Monday, May 23, 2022

Events aplenty - Steve Almond (in-person and broadcast), Jonathan Lee (virtual), Mac Barnett and Shawn Harris (virtual), Emma Straub (in-person ticketed)

Here's what's happening!

Monday, May 23, 6:30 pm - in person at Boswell and broadcast
Steve Almond, author of All the Secrets of the World
in conversation with Mary Louise Schumacher

Boswell presents an evening with novelist, short story writer, and essayist Steve Almond, author of books such as Candyfreak and The Evil B.B. Chow, for an evening featuring his new novel, All the Secrets of the World. For this event, Almond will be in conversation with independent journalist, critic, and filmmaker Mary Louise Schumacher.

Registration for the in-person event is closed, but walk-up registration is available. Broadcast registration is still open here.

From Doug Gordon's Beta show on Wisconsin Public Radio: "All the Secrets of the World is a propulsive narrative about two teenage girls whose friendship pulls their very different families into a web of secrets and lies. Almond tackles a range of subjects in the book, including astronomy, scorpion biology, tabloid journalism and FBI interrogation techniques. And the book is a shapeshifter, morphing from one genre to another to yet another."

From Zack Ruskin in the San Francisco Chronicle: "For those who recall Colum McCann’s brilliant Let the Great World Spin, a similar (albeit entirely original) approach and payoff are employed. Whereas McCann built a fictional ensemble cast around the real-life exploits of acrobat Philippe Petit, Almond channels the inner monologue of (Nancy) Reagan, who dwells on the recent assassination attempt of her husband as she frets over crime headlines and consults an astrologer for advice on what actions to take. Almond then contrasts those imagined forays into the former first lady’s mind with another character’s harrowing journey into the heart of America’s criminal justice system, offering one of many ways in which his novel rightfully earns its lofty title."

All the Secrets of the World has been optioned to be adapted for television by Jon Feldman. More here.

Tuesday, May 24, 7 pm - virtual
Jonathan Lee, author of The Great Mistake
in conversation with Chris Lee
Register here for this event.

Boswell hosts a virtual evening featuring Jonathan Lee, author of The New York Times best book of the year High Dive, for a conversation about his latest novel, coming out in paperback this spring, about the forgotten (and murdered!) man once known as the Father of Great New York. In conversation with Chris Lee of Boswell, who declared The Great Mistake one of his top 5 books of the past year.

Make no mistake, Chris Lee has a lot of reasons why you should tune into this virtual event: "There’s one thing you’ve gotta have in any book to really care about it, right? A bit of heart. Well, for all of the amazing writing about the city and the murder mystery and the past, The Great Mistake has at its beating heart the story of a restless, creative man determined to shape history while at the same time being bound by the moral code of his day. Here is a man who wants so much and the only real question is, what will he decide he wants the most?" Read more on The Boswellians blog. 

From Alex Preston in The Guardian: "Jonathan Lee’s The Great Mistake is a novel so comprehensively steeped in American literary history that it comes as something of a surprise to find that its author is a fortysomething from Surrey. It’s as if Lee, whose three superb earlier novels include a reimagining of the IRA bombing of the Grand hotel in Brighton, has distilled more than a century of American letters into a single book."

From Mandana Chaffa in The Chicago Review of Books: "There’s a special resonance in reading this book as an immigrant, because in a sense, Green was also an immigrant to New York, striving to create a space of his own, to become what he couldn’t become elsewhere. As much as Green’s achievements reveal a tremendous love for New York, so too this novel feels like a love letter to the city. It would be easy to recommend The Great Mistake for its confident, well-researched and impeccably crafted take on a singular individual who had so much to do with the creation of New York City as we know it. The parks, the museums, the library, so many aspects of shared public resources which give this city life and attempt to balance the wide rift between the excessively wealthy and the rest of us. But you should really read this book for Lee’s exquisite prose, his poetic shadings of a life and a time in which so much was possible."

Thursday, May 26, 5 pm - virtual
Mac Barnett and Shawn Harris, author and illustrator of The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza
Register here for this event.

Boswell Book Company joins forces with independent bookstores across America to present a virtual event featuring New York Times bestselling author Mac Barnett and Caldecott Honor award-winning illustrator Shawn Harris, creators of The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza, an action-packed, hysterical graphic novel.

Something terrible is happening in the skies! Rats are eating the MOON! There's only one hero for the job, a bold and fearsome beast bioengineered in a secret lab to be the moon's savior and Earth's last hope! And that hero is… a cat. A cat who will be blasted into space! But, along the way, will the first cat in space ever have the chance to grab a slice?

From Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books: "Barnett is cruising comfortably in his usual lane of quirky humor, and Harris matches the absurdity with cleverly composed illustrations that balance visual humor with narrative necessity. The First Cat in Space remains silent with a permanently grumpy expression, but his warrior posturing proves his heroism; LOZ is a bundle of nervous and, eventually, victorious energy."

From Booklist: "Harris' thick-lined cartoon artwork adds undeniable grandeur and beauty to the settings of an otherwise goofy affair, and the character design is endearing, especially the laconic First Cat ('Meow'), who ventures to the moon with all the air of Washington crossing the Delaware. A definite winner in the age of Dog Man."

Thursday, May 26, 7 pm - ticketed and in person at Elm Grove Woman's Club
Emma Straub, author of This Time Tomorrow
in conversation with Noah Weckwerth 

Boswell Book Company and Friends of Elm Grove Public Library are pleased to present a special Elm Grove Reads event with Emma Straub, author of The Vacationers and All Adults Here, for a presentation of her new novel, This Time Tomorrow, a book that combines her trademark charm and wit with a moving father-daughter story and a playful twist on the idea of time travel. In conversation with Noah Weckwerth of the Elm Grove Public Library.

This is a ticketed event - click here to purchase your tickets today! Tickets cost $28 plus tax and fee, and include admission and a copy of This Time Tomorrow. A portion of sales are donated back to the Elm Grove Public Library.

Emma Straub talked to Tonya Mosely on NPR's Fresh Air today. When asked about the surfeit of stories about time travel, she replied, "Well, I - you know, I don't - I can't speak to, you know, like, the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse. That sort of thing is above my pay grade. But what I do know is that I am one of several writers I know who are mothers of small children who have written time travels during the pandemic. And I think it's because the past few years have been so wildly unsettling for all of us that some of us, who happened to be novelists, started looking for a way out or an explanation or some comfort. I certainly know that thinking about this book and writing this book and experience - the experience of writing it felt to me like true time travel and just a much, much-needed escape."

From Barbara VanDenburgh in USA Today: "The millennial midlife crisis has arrived. Yes, while you’ve been cracking jokes about avocado toast, the eldest millennials have quietly, and with great dread, entered their 40s. Given that they can’t afford homes, never mind sports cars, what’s a millennial’s midlife crisis look like? In Emma Straub’s winning new novel This Time Tomorrow, it looks a little like the movies they grew up on, with a dash of time travel to spice up the existential dread."

Everything you could possible want to know about This Time Tomorrow is on the Boswell & Books blog of last Friday.

More programs on the Boswell upcoming events page.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Boswell bestsellers, week ending May 21, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending May 21, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. This Time Tomorrow, by Emma Straub (Tickets for May 26 in-person event here)
2. Home Body, by Rupi Kaur
3. The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles
4. Remarkably Bright Creatures, by Shelby Van Pelt (Register for July 11 virtual event here)
5. The World of Pondside, by Mary Helen Stefaniak
6. Sea of Tranquility, by Emily St John Mandel
7. Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
8. The Sun and Her Flowers, by Rupi Kaur
9. Something Wilder, by Christina Lauren
10. All the Secrets of the World, by Steve Almond (Register for May 23 event here)

This week's top non-event debut is Something Wilder, by Christina Lauren, named "the reigning romance queens" by PopSugar, which is my site of choice for finding out if there are new Oreo cookie flavors. Jodi Picoult says, "Something Wilder is exactly what we all need right now…a true escape within the pages of a book, filled with adventure, rekindled romance, and second chances. Trust me, you’ll want to go along for the ride with Lily and Leo.”

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Moonshot, by Albert Bourla
2. Parent Nation, by Dana Suskind
3. Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner
4. River of the Gods, by Candice Millard
5. Mean Baby, by Selma Blair
6. Salad Freak, by Jess Damuck
7. The Midwest Survival Guide, by Charlie Berens
8. Salt Fat Acid Heat, by Samin Nosrat
9. Who Killed Jane Stanford, by Richard White
10. His Name Is George Floyd, by Robert Samuels

The highest ranking new release in hardcover nonfiction is River of the Gods: Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile by Candice Millard. While we don't have a read yet, Jason has told me that he will be finished soon - one of his favorite nonfiction authors! From Edward Dolnick in The New York Times: "River of the Gods is a lean, fast-paced account of the almost absurdly dangerous quest by those two friends turned enemies, Richard Burton and John Speke, to solve the geographic riddle of their era. The two men had set out, in 1857, to find the source of the Nile. Candice Millard, formerly a National Geographic writer and editor and the author of a gripping book about Teddy Roosevelt’s adventures in South America, has here plunged into another tale of exploration at the edge of disaster."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Home Body, by Rupi Kaur
2. The Sun and Her Flowers, by Rupi Kaur
3. Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
4. Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles
5. The Kingmaker's Redemption, by Harry Pinkus (Register for July 6 in-person event here)
6. Book Lovers, by Emily Henry
7. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
8. Klara and the Sun, by Steven Rowley
9. The Guncle, by Steven Rowley
10. The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon

We sold books at two theater programs within a week of each other. People seemed particularly excited to see hardcover editions of the Rupi Kaur poetry books because most retailers only focused on the paperback. For Amor Towles, the surprise was definitely that we sold more copies of Rules of Civility than we did of A Gentleman in Moscow or The Lincoln Highway. We've got some signed hardcover copies of Lincoln and Gentleman, but no signed Kaur.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Invisible Child, by Andea Elliot
2. Cain's Jawbone, by Edward Powys Mathers
3. Robert's Rules of Order, by Henry M Robert
4. The Fiber Fueled Cookbook, by Will Bulsiewicz
5. The Copenhagen Trilogy, by Tove Ditlevsen, translated by Tiina Nunnally and Michael Favala Goldman

Congratulations to Andrea Elliott, who received the Pulitzer Prize for Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival and Hope in an American City. From the starred Booklist review: "With compelling storytelling, Elliot dives deep into the history of social welfare, keeping everything focused on how political decisions directly affect families like Dasani's: statistics and policies become personal; child protection agencies emerge as horrific entities. Yet kind, honest people do emerge, and family bonds persevere. This important book packs a real gut punch."

Books for Kids:
1. A Land of Permanent Goodbyes, by Atia Abawi
2. Legendborn, by Tracy Deonn
3. Bitter, by Awaeke Emezi
4. Nothing Burns as Bright as You, by Ashley Woodfolk
5. Grown, by Tiffany D Jackson
6. The Sound of Stars, by Alechia Dow
7. Heartstoppers V1, by Alice Oseman
8. Heartstoppers V4, by Alice Oseman
9. The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza, by MacBarnett and Shawn Harris (Register for May 26 virtual event here)
10. Concrete Rose, by Angie Thomas

Ashley Woodfolk has already won raves from Angie Thomas, Kwame Alexander, Becky Albertalli, Nicola Yoon, and Nic Stone for Nothing Burns as Bright as You. Advance reviews from the trades were also great. From Publishers Weekly: "In a tautly written, fast-moving novel in verse that captures the unbalanced experience of an all-consuming love, two unnamed queer Black teen girls move rapidly from strangerhood into a protective best friendship before becoming dysfunctional lovers and mutually destructive partners in crime."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins offers a summer reading list. It's one of the rituals of summer!

Friday, May 20, 2022

A bunch of things I love about THIS TIME TOMORROW and Emma Straub - More about the book and our upcoming event below


1. You must have heard about This Time Tomorrow, right? It’s the fifth novel from Emma Straub and it different from, and yet not so much, from her previous novels. The fantastical elements make it a bit of departure, much like her first novel, Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, was historical fiction-adjacent.  I'm so excited that we're partnering on this delightful book's event with an even more delightful author.

The setup is that Alice Stern, stuck in a go-nowhere relationship and job, inadvertently discovers a way to time travel back to her past, and while she can change some things, there’s one part of her life that will not budge. The time travel gives it more of a escapist spin, but Straub has been positioned as sophisticated vacation reading before – the promotion package for The Vacationers came with a pail, beach towel, and glasses. I still might find that display photo somewhere! See below.

2. There’s no way around it. Time travel is hot! Look at Emily St John Mandel’s Sea of Tranquility, still on the bestseller list. We see new time travel novels almost weekly – right now Jenny is touting the new YA from Rachel Lynn Solomon, See You Yesterday. She loves it!

More time travel trendiness. The Time Traveler’s Wife limited series is on HBO Max. Quantum Leap is also being revived. And it wasn’t long ago that we sold 100 copies of another Jenny favorite, Oona Out of Order. And can we just mention Time and Again, the famous time travel novel that was also set on the Upper West Side of New York, and on top of that, was written by Jack Finney, a Milwaukeean. There always seems to be somebody trying to make a film out of that novel. Wikipedia says the most recent effort was from Doug Liman.

Time travel is sort of thematically adjacent to multi-verse novels like The Midnight Library from Matt Haig. And dare I say it, it’s a great what-to-read-after-The-Midnight-Library selection. Alas, my best time travel-reading buddy, Tracy, has mostly moved to Florida, or I’d be telling her to read this book right now. Come to think of it, I will follow this blog with an email to her.

3. I love the setting of this book. I read a lot of New York-set novels. How can I not? Trade publishers, for the most part based in New York, love publishing them. And I’ve read a lot of Upper West Side novels too. In fact, I’ve been known to wander the Upper West Side while reading novels set there – I think there might be blog about Lisa Hallday’s Asymmetry where I talk about this.

I’ve been an Upper West Side afficionado since my teenage years, where I would take classes at Columbia (I’m not sure how I got into the program and I mostly got lost halfway through the course) and then would walk all the way down Broadway to the Village. And then my sister Merrill lived there for years. And then several of my close friends from college lived there, and I’d visit them while still living in Queens. I loved to go to movies at the Thalia. And of course my sister and brother-in-law when they were working at Marvin Gardens, that Upper West Side bistro where you never knew who you might spot.

In all my years, I never came across Pomander Walk, where Alice’s dad lives, and which is also the source for the novel’s magic. It’s a village of two-family homes along the alley between two streets. For one thing, New York has an alley? Lack of alleys is why New York sidewalks are piled up with garbage. I was sure Straub made it up. But she didn’t, it exists. How could I have missed this? I asked Merrill, and of course she knew about it. Apparently everyone knows about it – except me. Maybe you. But after this book, you’ll want to know someone who knows someone so you can get past the gate. I love this about the book!

4. Most reviewers have noted that at the heart of the story is about Alice’s relationship with her dad. And Straub has noted that she wrote this book during COVID, when her father was sick, much like in the novel. It’s the emotional center of the story, and turns the book into something that will stick with you after the summer escapism has turned to fall.

In a way, This Time Tomorrow is her father novel as a companion to All Adults Here, which is her mother novel. Not that these characters are her father and mother – they are novels. But All Adults Here was very much about a mother’s relationship with her kids, in spite of well, everything. I even proposed a mother-daughter event for the paperback. Of course it didn’t come together, but why did I even think I had a fighting chance? Simple.

Straub’s mom grew up in Milwaukee. Not just in Milwaukee, but blocks from Boswell! So did Straub’s dad – they met at school here. We’re actually only one of two stores on the Edelweiss inventory database that have copies of Susan Straub’s picture book, Fire Chief*. You can guess the other. I’m hoping to bring our copy of Fire Chief to our event with Straub at the Elm Grove Reads event at the Elm Grove Woman’s Club, sponsored by the Friends of the Elm Grove Library. Did I mention it’s in Elm Grove? It’s a ticket-with-book event that includes a donation back to the Friends. You’ll definitely want a copy of this book, and if you already bought it, you’ll want another to gift.

5. Boswell hosted Emma Straub once at Boswell, for her first novel, Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures. We had a great event, not knowing that she’d break out with her next book. And also not knowing that she’d one day open an independent bookstore with her husband. Books Are Magic is one of those stores that is so much a part of their Brooklyn community. I got to see the space when it just opened, and it was beautiful then, and it’s even more beautiful now. And here's a shout out for Emma Straub's Brooklyn novel, Modern Lovers.  

Books Are Magic’s co-owner Michael Fusco-Straub brings an extra magic to the store with his graphic design. In addition to all of their store’s merch, I noticed he designed a tee shirt for our friends at Exile in Bookville, the new Chicago Loop bookstore that is not to be missed. In fact, you can also see Emma Straub at their store – she’s appearing at the building’s auditorium on May 27. More info here.

We’ve also got a little piece of Michael Fusco-Straub. When Laura Lamont was published, Michael designed a series of movie posters that are featured in the book. We framed my favorite, Kissing Cousins, and it still hangs at Boswell, along with The Dogs of Parnassus, posters designed by Nick Berg for our events with Peter Heller and Chuck Klosterman, and at least one beautiful thank you note from Kevin Henkes. Next to frame, a James Baldwin poster from Keith Knight, who I drove around to schools and a public event, long before his hit streaming series Woke. My only problem? I’m running out of places to hang them!

6. If you’re wondering how good the book is, it’s got very enthusiastic reads from not just me at Boswell but also Jenny Chou. You can read her full review on the Boswell item page, but isn’t this enough?: “Trust me, you’re going to fall in love with Alice and the people who stumble in and out of her life over the course of this absolutely delightful book.”

But if you’re thinking we’re biased, I should also note that on Book Marks, This Time Tomorrow has six raves and three positive reviews – no mixed reviews, no pans. Randy Rosenthal in The Boston Globe writes, “Straub is wise enough to know that despite having ample time, it’s never enough ... Implicitly, then, Straub’s This Time Tomorrow is telling us there’s a more important lesson we actually need to learn, and that is how to let go. Live life well, and then let it go, our own and the lives of our loved ones - and that’s the best we can do.” In a way, this is the lesson of just about all of Matt Haig’s books – and of course is based on the concept of mindfulness. But it’s a lesson we have to keep relearning.

From Heller McAlpin's review on the NPR website: "You don't have to be a literary critic to catch Straub's many sources of inspiration. Alice, whose favorite clothing store is the now-defunct Alice Underground, falls through a sort of looking glass into her past. The subway bar she frequents is called Matryoshka, after Russian nesting dolls, which reflect the structure of this novel." The conclusion? This "entertaining charmer" is "a delightful summer read."

From Susan Dominus in The New York Times: "Even as it rifles through references, This Time Tomorrow insists on its own originality - just as Alice gets to go back and relive her own 16th birthday several ways, the novel experimentally cycles through a few forms of narrative, playing on reader expectations. When Alice is restored to the present (does it really matter how?), the novel momentarily indulges the reader in a self-consciously fairy-tale ending, complete with clothing porn — only to reject that story line altogether. That kind of happy ending will not do; Alice will try out various others before landing just as gently in a less obvious place."

From Ellen Akins in The Washington Post: "You should know, before you begin this journey, that This Time Tomorrow is a story about time travel. So prepare your suspension-of-disbelief mind muscles for the heavy lift. Or just settle in for the ride, confident that Emma Straub will conduct you to the welcoming place where fiction and wishful thinking align."

And from a conversation (not a review, but still!) with Mary Louise Kelly on All Things Considered: " I wrote this in 2020 when, of course, I couldn't go anywhere. I couldn't really walk down the street. I couldn't leave my house. And I couldn't abandon my small children or my current life. And all I wanted to do was this. All I wanted to do was have access to the places that I love the most, which are the, like - the, you know, diners and hot dog restaurants of my youth on the Upper West Side."

There is nothing more disconcerting than getting behind a book for an event and then finding that the reviews are coming in negative. That’s happened a few times this year. But it hasn’t happened for Straub so far, fingers crossed.

7. Allow me to give a shout out to Noah, Sarah, and Pat, three book-loving colleagues who are helping put this event together. Straub will be in conversation with Elm Grove Librarian Noah Weckwerth. We have done a book club talk together at the Elm Grove Public Library, and we would have done more since, had COVID not happened. He’s going to be a great conversation partner!

I'm also letting you know now that there may be a masking requirement for this one. We'll let folks who are attending know in advance.

8. Can’t attend? Boswell has pre-signed copies of This Time Tomorrow right now. And you can visit our time travel display for more ideas. Or just ask Jenny – she’s read a lot of them. And we should be able to get your copy personalized too. Contact Boswell for details.

9. Speaking of book recommendations, you're sure to get some great ones from Emma Straub. Hope to see you at Thursday's program, and if you can't attend, hope you get to read This Time Tomorrow.

*Which apparently was not enough to get it added to the ABA ecommerce database. A few other stores sold it at one time, but don't have it in stock now.

Photo credit - Emma Straub by Melanie Dunea
Books are Magic by to come!
Pomander Walk by Niklem

Monday, May 16, 2022

Six (no, seven!) events this week! Chloé Cooper Jones (virtual cohost), Dana Suskind (in-person cosponsorship at USM), Raffi Berg (virtual cosponsorship), Francisco Goldman (virtual cosponsorship), Amor Towles (in-person cosponsorship at Pabst Theater), Daniel James Brown (virtual multi-store), and Steve Almond (hybrid event)

Monday, May 16, 6:30 pm - virtual
Chloé Cooper Jones, author of Easy Beauty: A Memoir
in conversation with Sally Haldorson for a virtual event - click here to register! 

Boswell Book Company and Porchlight Book Company present an evening with journalist, professor, and Pulitzer Prize finalist Chloé Cooper Jones for a conversation about Easy Beauty, her groundbreaking memoir about disability, motherhood, and a journey to far-flung places in search of a new way of seeing and being seen. In conversation with Sally Haldorson, Managing Director of Porchlight Book Company, our cohost for this event.

Chloé Cooper Jones’s bold, revealing book is an account of moving through the world in a body that looks different than most. Jones learned early on to factor “pain calculations” into every situation. Born with a rare congenital condition called sacral agenesis which affects both her stature and gait, her pain is physical. But there is also the pain of being judged and pitied for her appearance, of being dismissed as "less than." Jones set off on a journey across the globe, reclaiming the spaces she’d been denied, and denied herself. With emotional depth, spiky intelligence, passion, and humor, Cooper Jones offers us that rare thing - a memoir that has the power to make you see the world and your place in it with new eyes.

Kate Tuttle called Easy Beauty "gorgeous" and "vividly alive" in The New York Times.  And from Emily Dzuiban in Booklist: "A profound, impressive, and wiser-than-wise contemplation of the way Jones is viewed by others, her own collusion in those views, and whether any of this can be shifted. She shares her ultimate answer - yes - in superlative writing, rendering complex emotion and unparalleled insight in skillfully precise language."

Chloé Cooper Jones was a finalist for a 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing, and her work has appeared in publications including GQ, VICE, and New York magazine. Her writing has been selected for both The Best American Travel Writing and The Best American Sports Writing.

Tuesday, May 17, 12 pm - virtual cosponsorship
Register here for this event, hosted by the Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center.

Berg tells the complete, never-before-heard, gripping tale of a top-secret and often hazardous operation based at a luxury resort that saw the secret evacuation of thousands of Ethiopian Jews who had been languishing in refugee camps, and the spiriting of them to Israel

Kirkus Reviews
 writes: "Berg's account of the operation - remarkable due to its duration, execution, and success - reads like a spy novel." And Publishers Weekly called Red Sea Spies "outstanding" and "well-researched."

Also on Tuesday, May 17, 7 pm
Dana Suskind, author of Parent Nation: Unlocking Every Child's Potential, Fulfilling Society's Promise
in-person at University School of Milwaukee, 2100 W Fairy Chasm Road

REDgen and USM present an evening featuring Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics at the University of Chicago Medical Center Dana Suskind for a conversation about her book, Parent Nation. Suskind, an early childhood development specialist, changes the way we think about the practical importance of the parent-child bond.

Weaving together neuroscience, strategies for parents and policy prescriptions with powerful stories of adversity and hope, Suskind offers a revelatory new look at early childhood and the often-unrecognized essentials for optimal brain development that parents are in the best position to deliver. From Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: "A manifesto, and a handbook, for what we as individuals and as a society are morally called to do for all kids to thrive. Required reading for anyone who has ever loved a child."

Suskind talked to Contemporary Pediatrics about her new book: "Understanding the complexities of what is needed to safeguard the promise of every child’s promise is my life’s work. And while most parents want the same thing - to help their children get off to the best possible start, so that they may grow into happy, healthy adults, the real world gets in the way. We erect barriers in the path of far too many mothers and fathers - from mundane issues like irregular work hours that complicate childcare to profound structural problems like the systemic racism that holds back sizable portions of our population. These barriers limit the time and energy parents can devote to the brain development of their children. And I see the consequences in my clinic, in my research studies, and in the world around me."

Dana Suskind is Founder and Co-Director of the TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health, Director of the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Program, and Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics at the University of Chicago. Suskind is author of Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain. She is a member of the American Academic of Pediatrics and a Fellow for the Council on Early Childhood and an advisor to Hillary Clinton’s Too Small to Fail initiative.

Wednesday, May 18, 7 pm - virtual
Francisco Goldman, author of Monkey Boy
in conversation with Rachel Buff for a virtual event - so click here and reserve your spot nowMonkey Boy is now available in paperback right here. We are also still stocking the novel in hardcover (click here), Ask for your signed bookplate.

The UWM Stahl Center for Jewish Studies, UWM’s Culture and Communities, and Boswell Book Company present a virtual event featuring author Francisco Goldman for the paperback publication of his novel Monkey Boy. And late-breaking news - Monkey Boy was just named a Pulitzer Prize finalist!

In Monkey Boy, readers meet Francisco Goldberg, a middle-aged writer grappling with the challenges of family and love, legacies of violence and war, and growing up as the son of immigrants - a Guatemalan Catholic mother and a Russian Jewish father - in a predominantly white, working-class Boston suburb. Told in an irresistibly funny, tender, and passionate voice, this extraordinary portrait of family explores the pressures of living between worlds. Auto-fictional in the spirit of early Philip Roth and Saul Bellow, Monkey Boy is an expansive and deeply insightful story of living outside the dominant culture in a conservative 1950s America.

James Wood wrote at length about Monkey Boy in The New Yorker, just one of its rave reviews. He sees it in the tradition of autofiction that harkens back to Saul Bellow and Marcel Proust, and connects the dots to Goldman's first novel, The Long Night of White Chickens, which received the PEN/Faulkner Prize. From the essay: "The density of the memory, the playing over present and past, the essayistic space made for an ongoing political dimension, along with an insistent optimism - all these are characteristic of the novel as a whole, and of Goldman’s feel for a kind of narrative phrasing that allows an ideally sauntering and shifting perspective."

Francisco Goldman has published four previous novels and two books of nonfiction. The Long Night ofWhite Chickens was awarded the American Academy’s Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction. The Interior Circuit was named by The Los Angeles Times one of 10 best books of the year. Say Her Name won the Prix Femina étranger.

Also on Wednesday, May 18, 8 pm
Amor Towles, author of The Lincoln Highway
in-person at Pabst Theater - Tickets start at $29.50, available now on the Pabst Theater Group website – ticket does not include a book. Click right here to buy your tickets today!

Pabst Theater presents an evening featuring Amor Towles, the bestselling author of A Gentleman in Moscow and Rules of Civility and master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction returns with a stylish and propulsive novel set in 1950s America. More reasons to attend this in-person event on Friday's blog.

The New York Times Book Review calls The Lincoln Highway: "Wise and wildly entertaining...permeated with light, wit, youth." In June, 1954, eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the juvenile work farm where he has just served fifteen months for involuntary manslaughter. His parents deceased and the family farm foreclosed on, Emmett's intends to head for California with his little brother to start over. But when the warden drives away, Emmett discovers that two friends from the work farm have hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden's car. Together, they have hatched an altogether different plan for Emmett's future, one that will take them all on a fateful journey in the opposite direction - to the City of New York.

Amor Towles graduated from Yale and received an MA from Stanford University. His new novel, The Lincoln Highway, debuted at number one on The New York Times bestseller list, and was a Today Show Read with Jenna Book Club Pick, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year, and one of Barack Obama’s favorite books of 2021.

Friday, May 20, 7 pm - virtual
Daniel James Brown, author of Facing the Mountain: An Inspiring Story of Japanese American Patriots in World War II 
in conversation with Tom Ikeda for a virtual event - click right here to register now.

Available in paperback here, or in hardcover here. Either way, be sure to ask for your signed bookplate!

Boswell Book Company, in partnership with Anderson’s Bookshops and Left Bank Books, presents a virtual event with Daniel James Brown, author of the nonfiction phenomenon The Boys in the Boat, for an evening about his latest, Facing the Mountain, a gripping World War II saga of patriotism and courage that tells the story of the special Japanese American Army unit that overcame brutal odds in Europe. In conversation with Tom Ikeda, former executive director of Densho.

They came from across the continent and Hawaii. Their parents taught them to embrace both their Japanese heritage and the ways of America. They faced bigotry, yet they believed in their bright futures as American citizens. But within days of Pearl Harbor, the FBI was ransacking their houses and locking up their fathers. And within months many would themselves be living behind barbed wire. Facing the Mountain is an unforgettable chronicle of war-time America and the battlefields of Europe. Based on extensive interviews with the families of the protagonists as well as deep archival research, it portrays the kaleidoscopic journey of four Japanese-American families and their sons, who volunteered for 442nd Regimental Combat Team and were deployed to France, Germany, and Italy, where they were asked to do the near impossible.

From NPR: "Facing the Mountain is more than just the story of a group of young men whose valor helped save a country that spurned them, it’s a fascinating, expertly written look at selfless heroes who emerged from one of the darkest periods of American history - soldiers the likes of which this country may never see again."

Daniel James Brown is the author of The Boys in the Boat, The Indifferent Stars Above, and Under aFlaming Sky. Tom Ikeda is the former executive director of Densho, a Seattle-based non-profit dedicated to collecting, preserving, and sharing Japanese American history and promoting social justice and equity.

Monday, May 23, 6:30 pm - in person
Steve Almond, author of All the Secrets of the World
in conversation with Mary Louise Schumacher, in-person at Boswell Book Company - click here to register for either in-person or virtual! 

Boswell presents an evening with novelist, short story writer, and essayist Steve Almond, author of books such as Candyfreak and The Evil B.B. Chow, for an evening featuring his new novel, All the Secrets of the World. For this event, Almond will be in conversation with independent journalist, critic, and filmmaker (you may also know her from her stint as arts critic at the Journal Sentinel)  Mary Louise Schumacher, who studied under Almond. How great is that?

It's 1981 in Sacramento, and thirteen-year-old Lorena Saenz has just been paired with Jenny Stallworth for the science fair by a teacher hoping to unite two girls from starkly different worlds. Lorena begins to spend time at the Stallworth residence and finds herself seduced, not just by Jenny but her parents: Rosemary, her glamorous, needy mother, and Marcus, a scorpiologist who recognizes Lorena’s passion for learning and her confused desires. When Lorena’s troubled older brother, Tony, picks her up at the Stallworth mansion late one night, he and Marcus exchange tense words - an encounter that draws the Saenz family into the dark heart of America’s criminal justice system. To uncover the truth, Lorena must embark on an unforgiving odyssey into the desert and through the gates of a religious cult in Mexico. As she stalks a fate guided by forces beyond her reckoning, shocking secrets explode into view.

One of LitHub’s Most Anticipated Books of 2022, Almond’s novel is winning raves. Here's Zack Ruskin in The San Francisco Chronicle: "As a veteran of the nonfiction scene, it’s perhaps no surprise that a writer who once published a best-selling book about being obsessed with candy (Candyfreak) would populate his first full-length foray into fiction with a cast of characters that includes an elusive scorpion biologist, a well-mustachioed detective and first lady Nancy Reagan’s personal astrologer. Known to some for his work as a co-host on the 'Dear Sugars' podcast, Almond manages to channel the empathy intrinsic to that long-running advice program into the characters that make this novel a breathtaking success."

Steve Almond is author of eleven books of fiction and nonfiction, including the New York Times bestsellers Candyfreak and Against Football. His essays and reviews have been published in venues ranging from The New York Times Magazine to Ploughshares to Poets & Writers, and his short fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, and Best American Mysteries

One last note about All the Secrets of the World. It's published by Zando Press, one of two high-profile publishing programs that were started by talented editors who were formerly at Penguin Random House - the other is the revived Spiegel + Grau. Molly Stern, formerly of Viking and Crown (where she edited the Obamas), has taken her model with Sarah Jessica Parker curating a publishing list (duplicated at Zando) and expanded it to Gillian Flynn, John Legend, and Lena Waithe. More about Zando here.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Boswell asks, What's sellin', Melvin?

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending May 14, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Remarkably Bright Creatures, by Shelby Van Pelt (signed copies available)
2. Sea of Tranquility, by Emily St John Mandel
3. Siren Queen, by Nghi Vo (signed copies available)
4. Search, by Michelle Huneven
5. Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus
6. Marrying the Ketchups by Jennifer Close
7. When Women Were Dragons, by Kelly Barnhill
8. The Book of Night, by Holly Black
9. Overboard V22, by Sara Paretsky
10. Trust, by Hernan Diaz

I think I have previously noted that Jennifer Jackson edited two books that are still in our top 10 - Sea of Tranquility and Marrying the Ketchups. But I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that another editor has a double showing - Lee Boudreaux edited both Lessons in Chemistry from Bonnie Garmus and When Women Were Dragons, by Kelly Barnhill. Barnhill's adult novel comes just a few months after she visited Boswell for her most recent kids title, The Ogress and the Orphans. From Booklist: "On April 25, 1955, 642,987 women transformed spontaneously into dragons - only for the world to turn its back and try to forget it ever happened...In this fantastical satire by acclaimed fantasy author Barnhill...,Alex Green tries to grow up in a world oppressed by a heavy, carefully enforced silence, a world in which young girls are raised amidst tightly wound limitations and underestimation."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Nature's Best Hope, by Douglas W Tallamy
2. Magic Season, by Wade Rouse (signed copies available)
3. The Geography of Wisconsin, by John A Cross
4. Gangsters Vs. Nazis, by Michael Benson
5. The Midwest Survival Guide, by Charlie Berens
6. How the Word Is Passed, by Clint Smith
7. The Wisconsin Supper Clubs Story, by Ron Faiola
8. Atlas of the Heart, by Brené Brown
9. Don't Trust Your Gut, by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
10. Every Good Boy Does Fine, by Jeremy Denk

From two professors of Geography at UW-Oshkosh comes The Geography of Wisconsin, noted by Jim Higgins in the Journal Sentinel as "An engaging introduction to the physical features of this state. Authors John A. Cross and Kazimierz J. Zaniewski, both emeritus professors of geography at UW-Oshkosh, also devote considerable attention to the human geography of Wisconsin, including settlement patterns and economic activity.” Chapters include geology and landforms, natural hazards, settlement-fur trading ad mining, and cultural landscapes and demographics. We ran out our first week but we're hoping to get more in soon.

We just got word that How the Word Is Passed is not coming out in paperback until 2023.  

Paperback Fiction:
1. Book Lovers, by Emily Henry
2. The Glass Hotel, by Emily St John Mandel
3. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
4. Shady Hollow, by Juneau Black
5. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro
6. Leonard and Hungry Paul, by Rónán Hession
7. Once There Were Wolves, by Charlotte McConaghy
8. The Guide, by Peter Heller
9. The Music of Bees, by Eileen Garvin
10. In My Dreams I Hold a Knife, by Ashley Winstead

In My Dreams I Hold a Knife is a reprint of a 2021 thriller that came out in paperback in April. It's set at a class reunion where an unsolved murder fractured the class, with one alum committed to solving the murder. From the Booklist review: "(Ashley)Winstead paints Jessica as an ambitious striver who's been consistently overlooked and a woman unable to fully remember a night she can't forget. Packed with intrigue, scandal, and enough twists and turns to match Donna Tartt's The Secret History, this is a solid psychological-thriller debut."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Blood, Sweat, and Pixels, by Jason Schreier
2. Gianis, by Mirin Fader
3. Trauma Stewardship, by Laura Van Dernoot Lipsky
4. The Splendid and the Vile, by Erik Larson
5. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, by George Saunders
6. Pocket Guide to the Constitution, edited by Andrew Arnold
7. Critical Race Theory, edited by Kimberle Crenshaw et al
8. Midwest Native Plant Primer, by Alan Brenhagen
9. Rand McNally Road Atlas 2023
10. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer

George Saunders's writing guide, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life, also came out in paperback in April and also finally reached our paperback bestseller list in May. Such is how a trained engineer came to be one of the giants in the field - by studying Chekhov, Gogol, Tolstoy, and Turgenev. From Tessa Hadley in The Guardian: "I love the warmth with which he writes about this teaching, and agree wholeheartedly that there’s not much on earth as good, if you’re that way inclined, as an afternoon spent discussing sublime fiction with a class of eagerly intelligent apprentice writers, saturated in the story and greedy for insight and understanding (everyone saturated and greedy, the teacher along with the rest)."

Books for Kids:
1. The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza, by Mac Barnett, illustrations by Shawn Harris (Register for free event on May 26)
2. The Circus of Stolen Dreams, by Lorelei Savaryn
3. Q and U Call It Quits, by Stef Wade, illustrations by Jorge Martin
4. The Edge of In Between, by Lorelei Savaryn
5. Heartstopper V1, by Alice Oseman
6. Heartstopper V4, by Alice Oseman
7. Heartstopper V2 by Alice Oseman
8. Heartstopper V3, by Alice Oseman
9. A Place for Pluto, by Stef Wade, illustrations by Melanie Demmer
10. I Kissed Shara Wheeler, by Casey McQuiston

The #6 show on Netflix last week is Heartstopper, which was inspired by the graphic novel series that dominates this week's top 10. The series was named best books of the year by the New York and Chicago Public Library systems. A review in the Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books gives a little backstory: "Readers familiar with Oseman's Solitaire (BCCB 5/15) will recognize these formerly minor characters and take comfort in knowing a happy end awaits them, while those who know the online version will appreciate seeing it get the mainstream publisher treatment."

More tomorrow!