January 2015 Staff Reviews, Readings, Psychology, and More!

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In This Issue:
Year of Reading Dangerously
More Staff Favorites
Staff Reviews
Upcoming Readings
New in Psychology
PNBA Award Winners

The Year of Reading Dangerously 

Browse our new Theme section for titles featured in Andy Miller's book (see our Staff Review).

 

Don Quixote 

by Miguel de Cervantes

 

The Handmaid's Tale 

by Margaret Atwood

 

Anna Karenina 

by Leo Tolstoy

 

Catch-22 

by Joseph Heller

 

I Capture the Castle 

by Dodie Smith

 

The Master and Margarita 

by Mikhail Bulgakov  

More Staff Favorites

Bark
by Lorrie Moore

Preparation for the Next Life
by Atticus Lish

The Secret History of Wonder Woman
by Jill Lepore

The Kept
by James Scott

Pay Any Price
by James Risen
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January 2015 Staff Reviews, Readings, Psychology, and More!

We're kicking off the new year with some great readings. Plus, find out which new books indie booksellers across the country are loving. And read about the latest Mysteries. Drop by and see us on First Friday! 

Staff Reviews 

Here are three new reviews from the staff of Annie Bloom's:

The Year of Reading Dangerously
by Andy Miller
reviewed by Sandy
Part memoir, part literary criticism, this book is an account of a man on a soul-searching journey. Although Andy Miller has a loving family and a good job, he feels something is missing in his life, so he determines to read 50 books in one year and in so doing try to find himself. He tells of his struggles in trying to get through some of the books on his list and of his delight in reading others, similar to the struggles and various delights in his life. His observations on all lead him and the reader along the path of discovery. He weaves his discussion of various books into his experiences as a bookseller, book editor, blogger, member of a book group, and writer. This is a love song to books, one every bibliophile can relate to and read with enjoyment. It's fun. It's humorous. And it sports a great cover.

The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins reviewed by Bobby 

What a wild ride! I would not have thought I would be so caught up in the entangled lives of a group of 30ish Londoners. Most reviews cite comparisons to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn for its unpredictability and gripping narrative. However, Ms. Hawkins has upped the ante with a whole cast of unreliable characters and hidden agendas. Told from the point of view of three female narrators within a shifting timeline that brilliantly reveals their interconnectedness, The Girl on the Train is a fascinating and breath-taking psychological thriller that is both smart and magically engrossing.

 

The First Bad Man
by Miranda July
reviewed by Michael
July is a master of mining uncomfortable moments, both for laughs and for poignant revelations of character. Well, poor Cheryl Glickman's life is one long, uncomfortable moment. So, when her bosses coerce shy, awkward middle-aged Cheryl into housing their obnoxious Amazonian twenty-something daughter, Miranda July revels in the opportunity to explore all the weird, murky, turbulent depths off this female "Odd Couple." Venturing way beyond petty jealousies and cat fights, this is no-holds-barred storytelling. Brutal, funny, unsettling, sweet. The First Bad Man is a novel unlike any other.
Upcoming Readings
Late January and Early February Readings at Annie Blooms:

William Stafford Centennial Celebration
Wednesday, January 21, 7pm
Susan McKee Reese, Friends of William Stafford Board member, will host an evening of readings to honor the former Oregon Poet Laureate's birthday. Featured readers will be Susan DeFreitas, Barbara Drake, Lisa Galloway, Tom Hogan, Sulima Malzin and Shelley Reece. All in attendance are invited to share a favorite Stafford poem with the group, please. Birthday cake will be served!

Cindy Brown presents Macdeath
at O'Connor's "The Vault"
Thursday, January 22, 7pm

Like every actor, Ivy Meadows knows that Macbeth is cursed. But she's finally scored her big break, cast as an acrobatic witch in a circus-themed production of Macbeth in Phoenix, Arizona. And though it may not be Broadway, nothing can dampen her enthusiasm--not her flying cauldron, too-tight leotard, or carrot-wielding dictator of a director. But when one of the cast dies on opening night, Ivy is sure the seeming accident is "murder most foul" and that she's the perfect person to solve the crime (after all, she does work part-time in her uncle's detective agency). Undeterred by a poisoned Big Gulp, the threat of being blackballed, and the suddenly too-real curse, Ivy pursues the truth at the risk of her hard-won career--and her life.

Luna Jaffe presents Wild Money
Monday, January 26, 7pm

What would you be doing right now if you had a loving relationship with money that was free of guilt and shame? Luna Jaffe weaves her life experiences as a professional artist and dancer with her training in depth psychology and financial planning to create a beautiful, compassionate sanctuary for exploring money. If you are looking for a sassy, expressive, intuitive, creative guide through your own financial wilderness, you have come to the right place! Join Luna Jaffe, Certified Financial Planner™, visual artist, and author as she presents her book Wild Money™: A Creative Journey to Financial Wisdom.

Marilyn Sewell presents Raw Faith
Thursday, January 29, 7pm

Marilyn writes about a universal longing--the longing for love and acceptance, the longing for home. The origin of her own angst is mother loss. Marilyn loses her mother at age 9 when her father snatches her and takes her to live with his parents in a small town in North Louisiana. She doesn't get reacquainted with her mother until she is 33, when her mother is dying of cancer. Having grown up with no real home, she looks for home in the arms of men, in schools and churches, and in marriage. These places serve as a temporary refuge, but for the most part, home eludes her. She is sustained throughout her journey by her faith and her understanding that she is held by something larger than herself. Her wandering teaches her at last that home is not a place, not even with people she loves and who love her, but is rather a condition of the spirit. Home is always available, as she puts it, "if I can quiet my scared heart."

Portland Poets: Frances Payne Adler, Donna Prinzmetal, Willa Schneberg
Tuesday, February 3, 7pm

Adler is the author of five books: two poetry collections and three collaborative poetry-photography books and exhibitions. She also co-edited Fire and Ink: An Anthology of Social Action Writing. Her current work is Dare I Call You Cousin, about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a collaboration with Israeli artists. Prinzmetal's Snow White, When No One Was Looking is a collection of persona poetry, re-visions the original fairy tale. The poems investigate the relationship between Snow White's inner and outer world as she reflects on her journey and tells us her secrets. Schneberg's Rending the Garment is a narrative tapestry encompassing persona poems, prose poems, flash fiction, imagined meetings with historical figures, ancestral appearances, and ephemera.
New in Psychology 
Check out these new books from our Psychology and Self-Help Section:

How We Learn
by Benedict Carey
Science reporter Benedict Carey sifts through decades of education research and landmark studies to uncover the truth about how our brains absorb and retain information. What he discovers is that, from the moment we are born, we are all learning quickly, efficiently, and automatically; but in our zeal to systematize the process we have ignored valuable, naturally enjoyable learning tools like forgetting, sleeping, and daydreaming. If the brain is a learning machine, then it is an eccentric one. In How We Learn, Carey shows us how to exploit its quirks to our advantage.

10% Happier
by Dan Harris
After having a nationally televised panic attack, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes. He realized that the source of his problems was the very thing he always thought was his greatest asset: the incessant, insatiable voice in his head. Harris stumbled upon an effective way to rein in that voice, something he always assumed to be either impossible or useless: meditation, a tool that research suggests can do everything from lower your blood pressure to essentially rewire your brain. 10% Happier takes readers on a ride from the outer reaches of neuroscience to the inner sanctum of network news to the bizarre fringes of America's spiritual scene, and leaves them with a takeaway that could actually change their lives.

Think Forward to Thrive
by Jennice Vilhauer
As psychologist Vilhauer worked with patients, she was often frustrated that the tools she'd been taught didn't help her clients more, that even after unearthing their pasts and understanding their patterns many still felt stuck. This led Vilhauer to discover a body of scientific work showing that it is the future that motivates us most. Crucial to this process is our sense that we have the ability to create positive outcomes. Over years of working with people in ten-week workshops, Vilhauer developed the step-by-step tools she outlines here. Assignments and exercises quickly but realistically build skills, including the abilities to redirect thoughts, use the conscious observer through mindfulness and meditation, and cultivate consistency and commitment. The result is a groundbreaking direction in therapy and, more importantly, a transformative tool for readers.

How We Are
by Vincent Deary
The first book in the monumental How to Live trilogy, How We Are explores the power of habit and the difficulty of change. As Deary shows us, we live most of our lives automatically, in small worlds of comfortable routine. Drawing on his own personal experience and a staggering range of literary, philosophical, and cultural sources, Deary has produced a mesmerizing and universal portrait of the human condition. Part psychologist, part philosopher, part novelist, Deary helps us to see how we can resist being habit machines, and make our acts and our lives more fully our own.  

PNBA Award Winners  

The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association has announced its six winners for 2015:

All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr
Twelve-year-old Marie-Laure is the blind daughter of a Parisian locksmith. When the Nazi occupation begins, father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure's reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum's most valuable and dangerous jewel. In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure's converge. Deftly interweaving the lives of his characters, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus
by Renee Erickson
One of the country's most acclaimed chefs, Erickson is a James-Beard nominated chef and the owner of several Seattle restaurants: The Whale Wins, Boat Street Café, The Walrus and the Carpenter, and Barnacle. This luscious cookbook is perfect for anyone who loves the fresh seasonal food of the Pacific Northwest. Defined by the bounty of the Puget Sound region, as well as by French cuisine, this cookbook is filled with seasonal, personal menus like Renee's Fourth of July Crab Feast, Wild Foods Dinner, and a fall pickling party. Home cooks will cherish Erickson's simple yet elegant recipes such as Roasted Chicken with Fried Capers and Preserved Lemons, Harissa-Rubbed Roasted Lamb, and Molasses Spice Cake. Renee Erickson's food, casual style, and appreciation of simple beauty is an inspiration to readers and eaters in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

If Not for This
by Pete Fromm
After meeting at a boatman's bash on the Snake River, river runners Maddy and Dalt embark on a lifelong love affair. Forced by the economics of tourism to leave Wyoming, they start a new adventure, opening their own river business in Ashland, Oregon. They prosper there, leading rafting trips and guiding fishermen into the wilds of Mongolia and Russia. But when Maddy both discovers she is pregnant and is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, they realize their adventure is just beginning. Navigating hazards that dwarf any of the rapids they've faced together, Maddy narrates her life with Dalt the way she lives it: undaunted, courageous, in the present tense. Driven by her irresistible voice, full of wit and humor and defiance, If Not For This is a love story like no other.

Falling from Horses
by Molly Gloss
In 1938, nineteen-year-old ranch hand Bud Frazer sets out for Hollywood, setting his sights on becoming a stunt rider in the movies--and rubbing shoulders with the great screen cowboys of his youth. On the long bus ride south, Bud meets a young woman who also harbors dreams of making it in the movies, though not as a starlet but as a writer, a "real" writer. Lily Shaw is bold and outspoken, confident in ways out of proportion with her small frame and bookish looks. But the two strike up an unlikely kinship that will carry them through their tumultuous days in Hollywood--and, as it happens, for the rest of their lives.

Jackaby
by William Ritter
Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby's assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it's an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it's a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny. Doctor Who meets Sherlock in a debut novel, the first in a series, brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
by Leslye Walton
Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava--in all other ways a normal girl--is born with the wings of a bird. In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year-old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naive to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the summer solstice celebration. That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava's quest and her family's saga build to a devastating crescendo. First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.