books

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When it comes to discussing politics, especially controversial topics, it can be difficult to leave a conversation without feeling the need to shout at the top of your lungs and become uncivil.

For many people, they feel that American discourse has lost the civility it is supposed to have.

Bill Keith is the co-author of the book, Beyond Civility: The Competing Obligations of Citizenship and a professor of rhetoric at UW-Milwaukee.

Candlewick, Brown Books for Young Readers, Little Bee Books

Black history in the United States is often focused on the incredible tragedy and pain Black Americans have faced since the beginning of the nation’s history. While that history can’t be ignored, the success stories across Black history are rarely taught and often forgotten.

Hermione Bell-Henderson is the coordinator of business, technology and periodicals at the Milwaukee Public Library. For this year’s Black History Month, she put together a list of children's books aimed at teaching the stories of successful and influential Black Americans.

Finishing Line Press

Richard Hedderman is a local poet, author and educator at the Milwaukee Public Museum, where he also coordinates the creative writing programming.  

His work has been featured in national and international literary publications, and his latest book of poetry is called Choosing A Stone.

COURTESY OF CHERENE SHERRARD

In 2021, Black women are still fighting a historic battle — challenging racism and misogyny, and demanding equality and justice.

Poet Cherene Sherrard digs into these themes through creative writing. Sherrard is a professor of 19th and 20th century American and African American literature at UW-Madison. Her latest collection of poems is titled "Grimoire."

Screenshot / Warner Bros. Pictures / YouTube

Updated 12:11 p.m

From 1942 to 1945, Hollywood created over 200 movies centered around World War II. Thus creating the genre of World War II films, which continued in its popularity even into the 21st Century.

In a new book, “World War II On Film”, author Dave Luhrssen examines the genre through 12 movies and explains how they painted a picture of the war that often blurred the lines of reality.

Tom Parker / Wikimedia Commons

The internment of Americans with Japanese ancestry during World War II is part of this nation’s dark history of racial discrimination. These stories have often been hidden, both by the country that committed the injustices and the people who were forced to endure them.

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Despite the distance this holiday season, books can be a great way to connect with loved ones.  If there are readers on your holiday shopping list — or you’re looking to add some titles to your own reading list — Boswell Book Company’s Daniel Goldin has suggestions for readers of all ages.

Here are some of Goldin's favorite books of 2020:

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

BOOK COVER DESIGNED BY WENDY VARDAMAN

In U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo’s book “Crazy Brave” she wrote, “When beloved Sun rises, it is an entrance, a door to fresh knowledge.”

This quote served as an inspiration and call to action for Wisconsin Poet Laureate Margaret Rozga. She, along with Madison Poet Laureate Angie Trudell Vasquez, co-edited the new poetry anthology “Through This Door: Wisconsin in Poems.”

Courtesy of Elizabeth McGowan

Elizabeth McGowan was only 15 years old when her father died of melanoma at the age of 44. When she was just out of college, McGowan was diagnosed with the same cancer that took her father.

At first, she thought it was a death sentence, but at 39, McGowan reached the major milestone of being five years cancer-free after over a decade of treatments.

Courtesy of Globe Pequot

History can sometimes feel like a dry topic. A world made up of men in white wigs and pressed coats making important and dispassionate decisions.

In reality, there have always been scandals that have shaped our collective history – including here in Wisconsin. Author Anna Lardinois writes about many of these defining moments in her new book, “Storied & Scandalous Wisconsin: A History of Mischief and Menace, Hero and Heartbreak”.

Niche Book Bar / Facebook

There are many revered Black authors in American literature – Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes to name a few. Their work is often centered on the Black American experience, which can often be defined by oppression.

Becca Schimmel

A new book of poems from DeWitt Clinton takes inspiration from a translation of Chinese poems, placing them in a contemporary landscape of Milwaukee. In his new book called By A Lake Near A Moon, Fishing With The Chinese Masters he explores loss and his time as a soldier in Vietnam. 

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In September, Joan Johnson was confirmed as Milwaukee Public Library (MPL) director and city librarian by Mayor Tom Barrett and the Milwaukee Common Council. Johnson served as the deputy director of the MPL since March of 2009 and has been with the system since 2006.

Johnson is the 12th director in MPL’s 142-year-history, the fourth woman to serve in this position and the first Black person to lead MPL. She's taken on her new role during the coronavirus pandemic, which has presented many new challenges to the library system.

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The brandy old fashioned, bloody mary with a beer chaser, Tom & Jerrys — Wisconsin has laid claim to many cocktails, or perhaps just made them better. In a state that continuously ranks in the top margins for alcohol consumption, Wisconsin’s drinking traditions aren’t just cherished, they’ve rarely changed.

Church History Library / The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Teacher, lawyer, editor, prophet, pirate, state legislator, historian, and "King of Earth and Heaven." These titles all belonged to one man: James Strang. 

In 1843, the young lawyer and avowed atheist Strang fled rural New York and reappeared in what is now Burlington, Wis. While in the Midwest he converted to a new religious movement called Mormonism. Following the murder of church founder Joesph Smith, Strang claimed that the prophet named him the successor.

Illustration by John Rocco / Penguin Random House

Award-winning author and illustrator John Rocco is perhaps best known for his cover art on the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and other children's books. But about 20 years ago, Rocco worked at a company called Digital Domain doing special effects for a little film called Apollo 13, which he says sparked a deeper interest in the many complexities of how we get people into space.

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This past year has been extraordinary in so many ways. The pandemic, the recession, and the impending election have created an endless news cycle that at times seems surreal — like something out of a book.

Vine Leaves Press

You may have heard or read Lake Effect contributor Joanne Nelson’s essays before. For her, writing has always been a way to not just escape but process.

Her new memoir, This Is How We Leave, is a collection of essays that span Nelson’s life — from her Milwaukee working-class Catholic school upbringing to building her own family while juggling her difficult past.

Conspiracy theorists were once relegated to the fringes of society. But now, the popularity of these theories is rising and the impact could be devastating.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Tuesday marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which grants women the right to vote in the United States. Images of older, white women in victorian dress marching in the streets may come to mind, but there were many more women involved in securing the right to vote.

Penguin Random House

Summertime looks and feels a bit different for many of us during this pandemic. There aren’t festivals, no big trips — but there is definitely time for reading.

As we all spend more time at home, having a good book to help pass the time can be a necessity. If you don’t know what to pick up next, Daniel Goldin of Boswell Book Company has plenty of recommendations that all have a Wisconsin connection.

Random House / Brown Books for Young Readers / Beacon Press

Right now, many of us are engaging in conversations about race and systemic racism in the United States. In some ways, it’s a conversation our country has been having for generations. But our nation’s legacy of racial injustice is often obscured by the books we read in school. That’s left some people to ask: how can I learn more?

The answer: more books.

Illustration by Daniel Wiseman / Chronicle Books

If you're home with kids, you've probably been reading a lot of books together. A new book from a Madison-based children's author could be a good next read for everyone in your flock.

Marquette University Press

Milwaukee has a rich musical history, and a new anthology is taking a personal approach in chronicling generations of music in the city. From folk, rock 'n' roll, blues, and R&B — Milwaukee Rock and Roll 1950-2000: A Reflective History chronicles the performers, promoters, photographers and DJs that played a pivotal role in shaping the city's musical history.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The American frontier experience is quintessential in our cultural history. We all are drawn to imagining what it may have been like to experience life during that time — it's depicted in film, television and books. 

Lauren Sigfusson

Heading into the library is a dazzling form of adventure. And with nearly 6 million books in circulation in the Milwaukee County Federated Library System, there are a lot of places to go and people to read about. 

For your browsing pleasure, our latest Bubbler Talk aims to find out the most sought-after books in the Milwaukee area. 

Steve Weinstein, our questioner, wonders: 

"What is the most checked out item from the Milwaukee Federated Library system? ... 

Baker & Godwin / Wikimedia Commons

In 1850, a magazine declared John C. Frémont as one of the three most important world historical figures since Jesus Christ.

Wait, John who?

Most of us don’t recall the name Frémont from our history lessons even though you can find a “Frémont” village, river, hotel, or school throughout the country. But John Frémont was very much a part of westward expansion, mapping America, the Civil War, and the origins of the Republican Party.

Nick Petrie / www.nickpetrie.com

It’s January, and Milwaukee author Nick Petrie is releasing the newest book in his Peter Ash series. The Wild One is the fifth book in Petrie's popular series and it takes our intrepid protagonist — a Milwaukee native and a veteran of the Iraq war who suffers from PTSD — far from his Wisconsin home and sets him up in an inhospitable yet beautiful place. Think Iceland in winter.

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If there are readers on your holiday shopping list — or you’re looking to add some titles to your own reading list — Boswell Book Company’s Daniel Goldin has suggestions for readers of all ages.

Here are some of Goldin's favorite books of 2019:

Milwaukee Noir, edited by Tim Hennessy

NightBallet Press

Florida-based gay poet Gregg Shapiro has come a long way from his Midwest roots. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, feeling out-of-place and eager to explore his interest in writing. College offered him an escape. Shapiro completed his undergraduate degree in Boston and then set off for graduate school in Washington, D.C.

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