Daniel Goldin's Holiday Book Talk

Posted Dec 10, 2023

On Saturday, November 18th, the Friends of the Shorewood Public Library hosted their annual Holiday Book Talk with Boswell Book Company proprietor, Daniel Goldin. The event drew over 70 people, and Daniel shared three dozen of his new favorite fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books. Daniel also shared his insider’s knowledge of authors and the publishing world. Among his recommendations were:

Absolution by Alice McDermott

Two very different women connect in Saigon in 1963. As their husbands pursue their ambitions in war-torn Vietnam, the women pursue altruistic endeavors. Looking back on their work sixty years later, their attempts to do good face harsh scrutiny. Daniel says that the novel is first and foremost a story of friendship that lives up to McDermott’s reputation as an award-winning novelist.

Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward

In this historical novel, Ward recounts the grueling journey of the slave girl Annis from the rice fields of the Carolinas, the slave markets of New Orleans, and finally to a Louisiana sugar plantation. It is also the story of the inward journey that sustains Annis with memories, myths, stories, and spirits. Daniel praised Ward, and likened her to Toni Morrison. Her latest novel, he says, is a story of intense grief but ultimately of hope.

While You Were Out: An Intimate Family Portrait of Mental Illness in an Era of Silence by Meg Kissinger

Daniel called Kissinger’s memoir about her family’s struggles with mental illness and the secrecy that surrounded it a “brutal story.” Kissinger, a former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter, recounts her parents’ trouble with depression and alcoholism as well as the tragic suicides of two siblings. “Meg brings such a kind-hearted touch to her story,” says Goldin, “and a journalist’s eye for the truth.”

A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan's Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman Who Stopped Them by Timothy Egan

Egan’s latest piece of narrative non-fiction is “stunning” and reads like Eric Larson, according to Daniel. It tells the story of David C. Stephenson, a central figure in the Ku Klux Klan’s expansion across the Midwest in the 1920s, and his ultimate downfall. This second coming of the Klan drew on the same racial animosity and horrific violence as its 19th-century version. And, according to Daniel, readers also will find shocking “parallels to today.”

Red & Green by Lois Ehlert

For children, Daniel recommends an amusing twist on the classic The Night Before Christmas. The mouse - who was not stirring in the original - goes on a mischievous holiday adventure in this new book. Featured here are the bright colored die-cuts that are the signature work of beloved picture book creator and Milwaukee native Lois Ehlert. Dummies and text for the book were found among Ehlert’s things after she died in 2021, and were painstakingly brought to publication.


Daniel also recommended these recently published books by Shorewood residents:

The Rule of Thirds by Jeannee Sacken

Sacken’s third novel in her trilogy about photojournalist Annie Hawkins and her coverage of the turbulence in Afghanistan.

Sun Dog Memory by Douglas Armstrong

A Depression-era saga about a family in search of the truth about itself twenty years after their boom-and-bust struggles ended bitterly on the Kansas plain.

Twilight Falls by Juneau Black

The fourth book in her Shady Hollow mystery series features a pair of star-crossed lovers whose affair may have turned deadly.

- Submitted by Mary Armstrong, Vice President of the Friends of the Shorewood Public Library

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