civil Rights Queen, by Tomiko Brown-Nagin

The publisher of Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality already updated their marketing info to refer to the nomination of Ketanji Brown-Jackson as a great way to broaden interest in this biography of the first Black woman appointed to the federal judiciary. From Patricia Sullivan in The Washington Post: "At a time when rights are being rolled back and history itself is under assault, this exemplary biography is timely and essential. As a Black woman, Motley was out front in dismantling gender and racial barriers; as a lawyer and jurist, she was a leader in the civil rights revolution that reached into many sectors of American life."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Coyotes of Carthage, by Steven Wright (more about Shorewood Reads here)
2. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
3. The Anomaly, by Hervé Le Tellier (register for March 22 event here)
4. It Ends with Us, by Colleen Hoover
5. Shady Hollow, by Juneau Black
6. The Lost Apothecary, by Sarah Penner
7. Verity, by Colleen Hoover
8. Reminders of Him, by Colleen Hoover
9. Manhunt, by Gretchen Felker-Martin
10. Daisy Jones and the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Lost Apothecary was a March 2021 Indie Next Pick in hardcover and has a rec from Jen, praising this "page turner." Denny S Bryce on the NPR website agrees: "Sarah Penner's debut novel, The Lost Apothecary, is an enthralling work of mystery, murder, trust, and betrayal. Set in an atmospheric London, Penner's immersive story flows skillfully from past to present, revealing the heartaches and lost dreams of three captivating main characters in a page-turningly tense drama that surprises right up until the final paragraph."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Madame CJ Walker's Gospel of Giving, by Tyrone McKinley Freeman
2. Maus I (two editions), by Art Spiegelman
3. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
4. My Faith My Life, by Jennifer Gamber
5. By the Grace of the Game, by Dan Grunfeld
6. The Sum of Us, by Heather McGhee
7. An Entangled Life, by Merlin Sheldrake
8. Learning to Pray, by James Martin
9. Maus II, by Art Spiegelman
10. 111 Places in Milwaukee That You Must Not Miss, by Michelle Madden

James Martin's Learning to Pray won raves from Kathleen Norris, Mary Karr, Gregory Boyle and more. The paperback release hits our top ten in its third week of sale. Milwaukee-area writer Jon M Sweeney has this to say in Spirituality and Practice: "Learning to Pray is one of his best books. It quickly moves beyond the sort of prayer that consists of Hail Marys in times of desperation, lists of needs one wants satisfied, and the repetition of phrases that some of us carry from childhood to the grave. This is a book about prayer that aims to be a real tool in people’s lives. Martin is a Catholic, and his prayer experience and anecdotes often involve Jesus, but his advice is also unmoored from his tradition in that it may be applied by people of other traditions - and easily, too."

Books for Kids:
1. Operation Do Over, by Gordon Korman
2. Wonder Walkers, by Micha Archer
3. Aaron Slater, Illustrator, by Andrea Beaty, illustrations by David Roberts
4. Survivor Tree, by Marcie Colleen, illustrations by Aaron Becker
5. Map of Flames: Forgotten Five, by Lisa McMann
6. Ain't Burned All the Bright, by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin
7. The Year We Learned to Fly, by Jacqueline Woodson
8. I Must Betray You, by Ruta Sepetys
9. Chez Bob, by Bob Shea
10. Legendborn, by Tracy Deonn

It took four weeks for Tracy Deonn's Legendborn to hit our bestseller list in paperback, but when you think about, our sales at the bestseller level for this kind of book tend to be better in hardcover, unless a series explodes. This particular series has already received the ALA Coretta Scott King - John Steptoe for New Talent Author Award. From the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books: "Bree performs a mixture of Rootcraft magic (based in African-American spiritual traditions) from her ancestors and the 'colonizer magic' of the Order; her ancestor's rape by an slave-owning Arthur descendant gives her a stronger claim to the line than anyone else. Plot twists arrive quickly and expertly, and a few promising romantic threads will likely be realized in a sequel. An author's note includes information about the inspiration for Rootcraft, the real UNC-Chapel Hill, and King Arthur." The sequel, Bloodmarked, is scheduled to be on sale November 8.

From Carole E Barrowman, recommendations in the Journal Sentinel for five new releases.
--Secret Identity, by Alex Segura
--The Verifiers, by Jane Pek
--The Accomplice, by Lisa Lutz
--The Paradox Hotel, by Rob Hart
--The Overnight Guest, by Heather Gudenkauf

Monday's blog features our week of programming.

Monday, February 21, 2022

What's going on this week? Gordon Korman, Quan Berry, Lan Samantha Chang in conversation with Chang-rae Lee

What's going on this week? Gordon Korman, Quan Berry, Lan Samantha Chang

Tuesday, February 22, 10 am
Gordon Korman, author of Operation Do-Over
A Virtual School Visit
Register for this event here.

We're thrilled to present a special virtual school visit from beloved author of children's books Gordon Korman, who joins us with a presentation about his latest, Operation Do-Over, a middle grade novel that asks, can time travel save a friendship? This virtual school presentation is open to the public so everyone can join in on the fun. Great for all fans of good kid's literature. And be sure to order your copy of Operation Do-Over right now, too!

Boswellian Jenny Chou offers up this recommendation: "I loved this middle-grade story about a second chance to save a friendship that crashed and burned during middle school. Gordon Korman has a wonderful knack for telling an emotionally wrenching story in a way that makes us laugh ourselves silly. He weaves the time travel aspect into the book by making it the subject of a science project that ties everything together - but can we change the future by redoing the past? That’s what keeps the pages turning. Middle grade fans should move this delightful book to the top of their 2022 reading list."

Gordon Korman published his first book at age fourteen and since then has written more than ninety middle grade and teen novels. Favorites include the New York Times bestselling Ungifted, Supergifted, and the Masterminds series.

Tuesday, February 22, 7 pm
Quan Barry, author of When I’m Gone, Look for Me in the East
A Virtual Event
Register for this event here.

Boswell presents an evening with poet and novelist Quan Barry, author of We Ride Upon Sticks, the novel that was called “spellbinding” by O, The Oprah Magazine, for a conversation about her latest, a luminous novel that moves across a windswept Mongolia as estranged twin brothers make a journey of duty, conflict, and renewed understanding. Order your signed copy - it's not a bookplate!

Are our lives our own, or do we belong to something larger? When I’m Gone, Look for Me in the East is a far-flung examination of our individual struggle to retain our convictions and discover meaning in a fast-changing world, as well as a meditation on accepting what simply is. Proving once again that she is a writer of immense range and imagination, Barry carries us across a terrain as unforgiving as it is beautiful and culturally varied as twin brothers travel from the western Altai mountains to the eerie starkness of the Gobi Desert to the ancient capital of Chinggis Khaan.

From the starred Booklist review: "An imaginative tour de force... Evincing the same dazzling talents that won high critical praise for We Ride upon Sticks, Barry vastly expands readers’ horizons, both geographical and metaphysical." Kirkus also offered a star review, calling Barry's latest "A dreamlike and lyrical journey steeped in the tenets of Tibetan Buddhism."

And here's a wonderful interview with Amy Quan Barry in State Journal, in which she discusses her first produced play: "Jumping genres feels right for Barry, who is fascinated by the nuances of each form of storytelling. She actually wrote The Mytilenean Debate more than a decade ago, and more recently submitted it to Forward Theater’s “Wisconsin Wrights New Play Festival” competition."

Born in Saigon and raised in Massachusetts, Quan Barry is author of the novels She Weeps Each Time You’re Born and We Ride Upon Sticks (winner of the 2020 ALA Alex Award), and four books of poetry, including Water Puppets (winner of the AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and a PEN Open Book finalist). Barry’s first play, The Mytilenean Debate, premiers in the spring of 2022. She is the Lorraine Hansberry Professor of English at the UW–Madison.

Thursday, February 24, 7 pm
Lan Samantha Chang, author of The Family Chao
in Conversation with Chang-rae Lee for a Virtual Event
Register for this event here.

Boswell presents a virtual evening with Lan Samantha Chang, the acclaimed author of novels All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost and Inheritance, for a conversation about her latest book, The Family Chao, a Wisconsin-set novel that offers a highly entertaining portrait of a Chinese American family grappling with the dark undercurrents of a seemingly pleasant small town. In conversation with Chang-rae Lee. Cohosted by Books & Company of Oconomowoc. Signed bookplates available.

The residents of Haven, Wisconsin, have dined on the Fine Chao restaurant’s delicious Americanized Chinese food for thirty-five years, content to ignore any unsavory whispers about the family owners. Whether or not Big Leo Chao is honest, or his wife, Winnie, is happy, their food tastes good and their three sons earned scholarships to respectable colleges. But when the brothers reunite in Haven, the Chao family’s secrets and simmering resentments erupt at last.

From Publishers Weekly’s starred review: “An ingenious and cunning reboot of Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. The harrowing and humorous family drama is wrapped in a murder mystery... In this timely, trenchant, and thoroughly entertaining book, an immigrant family’s dreams are paid for in blood. For Chang, this marks a triumphant return.”

Lan Samantha Chang is an award-winning author of the story collection Hunger and three novels. A recent Berlin Prize Fellow, she also has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Chang is the first Asian American and the first female director of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Chang-rae Lee is author of novels including Native Speaker, Aloft, and The Surrendered, winner of the Dayton Peace Prize and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A 2021 winner of the Award of Merit for the Novel from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Chang-rae Lee teaches writing at Stanford University

Photo credits:
--Gordon Korman by Owen Kassimir  
--Lan Samantha Chang by  Ife Oluwa Nihinlola 

More information on the Boswell upcoming events page.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Boswell bestsellers, week ending February 19, 2022

Boswell bestsellers, week ending February 19, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Shoulder Season, by Christina Clancy
2. The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles (tickets for cosponsored May 18 event here)
3. House of Sky and Breath, by Sarah J Maas
4. Moon Witch, Spider King, by Marlon James
5. Pure Color, by Sheila Heti
6. The Family Chao, by Lan Samantha Chang (register for Feb 24 event here)
7. Violeta, by Isabel Allende
8. Under the Whispering Door, by TJ Klune
9. Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr
10. Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir

Our two top debuts this week are second volumes in a fantasy series.

Before James started his fantasy series, he was best known as the Booker Prize winning author of A Brief History of Seven Killings. Reviews on Moon Witch, Spider King have been very strong, with ten raves on Book Marks. From Gabino Iglesias in The Boston Globe: "Marlon James’s Moon Witch, Spider King, the second book in his Dark Star trilogy, is both a continuation of the narrative that began with Black Leopard, Red Wolf in 2019 and an outstanding retelling of that story that expands on what the first book started. While shifting points of view, James... enriches the existing story, and the result is a book that simultaneously celebrates African mythology while creating its own... an impressive amalgamation of folklore, magic, and mythology that weaves together several narratives, but the element that makes it memorable is James’s prose."

I'd like to share the reviews on Sarah J Maas's House of Sky and Breath but I couldn't find a Book Marks listing. I don't really understand because while not featured on the front page on the New York Review of Books or anything, it still got strong advance reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly and several consumer reviews as well. I'm assuming they decided not to do advance copies.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The 1619 Project, created by Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times
2. Atlas of the Heart, by Brené Brown
3. The Nineties, by Chuck Klosterman
4. The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber and David Wengrow
5. Index, a History of the, by Dennis Duncan
6. The Power of Regret, by Daniel H Pink
7. From Strength to Strength, by Arthur C Brooks
8. The Way of Integrity, by Martha Beck
9. How to Be Perfect, by Michael Schur
10. Atomic Habits, by James Avery

Several new releases this week, but probably the one I'd like to read most is Index, a History of the, by Dennis Duncan. I see it has a nice blurb from Mary Norris (fabulous) and sort of reminds me of 2020's A Place for Everything, that history of alphabetization. Indexes, like alphabetization, are things that have lost significance in the digital world, but their history is surely rich. From Steven Moore in The Washington Post: "The cleverly punctuated title of Dennis Duncan’s book, Index, A History of the, should signal that this isn’t a dry account of a small cogwheel in the publishing machine. Instead, it is an engaging tale of the long search for the quickest way to find what you need in those big, information-rich things called books. It is indeed an adventure, and 'bookish' in the most appealing sense."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Shady Hollow, by Juneau Black
2. Circe, by Madeline Miller
3. The Kindest Lie, by Nancy Johnson (register for March 8 event here)
4. The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett
5. The Second Home, by Christina Clancy
6. Send for Me, by Lauren Fox
7. The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune
8. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
9. How to Stop Time, by Matt Haig
10. Grendel, by John Gardner

Lots of old friends this week, with the only two newish releases and no first week sales pops. Shady Hollow hit four regional bestseller lists in its second week. We're working on a front window, being that the second and third entries are releasing soon. 

The Kindest Lie was a hit for us in hardcover and we're continuing our promotion with a Readings from Oconomowaukee on March 8 and a coveted space on our book club table and accompanying brochure of suggested readings. From Paula L Woods in the Los Angeles Times: "The identity of the boy is revealed early on, but The Kindest Lie is less concerned with solving that mystery than examining the complex forces of racial inequity and the fateful decisions that can make or break a family, or a community. On those terms, the novel is a triumph, a deeply affecting work of truth and reconciliation over what it means to live the American Dream - and not just for the winners."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Gray Matters, by Ellyn Lem
2. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kemmerer
3. Maus boxed set, Art Spiegelman
4. The Electricity of Every Living Thing, by Katherine May
5. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk
6. Chatter, by Ethan Kross
7. Voices of Milwaukee Bronzeville, by Sandra E Jones
8. Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann
9. Milwaukee River Greenway, by Eddee Daniel
10. The Stone Reader, edited by Peter Catapano and Simon Critchley

Here's another paperback bestseller that had a great hardcover event - Ethan Kross spoke to Dasha Kelly Hamilton virtually. Now in paperback, Chatter looks at our inner voice - when it's best to listen to it and when it might be better to suppress it. From Katy Waldman's piece in The New Yorker: "Kross is at his most engrossing when discussing the similarities between talking to ourselves and talking to others. The two types of conversation engage much of the same mental circuitry; this is due, in part, to the principle of 'neural reuse,' the brain’s resourceful answer to size constraints imposed by the skull. The inner voice originates outside of us - with caretakers articulating values and beliefs, other early memories - and seeps in, little by little."

Books for Kids:
1. Turtle in a Tree, by Neesha Hudson
2. We Are Still Here, by Traci Sorell
3. Ain't Burned All the Bright, by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin
4. Spy School the Graphic Novel, by Stuart Gibbs
5. I Must Betray You, by Ruta Sepetys
6. Idea Makers, by Loewy Bundy Sichol
7. Me Gusta Como Soy/I Like Myself, by Karen Beaumont
8. Year We Learned to Fly, by Jacqueline Woodson
9. Firekeeper's Daughter, by Angeline Boulley
10. Cold, by Mariko Tamaki

The latest novel by Ruta Sepetys debuted at #1 on The New York Times bestseller list. I Must Betray You is set in 1989 Romania and follows a young man who is asked to become an informer for Nicolae Ceaușescu's government. From MJ Franklin in The New York Times Book Review: "When you think the story is going to zig, it zags and makes you question everything, and everyone, anew. And that’s the power of I Must Betray You - it doesn’t just describe the destabilizing effects of being spied on; it will make you experience them too."

Apologies that many links are paywalled. I try to give enough of a quote for you to get a feel but not too much that I am infringing on copyright.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending February 12, 2022

Here's what's selling...

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Family Chao, by Lan Samantha Chang (register for Feb 24 virtual event here)
2. The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles
3. The Runaway, by Nick Petrie
4. Devil House, by John Darnielle
5. The Sentence, by Louise Erdrich
6. The Christie Affair, by Nina de Gramont
7. Racitatif, by Toni Morrison
8. Black Cake, Charmaine Wilkerson
9. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishigruo (paperback is out March 1)
10. Violeta, by Isabel Allende

Recitatif is Toni Morrison's only short story that we no of, or so I am told. I love that Jason scheduled it for the impulse table. It gives the display a little class. From Ron Charles in The Washington Post, reviewing the anthology On Girlhood: "This is the perfect text for a country still vigorously debating the relevance of race. But the singular quality of this story makes it worthwhile, especially because the book contains a long, thoughtful introduction by Zadie Smith, who says, rightly, that Recitatif should sit alongside 'Bartleby, the Scrivener' and 'The Lottery' 'as a perfect - and perfectly American - tale'.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Voltage Effect, by John A List
2. The Nineties, by Chuck Klosterman
3. The Complete Maus, by Art Spiegelman
4. Giannis, by Mirin Fader
5. Origin, by Jennifer Raff
6. Atlas of the Heart, by Brené Brown
7. Four Thousand Weeks, by Oliver Burkeman
8. How to Be Perfect, by Michael Schnur
9. Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
10. Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner

The Nineties is Chuck Klosterman's first book of nonfiction in five years celebrates the most popular decade of the moment on which to pontificate. But look out, the oughts are coming for you! From Will Leitch in GQ: "The result is a book that has less Klosterman in it than any of his previous works, but in a way that will please longtime fans as well as newbies and skeptics. Consider it almost like David Lynch’s famous excursion into heartwarming Disney fare with The Straight Story. Sure, anyone could have made that movie...but no one would have done it the way Lynch did."

And from Chris's staff rec, summed up in one sentence: "For anyone who’s interested in recent history written with wit, a bit of contrarian snarl, and an eye for connections both subtle and weird (how did a change in credit card laws lead to the rise of indie filmmaking?), you will want to relive The Nineties.

Paperback Fiction: 
1. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
2. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
3. Shady Hollow, by Juneau Black
4. The Vanishing Half, by Britt Bennett
5. How to Stop Time, by Matt Haig
6. The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune
7. The Court of Thorns and Roses V1, by Sarah J Maas
8. Sh*t Cassandra Saw, by Gwen E Kirby
9. The Mystery of Mrs Christie, by Marie Benedict
10. Send for Me, by Lauren Fox

And the Agatha Christie revial keeps chugging along. Last fall we hosted an event for Lori Rader Day's Death at Greenway. On our hardcover top ten (as well as the I) is The Christie Affair, from Nina de Gramont. And on the paperback list is The Mystery of Mrs Christie, by Marie Benedict. From The Washington Post, Carol Memmott writes: "One would think nothing more could be ascertained or imagined about Christie’s (11 day) disappearance, yet novelist Marie Benedict has just published the intriguing The Mystery of Mrs. Christie, a fact-based, fiction-laced novel. It’s an empowering and wonderful tribute to the woman who has sold more than 2 billion books and whose stars, including Poirot and Miss Marple, are still and may always be at the forefront of the mystery genre." Oh, and Death on the Nile was the #1 film last week - that's something!

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Educated, by Tara Westover
2. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
3. All That She Carried, by Tiya Miles
4. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk
5. Talking to Strangers, by Malcolm Gladwell
6. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
7. Humankind, by Brad Aronson
8. Calypso, by David Sedaris
9. Learning to Pray, by James Martin
10. Chatter, by Ethan Cross

National Book Award winner All That She Carried didn't explode for us in hardcover, but is more than making up for it in paperback. This story, which looks at the history of Ashley's Sack, has this praise from Jennifer Szalai in The New York Times: “All That She Carried is a remarkable book, striking a delicate balance between two seemingly incommensurate approaches: Miles’s fidelity to her archival material, as she coaxes out facts grounded in the evidence; and her conjectures about this singular object, as she uses what is known about other enslaved women’s lives to suppose what could have been. 'This is not a traditional history,' Miles writes in her introduction. 'It leans toward evocation rather than argumentation, and is rather more meditation than monograph.'”

Books for Kids:
1. Ain't Burned All the Bright, by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin
2. Vinyl Moon, by Mahogany L Brown
3. When Stars Are Scattered, by Victoria Jamieson
4. Supernatural Society, by Rex Ogle
5. We Are Grateful, by Traci Sorell
6. Operation Do Over, by Gordon Korman (register for a virtual school visit, open to all classrooms, homeschoolers, and Korman fans, on February 22)
7. Stuntboy: In the Meantime, by Jason Reynolds and Raul the Third
8. I'm Not Scary, by Gail Storvik
9. Speak: The Graphic Novel, by Laurie Halse Anderson
10. Too Bright to See, by Kyle Lukoff

As you can see, our latest open-to-all virtual school visit is Gordon Korman with Operation Do Over. But we're still doing lots of traditionally registered virtual school visits, such as Rex Ogle this past week, for The Supernatural Society. Rex Ogle has created stories for Star Wars, LEGO, Power Rangers, Minions, DC Comics, and Marvel Comics, and he his own books have included memoirs such as Free Lunch, Punching Bag, and coming this fall, Abuela, Don't Forget Me. Readers have said The Supernatural Society is reminiscent of Lemony Snicket.

Monday, February 7, 2022

This week - Tara Westover (multi-store bundled event), Nick Petrie (conversation with Milwaukee Public Library), Tessa Hadley for Readings from Oconomowaukee

There is nothing more fun than a week where I've read and enjoyed every featured title. And this week we have three great programs!

Tuesday, February 8, 7 pm
Tara Westover, author of Educated: A Memoir
in conversation with Natalie Portman 
a ticketed (bundled with book) virtual event
Tickets available here

Please join #1 New York Times bestselling author Tara Westover and Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman for a special, one-night-only virtual event celebrating the paperback launch of Educated: A Memoir. This book has been a phenomenon, a New York Times bestseller in hardcover for several years! And it's as good as everyone says it is. We're excited to be one of seven stores to be part of this official launch event.

Tickets cost $20 plus fee and include admission to this exclusive event and a paperback copy of Educated. Copies may be picked up at Boswell, or for a fee, shipped via USPS Media Mail. If you have already read Educated and want to join the event, you will have an option to donate your new copy of the book to students and classrooms via Random House and the National Council of Teachers of English, the official literacy partner for this event.

Educated is the unforgettable memoir about a young woman who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent.

When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Tara Westover received her BA from Brigham Young University, an MPhil from Trinity College, Cambridge, and was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. She returned to Cambridge, where she was awarded a PhD in History. Joining Tara in conversation is Natalie Portman, an Academy Award-winning actress, director, author, and activist. In Summer 2022, Portman will be hitting the big screen, returning to the Marvel universe as Jane Foster in Thor: Love and Thunder.

Wednesday, February 9, 6 pm
Nick Petrie, author of The Runaway
A Virtual Event
Register for this event here.

Boswell is a cosponsor of the Milwaukee Public Library welcoming Milwaukee-area author Nick Petrie in conversation about his latest installment in the Peter Ash Series. The Runaway takes things in a new direction as Petrie's first novel in the series to offer a female perspective, a further testament to the deep understanding of the characters he portrays. Cosponsored by Boswell. 

When Peter Ash rescues a stranded woman, he finds she’s in far deeper trouble than he could ever imagine in the powerful new thriller in this bestselling and award-winning series. Bruce DaSilva called The Runaway "another violent, fast-paced thriller in this action-packed series" for the Associated Press. Signed copies of The Runaway available.

Nick Petrie is the author of six previous novels in the Peter Ash series, most recently The Breaker. His debut, The Drifter, won both the ITW Thriller award and the Barry Award for Best First Novel, and was a finalist for the Edgar and the Hammett Awards. He lives in the Milwaukee area.

Thursday, February 10, 2 pm
Tessa Hadley, author of Free Love
in Conversation with Daniel Goldin and Lisa Baudoin 
a virtual Readings from Oconomowaukee event
Register for this event here

Books & Company and Boswell present a virtual afternoon event with Tessa Hadley, the bestselling author of Late in the Day and The Past, for a conversation about Free Love, a compulsive new novel about one woman’s sexual and intellectual awakening in 1960s London. This event is part of the beloved Readings from Oconomowaukee series where we host authors in conversation with two loquacious local bookstore proprietors.

Wow, I knew going into this event that Hadley was likely to get some great reviews, but the sheer number of enthusiastic write ups has been a treat.  From Anthony Cummins in The Observer: "Hadley’s complex sentences are purring marvels of engineering, always weighted just so, cut-glass English with a continental inflection, fond of a comma splice, the dialogue marked with a dash. A brilliant writer of interiority who can also do great scenes, she has a gift, especially, for portraying the state of wanting to be wanted, or simply to be seen – a recurring longing in her fiction, whose characters often have cause to be careful what they wish for."

Of Hadley’s career, Ron Charles of The Washington Post exclaims: “With each new book by Tessa Hadley, I grow more convinced that she’s one of the greatest stylists alive... To read Hadley’s fiction is to grow self-conscious in the best way: to recognize with astonishment the emotions playing behind our own expressions, to hear articulated our own inchoate anxieties.”

Though it's paywalled, it's great to see Frances Wilson, who did an event with Boswell and the Boswell Book Festival for her last biography, review Free Love for the Times Literary Supplement.  

Tessa Hadley is the author of six highly acclaimed novels, including Clever Girl and The Past, as well as three short story collections, most recently Bad Dreams and Other Stories, which won the Edge Hill Short Story Prize. Her stories appear regularly in The New Yorker.

More on the Boswell upcoming events page.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending February 5, 2022

Here's what's selling at Boswell for the week ending February 5, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles
2. The Family Chao, by Lan Samantha Chang (register for February 24 virtual event with Chang-rae Lee here)
3. Free Love, by Tessa Hadley (register for February 10 Readings from Oconomowaukee virtual event here)
4. The Runaway, by Nick Petrie (register for February 9 Milwaukee Public Library virtual event here)
5. Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr
6. Violeta, by Isabel Allende
7. The Books of Jacob, by Olga Tokarczuk
8. To Paradise, by Hanya Yanagihara
9. The Sentence, by Louise Erdrich
10. Call Us What We Carry, by Amanda Gorman

I'm thrilled to have a nice first-week pop on two of my winter favorites. Both The Family Chao and Free Love have been getting great reviews. Lan Samantha Chang has four raves on Bookmarks, including the NPR website, on which Ilana Masad wrote that "The Family Chao is a riveting character-driven novel that delves beautifully into human psychology; Dostoevsky himself would surely approve." 

Free Love has even more love on BookMarks, with 8 raves and 6 positives, but one of the things about the BookMarks roundup is that books from UK writers get an almost unfair disadvantage as they have not just the Times, The Sunday Times, and The Spectator, but also the Irish Times and the Scotsman, neither of whom would review an American publication. Back in the day where American papers had a local review section, you would have seen writeups from many more regional papers contributing to the tally, but not so much anymore. From Katherine A Powers in The Wall Street Journal: "Told chiefly from three viewpoints - Phyllis’s, Colette’s and Roger’s Free Love is a penetrating, extraordinarily subtle novel about an unsubtle era. From a distance, its culture may seem to have been all surface: all sex, pot, fancy dress and political righteousness, but Ms. Hadley shows how it worked its changes into the lives and feelings of a handful of superbly conjured individuals." 

Hardcover Nonfiction: 
1. The 1619 Project, created by Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times 
2. How to Be Perfect, by Michael Schur 
3. Unthinkable, by Jamie Raskin 
4. Diary of a Plague Year, by Elise Engler 
5. Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner 
6. The Dawn of Everything, by David Graeber and David Wingrow 
7. Dessert Person, by Claire Saffitz 
8. Atlas of the Heart, by Brené Brown 
9. The Complete Maus, by Art Spiegelman (we currently don't have stock) 
10. Baking with Dorie, by Dorie Greenspan

I am amused to note that Dorie Greenspan's Baking with Dorie just got it's third publisher, or at least imprint. What started as Houghton Mifflin then became Mariner, because Houghton Mifflin Harcourt didn't allow the use of their corporate name (their education division had a booth at the WSRA conference we participated in, as did McGraw Hill and Pearson, who also once had trade book divisions) on the books they sold to HarperCollins. Harper renamed the books Mariner (the paperback line) and Clarion (the secondary kids imprint) but then decided that the lifestyle imprint would take the Harvest name (makes sense for cooking, but why for a self-help book?), which was once the paperback line for Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, and then used for an Amazon copublishing program. 

I wouldn't have minded them reviving the storied Ticknor and Fields imprint, only nobody under 50 would know what it was. Hey, it was good enough for Gloria Naylor! And as Jason noted when he was buying, Custom House hardcovers are also becoming Mariner - the CH brand (which was a nod to HarperCollins new downtown digs) was folded.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Copper Yearing, by Kimberly Blaeser
2. Shady Hollow, by Juneau Black (#12 on the MIBA bestseller list)
3. The Anomaly, by Hervé Le Tellier
4. Verity, by Colleen Hoover
5. When No One Is Watching, by Alyssa Cole
6. Circe, by Madeline Miller
7. The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
8. Love at First Spite, by Anna E Collins
9. Court of Wings and Ruin, by Sarah J Maas
10. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens

Our Romance Book Club is up and running, and its first selection (register for this virtual March 28 discussion) is Love at First Spite, by Anna E Collins, a debut from Graydon House's Anna E Collins. I am learning about tropes from Rachel and this falls into the revenge novel. All the advance reviews are good. Kirkus writes: "Dani's struggles to get over her ex are believable, and Wyatt is the perfect grumpy romance hero with a heart of gold. An enemies-to-friends-to-lovers story that's sure to delight rom-com fans."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Voices of Milwaukee Bronzeville, by Sandra E Jones
2. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
3. Maus I, by Art Spiegelman
4. Maus II, by Art Spiegelman
5. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk
6. New York Times No Recipe Recipes, by Sam Sifton
7. Consolations, by David Whyte
8. 111 Places in Milwaukee that You Must Not Miss, by Michelle Madden
9. Field Guide to Dumb Birds of the Whole Stupid World, by Matt Kracht
10. Milwaukee River Greenway, by Eddee Daniel

Bronzeville is in the Milwaukee news almost every week. Tom Daykin writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "The Bronzeville Center for the Arts will combine a renovated duplex, at 507 W. North Ave., with a glassy two-story addition built next door. The privately financed $1.5 million development will feature a gallery, workshop space, the group's office and a small warming kitchen so the center can host catered events. The 6,650-square-foot building is designed to provide more visibility for Black artists, both from Milwaukee and throughout the world, while also creating a new cultural gathering space." Sandra E Jones's Voices of Milwaukee Bronzeville highlights the area's history and renewed vitality.

Books for Kids:
1. Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre, by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
2. Turtle in a Tree, written and illustrated by Neesha Hudson
3. Dear Justyce, by Nic Stone
4. Be Strong, by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrations by Jen Hill
5. After the Fall, written and illustrated by Dan Santat
6. Be Kind, by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrations by Jen Hill
7. Dear Martin, by Nic Stone
8. The Adventures of Beekle, by written and illustrated by Dan Santat
9. Sidekicks, by written and illustrated by Dan Santat
10. My Thoughts Are Clouds, by Georgia Heard

We had a good time selling books at the Wisconsin State Reading Association conference and this list reflects our participation, as nine of the top ten titles were from featured writers except for Turtle in a Tree, by Neesha Hudson. Yes, Hudson is doing three virtual school events with Jenny, which accounts for much of the sale, but Turtle in a Tree was also our top selling title to teachers for non-appearing authors. We are #1 in sales on Edelweiss for participating indie stores, but we'd love to get some competition from other stores. Our customers are loving this book!

No book news in the Journal Sentinel, but I have to give a shout out to Kevin Kleusner, whose novel The Killer Sermon has been getting a lot of attention in the local press. Archer Parquette in Milwaukee Magazine wrote up this thriller about a killer targeting doctors who perform abortions: "The novel is an entertaining mystery and thriller for any reader, but it holds a special place for Milwaukee residents. It’s full of local details – like characters sipping a Motto Mosaic Pale Ale from Good City Brewing, grabbing a taco from BelAir, or Huebsch’s background as a wrestler for the Marquette squad."