Sunday, June 30, 2019

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending June 29, 2019

Here's what is selling at Boswell for the week ending June 29, 2019. If you normally get our distribution through Boswell and Books, this week, it's on both blogs. This is actually an error, but I'm making the most of it.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
2. Time's Convert, by Deborah Harkness
3. A Discovery of Witches V1, by Deborah Harkness
4. The World of All Souls, by Deborah Harkness
5. Shadow of Night V2, by Deborah Harkness
6. City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Big Sky V5, by Kate Atkinson
8. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong
9. Girl in the Rearview Mirror, by Kelsey Rae Dimberg
10. The Most Fun We Ever Had, by Claire Lombardo (event at Boswell Tue Aug 6, 7 pm)

It might have been a late add to our event schedule but Claire Lombardo's The Most Fun We Ever Had has already hit our top ten twice. The book got an excellent review in The Wall Street Journal from Joanne Kaufman, where she chornicles the "lies, secrets, betrayals, and quarrels" in Lombardo's "assured" first novel: "Just to be clear, these events aren't the fun referred to in the book's title, but they provide ample evidence that life is is messy and life is unfair."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. One Giant Leap, by Charles Fishman
2. Total Rethink, by David McCourt
3. Propeller, by Craig Hickman
4. Keep the Wretches in Order, by Dean A Strang
5. Helping the Good Do Better, by Thomas Sheridan
6. Spying on the South, by Tony Horwitz
7. Stay Sexy and Don't Get Murdered, by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Harstark
8. The Pioneers, by David McCullough
9. Doodle Love, by Anne Emerson (event at Boswell Thu July 11, 7 pm)
10. Salt Fat Acid Heat, by Samin Nosrat

I'd like to think that Charles Fishman's book, One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon, rocketed to the top of our bestseller list because of our moon window, but no, it's because he was in town to speak at a water conference. On Fresh Air, he talked about the people who wove the special NASA parachutes: "The parachutes were made of high-tech fabric, and yet they were sewn by hand, and then this sort of marvelous detail: There were only three people in the whole country certified to fold and pack Apollo parachutes. Those three people packed the parachutes for all the Apollo missions, and they had to be relicensed by the FAA every six months to be recertified that they knew what they were doing. And they were considered so valuable to NASA that they were forbidden to ride in the same car at the same time, out of fear that that car would be in a car accident and NASA would be without people to pack its Apollo parachutes."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Time's Convert, by Deborah Harkness
2. A Discovery of Witches V1, by Deborah Harkness
3. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
4. Milwaukee Noir, edited by Tim Hennessy
5. There There, by Tommy Orange
6. Vintage 1954, by Antoine Laurain
7. The Book of Live V3, by Deborah Harkness
8. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
9. We're All in This Together, by Amy Jones
10. Shadow of Night V2, by Deborah Harkness

We were honored to be one of four cities that hosted Deborah Harkness for her paperback tour of Time's Convert. Each city had a different talk, all of which were live-streamed on Facebook. You can watch the talk here, which opens with me rushing off stage! We have signed copies of the Time's Convert paperback and must of the hardcovers.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Big Thirst, by Charles Fishman
2. Level Up, by Rochelle Melander
3. Birds of Wisconsin Field Guide, by Stan Tekiela
4. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
5. Wildflowers of Wisconsin Field Guide, by Stan Tekiela
6. Trees of Wisconsin Field Guide, by Stan Tekiela
7. The Mueller Report, by US Department of Justice and The Washington Post
8. Why My Cat Is More Impressive Than Your Baby, by Matthew Inman
9. The Milwaukee Anthology, by Justin Kern
10. How to Change Your Mind, by Michael Pollan

Matthew Inman, the Eisner Award-winning creator of The Oatmeal, offers another collection of cat cartoons, following the #1 bestseller, How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You. Inman also came to Milwaukee once - dare I say it was eight years ago? He toured for his latest, but alas, no Milwaukee. He spoke to The Washington Post when he was in DC, noting that he won't be regularly doing The Oatmeal strip much longer: "'I’m not going to retire,' the 36-year-old says. But he’ll go on long-term hiatus and then publish an occasional Oatmeal strip when, 'f I put out a comic, it’s a blessing.'" The article confirms that Inman toured Boswell for what was his first book, Five Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth.

Books for Kids:
1. The Amazing Idea of You, by Charlotte Sullivan Wild, with illustrations by Mary Lundquist
2. A Place for Pluto, by Stef Wade, with illustrations by Melanie Demmer
3. Bad Guys in the Big Bad Wolf V9, by Aaron Blabey
4. With the Fire on High, by Elizabeth Acevedo
5. Lulu and Rocky in Milwaukee, by Barbara Joosse, with illustrations by Renee Graef
6. A Tale of Two Kitties V3, by Dav Pilkey
7. 12 Days of Christmas, by Robert Sabuda
8. Viral, by Ann Bausum
9. Dragons Love Tacos 2, by Adam Rubin, with illustrations by Daniel Salmieri
10. Harbor Me, by Jacqueline Woodson (ticketed event at Boswell, Mon Sep 23, 7 pm - details to come)

Wow, The Bad Guys series has really caught on - while its been hitting The New York Times for about a year, I think this is the first week where we had pent-up demand for a first week pop. I made sure that this week's bestseller pop wasn't to just one organization or school buying in bulk and it was not. The series is in development for a film at Dreamworks. The Bad Guys in The Big Bad Wolf has its own trailer - maybe you should watch!

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Leanne Italie's Associated Press profile of Elaine Welteroth is featured on the book page. In More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say), she notes as a person of mixed race, she has come to appreciate "her biracial status as one of her superpowers, along with an ability to empathize with and understand many world views."

Italie's piece doesn't really so much critique as summarize, but Douglass K. Daniel's Associated Press piece for Wild and Crazy Guys: How the Comedy Mavericks of the ’80s Changed Hollywood Forever does include a caveat: "A flaw in (Nick) de Semlyen’s enjoyable book is its bent toward fact over analysis. His answer to the question posed by its subtitle - a couple of paragraphs about legacies, rule-breaking and commercial success - feels perfunctory."

And from Patty Rhule comes a USA Today piece for Jennifer Weiner's Mrs. Everything, about two sisters who "paved the way for Weiner's more modern protagonist." Her take: "If you are a woman who has lived through the past 50 years, this book will make you uneasy, even angry. But maybe that’s the point. Coming of age during the women’s liberation movement, Bethie and Jo take different tracks to fulfillment; one follows traditional expectations for women, and the other runs from them. Both choices prove costly."

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Effervescence of Boswell's Maltiest Book Club

Want to know more about Boswell's newest book club?

The Books & Beer Book Club meets the third Monday of every month at Café Hollander on Downer. Now, you may be wondering what type of books a Books & Beer book club will read? Boswellian Jen has chosen genre-bending novels, often with speculative elements: those quirky books you may not have chosen for yourself to read. The books that may tend to fall through the cracks of other book clubs. And where does the beer fit in? By having our book club meet at Café Hollander, there's a certain camaraderie when you're gathered with fellow readers talking books, and beer just adds to the warmth of that gathering. Of course wine/cocktail drinkers are welcome; it's not a book club for beer drinkers only!

What is the Books & Beer Book Club like?

We have lively discussions, but a few books in particular have stayed with the group and sometimes at the end of the night we tend to revisit those books. I always enjoy those surprise moments where someone will bring the book out in a different light. I love seeing what people take away from the books, because we all bring our own experience to a book.

Do we read any books about beer? Not yet, but who knows? I'm on the lookout for any speculative novels about beer. A fun thing did happen at our June meeting. Café Hollander's Bier Master was able to offer beer pairing suggestions for The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. We're hoping to offer beer pairing suggestions for some of the other books we will be discussing.

If you're considering joining a book club, and you enjoy reading or want to read unconventional literature, then why not join the Books & Beer Book Club? We're discussing The Emissary by Yoko Tawada July 15th. An infusion of fairytale, dystopia and light-hearted insight. Why not try Hitachino Nest White Ale, a complex mix of flavors perfect for a light yet complex book!

For more upcoming selections, visit our Boswell-run book clubs page.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Boswellians Read The Current

Sometimes it’s pretty obvious what’s going to be the next big hit - literary darling debuts, new releases from authors who are longtime old favorites, and memoirs by certain former First Ladies are all easy checks on the list. Sometimes, though, new books creep up on us, and advance copies get passed from one bookseller to another in the break room with whispers and notes that say things like, “this is such an Amie book,” and “you love Tana French so I know you’re going to love this,” or simply, “you’ve gotta read this right now.” Being that we’re all professional book suggesters, sometimes we even get it right. Recently, one of the books we’re passing around is Tim Johnston’s new mystery, The Current.

Johnston’s first novel, Descent, hit The New York Times and USA Today lists and was a bestseller in indie bookstores around the country, and it had fans here at Boswell, too. So we were definitely excited when Tim agreed to visit Boswell on his tour for The Current this winter. He’ll be here on Monday, January 28, at 7 pm, and our mystery book club is reading Descent right now, to discuss at their meeting at 6, right before Johnston’s event. How cool is that?

Among the Boswellians, Kay finished The Current first. She’s the one who convinced me to pick it up off my stack – when I asked her what she thought, she pretty much just shouted at me, “I LOVED it! Lots of twists and turns and very well-developed characters.”

Tim finished reading it next and says it is “a fine novel of suspense and an intricate study of how people react to tragedy and loss from an excellent writer. Johnston's descriptions of places in and around the river, where lives suddenly change forever, have a gravity like the flowing water, and he captures the survivors' struggle over what they can never get back as time pushes them away from what they had. His use of places and things to reveal characters' emotions is masterful, and his characters' direct, honest dialog about the most difficult problems is compelling. With very few words Johnston quickly shows us the thoughts and actions of people who seem real”

I’m about halfway through the book as I’m writing this*, and I am loving it, too. It’s kind of the season 1 of True Detective of books, with a story that jumps back and forth between characters and a winter in Minnesota setting you can feel creeping off the page until you feel like you’ve lived there a little too long yourself. Yeah, it’s really good.

And what of Anne, the Boswellian who runs our Mystery Book Club? Her group is reading The Descent at 6 pm, and then heading to the rear of the store to hear Johnston speak. Want more info about our in-store book clubs? Visit this page right here!

So that’s four booksellers eagerly anticipating Johnston’s visit to Boswell (friendly reminder: Monday, January 28, at 2 pm**) for The Current. Kay, I know, already has a prepared list of several questions for him, and I suppose Tim will be adding another autographed first edition to his collection.

*Editor's Note: I finished the book. Guess what? I, too, LOVED IT. Here's my full write up about The Current:
If we’re comparing books to television, and why shouldn’t we be, then Johnston’s second novel is clearly the critical darling mini-series from your premium subscription-package channel kind of TV. You know the shows I’m talking about. If really good cozies are Masterpiece Theater, and maybe the not-so-good ones are Lifetime movies, and the middling psychological thrillers are the ones that get made into, well, middling psychological thriller series that drag on for three to seven seasons on channels that bored people sort of half watch while they’re ironing, then The Current is that show that’s filling up your Twitter feed, the one all the cool people won’t shut up about with the arty opening credit sequence. So what’s it about, right? Well, yeah, it is another book about dead girls, and if that’s a story that you’re understandably tired of, then this book won’t convince you otherwise. But, to Johnston’s credit, it’s also about the strength and humanity of those girls and women, and the book does confront men who do bad things and deals honestly with good men and how they respond to bad actions, what they do and what they leave undone. The story twists and weaves through these people’s lives before, during, and after a crime is committed.  There are several times in the novel where all questions seem answered, where Johnston could have wrapped up the story all nice and neat, but that’s not the writer he is – he keeps pushing, deeper and deeper, in this masterful performance that plumbs the depths of life’s extremes.
- Chris Lee, Boswell Book Company

**Due to a storm forecast, we have changed the time of this event from 7 pm to 2 pm.