Thank you for visiting our website. Our physical store is closed to the public for browsing through April 24 and possibly longer, based on new CDC guidelines.
Due to COVID-19, we have also cancelled all events and book clubs through May 15. There have been some additional cancellations, notably for our partnered events at UW-Milwaukee, but we expect cancellations to continue. You can get the latest information at our Upcoming Events page. We are hoping to come up with a format to have some of our book clubs go online temporarily.
Through May 31, we are offering free delivery (it might come via media mail or by Boswellian) for book purchases of $15 or more (before tax) to Wisconsin addresses and free UPS delivery to the continental USA for $75, which includes books and anything else we sell. No-contact sidewalk pickup is available, though if you are showing signs of illness, this option is not for you. Click here for our sidewalk pickup instructional video. We have increased our number of Boswell Best titles, and personal shopping services and book recommendations are available by phone at (414) 332-1181 or email at email@example.com between 10 am and 5 pm Monday through Saturday, and 11 am to 4 pm on Sunday.
Please note it's not quite business as usual. All purchases must be paid for by credit or debit card before pickup - we're temporarily not taking cash. Packages are not going to always come as quickly as you'd like - we expect serious delays on USPS media mail, 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.
Gift cards are available for purchase online or by phone.
Posts From The Boswellians and Boswell and Books
Thursday, April 2, 2020, Day 4018 - Daniel’s Reading List: Quan Barry Casts a Spell
There are any number of books that come out each season that a Boswellian likes enough to write up and give a staff recommendation. It’s not unusual to get two. Three? Now that’s special. But when we get four or more recommendations on a book, my alarm bells start ringing. Now we’re in zone where if we promote the book right and keep our eye on the prize (that would be December), we can get the book into a lot of hands.
We Ride Upon Sticks, the second novel from Quan Barry, is one of those novels. It’s so different from She Weeps Each Time You’re Born, her first novel, sort of a Vietnamese magical realism story that definitely showed her background in poetry. Former Boswellian and still good friend of Boswell Todd was a big fan, and his enthusiasm got me to choose the book as a In-Store Lit Group selection for the paperback. If you contacted the store and said you really loved Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (editorial aside – the publisher just delayed the paperback on this one, so we won’t be reading it for In-Store Lit Group this summer), I’d put She Weeps Each Time You’re Born in your hands.
From my staff rec, a quick synopsis: It’s 1989 and the Danvers Lady Falcons field hockey team is having another crappy year. So what harm could it do to take a cue from the witches of the city’s past and inscribe their names in a demonic book, especially if it helps you start winning games? With each game getting its own chapter, and each chapter bringing another player and her journey to adulthood to life, Barry’s second novel captures the excitement of a pennant race with the power of a feminist comic novel, notably a comic-steeped-in-the-eighties one.
Read Daniel’s full blog post, including notes on Sticks’s magically god design and its shattering of “the green rule,’ right over here on the Boswell and Books blog.
Tuesday, March 31, 2020, Day 4016 - Daniel Interviews Milwaukee Author Erica Ruth Neubauer
We’ve been waiting for this moment for months, maybe years – the release of Erica Ruth Neubauer’s Murder at the Mena House. Boswell met Neubauer when we started selling books for Murder + Mayhem, the longtime Milwaukee mystery conference (currently on hiatus). Since then, she’s interviewed several authors for our Thrillwaukee series. We were celebrating the release of Mena with not one, not two, but three events. A launch at the store on Saturday, a multi-author lunch at the Woman’s Club the day before, and a joint event with Erica Ruth and two of her fellow mystery writers in June, while they did an old-fashioned bookstore road trip. That one might still be happening! Maybe.
Instead? A blog post. We had three great reads on Neubauer’s debut and two of us wrote up recommendations. From Chris Lee: "Here’s a mystery that’s a cut above the rest of its class, and with a first adventure this pitch-perfect, you’ll want to book passage ASAP to follow Jane Wunderly to the ends of the earth." And from my own recommendation: "A delightful new historical mystery series highlights a charming heroine, albeit one with secrets up her sleeve, which features colorful characters, a picturesque setting, sparkling wit, and a healthy dose of suspense." This book really is just what you need right now – a classic historical mystery with a delightful heroine. And you don’t have to worry about wanting more; the next two books in the series are already written. I sent a few questions to Neubauer, and she was gracious enough to write back. First up, I asked her about subgenre. It seems to me that publishers seem to prefer thrillers over mysteries. It feels like I’m inundated with advance reading copies of the former and it’s hard to find anything of the latter.
Erica Ruth Neubauer: “I was a reviewer for many years, so I did understand that the market heavily favors thrillers and even domestic suspense right now. But I kept reminding myself of the sage advice I had been given to write what I wanted to read. And this was what I wanted to read. And it's also how I wanted to spend a big chunk of time - living in Egypt with these characters, who I really like. If I had tried to write a thriller it wouldn't have worked, because it wouldn't have been authentic.”
DCG: And here’s the obvious follow-up – 1920s Egypt? How did you pick the time period?
ERN: “My dad raised me on Masterpiece Mystery and Agatha Christie and old black and white movies - especially the detective ones. (Truly, that whole Edward Gorey opening to Masterpiece Mystery with the woman wailing on the tomb is very emblematic of my childhood.) Somewhere along the way I picked up very romantic ideas about Egypt, but especially the 1920s. I could just see a hotel with slow fans turning overhead and everyone elegantly dressed and sipping cocktails on the terrace, but someone winds up dead. I could still swear I've seen a movie set in Egypt like this, but I've yet to find the one that matches what I remember. So I wrote it instead.”
Head over to the Boswell and Books blog to read the full interview and find out more about Neubauer's dastardly inspirations! And get your copy of Murder at the Mena House at Boswell today - it's Boswell Best for at least the next two weeks.
Monday, March 30, 2020, Day 4015 - Daniel Joins The Herd
Networking. Remember when you could go to a mixer? Reading a thriller based on a coworking space almost seems nostalgic, right? That’s how I felt when I started The Herd, the entertaining second thriller from Andrea Bartz, after 2019’s The Lost Night, which is now out in paperback.
The story’s setting is making-it-in-New-York lavish, but the themes are classic psychological suspense in the vein of Lori Rader-Day and Mary Kubica. In addition to the secrets, it’s all about the relationships, and one thing I’ve noticed in this genre is the friendships between women are almost more important than the traditional romantic relationships. And one other thing that caught my attention – while the genre has a different veneer, at The Herd's heart is a feuding sisters story, as was the case for so many books I read in 2019. Not exactly feuding – more like seething, below the surface anger.
Here’s one last Easter Egg for Milwaukeeans. For Mocktail Mondays, The Herd brings in a hot bartender to make the drinks, and at one point in the story, the bar is The Elm Grove. Guess what Milwaukee suburb is home of the author’s mom? The Herd is currently on Boswell’s Best and will stay there through at least April 13. One day we’ll have a program with Bartz, either at Boswell or the Elm Grove Library. Buy your book now, read it in advance, and you won’t have to worry about any spoilers at the event. And read Daniel's full blog post about Bartz and The Herd right here on the Boswell and Books blog!
Thursday, March 26, 2020, Day 4011 - Rachel Vs Nonfiction
I confess, nonfiction and I aren't friends, or even really casual acquaintances. But if my super-useful liberal arts degree has taught me anything, it's to be open-minded to new ideas (or at least pretend), so here I am, trying my hardest to expand my knowledge base. Here are some nonfiction selections that are novelistic and worthy of consideration from my fellow fiction snobs.
When I started reading The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, Jason said "how 2003 of you!" But at this point, it's something of a classic, and I can see why. Currently, I'm in the middle of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (how extremely 2010 of me!). One of my best friends, a science teacher, (Hi Holden!) recommended this to me because, while it's about "arguably one of the most important medical discoveries of the 20th century," it's also a very human story about a marginalized woman and her family and how science as a field has a lot to answer for, ethically speaking.
My well-read colleagues have had suggestions for me as well, like Matt Richtel's An Elegant Defense, which Jenny convinced me to read, saying There is nothing more engaging than a nonfiction book about medicine that's written with the pace and tension of a thriller. And Madi gave me Black Death at the Golden Gate, by David K Randall, which Madi says, "gives insight to the spread of disease and how misinformation strengthens it." I can't think of a more relevant book to read right now.
Read Rachel's full post, complete with even more books of history for those not so historical readers, right here on the Boswellians blog.
Wednesday, March 25, 2020, Day 4010 - Kay Wosewick Lists Her Recent Favorites
Boswellian Kay Wosewick reads a lot. Like, a lot a lot. So here's a a roundup of her favorite recently and semi-recently published books. Kay says - Let me begin with Highfire, which is unlike any other book I've read. Author Eoin Colfer brings to life a character straight out of fantasy and flawlessly mixes him with good-hearted, hard-scrabble bayou folks and black-hearted, bad-ass government and criminal types. The result is a hilarious, hair-raising, maddening but ultimately joyful tale. This book will lift your spirits and revive any lost belief in the power of karma. And I promise you'll be totally won over by Vern, the last vodka-loving, Netflix-addicted dragon alive, living a pretty comfy life on the Louisiana coast.
If you are searching for a saga-sized escape, Greenwood by Michael Christie fits the bill. A first generation lumber baron in the early 1900s eventually gives rise to a fourth generation forest guide in one of the planet's last standing old-growth forests in 2034. Most members of this family lead edgy lives in varying degrees of pain-yet these characters dig hooks in you and press you to read onward. Unresolved relationships and personal journeys, within and across the generations, slowly achieve closure as the chapters shift almost seamlessly from 2034 to 1908 and back to 2034. The characters will stay with you long after you close the book.
Heading in a somewhat darker direction, just out in paperback is Dave Eggers' The Parade, a strange story (maybe a little Kafkaesque?) of two markedly different men assigned to quickly build a road in a recently war-torn country. Eggers' spare prose is so sharp, taut and vivid that I'm nearly certain it burned a long series of permanent afterimages in me. Check back in 10 years for proof. While I don't have a formal literary education to back up this pronouncement, I think this book is a masterpiece. I also recommend Dave Eggers' recent hardcover release, The Captain and the Glory, which smartly satirizes Trump's presidency. There are plenty of giggles and groans. And I love that Eggers lets NO ONE, including Trump foes, off the hook.
I'll close with a smart little book you can easily dip in and out of at your leisure. Awkword Moments, by Ross and Kathryn Petras, is subtitled "A Lively Guide to the 100 Terms Smart People Should Know." It just may shift you from using ubiquitous and quotidian words to using the mot juste J. Have fun and stay healthy. (And make sure to read Kay's complete post, with bonus book recommendations included, right here on the Boswellians blog.)
Tuesday, March 24, 2020, Day 4009 - Tim McCarthy on History, both Personal and Literary
I'm Tim. I've been a Boswell bookseller for four years, but my personal history includes more than 30 years of loving Schwartz Bookshops and Boswell. I'm clearly an autographed book hound, dating all the way back to my first Schwartz author event with Mickey Mantle at the store on Water Street and Wisconsin Avenue. The waiting line wrapped around an entire city block, and gentleman Mickey stayed to sign every last person's copy of his memoir All My Octobers!
My previous life included 30 years of teaching in Waukesha public elementary schools, with more than 20 years of teaching 5th graders American history. I've always been fascinated by our past and have always said that history, despite what we sometimes hear from kids and adults, is never boring if we're learning true stories about incredible, complicated people. My students seemed to agree. We were committed to studying American cultures from a variety of perspectives, at a level appropriate for ten-year-old kids. We learned together about the First Nations on this continent, and about the growing acceptance at Monticello that the man who wrote the assertion "all men are created equal" had children with Sally Hemings, a woman he owned.
Today, the books being published about our nation's history, both fiction and nonfiction, are incredibly powerful. We've never had greater access to the truth, being written by very smart people with a commitment to sharing it in all its glory and sometimes terrifying reality. With that spirit in mind, here are just a few of the books that have recently broadened my understanding of us.
A former teacher, I can't help but love great histories written for young readers. One of my recent favorites include Child of the Dream: A Memoir of 1963, Newbery Medal winner Linda Sue Park's gem of American historical fiction called Prairie Lotus, and Jacqueline Woodson's Harbor Me. And a few of my recent books of history and historical fiction for adults are Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America, by Candacy Taylor, the first novel by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Water Dancer, which should immediately add "great American novelist" to his resume, and This Tender Land, by William Kent Krueger. Check out the full blog post and more about these books here on the Boswellians blog.
Monday, March 23, 2020, Day 4008 - Daniel Goldin on Lists
For the past 34 years, I have been reporting bestsellers to the publishing community, first at Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops and then at Boswell. By the time I was a buyer in 1987, I started compiling category lists that I would fax (that's right) to our sales reps. My obsession to this was longstanding - since the age of 13, I obsessively followed Billboard and soon after started keeping a list of my weekly favorites. I started with 20, soon expanded to 40. When I started working at my college radio station and my access to music increased dramatically, the list expanded to 100. I continued this for 25 years. I really like lists!
Back when I worked in publishing, we did our own reporting, letting organizations know about our new releases. Being that I liked this sort of stuff, one of my contacts would call me almost weekly. "Who published this," she would ask. And for some reason, I would often know. I also really like trivia, and I would file this with the kind of non-essential information about books that appealed to me. There was a time when you could name an ISBN prefix and I would know the publisher. Yes, in the time before computers, we had to remember things. And if a publisher didn't supply her with information, it was hard to figure out exactly what book people were reporting.
Last week was the first week in eleven years when I didn't post our bestsellers, but don't you worry, I still reported them. They might show up on our blog one day when I have nothing better to do. And of course we might got to the point where we can't report enough (or any sales) to do a bestseller list. Hoping that won't come. But for now, I hope you find it interesting to see what we're selling, and we'll continue to supply that information on the Boswell and Books blog.
Wednesday, March 18, 2020, Day 4003 - Chris Previews the Horror Section
While of course we're bummed that Danielle Trussoni, author of The Ancestor and horror columnist for The New York Times will no longer be inaugurating our newest section, it doesn't mean we wouldn't be horrified not to tell you about it. What, you might ask (okay, so you probably have a pretty good guess by now), is this section? By popular demand of the reading public and Boswellians alike, we're introducing our brand new Horror section.
We'll feature new and new-ish horror we love, from authors like horror world's super buzzy Paul Tremblay, author of The Cabin at the End of the World - Chris calls it Sophie's Choice meets The Strangers. Mark your calendar for his new novel, Survivor Song, a tale of super-rabies survival comes out July 7th. There's Bunny, the horror-larious novel by Mona Awad that Rachel says is "full of frat boys who are so cute and so headless." And there's a lot more.
You'll get the classic monster mash - Dracula, Frankenstein, and say hello, Cthulhu. Plus, Stephen King, the most-adapted-to-film author alive, and all his pals. His family, too - hi, Joe Hill. How about taking a stab (get it?!) at a cult-y writer like Thomas Ligiotti or Stephen Graham Jones? Or, if you prefer your screams of terror blended with chuckles, there are books like My Best Friend's Exorcism and Meddling Kids.
Tuesday, March 17, 2020, Day 4002 - Jason on Speculative Escapism
Jason here, and okay, so it was just St. Patrick's Day, and perhaps the most unusual one in our lifetimes (hopefully). With the shop closed to browsing, I would still like to share some of the great books I've read. My first pile of books are ones that I would use to escape our reality, and these all have speculative elements, whether one is about historical revision, time travel, or virtual online personas. And there's one outright science fiction title, but it's so good I had to include it.
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal has been one of my major book-loves of this year. Yes, it came out in 2018, but I just made our local sci-fi book club read it because it was cleaning up all the awards this year. There is so much to talk about in this book! There's racism, sexism, panic, anxiety, mourning and resiliency. Elma York is such a powerful main character, whip smart and strong. The amazing way the world rebounds by building up the space program together is quite astonishing. So much more than just sci-fi, I would love everyone to read this book!
I hope you'll keep an eye out for Providence by Max Barry, which publishes on 3/31/2020. It's an intense look at first contact that does not go right, in fact, it goes violently wrong from the first second. Now humanity is in open warfare with an alien race we can't even understand, but we do know how to adapt and kill.
Jason has many more recommendations for Speculative Escape - Read the full post here.