We all get the exact same 365 days. The only difference is what we do with them. --FreshQuotes
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An Award-Winning Author and an Award-Winning Bookseller
By Doug Moe

Bill Malone has been one of my favorite Madisonians since I first met him for a Mexican lunch on Park Street nearly two decades ago.
            Bill, a native Texan, came to Madison in 1996 when his wife, Bobbie, took a job at the Wisconsin Historical Society. He missed authentic Mexican food. “The good places bring the chips and salsa out right away,” Bill said.
            I’d invited him to lunch because a friend of mine had been raving about a radio show, “Back to the Country,” that aired Wednesday mornings on WORT-FM.
            I did a little research, and soon realized that the nation’s pre-eminent country music historian had somehow landed in Madison under the radar – under my radar, anyway.
            Malone’s 1968 book, Country Music, U.S.A., has been continuously in print through multiple editions and will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2018. It’s widely regarded as the best book on its subject ever written.
            When Malone, who also taught history at Tulane, arrived in Madison, he kept writing – there have been many more books – and he began hosting the weekly radio show on WORT that will celebrate its own 20th anniversary next month. I was in the studio in 2007 when Mayor Dave Cieslewicz dropped by with an admiring proclamation.
            The occasion for our first lunch was a newspaper interview, and I subsequently tried to let my readers know whenever Bill had a new project they should know about.
            That shared history makes it especially pleasing for me to be interviewing Bill about his new book, Bill Clifton: America’s Bluegrass Ambassador to the World, Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. at Mystery to Me.
            I encourage everyone to come and enjoy what I know will be a lively and wide-ranging discussion. That’s just how it is with Bill. Talking about his fascinating new Clifton book will lead us to Clifton’s good friend Mike Seeger – Malone wrote a book about him, too, Music from the True Vine – at which point Mike’s half-brother, Pete Seeger, will be mentioned, along with protest songs.
            In 2003, when the Dixie Chicks were being pilloried in country music circles for Natalie Maines’ criticism of the Iraq war from a London stage, Bill Malone stood up for their right to speak. He wrote an essay that was prominently displayed on the Country Music Television website. Bill also once introduced the late, great rabble-rousing journalist Molly Ivins at an event in Madison.
            Just don’t mistake Bill’s willingness to take a stand on issues with an absence of humor or fun. Bill and Bobbie – they often appear inseparable – played “Beautiful Texas” at the Ivins event with some new lyrics especially for her. They also played at a benefit for the owner of the Roxbury Tavern after he suffered a stroke. The Roxbury is where they burn a piano once year. Maybe we can get Bill to tell that story Jan. 5, and maybe we can get Bill and Bobbie to sing.
            It’s always fun when an author drops in to Mystery to Me, and it happens more often than some people might expect. Authors, it hardly needs to be said, love bookstores.
            Yet it was surprising in fall 2013 – Mystery to Me had only been open a few months – when the mega-selling mystery writer James Patterson, and his wife, Susan Solie Patterson, showed up. It turns out Susan was a star swimmer for the Badgers in the 1970s and retains great affection for the university and the city.
            Less than a year after that surprise visit, Mystery to Me won a $5,000 grant from Patterson, who has been both generous in supporting independent bookstores and an advocate for childhood literacy. What better way to use the grant money than to expand and renovate the Mystery to Me kids section? It was unveiled in February 2015, and remains a highly popular feature of the store.
            Patterson’s support of independent bookstores nationwide is ongoing, and in December, Mystery to Me was thrilled to learn that store manager Jayne Rowsam is the recipient of a James Patterson Holiday Bonus – a program in which the author partners with the American Booksellers Association to recognize outstanding bookstore employees with cash awards between $1,000 and $5,000.
            Jayne has been at Mystery to Me since November 2015, but she has been around books her whole life. Growing up on Madison’s North Side, she worked in the school libraries, and got encouragement at home, too.
            “I came from a reading household,” she says.
Jayne’s first bookstore job was at Waldenbooks East Towne when she was 18 and attending MATC.
Despite transferring to the University of Wisconsin-Madison – where she earned two degrees, in American Institutions and American History – Jayne’s bookstore passion remained. She was promoted at Waldenbooks, eventually moving to their West Towne store, and then spent more than a decade at Borders on University Avenue. With its closing in 2011, Jayne took a position at the Waunakee Public Library, prior to coming to Mystery to Me.
Colleagues at the store admire her intelligence, humor and passion for books in general and Mystery to Me in particular.
“We’re building a bookstore and building community,” Jayne says. “When someone wants a book, we do whatever it takes to get it into their hands.”
Clearly, she’s done it well. What Jayne doesn’t do well is promote herself. She was leery about this newsletter chat.
Still, the award touched her. “It’s really special. To be rewarded for doing something you love…” She paused. “I can’t imagine a life not being in books.”
One final note from a holiday trip to South Beach, where I usually find myself re-reading Elmore Leonard novels set in that semi-sublime, semi-seedy locale.
This year, instead, I read four (out of a total of six) of the mysteries in the Lew Griffin series by James Sallis that begins with The Long-Legged Fly and ends with Ghost of a Flea.
From what I can tell, the books are, alas, out of print, so it might test my colleague Jayne to find them. But they knocked me out. Griffin is an African-American detective in New Orleans who begins writing novels loosely based on his life. His creator, Sallis, has produced a series with much to say about race, identity, love and loss – and one that is entertaining, too.

Events Make the Bookstore, The Bookstore Makes the Events.... 

Although we shouldn't really be surprised by the numbers, we are somewhat amazed when we look at our top bestselling books. Here's a look at top sellers in 2016...

1) Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky -- sold to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a workshop with young girls aspiring to be scientists

2) Memory of Muskets by Kathleen Ernst -- event with Kathleen at Mystery to Me
Old World Murder by Kathleen Ernst
Light Keeper's Legacy by Kathleen Ernst

3) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling -- Celebration of the new book 

4) Politics of Resentment by Katherine Cramer -- Event with Doug Moe at Mystery to Me and a second event at UW-Madison

5) Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass by Dean Robbins -- Event at Mystery to Me 
Miss Paul and the President, by Dean Robbins -- Event at Mystery to Me and later at the Middleton Library with the Girl Scouts 

6) One in a Billion: The Story of Nic Volker and the Dawn of Genomic Medicine by Kathleen Gallagher and Mark Johnson -- event at UW Research Park, at Mystery to Me, at Vantage Point in Madison, and at the Wisconsin Book Festival 

7) Red Rose Crew: A True Story of Women, Winning, and the Water  by Daniel Boyne - an event at the UW School of Nursing for a Fund for Women

8) John Powless: A Life Well Played by Dan Smith -- an event with Doug Moe at Mystery to Me

9) I Like You Just Fine when You're Not Around by Ann Garvin - Book launch event in Stoughton and a second event at Mystery to Me 

10) Waiting by Kevin Henkes 
When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes and illustrated by Laura Dronzk -- a celebration of both books with an event at Mystery to Me

11) Fever of 1721: The Epidemic that Revolutionized Medicine and American Politics by Stephen Coss -- an event with Doug Moe at Mystery to Me 

12) Manitou Canyon by William Kent Krueger -- we set an event-attendance record at Mystery to Me

13) 12 Simple Solutions to Save America by John Burke -- an event with Doug Moe at HotelRED

14) Lois Lenski: Storycatcher by Bobbie Malone -- an event with Doug Moe at Mystery to Me

15) What MIlly Did: The Remarkable Pioneer of Plastics Recycling by Elise Moser -- an event with Doug Moe at Mystery to Me and a later event in Baraboo

16) Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond -- UW-Madison's "Go Big Read" choice. No special event at Mystery to Me. 

17) Sh*tty Mom for All Seasons: Half-@ssing it All Year Long by Erin Clune and Alicia Ybarbo -- an event at HotelRED

18) Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths -- no event, just a popular author! 

19) We Gotta Get Out of this Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War by Douglas Bradley and Craig Werner - an event with Doug Moe at Mystery to Me and a later event at UW-Madison

20) Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman -- no event, a popular book club choice

Upcoming Events! 
A quick apology.... Joanne has been busy with holiday sales and end-of-year paperwork so she hasn't gotten the Mystery to Me website updated. Mea culpa.
In the meantime, here's a link to a list of events that we're looking forward to in the new year. January events are on the site. Come join the fun!  

Thursday, January 5
7 pm
Doug Moe interviews Bill C. Malone about his new book, Bill Clifton: America’s Bluegrass Ambassador to the World  (see Doug's article above)

Sunday, January 8
12:30 pm
History's Mysteries Book Club discusses The Art of English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock by L. Worsley

Wednesday, January 11
6:30 pm
Midvale Lutheran Church, 4329 Tokay Boulevard (across from Sequoya Library)
Book launch event for Never Curse the Rain by Jerry Apps

Sunday, January 15 
2 pm
Kevin Henkes launches his 50th! book, Egg 

Wednesday, January 18
7 pm 
Nick Petrie returns to Mystery to Me with the follow-up to The Drifter, Burning Bright 

Sunday, January 22
3 pm
Agatha Christie Book Club discusses Sleeping Murder

Wednesday, January 25
6 pm
Mystery to Me Book Club discusses Jade Dragon Mountain by Elsa Hart


What are you looking forward to reading in the new year? 

Here are a few authors we're looking forward to hearing from, and there are more where these came from!  Stay tuned. We'll promise to keep you updated. If there is anything here you want to be sure to have, please let us know and we'll get your name on a preorder list. 

Tasha Alexander - Death in St. Petersburg: A Lady Emily Mystery #12 (October 10)
James Benn -- The Devouring - a Billy Boyle WWII Mystery #12 (September 12)
Elizabeth Berg - The Story of Arthur Truluv (July)
Cara Black - Murder in Saint-Germain #17 (June 6)
C.J. Box - Paradise Valley (July)
Lee Child –  No Middle Name – the Compete Collected Jack Reacher Stories ( May)
Colin Cotterill - The Rat Catchers' Olympics - Dr. Siri Paiboun Mystery #12 (August 15)
Deborah Crombie - Garden of Lamentations (February 7)
David Downing - Lenin's Roller Coaster - Jack McColl novel #3 (March 7)
Elly Griffiths - The Chalk Pit (May 30)
Paula Hawkins - Into the Water (May 2)
Victoria Houston - Dead Spider (June)
Laurie King: Lockdown: A Novel of Suspense (June)
William Kent Krueger – Sulpher Springs #17 (September 5)
Mary Kubica – Every Last Lie (June)
Dennis Lehane - Since We Fell (May 16)
Donna Leon -- Earthly Remains: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery (April)
Louise Penny – untitled (August)
Nick Petrie -- Burning Bright (January)
Lori Rader-Day - The Day I Died (April)
Jacquelyn Winspear - In this Grave Hour (March 14)
Copyright © 2017 Mystery To Me, All rights reserved.

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