Geraldine Brooks, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March, People of the Book, and other beloved novels visits virtually for a conversation about her new novel, Horse, a sweeping story of spirit, obsession, and injustice across American history. In conversation with journalist Sarah Maslin Nir, Pulitzer-finalist and staff reporter for The New York Times. Presented by Boswell in partnership with Anderson’s Bookshops, Watermark Books & Café, and Cuyahoga County Public Library.
Click here to register for the event! There is a book-with-registration option, and shipping is available to the contiguous United States.
A discarded painting in a junk pile, a skeleton in an attic, and the greatest racehorse in American history: from these strands, Brooks braids together a novel of art and science, love and obsession, and our unfinished reckoning with racism. Based on the remarkable true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred Lexington, this book is perfect for Brooks’s fans, as she blends real historical figures and fictional characters into a story based on deep research about horse racing in the antebellum period and how it was built on the labor of Black horsemen.
Early reviews are great, and Horse has earned a trifecta of starred reviews from Kirkus, Library Journal, and Booklist, which writes: "With exceptional characterizations, Pulitzer Prize-winner Brooks tells an emotionally impactful tale... settings are pitch-perfect, and the story brings to life the important roles filled by Black horsemen in America’s past. Brooks also showcases the magnificent beauty and competitive spirit of Lexington himself."
Geraldine Brooks is author of the the international bestsellers The Secret Chord, Caleb’s Crossing, and Year of Wonders. She has also written the acclaimed nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence. Sarah Maslin Nir was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting for her groundbreaking and industry-changing reportage on the working conditions of nail salon workers.
Boswell hosts an evening featuring Milwaukee author Harry Pinkus for the first installment of his brand new thriller series, an intriguing good versus evil story where a private investigator and the FBI team up to bring down an unscrupulous mob that preys on people’s financial misfortunes.
Registration is required to attend event, so click here and register now at pinkusmke.eventbrite.com. And be sure to order your copy of Human Collateral from Boswell now, too.
The novel begins when a woman hires private investigator Miles Darien to track down her missing daughter Olivia. When he finds her, she's barely alive as a result of an infection after having a kidney surgically removed. Turns out the kidney was payment for an illegal loan given by criminals who prey on people in dire financial trouble by forcing them to use their bodies as collateral.
Now, Olivia can’t seek medical care or go to the police because the criminals have threatened to kill her if she does. Miles must bring down the criminals to keep them from silencing Olivia. They join forces with the FBI to look for the syndicate behind these loans. But the syndicate is also hunting them, trying to erase any trail that would lead back to them. Who will erase who first?
Harry Pinkus attended the University of Wisconsin, and his career as a writer includes creating marketing content for both digital and print media. He is author of The Kingmaker's Redemption.
Boswell hosts an evening featuring writing coach Mary Allen for a conversation about her new memoir, The Deep Limitless Air, with Milwaukee-based writing coach and author Rochelle Melander.
Registration is required to attend this in-person event, so click here to visit maryallenmke.eventbrite.com. And be sure to order your copy of The Deep Limitless Air now as well.
Mary Allen’s new memoir is a funny, warm, and heartbreaking book. In this tour-de-force collection of interconnected personal essays, Allen reflects on past loves, friends, life with and without family; on meditation, obsession, and insomnia; and on the humans and animals, spiritual questions and personal dilemmas that absorb her attention. With earned wisdom and light-handed spirituality, Allen poses and answers questions large and small - Will she and her father get those honeybees into their new hive while her rageful mother watches from the house? Is someone like the Wizard of Oz orchestrating her recurring dreams? How will she overcome her fears of flying and public speaking to give a speech in New York? And what is that pair of purple panties doing in the middle of the Mojave Desert where she is completely lost?
Kirkus Reviews says of Allen’s book: "Quiet, touching reflections on loss, grief, and self-discovery." And from Jo Ann Beard, author of Festival Days: "Allen's beguiling and brilliant writing will leave you exhilarated. Simply put, read this book."
Mary Allen is author of The Rooms of Heaven and has received a National Endowment for the Arts creative writing fellowship and a Paul Engle/James Michener Fellowship. Her writing has appeared in Poets and Writers, Real Simple, CNN Online, and in the anthology If I Don’t Make It, I Love You: Survivors in the Aftermath of School Shootings. She has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has taught in the University of Iowa’s nonfiction writing MFA program, the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, and the Rhetoric Department at the University of Iowa. Rochelle Melander is author of books including Level Up, Write-A-Thon, and Mightier than the Sword.
Readings from Oconomowaukee presents a virtual evening with Shelby Van Pelt, author of Remarkably Bright Creatures, a charming, witty, and compulsively readable exploration of friendship, reckoning, and hope that traces a widow's unlikely connection with a giant Pacific octopus. In conversation with Daniel Goldin of Boswell Book Company and Lisa Baudoin of Books & Company, our cohost for the event.
After Tova Sullivan's husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she's been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago. Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn't dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors - until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova. Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova's son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it's too late.
Daniel loves this book: "If you can say one thing about widowed aquarium cleaner Tova Sullivan, the once-again-jobless Cameron Passmore, and star-aquarium-attraction Marcellus the Octopus, it’s that they’ve all had their share of misfortune. Yes, this is a story of grief, of losses both recent and in the past. But it’s also a story of found family, of hope, and of purpose. Van Pelt infuses all her characters with grace, not just the protagonists but the members of Tova’s Knit-Wit social group, Cameron’s Aunt Jeanne (who raised him after his mom disappeared), and even the elusive developer who Cameron suspects is his father. But the star of the show is probably Marcellus, whose dexterity and wisdom never fails to inspire. Why haven’t I read Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus? And while I’m asking, why haven’t you read Remarkably Bright Creatures?"
Shelby Van Pelt's writing has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has been featured in f(r)iction and Funny Pearls. Remarkably Bright Creatures, her debut novel, was inspired by her favorite aquarium as a child.
Illinois Appellate Court Justice and Edgar-winning author David Ellis visits with his brand new thriller, Look Closer, a wickedly clever and fast-paced novel of greed, revenge, obsession, and quite possibly the perfect murder. Great for fans of The Guest List and The Silent Patient. In conversation with Ruth Jordan, cofounder of Crimespree Magazine.
Please click here and visit davidellismke.eventbrite.com to register for this in-person event. And be sure to order your copy of Look Closer from Boswell now, too.
Part Gone Girl, part Strangers on a Train, Look Closer is a wild rollercoaster of a read that will have you questioning everything you think you know. Simon and Vicky couldn’t seem more normal: a wealthy Chicago couple, he a respected law professor, she an advocate for domestic violence victims. But when the body of a beautiful socialite is found hanging in a mansion in a nearby suburb, Simon and Vicky’s secrets begin to unravel. A secret whirlwind affair. A twenty-million-dollar trust fund about to come due. A decades-long grudge and obsession with revenge. These are just a few of the lies that make up the complex web...and they will have devastating consequences.
Scott Turow, author of Presumed Innocent, says: "A daring, brilliant thriller, full of characters you both love and hate and more unexpected turns than a mountain road at night without your headlights. Tremendous fun!" And from James Patterson: "You won’t forget this novel, and these characters - good and bad - for a long time."
David Ellis is author of ten novels, and coauthor of eight books with James Patterson. Ellis was sworn in as the youngest-serving Justice of the Illinois Appellate Court for the First District in 2014.
Milwaukee author, educator, and podcaster Ben Riggs joins us for a special launch celebration of his debut book, Slaying the Dragon, which exposes the secret, untold story of how TSR, the company that created Dungeons & Dragons, was driven into ruin by disastrous management decisions, then purchased and saved by their bitterest rival.
Registration is required to attend this event, and capacity is limited – please click here to visit slayingthedragonmke.eventbrite.com and register right now. And preorder a copy of Slaying the Dragon now, too!
For years, a story has been told about TSR, the company that made Dungeons & Dragons – TSR created the role-playing genre in 1974, then in the 90s a company named Wizard overtook the scene with a card came called Magic: The Gathering. The competition killed TSR, and in a twist worthy of a Greek tragedy, Wizards ended up buying TSR. That story is entirely wrong.
Through hundreds of hours of interviews, endless research, and the help of sources providing secret documents, the true story of what happened to TSR and Dungeons & Dragons can finally be told. The true history is that of disastrous mistakes and decisions founded on arrogance rather than good sense. Debts were racked up, geniuses driven from the company, and countless of thousands of products were shipped and sold at a loss. The story of TSR provides a negative blueprint, an example of what a company should not do in the geek business space.
Ben Riggs is creator of the Plot Points RPG podcast, and his work has appeared on NPR and Geek & Sundry. He teaches English and history in Milwaukee.
National Book Award finalist and author of the New York Times bestseller The Year We Left Home joins us at Boswell for an in-person conversation about her new novel, The Poet’s House, an unforgettable, lighthearted story about a young woman who discovers the insular world of writers. In conversation with Wisconsin’s Christina Clancy, author of Shoulder Season and The Second Home.
Registration is required to attend this event, so click here to visit poetshousemke.eventbrite.com and reserve your seat now. And be sure to preorder your copy of The Poet’s House now, too.
A wry meditation on art as both transformative and on the ways in which it can be leveraged as commerce, as well as a perceptive examination of the female artist, Thompson’s latest novel is at once delightfully funny and wise, and will resonate with readers who loved Lily King's Writers & Lovers, Meg Wolitzer's The Female Persuasion, and Susan Choi’s Trust Exercise. When landscaper Carla is hired to work at Viridian's house, she is perplexed by this community of writers, yet she becomes enamored with Viridian, her circle, and especially with the power of words, a hunger that Carla feels sharply at this stagnating moment in her young life.
Dan Chaon, author of Sleepwalk and Ill Will, says: "Jean Thompson is a national treasure. She's the kind of writer who can make you laugh and cry at the same time, a consummate prose stylist whose work is full of insight and wisdom and a deadly keen eye for the foibles and self-deceptions of her characters. The Poet's House is yet another indelible masterpiece in her oeuvre."
Jean Thompson is author of fourteen books of fiction, including Who Do You Love, The Year We Left Home, and New York Times Notable Book Wide Blue Yonder. Her work has been published in the New Yorker and anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and the Pushcart Prize. She has been the recipient of Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, among other accolades, and has taught creative writing at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Reed College, Northwestern University. Christina Clancy received a PhD from UWM and has taught at Beloit College.
Wisconsin’s own New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction, Jennifer Chiaverini returns to the Milwaukee area for an evening with her latest, Switchboard Soldiers, a novel set during WWI about the very first women ever recruited into the US military.
Registration is required to attend this in-person event - click here to visit the Greendale Public Library website for registration information. You can order a copy of Switchboard Soldiers now, as well. Boswell will be on hand at the event selling copies of this and Chiaverini’s other books, too.
In 1917, US Army Signal Corps needed telephone operators. At a time when women could not serve, nearly all well-trained operators were women. This is the story of four very different women who were among the very first to be sworn in - a group that could do their jobs six times as fast as the men they replaced. While mocked at by men at the time as the “hello girls,” the women of the U.S. Army Signal Corps broke down gender barriers in the military, smashed the workplace glass ceiling, and battled a pandemic as they helped lead the Allies to victory.
The risk of death was real - the women worked as bombs fell around them - as was the threat of the deadly Spanish Flu. Not all of the telephone operators would survive. Their story has never been the focus of a novel… until now.
Jennifer Chiaverini is author of acclaimed historical novels such as The Women’s March and Resistance Women as well as the beloved Elm Creek Quilts series. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives in Madison.
Wisconsin mystery author Patricia Skalka returns to Boswell for an evening featuring the latest installment of her popular Dave Cubiak mysteries, which follow Sheriff Cubiak on his murder investigations throughout Door County.
Registration is required to attend this event – click here to visit skalkamke.eventbrite.com to sign up. You can preorder your copy of Death Casts a Shadow now, too.
With Door County caught in the grip of a fierce winter storm, Sheriff Cubiak agrees to do a simple favor for a friend of his wife: he stops by to check in on an affluent widow with a questionable new suitor. His initial disquiet is easily dismissed - until she is found dead the next morning in her home. Lying at the bottom of a flight of stairs, clutching a valuable bronze sculpture, she points her outstretched hand in the direction of a nearby, nondescript ring.
It looks like an accidental fall, but later in the week, an explosion in an ice fishing shack on the frozen bay leads to the discovery of another body, burned beyond recognition. Was this the widow’s missing handyman? Could the two deaths be related? With what has become a hallmark for books in the series, past and present collide as Cubiak’s search for answers uncovers the sad legacy of loneliness and the disquieting links between wealth and poverty on the peninsula.
Patricia Skalka is author of the Dave Cubiak Door County Mystery series, which includes titles such as Death Stalks Door County, Death Rides the Ferry, and Death Washes Ashore. She divides her time between Milwaukee and Door County.
Boswell hosts a virtual event featuring social psychologist and pioneer of cultural psychology Batja Mesquita for a conversation about Between Us, her new book in which she argues that emotions are not innate, but made as we live our lives together. In conversation with Sally Haldorson, Managing Director of Porchlight Book Company, our cohost for this virtual event.
Click here to register now for this virtual event. And be sure to order your copy of Between Us now as well.
"How are you feeling today?" We may think of emotions as universal responses, felt inside, but Mesquita asks us to reconsider them through the lens of what they do in our relationships, both one-on-one and within larger social networks. From an outside-in perspective, readers will understand why pride in a Dutch context does not translate well to the same emotion in North Carolina, or why one’s anger at a boss does not mean the same as your anger at a partner in a close relationship. By looking outward at relationships at work, school, and home, we can better judge how our emotions will be understood, how they might change a situation, and how they change us.
Synthesizing original psychological studies and stories from peoples across time and geography, Mesquita skillfully argues that acknowledging differences in emotions allows us to find common ground, humanizing and humbling us all for the better. Carol Dweck, author of Mindset, says: "Batja Mesquita’s work on culture and emotion is highly original and highly important and has been influential in shaping the science of emotion. It’s no surprise that Between Us is a groundbreaking book."
Batja Mesquita is Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Leuven, Belgium, where she studies the role of culture in emotions, and of emotions in culture and society. She is also Director of the Center for Social and Cultural Psychology in Leuven. Mesquita spent her postdoctoral years at the University of Michigan, where she was part of the "culture and cognition group" that played a key role in the start of cultural psychology.
Our event featuring Adriana Trigiani at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center has a new date, and we are very happy to present her in support of her latest, The Good Left Undone, a lush, immersive novel about a hardworking family of Tuscan artisans with long-held secrets. Cosponsored by Books & Company of Oconomowoc, the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, and Boswell.
If you already purchased tickets for this event’s previous date, your tickets will be honored for the new date. Tickets are still available, cost $35 plus fees each, and include admission to the event and a copy of The Good Left Undone. Click here to visit the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center website to purchase tickets now. Ticketholder books can be picked up at the event, or, if you prefer, pick up your book now at Boswell or Books & Company.
Matelda, the Cabrelli family’s matriarch, has always been brusque and opinionated. Now, as she faces the end of her life, she is determined to share a long-held secret with her family about her own mother’s great love story: with her childhood friend, Silvio, and with dashing Scottish sea captain John Lawrie McVicars, the father Matelda never knew.
Early readers are loving Trigiani’s latest. Jess Walter, author of The Cold Millions and Beautiful Ruins says, "The Good Left Undone is at once epic and intimate, a delightful novel about the mysterious lore of an unforgettable Italian family whose characters walk right off the page." And Kristin Hannah, author of The Nightingale, says, "Adriana Trigiani is a gifted, natural storyteller and The Good Left Undone is her at the top of her game. This beautiful, sweeping historical epic about three generations of women paints an exquisite portrait of love, loss, the ravages of time and the price a family pays for its secrets. Brava!"
Adriana Trigiani is author of twenty books, including The Shoemaker’s Wife. She is an award-winning playwright, television writer/producer, and filmmaker. Trigiani wrote and directed the major motion picture adaptation of her novel, Big Stone Gap. Trigiani is Cofounder of the Origin Project and serves on the New York State Council on the Arts.
Creator, activist, and Associate Professor of Educational Policy Studies at University of Illinois at Chicago Decoteau J Irby joins us at Boswell with his two latest books, Stuck Improving and Magical Black Tears.
Registration is required to attend this event, so please click here to visit magicalblacktearsmke.eventbrite.com now. You can also preorder copies of both Stuck Improving and Magical Black Tears now as well.
With Stuck Improving, Irby analyzes the complex process of racial equity reform within K-12 schools. Those who accept the challenge of reform find themselves "stuck improving," caught in a perpetual dilemma of both making progress and finding ever more progress to be made. Rather than dismissing stuckness as failure, Irby embraces it as an inextricable part of the improvement process. This timely work contributes both to the practical efforts of equity-minded school leaders and to a deeper understanding of what the work of racial equity improvement truly entails.
With Magical Black Tears, Irby celebrates the resilience of Black communities and families. It acknowledges the role Black children’s creative imaginations play in fortifying us all against the harms of racism and injustice. Caregivers and educators who help children read about and discuss current events play a special role in nurturing their imaginations.
Decoteau J Irby’s work focuses on creating and sustaining organizations that contribute to Black people’s self-determined well-being, development, and positive life outcomes. He is Associate Professor at University of Illinois at Chicago in the Department of Educational Policy Studies.
All event times are Central Time. To see a full event listing, visit our Upcoming Events page here. Read posts from The Boswellians (our bookseller contributed blog) here and Boswell and Books (from Daniel Goldin) right here, and visit our blog post archive right here.