Monday, March 28, 2022

Two events this week: Erica Ruth Neubauer in conversation with Tim Hennessy and Lee Kravetz in conversation with Christina Clancy

Tuesday March 29, 6:30 pm
Erica Ruth Neubauer, author of Danger on the Atlantic
in conversation with Tim Hennessy for a hybrid event
Register for this event here! You can join us in-person or virtually.

Join us for an evening celebrating the launch of the third novel in Milwaukee author Erica Ruth Neubauer’s Agatha Award-winning Jane Wunderly mystery series, Danger on the Atlantic, in which a first-class cruise itinerary has an unexpected - and deadly - addition waiting just below deck. In conversation with Tim Hennessy, editor of Milwaukee Noir and crime writer extraordinaire.

In this wanderlust-inspiring historical mystery, young American widow Jane Wunderly is off adventuring aboard a transatlantic liner with the only man who could change her mind about romance. It’s 1926. While voyaging from Southampton to New York, self-reliant Jane is determined to prove herself a worthy investigator on the stately ship - even awkwardly going undercover as the fashionable wife of her magnetic partner, Mr. Redvers. Few details are known about the rumored German spy the duo have been tasked with identifying among fellow passengers, but new troubles unfold once wealthy newlywed Vanessa FitzSimmons announces the sudden disappearance of her husband at sea.

The man Vanessa rushed to marry in Monte Carlo has allegedly vanished into thin air, along with his
luggage. Redvers guesses the shifty heiress may be weaving tall tales for fun between flutes of champagne, yet Jane isn’t convinced - not after the stunning murder of a trusted acquaintance sends them into uncharted waters. Facing two dangerous mysteries and a boat load of suspects, Jane must navigate a claustrophobic quest for answers before the culprits can slip from her grasp on land… or, worse, ensure she and Redvers never reach their destination.

Daniel, Chris, and Rachel all enjoy this series! Here's what Chris has to say: "If you’ve read the Wunder-ful previous installments, then you’re going to love how this book pays off on what’s come before. If you haven’t, who cares? Danger on the Atlantic is still guaranteed to delight. In fact, if you saw Death on the Nile and thought, 'give me more of that,' then good news – Neubauer’s novel has the perfect vibes for you. A winner!" Rachel adds: "I love all of the historical detail so much, and I especially love that Jane flouts societal standards with quiet confidence. Much like Redvers, I would trust Jane's instincts any day. "

Erica Ruth Neubauer is author of Murder at the Mena House and Murder at Wedgefield Manor, and her Jane Wunderly series has been an Anthony Award and Lefty Award finalist. She has written for Publishers Weekly and Mystery Scene Magazine and is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Tim Hennessy’s writing has appeared in Midwestern Gothic, Crimespree Magazine, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Thursday March 31, 7 pm
Lee Kravetz, author of The Last Confessions of Sylvia P.
in conversation with Christina Clancy for a virtual event
Click this link to register! And ask for your signed bookplate when you order the book.

Boswell presents an evening of conversation featuring Lee Kravetz, author of The Last Confessions of Sylvia P., a seductive literary mystery and multigenerational story inspired by true events. Kravetz will be in conversation with Wisconsin author Christina Clancy, whose latest is Shoulder Season.

Blending past and present, and told through three unique interwoven narratives that build on one another, Kravetz’s daring and brilliant debut novel reimagines a chapter in the life of Sylvia Plath, telling the story behind the creation of her classic, semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar. Much like Michael Cunningham’s The Hours and Theresa Anne Fowler’s Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, The Last Confessions of Sylvia P. bridges fact and fiction to imagine the life of a revered writer. Suspenseful and beautifully written, Kravetz’s masterful literary novel is a hugely appealing read.

Pulitzer-winning authors love this book! Adam Johnson, author of The Orphan Master’s Son, says: "Lee Kravetz has created a bit of a miracle, a plot-driven literary puzzle box whose mystery lives in both its winding approach to history and its wonderous story. It’s a book full of ideas about inspiration and a love for language that translates across borders, physical and generational." And from Paul Harding, author of Tinkers: "It would be easy, too easy perhaps, to see The Last Confessions of Sylvia P. as a spiritual sequel to Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, but Lee Kravetz's novel is very much its own thing, an audacious imagining that will have readers greedy to learn more about Plath and her literary cohort."

Kathy loves this book! "Kravetz’s book is a beautifully written novel blending fact and fiction, past and present, to create a story at the heart of which is Plath's novel, The Bell Jar. Told through the distinct voices of three fictional characters, Kravetz draws us into Plath's life - her lifelong battle with depression, her overwhelming need to express herself through words, and her struggle to be taken seriously as a poet and writer."

Lee Kravetz is author of the acclaimed nonfiction titles Strange Contagion and SuperSurvivors. He has written for print and television, including The New York Times, The Atlantic, and PBS. Christina Clancy is author of the novels Shoulder Season and The Second Home, and holds a PhD from UWM. 

Photo credits:
Erica Ruth Neubauer by Rachel Neubauer
Christina Clancy by Kate Berg

More information on the Boswell upcoming events page. Thanks to Rachel for helping out with this blog.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending March 26, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending March 26, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Cartographers, by Peng Shepherd (Register for April 18 in-person and broadcast event here)
2. French Braid, by Anne Tyler
3. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, by Charlie Mackesy (am I the only person who thinks this is fiction?)
4. Violeta, by Isabel Allende
5. A Sunlit Weapon, by Jacqueline Winspear
6. Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr
7. The Paris Apartment, by Lucy Foley
8. Black Cake, by Charmaine Wilkerson
9. Disorientation, by Elain Hshieh Chou
10. Groundskeeping, by Lee Cole

Disorientation is the debut novel from Elain Hshieh Chou, which has a rec from Jenny Chou, which you can read if you click on the title. It's about a grad student who discovers that the Chinese poet she's doing her dissertation on is not actually Chinese. It also has some great critical reviews, including Leland Cheuk in The Washington Post: "The hyperactive satire is so consistently funny it almost makes the reader forget about the serious societal issues that undergird the humor. The premise of Disorientation is based on a real-life controversy. In 2015, the Best American Poetry anthology featured a poem by Yi-Fen Chou, who turned out to be Michael Derrick Hudson, a middle-aged White man. Frustrated by literary rejection, Hudson began submitting work under a Chinese pseudonym."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The 1619 Project, created by Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times
2. The Midwest Survival Guide, by Charlie Berens
3. We Don't Know Ourselves, by Fintan O'Toole
4. Atlas of the Heart, by Brené Brown
5. The Nineties, by Chuck Klosterman
6. I Was Better Last Night, by Harvey Fierstein
7. There Is Nothing Good for You Here, by Fiona Hill
8. Every Good Boy Does Fine, by Jeremy Denk
9. Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner
10. Let's Summon Demons, by Steven Rhodes

I Was Better Last Night is the memoir of the Tony-Winning (Torch Song Trilogy and La Cage aux Folles) and Tony-nominated (Newsies, Kinky Boots, more) actor and playwright. From being cast in Andy Warhol's only play as a teenager to confronting his addictions and reaching sobriety, Harvey Fierstein tells his story in a series of vignettes. From Library Journal: "His memoir is filled with evocative characters and scenes, and his wit and way with dialogue shine." And for the person who said, "We've got to get an advance copy of Fierstein's memoir to Henry Winkler, stat!" it paid off. Winkler writes: "Harvey is the king and queen of Broadway. He can take you on a journey with his words and he is hysterical."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro
2. Circe, by Madeline Miller
3. Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie
4. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins-Reid
5. The Anomaly, by Hervé Le Tellier
6. Leave the World Behind, by Rumaan Alam
7. Send for Me, by Lauren Fox
8. Empress of Salt and Fortune, by Nghi Vo 
9. The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett
10. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens

Looks like folks are reading Murder on the Orient Express in connection with the Milwaukee Rep adaptation that is opening May 31. Adapted for the stage by Ken Ludwig, Broadway World called this play "Glamourous… enthralling from the beginning to the end.” Tickets and more info on the Milwaukee Rep website.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Midwest Gardeners Handbook, by Melinda Myers
2. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
3. Entangled Life, by Merlin Sheldrake
4. Untangled, by Lisa Damour (Register for April 7 event here)
5. On Tyranny graphic edition, by Timothy Snyder
6. Tacky, by Rax King
7. In Lieu of Flowers, by Nancy Cobb
8. North Point Historic Districts, by Shirley De Fresne McArthur
9. Complete Mushroom Hunter Revised, by Gary Lincoff
10. Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari

It looks like the bookseller pundit who told me that 2022 is the year of the mushroom is vindicated, with two of the hot fungal folios hitting our top 10 - Entangled Life, by Merlin Sheldrake (I am always late on these things but I was amused when Coach Beard was reading this on Ted Lasso) and The Complete Mushroom Hunter by Gary Lincoff. Lincoff has led mushroom courses at the New York Botanical Gardens and for 25 years chaired the Telluride Mushroom Festival. Didn't know about this event? It happens this August - start planning your trip!

Books for Kids:
1. Believe in Yourself: What We Learned from Arthur, by Marc Brown
2. Stella Keeps the Sun Up, by Clothilde Ewing
3. The Ogress and the Orphans, by Kelly Barnhill
4. I'm not Scared, You're Scared, by Seth Meyers, illustrations by Rob Sayegh
5. The Last Cuentista, by Donna Barba Higeuera
6. ABCs of Wisconsin, by Sandra Magsamen
7. Cat Kid Comic Club: Perspectives V2, by Dav Pilkey
8. Anatomy: A Love Story, by Dana Schwartz
9. I Must Betray You, by Ruta Septys
10. It Fell From the Sky, by the Fan Brothers

I know that these sorts of books are done 50 at a time, one for each state, with several big cities probably getting their own entries (generally not Milwaukee, which is one reason why Lulu and Rocky in Milwaukee does so well for us - a lovely book with little competition), but these state-specific kids books do well for us too and even better at mass merchants, if the Bookscan numbers that we used to see are an indication. The ABCs of Wisconsin is a board book from last fall from Sanra Magsamen, author/illustrator of ABCs of Chicago, New England, California, and even some non-geography-specific books like I Love You, Honey Bunny. More on her lifestyle brands on Wikipedia.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Chris Foran offers his roundup of 11 new baseball books.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Two virtual events and one in-person event: Hervé Le Tellier with Daniel Goldin and Anne Leplae, Lillian Faderman with Sally Haldorson, and Deborah Cohen with Lewis A. Friedland

Tuesday, March 22, 2 pm
Hervé Le Tellier, author of The Anomaly 
In conversation with Daniel Goldin and Anne Leplae
Register for this event here

Boswell Book Company and Alliance Française de Milwaukee host a virtual event with Hervé Le Tellier, author of The Anomaly, the 2021 winner of the Prix Goncourt, France’s most prestigious literary prize, and now an international phenomenon.

Please note, a small portion of our interview with Le Tellier may be conducted in French, as a nod to our friends at AF de Milwaukee, but the majority of this presentation will be in English.

The Anomaly is a dizzying, whip-smart novel that blends crime, fantasy, sci-fi, and thriller as it plumbs the mysteries surrounding a Paris-New York flight. The New York Times named it one of the Best Thrillers of the Year, and says: "Enthralling… a profoundly affecting examination of free will, fate, reality, and the meaning of existence, cloaked in a high-concept plot that could have come from The Twilight Zone or Black Mirror… exists in that most excellent of Venn diagrams, where high entertainment meets serious literature."

From Boswellian Jason Kennedy: "A plane appears over the sky in the Atlantic heading to New York. Nothing astonishing with that, except this same plane already landed three months ago. How is this possible? And how does this change our perception of the world? The Anomaly is full of great discourse that will have you contemplating our choices and responsibilities in the world. There is a little bit of everything in this book: a love story, a thriller, a coming-out-story, a sci-fi tale, and childhood trauma. I guarantee your mind will be full for quite some time, digesting all the minutia that makes up this great speculative novel."

Hervé Le Tellier is a writer, journalist, mathematician, food critic, and teacher. He has been a member of the Oulipo group since 1992 and one of the “papous” of the France Culture radio show. He is author of All Happy Families, Electrico W, and Enough About Love.

Wednesday, March 23, 6 pm
Lillian Faderman, author of Woman: The American History of an Idea
in conversation with Sally Haldorson for a virtual event

Boswell Book Company and Porchlight Book Company present an afternoon with Lillian Faderman for her latest, Woman: The American History of an Idea, a comprehensive history of the struggle to define womanhood in America, from the seventeenth to the twenty-first century. For this event, Faderman will be in conversation with Sally Haldorson, Managing Director at Porchlight Book Company.

What does it mean to be a woman in America? Award-winning gender and sexuality scholar Lillian Faderman traces the evolution of the meaning from Puritan ideas of God’s plan for women to the sexual revolution of the 1960s and its reversals to the impact of such recent events as #metoo, the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, the election of Kamala Harris as vice president, and the transgender movement. This wide-ranging 400-year history chronicles conflicts, retreats, defeats, and hard-won victories in both the private and the public sectors and shines a light on the often-overlooked battles of enslaved women and women leaders in tribal nations. As she underlines, the idea of womanhood in America continues to be contested.

Publishers Weekly
calls Faderman’s book "A comprehensive and lucid overview of the ongoing campaign to free women from 'the tyranny of old notions.'" And from Ellen Carol DuBois, author of Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote: "Lillian Faderman’s is a book many of us have been waiting for, the first comprehensive history of American women to capture the rich discoveries that have been made over the last half century, juxtaposing the abstraction of ‘woman’ with the range, resilience, and resistance of real women."

Lillian Faderman is professor emerita at California State University, Fresno. Her books on the history of gender and sexuality have won numerous prizes, including seven Lambda Literary Awards, two Stonewall Book Awards, and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award.

Sunday, March 27, 4 pm
Deborah Cohen, author of Last Call at the Hotel Imperial: The Reporters Who Took on a World at War
in conversation with Lewis A Friedland
This event will take place in-person at Boswell. Click here to register. 

Boswell presents an afternoon with Deborah Cohen, Northwestern University historian and author of Last Call at the Hotel Imperial: The Reporters Who Took on a World at War. Cohen’s book offers a revelatory account of a close-knit band of wildly famous American reporters who, in the run-up to World War II, took on dictators and rewrote the rules of modern journalism. You can read the recent New York Times review here.

In the aftermath of World War I, as fledgling democracies emerged from the ruins of defeated empires and strongmen grabbed power across Europe, millions of Americans, desperate to wall themselves off from the chaos, adopted an ‘America First’ stance. But a group of hard-hitting foreign correspondents envisioned a different role for the United States in the world: they warned their readers that tyranny abroad posed a threat even to America, and urged their fellow citizens to see their own fate as tied to global struggles.

Told with the immediacy of a conversation overheard, Cohen’s revelatory new book captures how the global upheavals of the twentieth century felt up close. From Fredrik Logevall, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Embers of War and JFK: "In this sterling book, Deborah Cohen follows a remarkable group of now mostly forgotten reporters as they try to make sense of a world turned upside down. The result is a shrewd and vivid work of history, one that combines deep research with lustrous narrative verve."

Deborah Cohen is the author of The War Come Home, Household Gods, and Family Secrets. She is also the Peter B Ritzma Professor of Humanities and Professor of History at Northwestern University, focusing on modern Europe. Lewis A Friedland is the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor Emeritus in Journalism and Mass Communication at UW-Madison, Founder of the Center for Communication and Democracy, and author or coauthor of five books. 

More on the Upcoming events page

Photo credits 
Hervé Le Tellier by Cathy Bistour 
Lillian Faderman by Phyllis Irwin 
Deborah Cohen by Becca Heuer

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending March 19, 2022

Boswell bestsellers, week ending March 19, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Cartographers, by Peng Shepherd (Register for April 18 in-person/virtual event here)
2. The Paris Apartment, by Lucy Foley
3. Murder at the Porte de Versailles, by Cara Black (Register for April 7 in-person event here)
4. Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir
5. Black Cake, by Charmaine Wilkerson
6. One Italian Summer, by Rebecca Serle
7. Give Unto Others, by Donna Leon
8. The Paris Bookseller, by Kerri Maher
9. Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr
10. Violeta, by Isabel Allende

In the years since I've been paying attention to these things, two things that have been consistent is Cara Black's Aimée Leduc series (20 titles in the series) and Donna Leon's Guido Brunetti (31 titles in the series). Paris and Venice, two places I wouldn't mind visiting for the second (Black) or first (Leon) time. We'll be talking about Murder at the Porte of Versailles for Black's visit on April 7, but I should say a few words about Give Unto Others. In one way, the series are very different - Leduc's titles use the Sue Grafton formula, with each episode set after the last, but by not too much, meaning the new book is set in 2001. The Brunetti series keeps a contemporary timeline - so Give Unto Others is set in a Venice that is recovering from the worst of COVID. Coincidentally Donna Leon's visit was our last big event in 2020 before we shut down for COVID.

I should also probably mention that three of the top ten books this week are set in Paris.  

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Last Call at the Hotel Imperial, by Deborah Coeh (Register for March 27 in-peson/Virtual event here)
2. The Insect Crisis, by Oliver Milman (watch the recording here)
3. We Don't Know Ourselves, by Fintan O'Toole
4. Giannis, by Mirin Fader
5. Origin, by Jennifer Raff
6. Lessons from the Edge, by Marie Yovanovitch
7. In Love, by Amy Bloom
8. In Praise of Good Bookstores, by Jeff Deutsch (Register for April 25 in person/virtual event here)
9. Atlas of the Heart, by Brené Brown
10. Off the Edge, by Kelly Weill (watch the recording here)

Some people celebrate St Patrick's Day by staying home and reading. We had a nice pop in sales for Finan O'Toole's We Don't Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland. From the Library Journal review: "Irish Times columnist O'Toole (The Politics of Pain: Postwar England and the Rise of Nationalism) has written a forceful account of how Ireland entered the modern age, beginning with his own personal history, which he effectively ties in with an almost year-by-year recounting of what happened in his country during the late 20th century." Lots more raves on Bookmarks.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Standing Up, by Ellen Bravo and Larry Miller
2. Verity, by Colleen Hoover
3. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
4. It Ends with Us, by Colleen Hoover
5. Copper Yearning, by Kimberly Blaeser
6. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro
7. Shady Hollow, by Juneau Black (register for May 6 in-person event here)
8. The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune
9. Murder on Monte Vista, by David Pederson
10. The White Tiger, by Aravinda Adiga

With David Pederson moving on to Arizona, so go his characters. Murder on Monte Vista is the first of the Mason Adler mysteries, set in 1946 Phoenix. It's a locked-room mystery set at a dinner party, with a Pederson twist.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Union, by Colin Woodard
2. American Nations, by Colin Woodard
3. Midwest Gardeners Handbook, by Melinda Myers
4. The Numbers, by Oliver Linton
5. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
6. The Splendid and the Vile, by Erik Larson
7. If Nuns Ruled the World, by Jo Piazza
8. Entangled Life, by Merlin Sheldrake
9. Madhouse at the End of the Earth, by Julian Sancton
10. The Hidden World of the Fox, by Adele Brand

It's been nine years (or so my inventory system says) since the first edition of Melinda Myers's The Midwest Gardeners Handbook: All You Need to Know, Plant, and Maintain a Midwest Garden, and in the first week, we've already sold close to half the copies we did of the previous version over the life of the book. The difference? Last time The Garden Book for Wisconsin (also from Myers) was still available, but now it's no longer available.

Books for Kids:
1. Max and the Midknights: Tower of Time V3 by Lincoln Peirce
2. Max and the Midknights V1, by Lincoln Peirce
3. Believe in Yourself, by Marc Brown
4. Firekeeper's Daughter, by Angeline Boulley
5. Lulu and Rocky in Milwaukee, by Barbara Joosse, illustrations by Renée Graef
6. The Assignment, by Liza Wiemer
7. We Are Power, by Todd Hasak-Lowy
8. The Ogress and the Orphans, by Kelly Barnhill
9. She Persisted in Science, by Chelsea Clinton
10. Iron Widow, by Xiran Jay Zhao

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think I've ever given a shout out for Iron Widow, by Xiran Jay Zhao, a teen series opener set in Huaxia, a futuristic world with Chinese characteristics. This #1 NYT bestseller also hit several best-of lists since its September 2021 release. From Shelf Awareness: "Iron Widow is an exciting, action-packed sci-fi story and a scathing indictment of patriarchal culture. Zetian is a ruthless yet sympathetic antiheroine whose determination to overturn the status quo, where women are 'born to be used and discarded,' will earn readers' compassion."

From the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins reviews The Cartographers, the new novel from Peng Shepherd. He writes: "The power of maps to fascinate and to lead somewhere unexpected infuses Peng Shepherd's novel The Cartographers, which straddles the loosely defined territories of fantasy and thriller... Even though most characters in this novel who aren't police officers are brilliant minds with advanced degrees, Shepherd writes graceful, fluid prose that's easy to follow; this is a novel for adults, but it also could appeal to teenagers who like smart fantasy, especially given Nell, who comes across as emotionally younger than her age." Shepherd will be talking to Jim Higgins at Boswell on April 18. Here's that registration link once again. You'll have plenty of time to read the book before the event. 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

A special non-Boswell event with William Boyd - more on TRIO, and Rakestraw Books

I enjoy reading other bookstore newsletters. It's a great way to find out what other booksellers are enjoying, how they are running their store, and what kind of event programming they are doing. You would think that I would have enough author visits on my plate, both virtual and in-person, that I would not be interested in seeing more. But this week I received notice from Rakestraw Books in Danville, California (a store that's high on my list for an eventual visit) that they were hosting an event with William Boyd, the acclaimed Scottish novelist, short story writer and screenwriter. Boyd has received numerous honors, including the Whitbread Prize, the Costa Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His popular titles include Any Human Heart, Restless, and Brazzaville Beach. He even wrote a James Bond novel, Solo. (Yes, he wrote it himself, but that's also the title)

William Boyd's latest novel is Trio, which was published by Knopf in hardcover and is now available in a Vintage edition. James Lasdun offered this take in The New York Times: "It would be hard to think of a living novelist whose books encompass more history, more settings, more professions, more varieties of individual fate, than William Boyd - at least with anything like his assurance. Spies, photographers, climatologists, psychiatrists - in colonial Africa, prewar Vienna, the American South: You name it, and there is almost certainly something in Boyd’s prolific oeuvre that has it covered. For readers who go to fiction for the pleasures of panoramic sweep, elaborate plotting and the company of a humane, genial intelligence, he has become one of the preferred masters."

I should note that this is one of 16 raves Boyd has collected for his latest, per BookMarks. He's also got one positive review and one pan, in The Evening Standard, which is almost a badge of honor.

I wound up chatting with Michael Barnard, the owner of Rakestraw, a bit about the program. Barnard is a huge Boyd fan, which you can see from his email newsletter and the pile of Boyd hardcovers pictured. We had a delightful conversation about Tessa Hadley, as he is currently reading Free Love, which I also really enjoyed. "Should I read more of her?," I asked. Yes, Michael replied. He also cued me in that this Saturday morning slot has worked well for Rakestraw regarding authors from across the Atlantic. We've had success with that weekday afternoon slot but we might just try one on Saturday AM, at his suggestion.

The book that's gone to the top of my list on talking to Michael is Still Life, by Sarah Winman. I don't know why I've put this off. I started the book before it came out, as I was a fan of her previous novel, Tin Man, but I didn't get into it. I even wound up recommending it to my sister Merrill, who enjoyed it. We sold a respectable amount of books, but the number that Michael has hand-sold is staggering - Leonard and Hungry Paul numbers. I'm going to try again - I'm always looking for a book where I'll be thanked for the suggestion!

If you like these virtual programs, you should sign up for the Rakestraw event with William Boyd this Saturday morning, March 19, 11:30 Central (which is 9:30 Eastern). We have books available, but it's also available from Rakestraw, for a very nice price of $21 including USPS Media Mail shipping. Here's a link for more about the event, with links to register and to purchase the book

Monday, March 14, 2022

Four events, including one in person and one school visit - Kelly Weill with Doug Gordon, Oliver Milman with Sue Stuart-Smith, Marc Brown with Elmbrook Schools, and Ellen Bravo and Larry Miller with Tony Baez

Here's what's happening this week: 

Tuesday, March 15, 7 pm
In Conversation with Doug Gordon for a virtual event

Journalist and author Kelly Weill joins us for a virtual conversation about her new book of reporting from America’s fringes: Off the Edge, a book that tells a powerful story about belief, exploring how we arrived at this moment of polarized realities, and explaining what needs to happen so that we might all return to the same spinning globe. In conversation with WPR Host and Producer Doug Gordon. This event is cosponsored by Wisconsin Public Radio. 

Since 2015, there has been a spectacular boom in a nearly two-hundred-year-old delusion - the idea that we all live on a flat plane, under a solid dome, ringed by an impossible wall of ice. It is the ultimate in conspiracy theories, a wholesale rejection of everything we know to be true about the world in which we live. Where did this idea come from? Weill draws a straight line from today’s conspiratorial moment back to the early days of Flat Earth theory in the 1830s, showing the human impulses behind divergences in belief. Faced with a complicated world out of our individual control, we naturally seek patterns to explain the inexplicable. The only difference between then and now? Social media. And, powered by Facebook and YouTube algorithms, the Flat Earth movement is growing.

Here’s a recommendation from Boswellian Chris Lee: “It’s weird! It’s wild! It’s full of cranks and cooks, utopians and grifters (and recently, Nazis. Yikes.). It’s the flat earth movement, and it’s back, baby! Kelly Weill’s fantastic book traces the history of flat earth, from utopian English communes to a cabin in the California desert to its resurgence online, and it’s totally not what you think it is. How has such an absurdly stupid, baldly false idea become a pet cause of pro athletes, white supremacists, and a fast-growing number of otherwise average normies? Weill offers an insightful examination of the way conspiracies untether believers from the reality. What a great book - a fascinating hidden history story and an investigation of a subset that sheds eye-opening light on the ways fringe ideas can take hold of entire cultures.”

Kelly Weill is a journalist at the Daily Beast, where she covers extremism, disinformation, and the internet. She has discussed Flat Earth and other digital fringes on ABC's Nightline, CNN, Al Jazeera, and other national and international news outlets. Doug Gordon is host of WPR’s show BETA.

Wednesday, March 16, 2 pm
Oliver Milman, author of The Insect Crisis: The Fall of the Tiny Empires That Run the World
in Conversation with Sue Stuart-Smith for a virtual event
Register here for this event. The first 30 people to preorder a copy will get a signed bookplate and a special packet of lavender seeds.

Schlitz Audubon Nature Center and Boswell present an afternoon virtual event with journalist Oliver Milman, talking about his new book, a devastating examination of how collapsing insect populations worldwide threaten everything from wild birds to the food on our plate. For this event, Milman will be in conversation with Sue Stuart-Smith, author of The Well-Gardened Mind: The Restorative Power of Nature.

From ants scurrying under leaf litter to bees able to fly higher than Mount Kilimanjaro, insects are everywhere. Three out of every four of our planet’s known animal species are insects. In The Insect Crisis, acclaimed journalist Oliver Milman dives into the torrent of recent evidence that suggests this kaleidoscopic group of creatures is suffering the greatest existential crisis in its remarkable 400-million-year history. What is causing the collapse of the insect world? Why does this alarming decline pose such a threat to us? And what can be done to stem the loss of the miniature empires that hold aloft life as we know it?

By connecting butterfly and bee, moth and beetle from across the globe, the full scope of loss renders a portrait of a crisis that threatens to upend the workings of our collective history. Part warning, part celebration of the incredible variety of insects, The Insect Crisis is a wake-up call for us all. Michelle Nijhuis, author of Beloved Beasts, says, "The Insect Crisis is elegantly written, admirably nuanced, and terrifyingly important."

The New York Times calls the book "gripping, sobering and important," and notes that "Milman has an ear for a good quote and a knack for explaining scientific research." The Guardian also has a great review, concluding that, "As much as a crisis of pesticides and habitat loss, the insect crisis seems one of indifference, of our failure to appreciate what is at our feet. It’s here that the book’s power lies, for once you read it you cannot fail to notice the butterfly underfoot."

Oliver Milman is a British journalist and the environment correspondent at the Guardian. Sue Stuart-Smith is a psychiatrist, psychotherapist and author of The Well Gardened Mind, named gardening book of the year by The Sunday Times.

Thursday, March 17, 9:30 am
Marc Brown, author of Believe in Yourself: What We Learned from Arthur for a virtual school visit.
Register below for this event.

Elmbrook School District will host a virtual school visit featuring Marc Brown, creator of the beloved Arthur Adventure book series, for a presentation about his latest, Believe in Yourself: What We Learned from Arthur. As the award-winning Arthur TV series reaches its twenty-fifth anniversary, what better way to celebrate America's favorite aardvark than this collection of life lessons? Cosponsored by Boswell.

This school visit presentation is open to the public. Click here to visit the registration page in order to sign up to view the event. For those not associated with one of the schools, simply choose "Other" in the drop-down menu when prompted to choose a school. 

Join Arthur and his friends as they share the funniest and most heartfelt moments from the longest-running children's  television show in US history and classic book series created by master storyteller Marc Brown. This treasure trove of quotes  and life lessons is divided into five sections that will inspire readers of all ages to listen to their hearts, work together, have an original point of view, and most of all, to believe in themselves! With more than 60 pieces of all-new artwork, this book is a perfect keepsake for superfans young and old as well as those just being introduced to this beloved character.

Marc Brown's Arthur Adventure book series has over 160 million Arthur books in print. He also is the executive producer of Arthur on PBS. 

Friday, March 18, 6:30 pm
Ellen Bravo and Larry Miller, authors of Standing Up: Tales of Struggle
in Conversation with Tony Baez in-person at Boswell Book Company
Register for this event here. Registration is required to attend this event in-person at Boswell, and capacity is limited. 

Boswell presents an evening with Ellen Bravo and Larry Miller, authors of Standing Up: Tales of Struggle. For this event, Bravo and Miller will be in conversation with activist, educator, and musician Tony Baez. This event is cosponsored by Wisconsin AFL-CIO and 9to5. Order a copy of the book here. 

Please Note: Masks are encouraged for this event.

In Standing Up, Ellen Bravo and Larry Miller have taken inspiration from their five decades organizing for labor and social justice to craft a novel about the people who clean bloody hospital sheets, forge parts for sewer pipes, arrange flights, or process checks, all while caring for kids, holding relationships together, and wrestling with multiple forms of oppression. It is about the people we see every day but do not know their names, their joys, or their sorrows. The novel shares the moments when people realize that oppression is not normal or inevitable, that change is possible, and that they can be part of that change.

From Gloria Steinem, "writer, lecturer, political activist, and feminist organizer: So much fiction is about escape and fantasy, but these powerful Tales of Struggle will enrich our real and daily lives." And from Ai-jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance: "Great storytelling about standing up to injustice, filled with hope and powered by love and human interdependence. We see the anatomy of stand-ups: courage bolstered by support, where we tell each other, 'Yes, you can,' and tell our oppressors, 'No, you won’t.'"

Ellen Bravo is a lifelong activist, former director of 9to5 (the group that inspired the movie), and co-founder of Family Values @ Work, a network of state coalitions working for family-friendly policies. Bravo is the award-winning writer of three non-fiction books, the most recent being Taking on the Big Boys and the novel Again and Again. Among her commendations is a Ford Foundation Visionary award. 

Photo credits
Kelly Weill by Scott Heins
Oliver Milman by Lyndal Stewart

More on the Boswell upcoming events page. Thanks to Rachel for putting this together (Daniel)

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending March 12, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending March 12, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Run, Rose, Run, by Dolly Parton and James Patterson
2. Booth, by Karen Joy Fowler (signed tip-in copies)
3. The Paris Apartment, by Lucy Foley
4. One Italian Summer, by Rebecca Serle
5. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
6. Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr
7. When I'm Gone Look for Me in the East, by Quan Barry (signed copies)
8. Call Us What We Carry, by Amanda Gorman
9. Love and Saffron, by Kim Fay (Register for April 6 event here)
10. Moon Witch, Spider King, by Marlon James

The #1 Indie Next Book for March is One Italian Summer, by Rebecca Serle, the follow up to In Five Years, which was a national bestseller with very strong sales at Boswell. Her latest is what, not exactly time travel but that time shift concept that has become so popular of late (I just read another upcoming book in this genre yesterday). The Indie Next quote from Kaitlin Smith at California's Copperfield's Books: "One Italian Summer is pure magic. Rebecca Serle marvelously creates a literary world that feels full and alive, like I can catch a flight with Katy and experience Italy alongside her. This treasure of a book is sure to delight readers.” Plus Alice Rancilio from Associated Press: "Yes, you’ll want to keep reading to figure out what is happening and, yes, you’ll have to suspend belief to enjoy the story but in these cynical times full of snark and memes, it’s nice to surrender to magic every now and then."

More Indie Next Picks for March here.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Light of Days, by Judy Batalion (signed copies)
2. The Wok, by J Kenji Lopez-Alt
3. In Love, by Amy Bloom
4. Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner
5. The Nineties, by Chuck Klosterman
6. The Midwest Survival Guide, by Charlie Berens
7. The 1619 Project, created by Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times
8. How to Be Perfect, by Michael Schur
9. Aftermath, by Harald Jahner
10. The Beauty of Dusk, by Frank Bruni
11. In Praise of Good Bookstores, by Jeff Deutsch (Register for April 25 event here)

The top nonfiction breakout this week is J Kenji Lopez-Alt's The Wok: Recipes and Techniques, his follow-up after seven years of the bestselling and James Beard-winning The Food Lab. From the starred Publishers Weekly review: "López-Alt's conversational prose never fails to entertain, even when detailing how the alkaline properties of baking soda are "the secret to plumper, snappier shrimp." Readers will be cooking with gas thanks to this fiery and insightful work."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishigruo
2. Admiring Silence, by Abdulrazak Gurnah
3. The Paris Library, by Janet Skeslien Charles
4. The Promise, by Damon Galgut
5. It Ends with Us, by Colleen Hoover
6. Verity, by Colleen Hoover
7. Shady Hollow, by Juneau Black
8. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
9. Leave the World Behind, by Rumaan Alam
10. The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett

Admiring Silence first came out in the United States from New Press in 1996, but a Nobel Prize has led to renewed interest in Abdulrazak Gurnah's work, and Bloomsbury has just published a paperback edition (March 8). Upon its original publication, Publishers Weekly wrote: "This tightly focused story of an unnamed Zanzibarian expatriate who returns home after a 20-year exile in England poignantly evokes the cultural limbo of many emigres." The New York Times reported about the prize, noting that Gurnah was the first Black winner since Nadine Gordimer and the first winner from African in "more than a decade." I think they were referring to Doris Lessing in 2007.

Paperback Nonfiction: 
1. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
2. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk
3. Entangled Life, by Merlin Sheldrake
4. Better World Shopping Guide, by Ellis Jones
5. Slouching Towards Bethlehem, by Joan Didion
6. Girls Can Kiss Now, by Jill Gutowitz
7. Just Kids, by Patti Smith
8. Maus I, by Art Spiegelman
9. Maus II, by Art Spiegelman
10. Women and Other Monsters, by Jess Zimmerman

I get a little confused by what gets tracked by BookMarks and what doesn't. Jill Gutowitz's Girls Can Kiss Now, just out this week, seems to have gotten enough reviews (Publishers Weekly, New York Journal of Books, Associated Press) but there's no link to BookMarks on iPage. Is it because it's a paperback original? Leanne Butkovic at Thrillist used Jill Gutowitz's collection to look back at Lindsay Lohan's career, noting it is time for a reappraisal.

Books for Kids:
1. The Ogress and the Orphans, by Kelly Barnhill (signed copies available)
2. Map of Flames V1, by Lisa McMann
3. The Unwanteds, by Lisa McMann
5. The Last Cuentista, by Donna Barba Higuera
6. Loyalty, Avi
7. The Light of Days Young Readers Edition, by Judy Batalion
8. The View from the Very Best House in Town, by Meera Trehan
9. A Comb of Wishes, by Lisa Stringfellow
10. Maizy Chen's Last Chance, by Lisa Yee

It just seems like it was a few months ago that I was championing Lisa McMann's Clarice the Brave, but now McMann has Map of Flames, the first in a new series (The Forgotten Five) that was also a hit with area schools when we hosted a day of virtual school visits. From Sabrina Carnesi in School Library Journal: "This new series blends science fiction with the animal kingdom, highlighting incredible feats of nature alongside a compelling quest to survive. Middle graders seeking a new twist on science fiction and superpower heroism will find this fast-paced first installment the answer to their search."

At the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins profiles A Creative Place: A History of Wisconsin Art, by Thomas D Lidtke and Annemarie Sawkins, published by the Cedarburg Art Museum.