Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Paperback Picks from the Boswellians!

Here's the last couple weeks of paperback picks, courtesy of the Boswellians. These are books that got their paperback releases over the last couple of weeks.

Daniel Goldin has a few recs for this list! First up is a good friend of the store, Milwaukee author Liam Callanan, whose latest novel is getting a paperback release this week. When in Rome is the title, and here is the Daniel Goldin write-up: "I love traditional family stories and also ones about found family, and one thing that’s great about When in Rome is that I get both in one. Another thing I love is that Callanan, in this story about a real estate agent whose midlife crisis leads her to try to save a convent, can write about the joys of faith and vocation in an accessible way. But most of all, there’s that setting. There’s a joke about Paris that meanders through bookstore culture - slap an Eiffel Tower on the jacket and we won’t be able to keep it in stock - just one reason for the success of Paris by the Book. That literary pixie dust doesn’t always extend to the Eternal City, but after reading When in Rome, I can’t imagine someone not wanting to book a flight to Italy posthaste. Callanan brings the city to sparkling life, not just the well-known buildings (ruin or otherwise), statues, and fountains, but equally the lesser-known streets and neighborhoods. Even graffiti becomes romantic. It’s the perfect setting for this engaging and heartfelt novel."

Next, Daniel recommends Künstlers in Paradise by Cathleen Schine. Daniel says: "In 1939, the Künstler family, a modernist composer and an upcoming actor, the grandfather and their young daughter Mamie, are able to leave Vienna and cross the ocean on the last voyage of the Ile de France to become part of the (often but not always Jewish) émigré community in Los Angeles, including Greta Garbo and composer Arnold Schoenberg. Just over eighty years later, Mamie is exiled again during the COVID lockdown, with only her grandson Julian and her housekeeper Agatha for company. For Mamie, this is an opportunity to take stock of her past, pass some of her stories down, and reveal some carefully hidden secrets. For Julian, it’s the chance to find meaning in his own life. And for readers, Kunstlers in Paradise is a witty, wise, and moving story with an intergenerational friendship at its core."  

Next from Daniel is Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson. Daniel writes: "Ever since Edith Wharton, great novelists have been writing about the vagaries of life among the moneyed classes of New York. But it’s always Manhattan. Surely there’s a novel about old Brooklyn money? Indeed, there is, and what a delicious tale Pineapple Street is! The three Stockton siblings have more money than most of us can imagine, but that doesn’t mean they make better decisions than the rest of us. Darley? She invoked the generation skipping trust when she wouldn’t have her husband sign the prenup. Georgina? She finally meets Mr. Right, only he might be Mr. Wrong. And Cord? He might have committed the worst sin of all, marrying a middle-class woman who is mistaken for the caterer. It is she, Sasha, who guides us into the world of money, the Tom Townsend of the group, for those who obsess over the film Metropolitan. But by the end of the story, our sympathies have extended quite a bit further, with lots of laugh-out-loud moments along the way. Someone compared Jackson’s first novel to The Nest (or rather, everyone has) and I have to say, it’s about the best comparison I can come up with, too. And I loved The Nest, so connect the dots."

Here's Kay Wosewick with words for Birnam Wood, a novel by Eleanor Catton that was picked as a New York Times, NPR, New Yorker, Washington Post, Atlantic... (the list goes on and on) book of the year. Here's Kay's take: "This complex, masterfully paced thriller is set in New Zealand, where a group of young adults secretly grow food on other people’s land. An American billionaire's arrival wreaks wide-ranging havoc on land and lives alike. Tension builds from the first chapter thanks to rich inner monologues of key characters."

Rachel Copeland swoons for the next book on the list: Happy Place by Emily Henry. Rachel opines: "Harriet and Wyn were each other's happy place until five months ago, when their years-long relationship suddenly, and secretly, ended. Now, at one last annual getaway with their four best friends, they have to grit their teeth and pretend everything's fine - and that they're not still madly in love with each other. This is Emily Henry at her most mature - capturing that real, enduring love that goes beyond the spark and the declarations, to the aches and pains of a life lived uncertainly, the façades we build to avoid causing a fuss. Harriet and Wyn broke my heart and then put it back together in that wonderfully bittersweet way that only a god-tier writer can achieve. It's a story to keep you up past your bed time, to make you cry, to make you say 'damn you Emily Henry' with not just love but gratitude in your heart."

Finally, it's Kathy Herbst with notes on Margaret Atwood's latest story collection, Old Babes in the Wood. Here's what Kathy has to say: "Old Babes is Atwood's first collection of short stories since 2014, and they are engrossing. With a nod to her interest in sci-fi and post-apocalyptic writing, these stories focus on the nature of human relationships and how they influence us over time; who we keep close to us in spite of differences and how we move on when the person most important to us dies. Often touching, sometimes funny, they are worth a read."

And at last, our recommending for this week is done. Check back here next week for more great book suggestions. And until then, read on.

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