Sunday, January 8, 2017

Boswell's Tim McCarthy on Emily Fridlund's "History of Wolves," the #1 Indie Next Pick for January 2017

From Boswell's Tim McCarthy:

"Fourteen-year-old Madeline, who is called Linda, or Commie, or Freak at school, has grown up in Loose River, Minnesota, the Walleye Capitol of the World, a place where the summer tourists crowd a very small one street town. Her parents and several other families arrived in the early 1980's as a group, in a failed attempt to create a communal family. Long ago the others have given up, leaving Linda, her mother and father living in a tiny cabin, where Linda sleeps under the loft rafters. Only the new teacher tries to call her Mattie; and without hesitation she introduces herself as Linda to the new Gardner family, who have built a beautiful house across the lake.

"Linda's layers of isolation become clear, from kids at school, from her own parents, and even within a comforting and beloved land saturated with forests and lakes. It's her new, and increasingly troubling, strange interactions with the teacher and the Gardners which confuse and transform her. The new family--Patra, her four-year-old son Paul, and her husband Leo--are the center of Linda's story. Fridlund has given her main character a strong, steady voice as she moves through her teenage life one step at a time. Linda has the recognizable thoughts of a teenager, with a direct honesty that made me feel proud of her. I wanted to hear what she had to say, even as her story began to make me afraid and sad.

"Fridlund has a remarkable ability to show how the smallest details and changes in people and places can cause sudden, unexpected emotional shifts; and she folds events from different points in Linda's life, ranging from a very young girl to a women in her thirties, into a narrative somehow made clearer by the time changes rather than confusing. History of Wolves was as compelling as the best books I've read this year. Fridlund's debut as a writer is exceptional."

Thanks, Tim! Emily Fridlund appears at Boswell on Friday, January 13, 7 pm, in conversation with proprietor Daniel Goldin. We've had several folks contacting us after reading History of Wolves saying it's the best novel they've read in a long time.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Boswell Staff Top 5 Picks for 2016 Part the Last


Here we are--days away from holiday season wrapping up. Below is the last of our staff's Top 5 selections for 2016. The theme this week is children's books, as the selections are almost all for the younger audience. Perhaps you have a last minute item to add to a niece or nephew's reading list for 2017--perhaps, it is one of the books below...
 Barbara’s Top 5 Picks for 2016:
The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
“When Roz, a robot, washes up on a remote island, she has to survive. Roz must seek help from those animals who fear her. The short chapters chronicle Roz’s many adventures where she often is in a perilous situation. Using her logic, and most of all, kindness, Roz is a heroic character. Many stylized black and white illustrations enhance the story, which would be great to read out loud. When the Wild Robot ends with a cliff-hanging, readers will clamor for a sequel NOW!!”  $16.99
The Plot to Kill Hitler by Patricia McCormick
“This remarkable book tells the true story of a German minister, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was part of the conspiracy to kill Adolph Hitler. In short engrossing chapters, Dietrich grows from a dreamy and sometimes fearful child to an amazing man who risked his life to secretly alert other countries about Hitler’s evil deeds and to ask for help against him. Photographs and short sidebars in each chapter effectively highlight historical facts. This well researched book paints a stunning portrait of a courageous man.”  $18.99 $15.19 in the shop
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
“Ghost is an emotional book about a 13 year old boy nicknamed “Ghost,” who becomes a good runner while running away from his gun-toting dad. Filled with anger and rage, Ghost gets into many altercations at school. When Coach offers him a chance to run on a special track team, can Ghost stay out of trouble? Well drawn characters and suspenseful situations combine with a very readable text and dashes of humor. Ghost will leave an impact on readers long after the last page.”  $16.99 $13.59 in the shop
Rounding out Barbara’s Top 5: Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley ($16.99) and When Mischief Came to Town by Katrina Nannestad ($16.99)
Todd’s Top 5 Picks for 2016:
Ogres Awake! By James Sturm
“A Wizard of Id for today's younger set, Ogres Awake! contrasts the violent strategy of a knight with the much more peaceful, forward-thinking plans of the king and his staff. It's not that the knight isn't heroic; it's that there are ways to address a scary threat that do not involve pouring boiling oil on said threat. It's one part graphic novel, one part picture book, and kids will love the gallantry of the knight and the king's revealed solution for the pending ogre problem." $14.99
The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey
“As I shed tears through the end of this book, I was thinking how necessary stories like 12-year-old Shane Woods's are for all ages to know. Baseball star Shane Woods has a new sorta-girlfriend, a great best friend, and is finally getting along with his dad -- and then his entire school finds out he's transgender. While he's always really been a boy, Shane's biology has needed some help with hormone injections and other therapies to match who he really is. Unfortunately, the truth is complex and kids can be cruel. With bullying rising around him, Shane worries he's lost his friends and his favorite pastime, all for being his true self. What a heartfelt story!” $16.99 $13.59 in the shop

“Winick improves upon his charming formula from Hilo book one by allowing DJ and Hilo to question the basis of their friendship in this adventurous new installment. Planting hints about what may happen in the harrowing last pages, visuals entice throughout -- the reader is left to wonder how DJ, Hilo, and friends will survive this time around. The conclusion sets up for a third installment -- but nothing feels forced. Learning about the compounding effects of more and more people becoming aware of and affected by Hilo's existence is natural and future reads are welcome." $13.99 
Rounding out Todd’s Top 5: The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley ($25.00 $20.00 in the shop) and I Used to Be a Fish by Tom Sullivan ($17.99).
Olivia V’s Top 5 Picks for 2016:

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke

“If ever there was a more appropriate time to exclaim ‘Cool beans!’ it would be when discussing the awesomeness of Ben Hatke's latest graphic novel twist on Jack and the Beanstalk, Mighty Jack. Hatke is a master storyteller, having a magical talent to take life's everyday adventures and imbue them with the mysterious, the amazing, and the fantastical. Hatke artfully manages to take a classic story of a boy and beanstalk and have it resonate more as a modern tale. "$14.99 $11.99 in the shop

The Answer by Rebecca Sugar

“A lovely picture book detailing the relationship between Ruby and Sapphire from the children’s TV show, Steven Universe. A sweet reminder that the answer to some of life’s new and difficult questions is a little flexibility, trust and love.”  $9.99
 
Rounding out Olivia V’s Top 5: Saga Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughn ($14.99), She Changed Comics by Betsy Gomez ($14.99) and Art of the Pie by Kate McDermott ($35.00 $28.00 in the shop).

That's it--have a safe and happy holiday!



Thursday, December 15, 2016

Boswell Staff Top 5 picks for 2016 part 4


Here I present to you a bit of potluck of booksellers with brilliant choices for their Top 5 of 2016. We run the gambit this week from fiction, genre fiction and graphic novels to mathematics, theater and economics. This is great representation of the depth and variety of topics and books that our staff has interests in. There is something for everyone here.
Jen’s Top 5 picks of 2016:
Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman
"Britt-Marie has just left her husband after discovering his affair, thus setting in motion an array of new experiences. Some of these are wonderful and some are vexatious for Britt-Marie. Britt-Marie is very organized and perhaps worries a bit too much about what other people may think. She has firm convictions about how a cutlery drawer ought to be organized, believes anything can be cleaned with baking soda and thinks swearing is for barbarians. She feels anyone who is civilized would agree with her. She happens, via a small mi-communication, to take a job in the community center in the small village of Borg. With her balcony boxes in tow, Britt-Marie heads to Borg to start her new life and settle in among the colorful denizens of the village. How will she ever feel at home among Borg's motley inhabitants? All Britt-Marie wants is for "someone to know I'm here". Faxin window cleaner may help Britt-Marie see the world better, but will anyone be able to truly "see" her? Britt-Marie Was Here is a wonderful novel full of heart and humor. Read Britt-Marie Was Here and see for yourself if you don't just love Britt-Marie for who she really is.” $26.00 $20.80 in the shop.
The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield
“Living in Quinn, Montana might be tough, but the women who do are tougher! After a nine-year absence, Rachel Flood has returned to make amends with her mother, Laverna, and rediscover her home town. Now sober for over a year, Rachel knows it will take a lot of hard work to set things right. Laverna Flood owns the Dirty Shame bar and coaches the local softball team, both of which involve a fair share of brawls and booze. Laverna and her best friend, Red Mabel, never expected to see Rachel again. With her homecoming, they're faced with a painful reminder of the past. Rachel moves into her father's trailer home and finds a friend in her 12-year-old neighbor, Jake. With his help, Rachel and the Flood girls may just be able to work through their history and learn to be a team. The Flood Girls is absolutely heartwarming and the colorful cast will make you laugh and cry.” $16.00
"The Regional Office is under attack and it's up to Sarah and her mechanical arm to take down these unknown invaders in this Buffy meets Die Hard novel. While Sarah is trying to prevent the demise of the Regional Office, Rose, trained to be an assassin by a Regional Office defector, is trying to prove she is worthy of leading the assault. The Regional Office is Under Attack! is a fast paced and intense wild ride, full of supernatural surprises and very human emotions. Unputdownable!" $28.00
Rounding out Jen’s Top 5: The Hike by Drew Magary ($26.00 $20.80 in the shop) and Tetris by Box Brown ($19.99). 

Anne’s Top 5 picks of 2016:
John Aubrey, My Own Life by Ruth Scurr (PW Top Nonfiction 2016)
“I have been fascinated with this historical figure since seeing Roy Dotrice play him in BRIEF LIVES years ago.He's a smart, funny, gossipy man who had access to some of the most influential people of his time (late 1600's). This is a great gift for history lovers!” $35.00 $28.00 in the shop.
“I thought I knew a fair amount about how plays are produced, but this taught me many new (to me) things and increased my appreciation of the dedicated work of APT and many other theater companies as well.” $19.95
Father’s Day by Simon Van Booy
“A gritty mystery which has a young man discovering family he never knew existed, when an unknown half-brother turns up dead on his doorstep.” $24.99
Rounding out Anne’s Top 5: The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie ($16.00) and Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume ($23.00 $18.40 in the shop).
 
Peter’s Top 5 books of 2016:
Jerusalem by Alan Moore (Washington Post Notable Fiction 2016)
“Alan Moore's Jerusalem is as ambitious as it is (actually) heavy. Written in a collection of literary styles, the story seems to keep a pace within itself in way that feels as if it is breathing. Griping, hilarious and chilling, Jerusalem is a feat of imagination that, even though took ten years of work, seems effortless from the writer of other instant classics such as: Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell, Batman The Killing Joke, League of Extraordinary Gentleman and many others.” $35.00 $28.00 in the shop
“While working on Batman: The Animated Series, Paul Dini was mugged and left beaten and scarred physically and psychologically. Tormented by the Dark Knight’s rogue gallery (representing the archetypes of his perceived inadequacies) but Paul knows Batman, and BATMAN SAVES LIVES!” $22.99
Rounding out Peter’s Top 5 is a series of comic books that are all in his wheel house. If you ever would like to talk the history of comics, Marvel & DC, or the current great indie comics, then you might find time in your day to come in a speak to Peter, he is a walking, talking fount of knowledge.
Pretty Deadly Volume 2: Bear by Kelly Sue De Connick ($14.99)
Secret Wars by Jonathan Hickman ($34.99 $27.99 in the shop)
Weirdworld Volume 1:Where Lost things Go by Sam Humphries ($17.99)
Scott’s Top 5 picks of 2016:
First Comes Love by Emily Giffin
“A true to life story of how the death of a sibling comes to define the life choices of two sisters; Josie and Meredith see themselves, and their subsequent relationships after the death of their brother, through the lens of ‘Forgotten Mourners.’” $28.00 $22.40 in the shop
The Bitch is Back edited by Cathi Hanauer
“After fourteen years…nine of the original ladies are here, letting us know what happened next. There are sixteen new voices. These women command respect, if only because their truth is lacking any attempt to disguise unpleasant realities.” $26.99
Rounding out Scott’s Top 5: A Field Guide to Lies by Daniel J. Levitin ($28.00), The Price of Inequality by Joseph E. Stiglitz ($17.95) and The Well-Tempered City by Jonathan F. Rose ($29.99 $23.99 in the shop).
 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Boswell Staff Top 5 for 2016 Part 3

We are now two weeks until Christmas Day--are you stuck on your Christmas List? Perhaps one of newer booksellers might be able to help you cross of a name or two on your list this year...here are the top 5's or four of more recent hires in 2016:


Olivia S.'s Top 5 Books for 2016:


Volumes 1 & 2 of Welcome to Night Vale Episodes: MostlyVoid, Partially Stars and The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
“In volume 1 of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast episodes, community radio host Cecil Palmer will tell of hooded figures in a forbidden dog park, the might Glow Cloud (ALL HAIL), a scientist who comes to town (with his perfect hair), and more in this fantastically strange series. This book is a great place for newcomers to start and has loads of great bonus content for longtime fans. Enjoy your stay in year one of the Welcome to Night Vale episodes!” (Volume 2)—“Your favorite creepy desert community is back in volume 2 of the WTNC podcast episodes. One year later…A corporation moves into town, threatening all that Night Vale citizens hold dear. A militia of well-read children rises to the challenge. A literal S-headed dragon and the The Faceless Old Woman who secretly lives in your home campaign for the town’s mayoral seat. A faithful community radio host tells all.” Both books are $16.99.
“This fantastic book captures the power of stories and the impact they have on the lives of ordinary people like a twenty-something comic illustrator, a big-time comics writer, a single mother (ex-star of a popular sci-fi TV show) and her nine-year-old son, who writes stories of his own. As this cast of characters hops across the country from convention to convention, their lives change, intertwine, and unfold before them. Proehl writes the perfect book for anyone who appreciates the value of story—readers, writers, artists, fans and all. An interesting view of the fandom world, the comic con experience, and the relationship between fans andcreators, this book is smart, funny, and very human.” $26.00
The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett 


"Tiffany Aching has a frying pan and is not afraid to use it. This young aspiring witch stares down nightmares and knocks out the monsters leaking onto her family's farm through a doorway to fairyland. When her little brother is taken by the fairy queen, she must use her first sight, second thoughts, and some help from the wee free men- an army of blue-tattooed, red-haired, sword-wielding 6-inch-tall pictsies- to get him back. If you like smart heroines and hilarious writing, you will love the Wee Free Men." $9.99
Rounding out Olivia's Top 5 are: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: The Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling ($39.99 #31.99 in the shop)  and Lab Girl by Jahren Hope ($26.95--NYT 100 Notable Book of 2016).
Kelli's Top 5 Books for 2016:
The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst
“Elemental spirits and humans clash for survival in Sarah Beth Durst's novel Queen of Blood. In this epic tale, Daleina is a young girl with some ability to command the destructive spirits that populate her world, but she is by no means the strongest. Plagued by doubt and a lack of confidence, Dalenia must confront her shortcomings and save the realm from a devastating betrayal. Chock-full of strong independent female characters, this novel had me hooked! Finally, a great fantasy with dynamic and realistic female protagonists.” $19.99
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
“Three sisters, three dark powers, only one can be queen. Each girl has her own secrets that can be used against her. This novel rocked my world. Excellently told with twisting plots, devious schemes, and heartbreaking love. Blake's novel is one of the best YA novels I've read in a long time. Her characters are dynamic and strong. Her world is wild and vibrant. Give this novel a chance, you won't regret it!” $17.99
The Fireman by Joe Hill
“What would you do if a deadly spore that caused people to burst into flames when feeling a strong emotion really happened? What would you do when society collapses and tries to kill every infected person? How far would you go to save yourself and those you love? Read This Book!” $28.99 $23.19 in the shop.
Rounding out Kelli's Top 5 are: In Real Life by  Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang ($17.99) and If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo ($17.99).
Tim's Top 5 Books for 2016:
The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse by Brian Farrey (Signed Copies Available, while they last)
“...A terrifying secret at the center of the entire kingdom. Two girls must find answers--one feeling alone and "broken" by strong emotions, another unexpectedly becoming the Queen! This is a wise, suspenseful story about what it really means to be human, and truly alive.” $16.95 $13.56 in the shop.
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson (Signed Copies Available, while they last)
“Woodson’s words roll so easily, so beautifully!—language so direct and immediate, as if she’s sitting with you telling the story. August, her brother and father must leave Tennessee for a new world, without mama.” $22.99--NYT 100 Notable Book of 2016 and Washington Post Notable.



American Revolution by Alan Taylor

A thrilling, well documented continental history of the nation’s formative years! Shifting alliances, families divided—Patriots vs Loyalists. Sometimes shocking, always engaging. Taylor is brilliant!” $37.50 $30.00 in the shop.

Rounding out Tim's Top 5 are: There is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith ($18.99) and As Good as Gone by Larry Watson ($26.95).

Teasha's Top 5 for 2016:

In theCompany of Women by Grace Bonney
“A stunning book that features 100 intelligent, creative, innovative women leaders that will leave the reader inspired and motivated to change the world in their own way. Simply wonderful! I want to buy this book for every woman and little girl I know.” $35.00 $28.00 in the shop.
Shrill by Lindy West
"Lindy West, columnist for the Guardian, comedienne, and feminist tackles social issues like no other in her first book and memoir, Shrill: Notes from A Loud Woman. West's unapologetic approach to misogyny, sexism, fatphobia, rape culture, and other forms of marginalization and bullying against women is eloquent and striking. With every new chapter and new topic I felt myself deeply relating to the cultural, systemic oppression that maintains the current status quo. West's attack of social norms, is passionate and required feminist reading." $26.00 $20.80 in the shop. 

Marrow: A Love Story by Elizabeth Lesser
“What is Elizabeth Lesser to do when she discovers that her younger sister is re-diagnosed with Lymphoma? Be angry? Cry? Curse the world? No- she and her sister begin a journey to the marrow of their souls. The marrow that keeps us alive, that is the source of our strength and existence. But what about the marrow of our soul? The essence of our authenticity and truth? Upon discovering she is the perfect match, Elizabeth and her sister begin a journey of love, reconnection, and forgiveness of past trasgressions. Originally thinking that Marrow would be a predictable story of family and loss, I soon learned it is much more about how we choose to live. The journey that Lesser takes the reader on is tender and reflective as well as incredibly heartbreaking. Lesser's authenticity brightly shines in her third publication.” $25.99
Rounding out Teasha's Top 5 are:  Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty ($17.95) and We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ($7.95).






Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Boswell Staff Top 5 for 2016 Part 2

We are now a few more days closer to the end of the year, so I will commence with more top 5 selections from our staff.


Today's theme: Booksellers that start with the letter C:


Caroline's Top 5 Books of 2016:

LaRose by Louise Erdich (Washington Post Notable Fiction 2016 & NYT Notable Books 2016)

"LaRose is a portrait of the oldest and most intuitive form of justice - that of the human heart. Tracing generations of a family and the wounds that mark them, Louise Erdrich delivers characters entangled in a web of their own making. When one grave tragedy threatens to unravel everything they know, the families turn to ancient tradition to guide them through their pain. In the name LaRose lies the promise of healing, and it becomes clear that hurt does not belong to one person alone. With sensitivity and lyric wisdom, Erdrich explores the contours of love and loss in lines that dance off the page. She leaves you with a better understanding of community, and a wash of relief after weathering a storm with people you've come to hold most dear." $27.99 $22.39 in the shop.

Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett

"Technically set in a rural, coastal village in Ireland, it's perhaps more accurate to place this debut in the self-contained space of a mind. We're delivered to the quiet and delicate dreamscape of a young woman's interior, where we encounter musings on nature, career, sexuality, and the everyday that pay special tribute to the minutiae of it all. Bennett has created a new language for our most deeply-experienced solitude, and in so doing captured what lives buried just beneath the surface of our own consciousness. Painted in 20 short vignettes, this work moves both forward and backward in time, exploring one woman's interactions with herself and her surroundings in a way that's never been done before." $26.00 $20.80 in the shop.



SwingTime by Zadie Smith (Washington Post Top 10 2016 & NYT Notable Book 2016)
"Here she is again, in all her glory. Zadie Smith turns our attention in Swing Time to two girls growing up in a poor neighborhood in London, keepers of each other as much as they are their own selves. Inseparable in childhood, a shared dream to become dancers sets a foundation for their respective journeys, Tracey to live out exactly that, and our unnamed narrator to study its different threads – rhythm, song, blackness, and the meaning behind it all. As adult realities weigh in, the two spin apart. Our narrator is increasingly swept up in her new life as assistant to a famous music star, and moments with Tracey come less and less. But rather than fading from focus, she haunts our periphery until she's re-affirmed her place in our world. This book captures the magic that so often exists within female friendships without romanticizing it, and so just as we see their relationship for the well of strength that it is, we're also made to understand its capacity for violence. With the hard-hitting insights we've come to expect, Zadie Smith explores the making of a self, and reminds us that roots will never disappear." $27.00 $21.60 in the shop.
Rounding out her Top 5 of 2016 are In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri ($26.95) and The Story of My Teeth by Caleria Luiselli ($16.95).
Chris's Top 5 Books of 2016:
Allegheny Front by Matthew Neill Null
"History marks its territory. The past scars the land, erodes rocky soil and streams. It lives in the shape of boulders and peaks. In Null's stories, people shudder against the seismic pressure of time that shapes their lives in the ancient Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia. This collection is hard, deep, and true as the mountains' darkest hollows, as Null sweeps through moments in the last century, making each feel as urgent as your foot caught in the rocks and your body pulled under swirling white water rapids." $15.95

"In this haunting debut Dana Cann has created a hybrid genre, the supernatural suburban suspense, a dope fiend domestic drama. In the wake of two seemingly unrelated deaths, the lives of three survivors are unhinged, a woman drifting into addiction and a couple’s marriage dissolving. In deftly plotted chapters these lives intertwine as the characters’ grief and guilt manifest as ghosts both metaphoric and real. The emotions are big and complicated, drawn so expertly the discomfort of their experience is felt before it’s understood, a feat not easily accomplished. The novel drives to its conclusion like a traditional mystery, but the question of ‘whodunit’ is an afterthought to Cann asking how we repair our lives after bearing witness to death." $15.95
Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer (Washington Post & NYT Notable Book 2016)
“In the space of four weeks a marriage crumbles, leaving each member of the Bloch family adrift, grasping for one another from their own separate worlds. Layered into this family's story is a natural disaster and Israeli conflict, and the personal and political are interwoven to raise questions of self-definition, heritage, and nationalism. While the book doesn't shy away from the political, Foer's exploration of these ideas serves a larger purpose. The book investigates our ability to be fully present in our lives and to recognize the moments that mark the beginning of an inevitable end - of a childhood, a marriage, a life, and a nation. A searching novel of how we live when our lives as we know them cease to be, Foer has turned in a masterful performance, one of great depth of feeling for those who want to feel it all, that should cement his reputation as one of America's finest writers.” $28.00 $22.40 in the shop.
Rounding out his Top 5 of 2016 are The Cook Up by D. Watkins ($26.00) and Megg and Mogg in Amsterdam and Other Stories by Simon Hanselmann ($19.99).
Conrad's Top 5 Books of 2016:
God is Round by Juan Villoro
"Javier Marias mused that the typical soccer fan partakes in sport as a weekly return to childhood: full of wonderment, and enthralled by heroes engaged in contests with no gray areas, only clear winners and losers. Juan Villoro replies: "In his or her lesser moments, the football fan is an ogling imbecile, mouth full of pie, head full of useless information." This is a sports book that appeals to the cynical temperament of the most jaded fan (so I loved it, of course). God is Round explores with a jaundiced and unblinking eye the players, fans and history of the world's most popular obsession. Villoro revels in the telling details, for example the notoriously histrionic and melodramatic Argentine great Diego Maradona (author of what is considered by many to be the greatest goal ever scored - 'the goal of the century' - and also the most infamous cheat ever perpetrated - 'the hand of God' - both in the same game): "On the island of the pitch, Maradona showed exemplary humility; away from it, he exploded like a dramatic supernova." Sports writing doesn't get any better than this." $16.99
The Nix by Nathan Hill  (Washington Post & NYT Notable Book 2016)
“The nix (or nisse) are Norwegian house spirits that usually live in your basement. For the most part they ignore you and you ignore them, but if you do something to tick them off: say spill water on their feet or betray their trust in some seemingly insignificant way, they will haunt you and your descendants for generations. Minor actions lead to major repercussions. Small decisions made on the spur of the moment double back to torment us years later, and become the overwhelming forces that shape the quality of our life. Such is the spirit, and the choices, that come to haunt three generations of Andressons: Faye, her son Samuel (who she abandoned when he was eleven) and her father Frank, who made a poor choice as a young man in Norway in 1940, and has been paying the price ever since. This family, as unlikable as they are, as pathetically inept at life as they are, will keep you entranced as the 600+ pages fly by, and you resist the temptation to skip ahead. You will devour this book.” $27.95 $22.36 in the shop.

Rounding out his Top 5 of 2016 are The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gitwitz ($17.99), Moonglow by Michael Chabon ($28.99 $23.19 in the shop) and Thus Bad Begins by Javier Marias ($27.95 $22.36 in the shop).











Thursday, December 1, 2016

Boswell Staff Top 5 picks for 2016

Best of lists, 100 notable lists and other lists pop up everywhere this time of year. I imagine we all think back to the books, movies and music that influenced our lives in the past year. Every year at this time, I ask our booksellers for their favorite five books of 2016 (I do let them choose one book published before 2016, if they want).  Below are the results of much painful pondering that three of our booksellers went through.

Jane's 2016 Top 5 selections:

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (Washington Post Notable Fiction 2016)

"Russian aristocrat, under Bolshevik rule, is sentenced to live out his life under house arrest--moving from a luxury suite in Hotel Metropole to a confining attic room. Encounters through hotel hallways becomes a modern day pilgrims progress."
$27.00 $21.60 in the store.

Miss Jane by Brad Watson (Washington Post Notable Fiction 2016)

"This is a compassionately portrayed story of a young woman born with a rare genital disorder that renders her incapable of fulfilling the early 20th century feminine roles of marriage and motherhood. Though her parents are unable to fully cope with their daughter's condition, it is the steadfastly kind support of the doctor who delivered her that results in giving Jane the strength and freedom she needs to accept her limitations and choose the life she is meant to live. Inspired by the true story of the author's maternal great aunt, Miss Jane is an unforgettable literary heroine whose vivid sense of wonder, undaunted trust and generous love is the essence of this brilliantly written novel."
$25.95 $20.76 in the store.

The Mistletoe Murder by P.D. James

"Four previously uncollected stories, published posthumously, two of which include the infamous Adam Dalgliesch. Clever plotting, witty narration, this is a perfect stocking stuffer!"
$24.00 $19.20 in the store.

Upstream by Mary Oliver

"Blurring lines between poetry and prose, readers will go on a literary journey celebrating both beauty of nature and the written word. A transcending retreat from the hurried life! Treat Yourself."

$26.00 $20.80 in the store.


Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky

"It's a scientific fact: Women rock
A charmingly illustrated and educational book, New York Times best seller Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world."
$16.99

Daniel's 2016 Top 5 (make that 6) selections:


And Again by Jessica Chiarella

"So it’s the near future, or maybe it’s even now, and a blind study is going on that’s testing our ability to be literally born again. Four subjects are on death’s door, but with this experimental process, their bodies are cloned and aged to their present age, and then the part of their brain with memories are implanted in the new host. Of course these new shells are missing details that are due to natural use, such as tattoos, muscle strength, or even freckles. But the real fun begins when each has to wrestle with the complications of starting life over; the truth is that a fresh start doesn’t undo their messy lives and bad habits are often hard to break. I found And Again surprisingly engaging and thought provoking for a book that first seemed outside my comfort zone."
$15.99

Drifter by Nicholas Petrie

"When Peter Ash finds out that his former Marine buddy committed suicide, he shows up at his widow’s house to help with some home repairs. Under the crawl space, he finds a mangy dog and a mysterious suitcase filled with cash. Needless to say, the contents are much desired by another party, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Nicholas Petrie has written a compelling thriller that knows all the right moves, from the loner character to the family in peril to the multiple plot turns, but infuses a fresh twist with Ash, a vet with PTSD manifested in acute claustrophobia. There’s a bit of an Elmore Leonard vibe going on here, only with everyone playing at more contemporary, higher stakes. And as a bonus for locals, the Milwaukee setting is distinct, but not so over-detailed to get in the way of the nail-biting plot."
$16.00

Evicted by Matthew Desmond (Washington Post Top 10 & New York Times Top 10 books of the year)


"There are so many studies out there about living conditions among the poor, but most apparently focus on public housing and not the private market. Seeing a gap in research, Sociologist Desmond immersed himself in their world, living in a trailer park on the far South Side of Milwaukee and a rooming house on the North Side. He covers the plight of eight families, whose lives are in various states of disrepair, much of which is caused by their inability to get stable housing. Their stories are shocking, and so are the stats; it’s hard to believe what a high percentage of their funds go to housing, and how few people below the poverty line get any subsidy. It’s eye-opening how quickly tenants are evicted, and how much of that comes from government regulation and law enforcement, as opposed to the landlords themselves (though plenty comes from the landlords too), His research alone is a triumph but he also does a tremendous job telling the stories of Arleen, Larraine, Crystal, Scott, and the other folks struggling to survive in Milwaukee. Let’s hope that this book actually helps change policy."
$28.00 $22.40 in the store.

The Excellent Lombards by Jane Hamilton (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Holiday Pick)


"Mary Frances Lombard, alternately Frankie, Francie, Marlene, The Imp, and MF, has spent all her life in the family apple orchards. Her dad Jim owns the farm with his cousin Sherwood and Aunt May Hill, and while Jim’s wife Nellie is a librarian in town, he’s quite dependent on Gloria, whom Mary Frances calls his second wife. I don’t want to set you up for some high drama here – sure the cousins are not always happy with each other and the farm is under development pressure. But Hamilton’s latest is really about a girl confronting change - that her brother will one day need space, that the beloved Gloria who manages the orchard might one day leave, or any number of other things that could upset the delicate balance of her idyllic childhood. Why she might even want a little change herself! The Excellent Lombards is a wonderful coming-of-age story, filled with acute observations, warm memories, and keen wit, reminding me most of Hamilton’s own The Short History of a Prince. So glad it’s finally out - it's been seven years since her last novel!"
$26.00 $20.80 in the store.


The Mothers by Brit Bennett (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Holiday Pick) EVENT ON FEBRUARY 6, 2017!!
"The suicide of Nadia Turner’s mom has left Nadia distraught, to say the least. Her acting out leads to a fling with Luke, the minister’s son, and that leads to Nadia being pregnant. That alone is enough to stir up the Upper Room Church, but when she decides to terminate the pregnancy, that is either much better or way worse, depending on whether you’re talking publicly or privately. Somehow Nadia gets a job at the church office, working for Luke’s mom. And when the quiet and quirkily observant Aubrey shows up, they wind up being friends, well before they know each other well, and certainly long before their relationship gets even more complicated. Bennett’s characters ponder their identities, in terms of race, gender, belief system, all with a distinctive and vibrant San Diego setting and a Greek chorus of church ladies having their say. The Mothers is a passionate and nuanced novel about love, friendship, choices, and of course, mothering." (NBCC John Leonard Prize Finalist for 2016)
$26.00 $20.80 in the store

Summerlost by Ally Condie


"A town with a summer Shakespeare festival is the setting for Condie’s first middle-grade novel, told through the eyes of a girl who has recently lost her father and eldest brother, a kid with special needs, in a car accident. Mom buys a summer home hoping to mend the family. Cedar and her brother Miles sneak off to watch a soap opera with a buried alive heroine. Leo, a neighbor kid, bicycles by in costume and intrigues Cedar, who gets a job handing out programs at the festival, and falls in with Leo when he comes up with a plan to give unauthorized tours that highlight the life of a now-deceased star of the festival. A gentle dew of mourning permeates the story, which also meditates on what it’s like to be different. There’s a little bit of mystery here, but the family drama and budding friendship take center stage. I also got the feeling that there were autobiographical elements to the story, and while the time period of the story isn’t revealed, it feels like the 1990s. But who cares about what part of the story is real and where it was set? This lovely tale feels completely true to me."
$17.99

Sharon's 2016 Top 5 selections:

Dog Medicine by Julie Barton

"Clinical Depression is one of those diseases that is almost impossible to understand unless you have experienced it. Usually when a depressed person attempts to explain just how they are feeling, a healthy person responds by saying things like ‘It can’t possibly be that bad,’ and ‘Have you tried Yoga?’ The truth is that clinical depression is so unbelievably awful, that you really can’t imagine it unless you have gone through it. Julie Barton’s book Dog Medicine manages to do the impossible. She tells her story with great detail and candor, in a way that allows for a reader who is unfamiliar with this illness to attempt to comprehend it. After she experienced a breakdown in her apartment, she came home to live with her parents, and adopted a dog that changed her life, by allowing her to change his."
$17.00

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a retelling of Pride and Prejudice must be cleverly written and wickedly funny. Curtis Sittenfeld has accomplished that with her fantastic new novel. The Bennet sisters have been transported to modern day Cincinnati. Jane is a yoga instructor, Liz, a writer for a women’s magazine, Lydia and Kitty do nothing but work out, and Mary spends most of her time in her room. The two older sisters live in New York, but have come home to check on Mr. Bennet, who is recovering from a heart attack. The storyline is one that will be familiar to most Austen readers, but with some extremely funny twists. I thoroughly enjoyed Eligible from start to finish. Even for a confirmed Austen fan like myself, there were some pleasant surprises."
$28.00 $22.40 in the store.

The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown

"Eleanor Brown’s latest novel is nothing like The Weird Sisters, but it is every bit as wonderful. Madelaine lives an unhappy life in 1999 Chicago, and her grandmother Margie lives out her dreams in 1920’s Paris. The story moves back and forth between the two characters who are connected by their temperaments and hopes for their lives, as well as by blood. Madelaine is married to Phillip, a rich and controlling man who tells her how to dress, what to eat, and how to behave. Margie is a spinster who is sent to Paris to chaperone a younger cousin with better prospects. When the cousin runs off with a man, Margie decides to stay in Paris and pursue her wish of becoming a writer. Madelaine gets to know her grandmother through her journals, and is inspired to change her own narrow existence for the life that she wants."
$26.00

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub (Washington Post Notable Fiction 2016)

"Elizabeth and Zoe are best friends. They met in college and were in a band called Kitty’s Mustache, along with Andrew, who is now Elizabeth’s husband. Elizabeth and Andrew have a teenaged son named Harry, and Zoe and her wife, Jane, have a daughter, Ruby, who is a year older than Harry. The original group are all approaching fifty, and discovering that their children are now the cool kids that they once were, having adventures and sex, unbeknownst to their parents. Elizabeth is approached by a Hollywood agent who is making a film about Lydia, the most famous member of Kitty’s Mustache, who went on to a solo career and then died of a heroin overdose. Elizabeth wrote the song that made Lydia’s career. While she is grappling with her feelings about the movie, Andrew is undergoing a midlife crisis, and Zoe and Jane are contemplating divorce. Straub’s characters are spot on, and she perfectly captures both fumbling teenage romance as well as long term friendship and marriage."
$26.00 $20.80 in the store.




Tales of Accidental Genius by Simon Van Booy
This is a new collection of stories by one of my favorite authors. The tales cover such varied subjects as a teenaged boy working in a pet shop, an amateur magician from New Jersey, and a street vendor from Beijing. They all share a common thread that is the lovely and spare prose that Van Booy is a master of.
$14.99

That's it for this week, next week I will post two sets of Bookseller's Top 5 Books from 2016!