Boswell Book Company's Top Titles To Gift In 2017

Dec 14, 2017

Each year on Lake Effect, we feature dozens of authors and books. But besides those, there are countless others that might be just right for the reader on your holiday list. Daniel Goldin, proprietor of Boswell Book Company, stopped by the studio recently to share some of the perfect titles for readers of all ages.

Books for Folks Who Like the "Critical Darlings":

"The two books I think are showing up on every best seller list are Lincoln and the Bardow, which follows up George Saunders' huge break out short story collection...and Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel by Jesmyn Ward," Goldin says.

Lincoln and the Bardow dives into President Abraham Lincoln's life in 1862 when his son is dying. Goldin says the book involves a lot of ghosts, beautiful and somewhat speculative in a sense. "It is mesmerizing and I am shocked by all the people I know who go into it saying I didn't expect to like it - and I love it."

Goldin describes Sing, Unburied, Sing as "a beautiful, beautifully written, dense, and a problem for some people to read book about a mixed race family in the South. (Ward) is said by many to be the heir to Toni Morrison."

The Book for Folks Who Like Book Clubs Reads:

"What I mean by 'book club' is a little more accessible, a little more of a straightforward story, maybe a little more factual underpinning. A lot of people who read books like historical fiction are not looking for exact truth...but they want to be taken away to another place and know that some of these things happen," Goldin explains.

Hum If You Don't Know the Words, by Bianca Marais, is set during the Soweto Uprising in South Africa during the 1970s and is told from the perspectives of a young white girl and her caretaker - an older black woman looking for her missing teenage daughter who was marching in protests.

READ: Author Bianca Marais On Apartheid, Growing Up, and How They Shape Her Novel

"It is better than (The Help or The Secret Life of Bees) because it has a lot of sensitivity reading and is aware of what the moment is," Goldin says. "This is not a white savior narrative, this is about two people, and if anyone makes mistakes, it is the little girl."

The Book For Folks Who Like "A Man Called Ove":

"The Story of Arthur Trulov (by Elizabethe Berg) is getting really terrific reviews," Goldin says. The book follows Arthur Moses, aka Truluv, an 85-year-old widower who visits his beloved deceased wife's grave every day at lunchtime. He eventually crosses paths with another frequent graveyard visitor, the angsty 18-year-old Maddy Harris, who also lost her mother at an early age.

READ: A Sweet Tale of Life after Loss in Elizabeth Berg's 'The Story of Arthur Truluv'

"This is such an intense time, it's really hard to relax...but I think it would bring down people's blood pressure to read a really sweet book with some nice characters."

The Book for Folks Who Like "Freakonomics":

Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are, by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, is "a book that I learned about on the Freakonomics podcast...(it's) fascinating in every chapter. It's perfect for people who want data - it's all data!"

Favorite Children's & Middle Grade Books:

The Wolf, The Duck, and the Mouse, by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen, tells the story of a mouse walking through the woods who gets swallowed by a wolf, and discovers they have company in the wolf's stomach. "Their books are a blast...I love Klassen's illustrations!" says Goldin.

"This book has lots of jokes and is an old fable book. So the ending all comes together and is really satisfying."

The Bad Seed, by Jory John and illustrated by Pete Oswald, "is so bad, you're going to want to see what it looks like. It turns out there's a lesson in this book and one of them is that we're all a little bad. I love the illustrations, love the message, and I like funny - I can't help it."

Credit Simon & Schuster

The Explorer, by Kathrine Rundell, "is such a good story. It's about four kids who crash land in the Amazon, the pilot dies, and they have to fend for themselves...Each kid brings something to the tale, but it's sort of a better natured version of The Lord of the Flies, who (Rundell) was definitely inspired by. But the thing kids love about this book is that there's so much about surviving in the wild...It's a timeless book, it's a quiet book, and so people don't really know how great a book it is and how rewarding it is for kids."

READ: 'The Explorer' Crash Lands Into the Excitement & Consequences of Adventure

The Stars Beneath Our Feet, by David Barclay Moore, follows a young boy in the Harlem Projects whose brother has joined a gang and died.  "He is struggling, but they're hoping that maybe his obsession with Legos is going to get him out of there and become an architect," explains Goldin. "In his after school center there's nobody who is interested in Legos with him except this one girl who's a little odd, she doesn't talk much, she's very fixated. We know she's probably on the spectrum, but she really loves Legos too, so they become friends. It's done really well."

READ: 'The Stars Beneath Our Feet': Building Resilience & Building With Legos

The Book for Folks Who Like Books Like "Evicted":

"If you really want to capture people you've got to tell a story, and the thing that Dan Eagen does (in The Death and Life of the Great Lakes) is he tells it...It's so readable, and the book has so much promise because he shows that some things are turning around...and now there's worry that a lot of this is going to be reversed."

READ: Milwaukee Reporter Documents 'The Death and Life of the Great Lakes'

"(Janesville by Amy Goldstein) is about the closing of the GM plant in Janesville and what Goldstien does is follow about eight different groups of people (in the aftermath)...Most of what they do is re-train and that is part of the most fascinating things about the book. This book raises a lot of problems that happen with this that are overlooked."

READ: 'Janesville': What Happens to an Industrial Town When the Factory Closes


For People Who Like Quirky Gifts About Things Like Typeface or Language Patterns:

The Secret Lives of Color, by Kassia St. Clair, is "the kind of book for people who like very interesting minushca and it's in a very digestible format," says Goldin. "It really looks at the history of color as a general thing, and then color by color."

View Daniel Goldin's complete book list below: