|February 2016 Staff Favorites, New in Science, and More!
We present brand new staff reviews. Plus, check out our upcoming author readings. And read about the latest Science titles.
New Staff Favorites
|Here are some new Staff Reviews:
The Summer Before the War
by Helen Simonson
reviewed by Edie
The author of Mr. Pettigrew's Last Stand writes about the provincial town of Rye just before WWI. Agatha Hunt, whose husband is in the Foreign Office, risks her reputation by hiring a young woman(!) to be the Latin teacher in the nearby school. It is a shocking event for the entire town, and the fact that Beatrice Nash is also very pretty and well educated helps not at all. Soon rumors of war begin, and the gorgeous summer is beset with changes all around. The very small town lives have their limits tested, class barriers begin to fall, and the innocence of that time starts to unravel. The story takes a leisurely pace and there are wonderful characters throughout that make this a lovely read. [To be published on March 22. Pre-order today!]
by Mike Lofgren
reviewed by Will
No matter ideology or partisanship (or lack thereof), Americans increasingly see government as beholden only to elite interests, the economy as rigged, and politics as mere theater. Lofgren, a self-described moderate Republican who worked as an analyst on Congressional budget committees for almost three decades, spills the beans on the unseemly process of sausage-making. While there is occasional hand-wringing about domestic deficiencies and the accompanying prescription for further austerity, the real spoils are looted by a permanent class that drifts from elected office to Wall Street firms, lobbying outfits, weapon and surveillance contractors, propaganda tanks, obscenely lucrative speaking circuits, and then occasionally back to either elected or appointed high office for victory laps. The nexus of power rests clumsily in the often complimentary interests of the donor class and their various industries, which frequently are at odds with the health of what is now crudely referred to in Washington as the homeland. Lofgren brilliantly dissects the banality of a fraudulent system that effectively seals off democracy, upholds corporate interests over human ones, and promotes perpetual war and occupations as industries from which to profit. And so it goes.
The End of Days
by Jenny Erpenbeck
reviewed by Erin
German novelist Jenny Erpenbeck asks the reader to re-imagine the ending of a woman's life. In the intermezzos that punctuate the five books comprising this novel, Erpenbeck resurrects a young female protagonist from the dead by asking: How could it all have gone differently? Carrying our heroine onward to face yet another fate shaped by the bleak political landscape of twentieth-century Europe. The result is a beautiful, inventive novel about fate and contingency, as well as a unique chronicling of recent history. Erpenbeck's prose is stunning and clear, and her voice imparts an unforgettable sense of strength and hope to the reader. Erpenbeck's work is deftly translated from German by the talented Susan Bernofsky, who has translated works by Hermann Hesse and Franz Kafka, among many others. Now out in paperback, The End of Days is the winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Hans Fallada Prize.
A Trio of Friendship Picture Books
reviewed by Rosanne
On the silly side of the friendship spectrum, Dill and Bizzy: An Odd Duck and a Strange Bird is a charmer. It's the debut creation of Portland sisters Nora and Lisa Ericson. The illustrations are vibrant. The pace is zippy.
A more slyly funny offering is Portland author Susan Blackaby's Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox. Brownie, the grouchy groundhog, and February, the very hungry fox, forge an unlikely friendship while in search of signs of spring. Spanish illustrator Carmen Segovia uses a spare palette to beautiful effect.
My Two Blankets is a warm and heartfelt story of an immigrant girl who forms a friendship and learns to feel at home in a new place and a new language. Illustrator Freya Blackwood uses warm and cool colors to demonstrate the merging of two cultures. Debut author Irena Kobald's words ring true to the migrant child's experience, forming a story that will speak both to immigrating families and the local families who welcome them.
Great Readings Coming Up at Annie Blooms:
How to Live an Awesome Life
Wednesday, February 17, 7pm
Awe has the ability to awaken us. It can show us beauty and remind us who we are. It brings us closer to our purpose and passion and helps us create meaning. It helps us to live with the mystery in life, to survive the uncertainty of it all. It allows us to sink into the experience of living. When you live in awe of your life you are open to diverse experiences. Some are easy and joyous. Others totally suck. But you are okay because you know that within every experience the possibilities are limitless.
Polly Campbell designed this book to help you engage with the awesome qualities of your life.
Marcy Houle & Elizabeth Eckstrom
The Gift of Caring
Wednesday, March 9, 7pm
In a powerful blending of memoir and practical strategies from a medical doctor's perspective, this ground-breaking book sheds new light on aging by showing it from twin perspectives: the story of a daughter desperately seeking help for the parents she loves, and a geriatrician who offers life-changing strategies that can protect our loved ones and ourselves. Marcy Houle is also the author of One City's Wilderness: Portland's Forest Park. She lives in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Elizabeth Eckstrom is the director of geriatrics at OHSU.
Ursula K. Le Guin
Poetry Group Reading
Monday, March 21, 7pm
Late in the Day, Le Guin's new collection of poems (2010-2014), seeks meaning in an ever-connected world. In part evocative of Neruda's "Odes to Common Things" and Mary Oliver's poetic guides to the natural world, Le Guin's latest give voice to objects that may not speak a human language but communicate with us nevertheless through and about the seasonal rhythms of the earth, the minute and the vast, the ordinary and the mythological. Ursula will be joined in reading by members of her poetry group: Noel Hanlon, Caroline Le Guin, Molly Gloss, Barbara Drake, and Bette Husted.
Linda Yoshida, Kristina McMorris, and Cathy Lamb
Reading and Conversation
Wednesday, April 6, 7pm
Banished Threads is the latest novel from Portland author Linda Yoshida, writing under the pen name Kaylin McFarren. A valuable art collection disappears turning a treasure-hunting duo into crime-stopping sleuths in this action-packed suspense novel. Reading with Yoshida will be her daughter, Kristina McMorris, author of The Edge of Lost, an ambitious and heartrending story of immigrants, deception, and second chances. They will be joined in conversation by local writer Cathy Lamb, author of My Very Best Friend.
Danielle Dutton and Alexis Smith
Reading and Conversation
Thursday, April 7, 7pm
Danielle Dutton's Margaret the First dramatizes the life of Margaret Cavendish, the shy, gifted, and wildly unconventional 17th-century Duchess. Written with lucid precision and sharp cuts through narrative time, this novel is a gorgeous and wholly new approach to imagining the life of a historical woman. Alexis Smith's Glaciers follows Isabel through a day in her life in which work with damaged books in the basement of a library, unrequited love for the former soldier who fixes her computer, and dreams of the perfect vintage dress move over a backdrop of deteriorating urban architecture and the imminent loss of the glaciers she knew as a young girl in Alaska.
New in Science
|Here are some of the latest books from our Science section:
Skeptic: Viewing the World with a Rational Eye
by Michael Shermer
For fifteen years, Shermer has written a column in Scientific American magazine that synthesizes scientific concepts and theory for a general audience. His trademark combination of deep scientific understanding and entertaining writing style has thrilled his huge and devoted audience for years. Now, in Skeptic, seventy-five of these columns are available together for the first time; a welcome addition for his fans and a stimulating introduction for new readers.
Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience
by Michael S. Gazzaniga
The author tells the story of his passionate, entrepreneurial life in science and his decades-long journey to understand how the separate spheres of our brains communicate and miscommunicate their separate agendas. In his engaging and accessible style, he paints a vivid portrait not only of his discovery of split-brain theory, but also of his comrades-in-arms the many patients, friends, and family members who have accompanied him on this wild ride of intellectual discovery. Now out in paperback.
The Cosmic Web: Mysterious Architecture of the Universe
by J. Richard Gott
Gott was among the first cosmologists to propose that the structure of our universe is like a sponge made up of clusters of galaxies intricately connected by filaments of galaxies--a magnificent structure now called the "cosmic web" and mapped extensively by teams of astronomers. Here is his gripping insider's account of how a generation of undaunted theorists and observers solved the mystery of the architecture of our cosmos. Drawing on Gott's own experiences working at the frontiers of science with many of today's leading cosmologists, The Cosmic Web shows how ambitious telescope surveys such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey are transforming our understanding of the cosmos, and how the cosmic web holds vital clues to the origins of the universe and the next trillion years that lie ahead.
The Tides of Mind: Uncovering the Spectrum of Consciousness
by David Gelernter
Gelernter is the author of eight books and a professor of computer science at Yale University. His 1991 work, Mirror Worlds, not only foresaw the World Wide Web but is considered "one of the most influential books in computer science" (Technology Review). Gelernter's research has proved important to several leading Web-search efforts and has also been instrumental in the development of the Java programming language and the first modern social networks, as well as predicting the rise of blogs and activity streams such as Facebook and Twitter.