Welcome to Boswell Book Company's website!

Thank you for visiting our website. Due to COVID-19, our physical store is closed to the public for browsing through at least June 8. We have limited hours for phone orders.  We have also cancelled all in-store and offsite events and book clubs through June 30. In addition, most of our partnership events have also been cancelled, though many are being rescheduled as virtual programs. 

Sidewalk pickup is available during store hours. We will still ship by media mail, UPS, and do a limited amount of Boswell delivery to closer neighborhoods. All web and phone orders for books are subject to a $4 delivery charge within Wisconsin, $6 elsewhere within the United States. For puzzles and games, our UPS rates are $10 within Wisconsin, $12 in the contiguous United States. We do not ship internationally. Order $75 more of books or gift items to one address and we will cover the shipping costs. One last thing - remember that just because you order something doesn't mean we can get it. 

Our booksellers are available by phone at (414) 332-1181 or email at info@boswellbooks.com between 10 am and 5 pm on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, 10 am to 7 pm on Tuesday and Friday, and 11 am to 5 pm on Sunday. 

Please note it's not quite business as usual. We may not be able to answer your phone call in a timely manner and web orders generally take a day to process. All purchases must be paid for by credit or debit card before pickup - we're temporarily not taking cash. More importantly, we are not taking returns at this time. Packages are not going to always come as quickly as you'd like - we expect serious delays on both USPS and UPS, particularly outside the Milwaukee area. For those placing orders via this website, please understand that our technology is not automated, and while we are processing these orders as fast as we can, there may be some delay between the time you place the order and when it is ready to pick up or ship - we will contact you when your order is ready. And at this time, we're also not able to take returns.  We are working towards limited browsing hours, but we're not there yet.

Gift cards are available for purchase online or by phone.

Second-hand mystery grab bags available here. Each package has at least four books: one general fiction or story collection, one mystery or thriller, and two nonfiction titles, all for $20. Or get a Bargain Bag for $25, which includes a selection of three bargain books: one hardcover fiction title, one hardcover nonfiction title, and one surpripse paperback.

Posts From The Boswellians and Boswell and Books

Our front page now features some excerpted posts from our staff blog, The Boswellians, as well as Boswell and Books. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 28, 2020, Day 4074 - Rachel Sews Up Threaded Distraction

From Rachel: I'm going to be honest: right now, it's really hard for me to focus on reading (anything but Regency, Edwardian, and Victorian-era romance novels, that is). Aside from reading, my major outlet is making things - my Instagram right now is almost exclusively pictures of works in progress, mostly new garments for my wardrobe. It's rewarding to put time and effort into a usable product, but I definitely would not be making such great strides without some of the books we carry in the store. Here are a few that I can definitely vouch for:

Sew Step by Step by Alison Smith is THE BOOK if you need a veritable sewing encyclopedia. My sewing education was mostly by osmosis (thanks mom!), so I knew a few tips and tricks here and there, but there's so much more to learn. Another fun way to pass the time is to learn how to embroider. For basic techniques, I turn to my old friends Google and YouTube, but for the patterns, I have two books. One is Stitchcraft by Gayla Partridge and the other is Embroidered Botanicals by Yumiko Higuchi. Between the two of them, my heart is content: one has all of the beautiful florals you would ever want, and the other has all of the creepy anatomical drawings you would ever need.

Occasionally, I do like to knit (I will confess, I have a wool scarf that I started a year before we moved here, and that was almost a year ago now). I wish I had Knit Step by Step by Vikki Haffenden and Frederica Patmore when I first started knitting because, just like Sew Step by Step, it has everything a budding crafter needs to get started. Finally, another really fun skill to learn is weaving. We have Welcome to Weaving by Lindsey Campbell, and just like the Step by Step books, it has excellent pictures that take all of the guesswork out of learning this craft.

Read more about each book from Rachel over on the Boswellians blog today!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020, Day 4073 - Daniel Recaps the Boswell Bestsellers

From Daniel: The Boswell bestsellers for the week ending May 23, 2020.

This week's clear winner in hardcover fiction (but not overall!) was Curtis Sittenfeld's Rodham, an alternative history novel that imagines a life sans marriage to Bill. Sittenfeld talked to Clemence Mcl in The Independent: "Reading the book, it’s clear that it’s the work of an author who felt compelled to make sense of an alternate narrative and to relish in the power of 'What if?' – which ends up informing our view of what actually transpired. 'I think in some ways that’s one of the special and wonderful and mysterious things about fiction, that it can be intimate in ways that an interview can’t be, or a work of nonfiction usually can’t be,' she says. 'But to be clear, this is a book of imagination and creativity, and it’s not Hillary’s memoir. It’s not a biography. I’ve never met her. I see this as an artistic experiment.'"

The Tradition, by Jericho Brown, is this year's winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. From the Pulitzer committee: "Beauty abounds in Jericho Brown’s daring new poetry collection, despite and inside of the evil that pollutes the everyday. A National Book Award finalist, The Tradition questions why and how we’ve become accustomed to terror: in the bedroom, the classroom, the workplace, and the movie theater. From mass shootings to rape to the murder of unarmed people by police, Brown interrupts complacency by locating each emergency in the garden of the body, where living things grow and wither - or survive."

For more on the books that flew out our doors last week from Daniel over on the Boswell and Books blog - read it today!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020, Day 4072 - Jen Travels Time Again with Microhistories

From Jen: I love the idea of reading Microhistories. A small scale investigation that can connect you to something with a larger than life feel. Everyone can find something that interests them. And even if a subject doesn’t interest you right off the bat, you might be surprised. You can explore any topic, from Mark Kurlansky’s Cod to Mary Roach’s Stiff. Any- and everything really!

There’s a new book to add to this wonderful category: The Chile Pepper in China: A Cultural Biography by Brian R Dott. Dott explores how the non-native chile went from obscurity to ubiquity in China, influencing not just cuisine but also medicine, language, and cultural identity. Eugene Anderson, author of The Food of China, says, “This is an absolutely wonderful book. It combines scholarship and good food writing-the enormous amount of effort in compiling the databases is duly and modestly cloaked in good prose.” Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake is another new release getting rave reviews. “True to his name, Merlin takes us on a magical journey deep into the roots of Nature - the mycelial universe that exists under every footstep we take in life. Merlin is an expert storyteller, weaving the tale of our co-evolution with fungi into a scientific adventure. Entangled Life is a must-read for citizen scientists hoping to make a positive difference on this sacred planet we share.” - from Paul Stamets, author of Mycellium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World.

If you’re looking for something a bit more mysterious: The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery delves into the emotional and physical world of the octopus a surprisingly complex, intelligent, and spirited creature and the remarkable connections it makes with humans. This might just make you see these magnificent sea creatures in a whole new light. A few years ago Marion Rankine wrote Brolliology: A History of the Umbrella in Life and Literature. Rainy days always make me want to stay inside and curled up with a good book. I can’t think of a more appropriate rainy day microhistory. Speaking of staying indoors these days. Bill Bryson’s At Home: A Short History of Private Life takes readers on a tour of his house, a rural English parsonage, showing how each room has figured in changes in private life. Bill Bryson is a delight, so why not let him take you on an exploration of his home?

Read more from Jen and the other Boswellians right here on the Boswellians blog!

Sunday, May 24, 2020, Day 4070 - Jenny Has Five Questions for Author Michele Weber Hurwitz

From Jenny:  Today on the Boswellians, I’m happy to welcome middle grade author Michele Weber Hurwitz, author of Hello from Renn Lake, a novel set right here in Wisconsin! Michele was one of a group of authors who visited Milwaukee-area schools virtually this spring when she chatted with a group from the Spanish Immersion School about creative writing, water ecology, and how kids can make a difference in their communities. The main character in Hello from Renn Lake, twelve-year-old Annalise, lives with her family on a lake where they run the kind of lakeside cabins that families love to rent in the summer. My own family rented a cabin on Long Lake in Phelps, Wisconsin every August for a week of canoeing, sailing, and catching our own fish for dinner. One summer, Annalise’s beloved lake is closed due to a harmful algae bloom - an effect of climate change that can hurt plants, animals, and disrupt entire ecosystems.

Jenny Chou: Reading nonfiction about science can be fun and interesting, but I’ve always thought that novels can help us learn by providing an emotional connection to a character readers want to root for. In the case of Hello from Renn Lake, you have what I’d call a truly unique point-of-view character. Since I think you know who I mean, can you tell readers about this character and why you chose to write from this perspective?

Michele Weber Hurwitz: Thanks so much for having me on the blog! I took a leap of faith with this novel and chose to have a lake narrate the story along with Annalise. I loved how Ivan narrated his own story in The One and Only Ivan, although I wasn’t sure if an element of nature could do the same. But the idea took hold and wouldn’t let go, and at some point while I was writing, I realized that the only way to fully tell this story was to include the lake’s perspective.

I kept thinking about the phrase “body of water,” - that lakes, rivers, and oceans are living beings as much as plants and animals. Once I gave Renn Lake a voice, the story flowed (pun intended) from there. I had such a strong scene in my mind for the opening chapter - one moonless night, a baby girl was abandoned near the back garden of a store in a small Wisconsin town, and across the street, an ancient lake that had been part of people’s lives for eons, was the only witness. Because of that experience, the girl and the lake develop a unique, mystical bond, and when Annalise is three years old, she discovers she can sense what Renn is thinking and feeling. To her, it’s the most natural thing, and she’s surprised to learn that not everyone can “hear” a lake. But when the lake has the harmful algae bloom, the connection is gone. Renn’s descriptions of how it feels to be covered with the toxic algae bloom and not being able to breathe could not have been told by any other character.

Visit the Boswellian's blog to read the full interview today!

Thursday, May 21, 2020, Day 4067 - Jen Travels through Time with Lesbian Historical Fiction

From Jen: When people ask me “what type of books do you like to read?” I have a hard time answering. It’s not an easy question for me when my reading interests can’t fit in any one genre. I’m more likely to answer with what I’m leaning towards at the moment. Lately, I’ve been reading more on the speculative side of fiction, and that could be because of the Boswell Books & Beer Book Club I facilitate. But, I will say I do enjoy historical fiction. I love hearing about history’s untold stories; escaping into another time and experiencing what life was like through the character’s eyes. And a well told historical novel will transport you there like a time machine! And if you’re like me, they will leave you googling past events to see what parts of the book are real. Like all genres, there are many subgenres within historical fiction. One of my favorite historical fiction authors is Sarah Waters, who gets me to thinking about lesbian historical fiction. I haven’t read much, but I do have a few favorites I’d like to share.

Cantoras by Caroline De Robertis took my breath away from the very beginning. This really is a remarkable novel that you will hold dear to your heart. Look out for the paperback release June 2nd! Who is Vera Kelly? by Rosalie Knecht - I should point out book two, Vera Kelly Is Not a Mystery, will be released in paperback June 16th. Set in Argentina in 1966, CIA operative Vera Kelly has been betrayed and is now stuck in a country thrown into political chaos. This is the kind of cool, slow-burn spy novel that’s perfect for those humid summer nights. Never Anyone But You by Rupert Thomson is a stunning and intimate novel that makes you wonder if perhaps he traveled back in time to witness the extraordinary and very real relationship between Suzanne Malherbe and Lucie Schowob, who are well known in the art world as Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore and befriended the likes of Dali and other avant garde artists. And of course I must recommend a novel by Sarah Waters! The Paying Guests is set in the aftermath of World War I, Frances Wray and her mother must rent out rooms in their house due to accumulated losses and mounting debts.

Jen has even more recommendations right here on the Boswellians blog - check it out now!

For more posts from The Boswellians and Boswell and Books blogs, visit our blog post archive right here.