Monday, November 28, 2022

Four events this week: Tom Breihan for The Number Ones (virtual), Amy Reichert for Once Upon a December (at Boswell), Wendy Wimmer for Entry Level (at Boswell), and the Shorewood Public Library Holiday Book Talk featuring Daniel Goldin

Tuesday, November 29, 7 pm
Tom Breihan, author of The Number Ones: Twenty Chart-Topping Hits That Reveal the History of Pop Music
in conversation with Daniel Goldin for a virtual event - click here to register.

Beloved music critic and Stereogum Senior Editor Tom Breihan joins us for a conversation about his new book, The Number Ones, a fascinating narrative of the history of popular music through the lens of game-changing #1 singles from the Billboard Hot 100. In conversation with Daniel Goldin of Boswell. Cosponsored by Lilliput Records, the new record store on Farwell off Brady, run by Exclusive Company veterans.

Special offer - five lucky people who register and attend our virtual event will win a Lilliput Records $10 gift card. 

Breihan launched his Sterogum column, "The Number Ones," figuring he’d post capsule-size reviews
for each song, but discovered was so much more to uncover. The column, in which he has been writing about every #1 hit in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 in chronological order, has taken on a life of its own, sparking online debate and occasional death threats. The Billboard Hot 100 began in 1958, and after four years of posting the column, Breihan has written into the early aughts. But readers no longer have to wait for his brilliant synthesis of what the history of #1s has meant to music and our culture. In The Number Ones, Breihan writes about twenty pivotal #1s throughout chart history, revealing a remarkably fluid and connected story of music that is as entertaining as it is enlightening.

Here is Billboard Hot 100 enthusiast Daniel Goldin’s take on Breihan’s book: "I am completely obsessed with Tom Breihan’s 'Number Ones' column in Stereogum. What started as capsule summaries have now turned into essays that almost always have something interesting to say about pop music and popular culture in general. But was this enough to make a book? You bet it was! Breihan looks at 20 particularly influential songs and the artists that created them and offers original-to-this-book essays that dig even deeper than his column. I’m sure there will be arguments about who made the cut, who was left out, and when it came to some of the artists, whether this was their move-the-needle #1, or was it another cut? And there’s always the problem of those groundbreakers, like Bob Dylan, who never got higher than #2 on the singles chart. The key here is that it doesn’t matter if you know the songs or not, especially now that you can listen to just about anything almost instantly. No less than enthralling!”

Tom Breihan is the senior editor at the music website Stereogum, and has written for Pitchfork, the Village Voice, and the Ringer, among other outlets.

Wednesday, November 30, 6:30 pm
Amy E Reichert, author of Once Upon a December
in-person at Boswell - click here to register.

Boswell is so pleased to host an evening featuring Wisconsinite Amy E Reichert, author of novels such as The Simplicity of Cider and The Kindred Spirits Supper Club, for a conversation about her newest book, Once Upon a December, in which a trip to the Milwaukee Christmas market offers holiday magic and romance.

With a name like Astra Noel Snow, holiday spirit isn’t just a seasonal specialty, it’s a way of life. But after a stinging divorce, Astra’s yearly trip to the Milwaukee Christmas market takes on a whole new meaning. For Jack Clausen, the Julemarked with its snowy lights and charming shops stays the same, while the world outside the joyful street changes, magically leaping from one December to the next every four weeks. He’s never minded living this charmed existence until Astra shows him the life he’s been missing outside of the festive red brick alley. After a swoon-worthy series of dates, some Yuletide magic, and the unexpected glow of new love, Astra and Jack must decide whether this relationship can weather all seasons, or if what they’re feeling is as ephemeral as marshmallows in a mug of hot cocoa.

Jenny Bayliss, author of Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, says: "For all those who still revel in the enchantment of the festive season, this is the book for you. Friendships, romance and magical Christmas markets abound in this feel-good novel." And from Christina Lauren, author of In A Holidaze: "Delightful in every possible way! With Reichert's trademark bone-deep wisdom threaded beautifully throughout a riotous, otherworldly, and marvelously unexpected novel, Once Upon a December is an absolutely perfect holiday hug."

Amy E Reichert is author of novels such as The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go, and Luck, Love & Lemon Pie. She earned an MA in English Literature, serves on her library’s board of directors, and is a member of Tall Poppy writers.

Thursday, December 1, 6:30 pm
Wendy Wimmer, author of Entry Level: Stories
in conversation with Christina Clancy, in-person at Boswell - click here to register

Wisconsinite Wendy Wimmer visits Boswell in-person for a conversation about her debut story collection, Entry Level, winner of the Autumn House Fiction Prize. Wimmer’s book offers up tales of characters trying to find their way through the struggles of underemployment. In conversation with Christina Clancy, author of Shoulder Season and The Second Home.

In Entry Level, characters are trying to find, assert, or salvage their identities. Wimmer pushes the boundaries of reality, creating stories that are funny, fantastic, and at times terrifying as her characters undergo feats of endurance, heartbreak, and loneliness while trying to succeed in a world that undervalues them. From a young marine biologist suffering from imposter syndrome to a haunting to a bingo caller facing another brutal snowstorm, Wimmer’s characters confront a universe that is, at best, indifferent to them. These stories reflect on the difficulties of modern-day survival and remind us that piecing together a life demands both hope and resilience.

National Book Award finalist Deesha Philyaw says: "In the world of Entry Level, no job is too small, nor is it ever just a job. In cities and across rural landscapes and dreamscapes, we find clerks and corpses, mothers and daughters, cruise entertainers and scientists, grappling with longing and loss. The stories are, at turns, heartfelt and hilarious, wry and whimsical, full of magic and mayhem. These are well-crafted love stories, ghost stories, and stories of everyday people just trying to navigate life’s cruelties and impossibilities. Wimmer writes with an intimacy and immediacy that take you down a fresh rabbit hole from the first line, each time. Each tale is as smart, exquisite, and surprising as the next. I really didn’t want this collection to end!"

Wendy Wimmer earned an MA in Creative Writing at UWM, and her work has been published in Barrelhouse, The Believer, Blackbird, and several other journals.

Saturday, December 3, 11 am
Shorewood Public Library Holiday Book Talk featuring Daniel Goldin
in-person at Shorewood Public Library, 3920 N Murray Ave

The Friends of Shorewood Public Library present Boswell Book Company's proprietor Daniel Goldin for a presentation on the best books to look for during the holiday season. Daniel is known for giving interesting and varied suggestions, perfect for discerning readers. Cohosted by Boswell.

Books will be available for purchase, and a portion of the sales supporting the Friends of the Shorewood Public Library. This is the perfect opportunity to shop for book lovers on your list - including yourself! For more information about this event and the Library, click here to visit the Shorewood Public Library’s event page on their website now.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Boswell bestsellers, week ending November 26, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus
2. Liberation Day, by George Saunders
3. Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver
4. Foster, by Claire Keegan
5. Our Missing Hearts, by Celeste Ng
6. Remarkably Bright Creatures, by Shelby Van Pelt
7. The Boys from Biloxi, by John Grisham
8. Horse, by Geraldine Brooks
9. Ithaca, by Claire North
10. The Marriage Portrait, by Maggie O'Farrell

Claire Keegan's Small Things Like These was one of our breakout books of 2021 and it looks like Foster is following in its footsteps. Originally published as a shorter piece in The New Yorker in 2010 and released in the UK and Ireland as a stand-alone novella, it has been named one of the Times (UK) 50 great novels of the 21st century, with David Mitchell calling it "as good as Chekhov."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. What's for Dessert?, by Claire Saffitz
2. Modern Classic Cocktails, by Robert Simonson
3. The Light We Carry, by Michelle Obama
4. I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
5. The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams, by Stacy Mitchell
6. Go-To Dinners, by Ina Garten
7. Smitten Kitchen Keepers, by Deb Perelman
8. American Midnight, by Adam Hochschild
9. A Book of Days, by Patti Smith
10. Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner

Smitten Kitchen Keepers: New Classic from Your Forever Files is the new book from Deb Perelman. From Neal Wyatt for Library Journal: "In her third cookbook, Perelman returns with a gathering of the best versions of her key dishes - recipes that she has tested, trialed, and tweaked until they became what she wants her kids and readers to learn by heart and cook with delight... The book is a joy to read, with Perelman’s confiding, cheering voice showcased in short prefaces and recipe notes."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Once Upon a December, by Amy E. Reichert (Last call for November 30 in-person event-register here)
2. The Art of the Break, by Mary Wimmer
3. The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, by Shehan Karunatilaka
4. Kiss Her Once for Me, by Alison Cochrun
5. The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, by Sangu Mandanna
6. Still Life, by Sarah Winman (Register for December 16 virtual event - register here)
7. The Family Chao, by Lan Samantha Chang
8. A Child's Christmas in Wales, by Dylan Thomas
9. The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon
10. Crossroads, by Jonathan Franzen

Is A Child's Christmas in Wales the literary equivalent of Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You"? It shows up most years on our bestseller list. They reissued the 1954 edition this year, so we switched to that, after several years of stocking a 2016 edition with illustrations from the person who did Pablo Neruda's Love Poems - I can't find the artist of either edition anywhere, alas.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Brewtown Tales, by John Gurda (December 6 event sold out - no registration required for December 17, 2 pm signing at Boswell)
2. Cream City Chronicles, by John Gurda
3. Heart Speak, by Sherrill Knezel
4. Ejaculate Responsibly, by Gabrielle Blair
5. Entangled Life, by Merlin Sheldrake
6. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk
7. Pastoral Song, by James Rebanks
8. These Precious Days, by Ann Patchett
9. Say Nothing, by Patrick Radden Keefe
10. The Book of Delights, by Ross Gay

From Malcolm Forbes in The Wall Street Journal: "James Rebanks’s The Shepherd’s Life was an illuminating, warts-and-all memoir about working as a sheep farmer in the Lake District in northern England - an area that Wordsworth termed “a perfect Republic of Shepherds.” Six years on, Mr. Rebanks has returned with a second autobiographical work - not about a shepherd’s life but, as its subtitle has it, a farmer’s journey. Pastoral Song chronicles Mr. Rebanks’s development from youth to adult and from novice to full-fledged farmer. Superbly written and deeply insightful, the book captivates the reader until the journey’s end."

Books for Kids:
1. Construction Site: Farming Strong, All Year Long, by Sherri Deskey Rinker
2. Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site, by Sherri Duskey Rinker
3. The Tower of Life, by Chana Stiefel, illustrations by Susan Gal
4. Diper Overlode V17, by Jeff Kinney
5. Scattered Showers, by Rainbow Rowell
6. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
7. Moo Baa Fa La La La La, by Sandra Boynton
8. Snowscape, by Yoojin Kim
9. Noodle and the No Bones Day, by Jonathan Graziano with illustrations by Dan Tavis
10. Green Is for Charismas, by Drew Daywalt, illustrations by Oliver Jeffers (Meet Green Crayon - Saturday, December 10, 11 am, at Boswell - register here)

Jen's pop-up book pick for the year is Snowscape by Yoojin Kim, who neither wrote the story (that's Nicole Yen) nor did the artwork (illustrations by Kathryn Selbert) but did the pop-up engineering, the job that generally gets top billing in this genre. It was interesting for me to figure out that Jumping Jack Press is part of Up with Paper, a popular pop-up card line we've carried in the past.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Boswell Bestsellers week ending November 19, 2022

Boswell bestsellers, week ending November 19, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. All This Could Be Different, by Sarah Thankam Mathews (Jim Higgins profiles Mathews in the Journal Sentinel)
2. Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver
3. Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus
4. Mistborn: The Lost Metal V7, by Brandon Sanderson
5. Liberation Day, by George Saunders
6. Last Summer on State Street, by Toya Wolfe
7. The Fall of Númenor, by JRR Tolkien
8. Great Cities V2: The World We Make, by NK Jemisin
9. The Scholomance V3: The Golden Enclaves, by Naomi Novik
10. The Marriage Portrait, by Maggie O'Farrell

One doesn't necessarily think of epic fantasy as having a preferred season, but it is noticeable that three of our top ten bestsellers are in the midst of series - Brandon Sanderson's The Lost Metal, NK Jemison's The World We Make, and Naomi Novik's The Golden Enclaves, plus there's that new Tolkien collection. Fourth quarter is the time for the high-profile books that will steamroll the competition and take up what limited media air there is when the focus is on best-of-the-year lists and several major awards. But when you're in the middle of a bestselling series, the audience is already there and the books are probably all on holiday lists. You'd think there'd be the same formula for mystery/thriller series, and there is, and Michael Connelly does have a slot, but the big release for us is November 29 when Louise Penny's A World of Curiosities comes out.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Light We Carry, by Michelle Obama
2. What's for Dessert?, by Claire Saffitz (signed copies available)
3. Dessert Person, by Claire Saffitz
4. The Book of Days, by Patti Smith
5. Number One Is Walking, by Steve Martin
6. Smitten Kitchen Keepers, by Deb Perelman
7. Go-To Dinners, by Ina Garten
8. Dinner in One, by Melissa Clark
9. Slaying the Dragon, by Ben Riggs
10. The Philosophy of Modern Song, by Bob Dylan

On the other hand, we know that cookbooks have become a fourth quarter staple, and this week, five of our top ten are in that category, with the footnote that Claire Saffitz appeared at Boswell this week. The top non-event seller for us, in any of the lists, was, no surprise, Michelle Obama's The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times. From Judith Newman in The New York Times: "...It is perhaps no surprise that Obama’s road map for uncertain times resonates in ways that other self-help books do not. If I am going to have someone guide me through this terrain, I don’t want to hear from preternaturally poised Martha Stewart or unflappable George Clooney or, for that matter, that tower of cool and confidence Barack Obama. For this crew, self-assurance seems like a birthright. I want to hear from Michelle Obama, who doesn’t always like the way she looks, who felt like an outsider after becoming the ultimate insider; the one who easily becomes lonely; the striver who has spent a lifetime dogged by the question: Am I good enough?"

Paperback Fiction:
1. Once Upon a December, by Amy E Reichert (Register for November 30 event here)
2. The Sentence, by Louise Erdrich
3. Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree
4. Kiss Her Once for Me, by Alison Cochran
5. The Sleeping Car Porter, by Suzette May (Virtual event just added on January 10 - register here)
6. Bewilderment, by Richard Powers
7. The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, by Shehan Karunatilaka
8. Wizard's Dream, by Louise Loveridge Gallas
9. Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr
10. The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune

The cable companies and streamers all agree on something - Christmas means romance movies. The explosion of this genre has gone far afield of these core programmers (Hallmark, Lifetime, Great American Family - programmed by a former Hallmark exec) to Netflix, BET+, and streamers you never heard of - 148 films in all, documented in this Variety article. So it's not surprising that we've got two in our top ten, our upcoming event with Once Upon a December and Alison Cochran's Kiss Her Once for Me, which uses the fake relationship trope (classic) to tell a queer love story (contemporary). Apparently, this could be adapted for Hallmark nowadays, but not Great American Family. Publisher's Weekly wrote: "Sparks fly between these mismatched couples against a backdrop of cozy holiday cheer. Cochrun can go a bit heavy on the exposition, but it's delightful to watch this clever spin on the fake dating trope unfold. This is a winner," but my favorite quote is from Kirkus, calling this the literary equivalent of Wham's "Last Christmas."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Brewtown Tales, by John Gurda (December 6 event sold out)
2. Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts, by Rebecca Hall
3. The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics, by Tim Harford
4. Heart Speak, by Sherrill A Knezel
5. The Story of Jane, by Laura Kaplan
6. Fuzz, by Mary Roach
7. Cuba, by Ada Ferrer
8. All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, by Rebecca Donner
9. Undocumented Americans, by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
10. Growing Up Little Chute, by John Van Lieshout

Why don't more independent bookstores have awards cases. It's so successful for us. This week's top ten includes the Pulitzer Prize winner for History, Cuba: An American History, by Ada Ferrer. I am fascinated that this book, despite the honor, does not seem to be reviewed in The New York Times or Washington Post, though she got a column in the latter. The Wall Street Journal had a nice review from Felipe Fernádez-Armesto: "As in much of the Americas, the U.S. in Cuba has been a benign example and a malignant master. Ada Ferrer’s Cuba: An American History focuses on the equivocal relationship of the two countries, and presents it convincingly as symbiotic... By being equally severe with Cuban leaders and U.S. leaders, Ms. Ferrer achieves an honorable objective: pleasing nobody by being just."

Books for Kids:
1. The Greatest in the World, by Ben Clanton
2. João by a Thread, by Roger Mello
3. Narwhal, Unicorn of the Sea, by Ben Clanton
4. Farmhouse, by Sophie Blackall
5. Diper Overlode V17, by Jeff Kinney
6. Charcoal Boys, by Roger Mello
7. It's Christmas Everywhere, by Hannah Barnaby
8. This Story Is Not About a Kitten, by Randall De Seve, illustrations by Carson Ellis
9. If You Find a Leaf, by Aimee Sicuro
10. Green Is for Christmas, by Drew Daywalt/Oliver Jeffers (Meet Green Crayon on December 10 - register here)

Jen helped me with a few books for my Woman's Club talk on Thursday. I already knew I was going to feature It's Christmas Everywhere, a board book that opens up to look like a Christmas tree. But she also led me to Farmhouse, Sophie Blackall's picture book which was just named one of best illustrated books of 2022 by The New York Times/New York Public Library. I went into it blindly and started crying at the end. It's that powerful!

Monday, November 14, 2022

Four events this week: Jai Chakrabarti with the Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center, Claire Saffitz (SOLD OUT), UWM Creative Writing presents United We Read, and Robert Simonson for two back-to-back events at Bryant's!

Tuesday, November 15, 7:30 pm
Jai Chakrabarti, author of A Play for the End of the World
A virtual event - click here to register

Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center present a virtual event featuring Jai Chakrabarti, author of A Play for the End of the World, a dazzling novel set in early 1970s New York and rural India about a turbulent, unlikely romance, a harrowing account of the lasting horrors of the Second World War, and a searing examination of one man's search for forgiveness and acceptance. Cohosted by Boswell Book Company.

Warsaw Ghetto survivor Jaryk Smith and southerner Lucy Gardner are in the first bloom of love when they receive word that Jaryk's oldest friend has died under mysterious circumstances in a rural village in eastern India. Travelling alone to collect his friend's ashes, Jaryk soon finds himself enmeshed in the chaos of local politics and staging a protest play against the government. Torn between the survivor's guilt he has carried for decades and his feelings for Lucy, Jaryk must decide how to honor both the past and the present, and how to accept a happiness he is not sure he deserves.

A remarkable debut, A Play for the End of the World is an unforgettable love story, a provocative exploration of the role of art in times of political upheaval, and a deeply moving reminder of the power of the past to shape the present.

Jai Chakrabarti’s writing has been anthologized in The O Henry Prize Stories and The Best American Short Stories and awarded a Pushcart Prize. Chakrabarti was an Emerging Writer Fellow with A Public Space and received his MFA from Brooklyn College. He was born in Kolkata, India.

Wednesday, November 16, 6:30 pm
Sold Out! Claire Saffitz, author of What’s for Dessert: Simple Recipes for Dessert People
in conversation with Kyle Cherek, in-person at Boswell

This event is sold out. You can still order a signed copy. If you haven't heard about this event until now, we suggest you sign up for the Boswell email newsletter. Find the link on the right-hand column of the front page of the Boswell website.

UWM Creative Writing presents United We Read
In-Person at Boswell Friday, November 18, 6:30 pm

Boswell hosts the November edition of the UWM Creative Writing Graduate Program student and faculty reading series, United We Read, on Friday, November 18, 6:30 pm. This is the monthly reading series presented at locations around the city put on by the UWM English Department and features readings of new work by Creative Writing graduate students as well as UWM faculty members.

This evening will feature readings from graduate students Cassandra Bruner, Sass Denny, and Camilla Lee, and Professor Rebecca Dunham.

Saturday, November 19, 3 pm doors, 3:30 pm event
Second Show Added! - Robert Simonson, author of Modern Classic Cocktails: 60+ Stories and Recipes from the New Golden Age in Drinks
in-person at Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, 1579 S 9th St - click here to purchase tickets

Bryant's Cocktail Lounge and Boswell Book Company are excited to welcome twice James Beard nominated author Robert Simonson, a native Wisconsinite and the New York Times cocktail and spirits writer, to discuss his latest book, Modern Classic Cocktails, featuring recipes culled from today's modern classics with entertaining backstories from the cocktail revival of the past thirty years.

The first seating of this event (5 pm doors, 6 pm event) is now sold out, but a second show has been added! To purchase tickets for the 3 pm doors, 3:30 pm event showing, please click this sentence and visit the ticketing site. Tickets cost $40 plus tax and ticket fee, and each ticket includes a copy of Modern Classic Cocktails, one special cocktail, and gratuity.

Robert Simonson is author of A Proper Drink, The Old-Fashioned, and The Martini Cocktail. His writing has appeared in Saveur, GQ, and Bon Appetit, and has been nominated for two James Beard Awards and has won one IACP Award and two Spirited Awards.

Photo credits
Jai Chakrabarti by Peter Dressel
Claire Saffitz by Alex Lau

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Boswell bestsellers, week ending November 12, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Racing the Light, by Robert Crais (signed copies here)
2. The Passenger, by Cormac McCarthy
3. Liberation Day, by George Saunders
4. Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver
5. Shuna's Journey, by Hayao Miyazaki, translated by Alex Dudok De Wit
6. Our Missing Hearts, by Celeste Ng
7. Nights of Plague, by Orhan Pamuk
8. Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus
9. The Marriage Portrait, by Maggie O'Farrell
10. Foster, by Claire Keegan

The appearance of Shuna's Journey on our bestseller list was a bit of surprise to me, but not our buyer or many of our booksllers. Originally published in Japanese, this first-time-in-English edition has the elements that have inspired Miyazaki's films, including Princess Mononoke, the first animated film to win the Japanese Academy Prize for Picture of the Year (per Wikipedia). Linda Codega in Gizmodo called the book "an eerie and delightful piece of work that highlights Miyazaki’s gorgeous art, long before it became the Ghibli style. Longtime fans will enjoy finding the threads that tie Shuna’s Journey to his later works, from familiar creature designs to costumes to settings."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. What's for Dessert?, by Claire Saffitz (event sold out but signed copies still available)
2. Reading for Our Lives, by Maya Payne Smart
3. The Philosophy of Modern Song, by Bob Dylan
4. How We Live Is How We Die, by Pema Chödrön
5. The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams, by Stacy Schiff
6. Go-To Dinners, by Ina Garten
7. Surrender, by Bono
8. Women Holding Things, by Maira Kalman
9. Life on the Mississippi, by Rinker Buck
10. Confidence Man, by Maggie Haberman

The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams is the latest biography from Stacy Schiff, profiling a man possible more well-known nowadays for the namesake beer. The book has 5 raves and 3 positive reviews on Book Page so far. The Wall Street Journal is in the rave camp. From Mark G. Spencer: " Sifting historical landfill in The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams, Stacy Schiff has produced a delightfully enthralling and insightful account of an elusive Founding Father. Samuel Adams 'did not preen for posterity,' but we now know him much better than we did. Perhaps even better than he’d want us to."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, by Shehan Karunatilaka
2. Legends and Lattes, by Travis Baldree
3. Once Upon a December, by Amy E. Reichert (Register for November 30 event here)
4. She Hulk V1, by Rainbow Rowell
5. It Starts with Us, by Colleen Hoover
6. Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr
7. And Yet, by Kate Baer
8. Still Life, by Sarah Winman
9. The Drifter, by Nick Petrie
10. Our Country Friends, by Gary Shteyngart

 Will the curse of the literary bestseller be broken with The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida be broken? We've had several breakouts from the Booker Prize in recent years, and as this is published as a paperback original, we've got the audience that would buy the book in hardcover combined with the paperback reprint crowd joining in together. Hey, we're doing our best - the book is also our In-Store Lit Group pick for February. Ron Charles writes about the surprise of a major award going to a book you've not heard of in The Washington Post: "For months, I’d been hearing tantalizing, impossibly incongruous details about this novel, which is only now being published in the United States. It’s all true: The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida is a murder mystery and a zany comedy about military atrocities." Yes, American success seems like a long shot - it's going to need a lot of readers crying on TikTok.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Fran Lebowitz Reader, by Fran Lebowitz
2. Owning Grief, by Gael Garbarino Cullen
3. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
4. Brewtown Tales, by John Gurda (Register for December 6 event by emailing
5. 111 Places in Milwaukee You Must Not Miss, by Michelle Madden
6. These Precious Days, by Ann Patchett
7. The Book of Delights, by Ross Gay
8. The Shortest History of Europe, by John Hirst
9. The Splendid and the Vile, by Erik Larson
10. Educated, by Tara Westover

The late Australian historian John Hirst's  The Shortest History of Europe: How Conquest, Culture, and Religion Forged a Continent is just out and selling well of our new paperback table. Looks like it was originally a UK publication. I love this stat they shared in the notes for buyers - 20,000 sold it the UK and Commonwealth, 300,000 sold in China. From the publisher: "Lays out a thesis of astonishing simplicity: just three elements - German warfare, Greek and Roman culture, and Christianity - come together to explain every major development in religion and science, war and invasion, politics and class divisions, and power and industry."

Books for Kids:
1. The Greatest in the World, by Ben Clanton
2. Scattered Showers, by Rainbow Rowell (limited stock signed copies)
3. Our World of Dumplings, by Francie Dekker
4. Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea V1, by Ben Clanton
5. The Invisible Spy: Forgotten Five V2, by Lisa McMann
6. Map of Flames: Forgotten Five V1, by Lisa McMann
7. As Brave As You, by Jason Reynolds
8. Whiteout, by Dhonielle Clayton and other writers
9. Look Both Ways, by Jason Reynolds
10. Carry On Collectors Edition, by Rainbow Rowell

We hosted a virtual school event for Ben Clanton, whose The Greatest in the World offers an exciting competition between potatoes. His Narwhal and Jelly series is very popular, which is bourn out in us having 150 classrooms tune in for his event. Kirkus writes: "This tater trio, and worm, will keep readers laughing, singing, and cheering from the first page to the last."

I just want to note that I did not choose these titles based on their covers, but three of the five are yellow, which seems unusual to me.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Boswell bestsellers, week ending November 5, 2022

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending November 5, 2022

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Passenger, by Cormac McCarthy
2. Racing the Light, by Robert Crais (Register for November 10 in-store event here)
3. The Last Chairlift, by John Irving
4. Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver
5. The World We Make V2, by NK Jemisin
6. My Government Means to Kill Me, by Rasheed Newsome (Cactus Book Club December selection - more here)
7. Liberation Day, by George Saunders
8. The Marriage Portrait, by Maggie O'Farrell
9. Our Missing Hearts, Celeste Ng
10. Mad Honey, by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan

Our top non-event debut this week is M.K. Jemisin's The World We Make, the sequel to 2020s The City We Became, which was nominated for just about every speculative fiction award out there. The Kirkus review is just one rave: "As in the previous book, this is a fantasy inspired by the very real division between those who embrace difference (and are only intolerant of intolerance) and those who seek a creativity-killing homogeneity, seeing it as a return to a supposedly moral past that never existed. The story also explores how perceptions about a place imposed on it by outsiders - who have only the most distorted views about it from popular culture - can have genuinely damaging effects."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Painting Can Save Your Life, by Sara Woster
2. Surrender, by Bono
3. The Philosophy of Modern Song, by Bob Dylan
4. I'm Glad My Mom Died, by Jennette McCurdy
5. Cinema Speculation, by Quentin Tarantino
6. Dinners with Ruth, by Nina Totenberg
7. Go-To Dinners, by Ina Garten
8. Happy-Go-Lucky, by David Sedaris
9. Dilla Time, by Dan Charnas
10. The Grandest Stage, by Tyler Kepner

My guess is that had we not had a few signed copies of Bono's Surrender: Forty Songs, One Story (we don't have anymore), it might not have outsold Bob Dylan's The Philosophy of Modern Song. Chris Klimek's review in The Washington Post is awfully positive for a "mixed" Book Marks rating: "Nor will they expect, or find, much Hammer of the Gods-style debauchery in the remembrances of a guy who’s been in a band with the same three dudes for 45 years and married to his high school sweetheart for 40; both relationships he reflects upon with candor and humility. Like the memoirs of his pals Elvis Costello and Bruce Springsteen, Surrender is more introspective than salacious or score-settling, and proof that the tunesmith who wrote it also speaks fluent prose."

Paperback Fiction:
1. It Starts with Us, by Colleen Hoover
2. The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, by  Shehan Karunatilaka
3. The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
4. Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir
5. The Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas
6. A Line to Kill, by Anthony Horowitz
7. Kiss Her Once for Me, by Alison Cochrun
8. Bewilderment, by Richard Powers
9. Once Upon a December, by Amy E. Reichert (Register for November 30 event here)
10. Still Life, by Sarah Winman (December In-Store Lit Group selection)

Congrats to Jen, whose staff rec for The Shadow of the Wind, outsold all non-Colleen-Hoover, non-Booker-Prize-winning titles last week. She's already beaten calendar year sales of 2021. I vow to read it before the end of the year (Stephen King's been calling it "one gorgeous read" for 18 years), but alas, that will not add to our tally, as I am still sitting on a hardcover from 2004. Interesting detail - unlike the bulk of all Penguin Random House fiction, the hardcover is still available. Should we bring in a copy for the holidays? I await your comments.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Milwaukee Scavenger, by Jenna Kashou
2. Owning Grief, by Gael Garbarino Cullen (Register for November 11 in person event here)
3. Brewtown Tales, by John Gurda (Register for December 6 offsite event at
4. Heart Speak, by Sherrill Knezel (more copies should arrive this week)
5. Fuzz, by Mary Roach
6. Ejaculate Responsibly, by Gabrielle Blair
7. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
8. All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, by Rebecca Donner
9. The Story of Jane, by Laura Kaplan
10. The Need to Be Whole, by Wendell Berry

Several issue-driven books pop up on this week's top 10. The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Abortion Service, was originally published by Pantheon in 1996, and was just rereleased. From the publisher: "Organized in 1969 and active until the opening of the first legal abortion clinics in 1973, Jane initially counseled women and referred them to underground abortionists, as other groups at the time had sprung up to do. But as Jane continued screening abortionists over the years, the group realized that as long as the women who turned to them were dependent on these practitioners, they would remain virtually helpless. The members of Jane determined to take matters into their own hands, and learned to perform the abortions themselves."

Books for Kids:
1. I Love You as Big as Wisconsin, by Rose Possner, illustrated by Joanne Partiss
2. She Persisted: Sally Ride, by Atia Abawi
3. Our World of Dumplings, by Francie Dekker, illustrated by Sarah Jung
4. The Vermilion Emporium, by Jamie Pacton 
5. Blue Bird, Blue Road, by Sofiya Pasternack (Register for November 8 virtual event here)
6. Diper Overlode V17: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney
7. The Secret World of Plants, by Ben Hoare
8. The Others V16: Bad Guys, by Aaron Blabey
9. The Crayons' Christmas, by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
10. The First to Die at the End, by Adam Silvera

Fourth quarter sees the rise of those oversized kids reference books. The Secret World of Plants: Tales of More Than 100 Remarkable Flowers, Trees, and Seeds isn't quite big enough to fall into the category, but it's still that picture-heavy reference book that is so much fun to sell. Hoare is also author of the bestselling Anthology of Intriguing Animals.