January 2019: Staff Favorites, Author Readings, and New in Psychology!

January 2019: Staff Favorites, Author Readings, and New in Psychology!
Read about our latest Staff Favorites, find out which authors are reading here soon, check out our favorite books of 2018, and see what's new in Psychology. But first....
New Releases
These three books are among the cream of the crop for February. Click on a cover or title to pre-order from our website.
by Marlon James
Out: February 5th
Myth, fantasy, and history come together to explore what happens when a mercenary is hired to find a missing child. Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: "He has a nose," people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard. Drawing from African history and mythology and his own rich imagination, Marlon James has written a novel unlike anything that's come before it: a saga of breathtaking adventure that's also an ambitious, involving read. Defying categorization and full of unforgettable characters, Black Leopard, Red Wolf is both surprising and profound as it explores the fundamentals of truth, the limits of power, and our need to understand them both.
by Trevor Noah
Out: February 5th
The author's unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents' indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. This is a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother's unconventional, unconditional love.
by Ann Leckie
Out: February 26th
Gods meddle in the fates of men, men play with the fates of gods, and a pretender must be cast down from the throne in this breathtaking first fantasy novel from Ann Leckie. For centuries, the kingdom of Iraden has been protected by the god known as the Raven. His will is enacted through the Raven's Lease, a human ruler chosen by the god himself. Under the Raven's watch, the city flourishes. But the power of the Raven is weakening. A usurper has claimed the throne. The kingdom borders are tested by invaders who long for the prosperity that Vastai boasts. And they have made their own alliances with other gods. It is into this unrest that the warrior Eolo--aide to Mawat, the true Lease--arrives. And in seeking to help Mawat reclaim his city, Eolo discovers that the Raven's Tower holds a secret. Its foundations conceal a dark history that has been waiting to reveal itself... and to set in motion a chain of events that could destroy Iraden forever.
Staff Favorites
Here are some great new books, as chosen by three members of the Annie Bloom's staff:
by Alan Bradley
by Pam Houston
reviewed by Bobby
There are two books coming in January, each of which felt like a sweet relief from gloomy times. Deep Creek by Pam Houston is, as two reviewers have declared, "a love letter to the earth" and those who inhabit it. It is an account of the beauty and brutality of living on a ranch in the high Colorado Rockies. The subtitle is a mild comment on the full freshness, warmth and humor it brings.
Alan Bradley's tenth installation of the Flavia de Luce series, The Golden Tresses of the Dead is another charming adventure of teen chemical genius Flavia. The setting is a combination of Charles Dickens (absent parents, crumbling country estate with many secrets) and Edward Gorey (strange visitors, odd relatives and dark deeds). This one opens with the discovery of a severed finger in Flavia's sister's wedding cake ... and the mystery is afoot! The novels are sequenced but are enjoyable as individual tales, as well.
by Karen Thompson Walker
reviewed by Michael
From the author of The Age of Miracles comes The Dreamers, about a new sleeping sickness that spreads across a small California college town. The novel follows a handful of characters, including a quiet freshman girl, a young married couple with a new baby, a psychologist from nearby Los Angeles, and the tween daughter of a conspiracy theorist who has a maintenance job at the college. Through their experiences of the sickness, we watch and learn as the town is thrown into chaos and a quarantine is imposed. The characters are relatable, if perhaps a little generic; still, they serve the story well. It was Walker's well-crafted plot that kept me turning the pages, while her portrayal of the dreaming mind kept me invested until the end.
by Jessica Barry
reviewed by Sandy
This is not your typical mother-daughter story. Maggie and her daughter Allison have been estranged for two years. Allison left her childhood home in Maine upon the death of her father, and Maggie had not heard a word of her until the news came that Allison had been one of two people to have crashed in a private plane in the Rockies. Allison's body had not been recovered. Why not? Maggie works from her end to try to learn the details of Allison's life once she left home. Allison, on her part, did survive the crash but now needs to survive long enough to reach her mother before Maggie uncovers secrets that will get an attempt made on her life as well. The story builds to a race-against-time tense conclusion. Jessica Barry is the pseudonym for an American author now working in publishing. Whoever she is, she is talented and writes gripping novels.
Upcoming Author Readings
Love Is Deeper Than Distance
Thursday, January 17, 7pm
In the local poet's new collection, she offers what we didn't know we needed: a proposal in the dark, a squad car filled with lilacs, tears saved for the right time, toast and honey. The world of illness and dying is demanding and complex. Peg documents the love of her life, her husband Fred: his diagnosis with frontal temporal lobe dementia and ALS, the loneliness of missing him before he was gone, worry for their daughter, and grieving in all its dimensions and untimeliness. Fred died at home, shortly after he turned sixty-seven. In writing, Peg uncovered tender truths, unlikely humor, the faithful awareness of deep-hearted love in an unpredictable world. And hope for the future.
Gerry Foote, Mike Langtry, and Dianne Stepp
Local Poets
Tuesday, January 22, 7pm
Gerry Foote will read from her new chapbook, Mouth Toward Sky, published by Finishing Line Press in 2018. Gerry is the creator of the Peace Leaves letter-pressed series of gift poems. Yearning for justice in an imperfect world, Gerry’s poems traverse the borderland between the personal and the political. Mike Langtry’s poems come from family, from things close to the ground, animals, mountain sides. Mike is an Oregon native who taught middle school Language Arts and Science in Portland for 20 years. Dianne Stepp will read from her second chapbook, Sweet Mercies, published by Finishing Line Press in 2017. Beginning with tale and image, Dianne's poems thread the realities of grief, loneliness, gratitude and joy.
Jail Blazers
Wednesday, January 23, 7pm
In the late '90s and early 2000s, the Portland Trail Blazers were one of the hottest teams in the NBA. However, what happened off-court was just as unforgettable as what they did on the court. While fans across the country were watching the skills of Damon Stoudamire, Rasheed Wallace, and Zach Randolph, those in Portland couldn't have been more disappointed in the players' off-court actions. This, many have mentioned, included a very racial element--which carried over to the players as well. Author Kerry Eggers, who covered the Trail Blazers during this controversial era, goes back to share the stories from the players, coaches, management, and those in Portland when the players were in the headlines as much for their play as for their legal issues.
Portland authors on Montag Press
Monday, January 28, 7pm
Brian Jacobson presents his debut novel, The Truth About the Moon and the Stars. Following the death of his parents, eighteen-year-old Shane Healy aimlessly drifts around 1990s Boston. An accidental phone call to mysterious senior citizen George Thurman hurls Shane into a sprawling, phantasmagorical journey that he never intended to take. Trevor Richardson presents his novel Dystopia Boy. One day a young man named Joe Blake looks back through his monitor, locks eyes with an aging US government Watcher and says, "I know you're out there. I know you're listening." Joe declares war on the system, but can he complete his mission before the Watchers track him down through his own past? Jason Rizos presents his most recent novel, Prom Night on the River of Death. When Chester and Leopold kidnap the captain of the Cheerleading team and hold her for ransom, everything goes awry.
The Alehouse at the End of the World
Thursday, January 31, 7pm
The local author will read from his debut novel. When a fisherman receives a mysterious letter about his beloved's demise, he sets off in his skiff to find her on the Isle of the Dead. This is an epic comedy set in the sixteenth century, where bawdy Shakespearean love triangles play out with shapeshifting avian demigods and a fertility goddess, drunken revelry, bio-dynamic gardening, and a narcissistic, bullying crow, who may have colluded with a foreign power. A raucous, aw-aw-aw-awe-inspiring romp, Stevan Allred's second book is a juicy fable for adults, and a hopeful tale for out troubled times.
Voices from Bears Ears
Wednesday, February 27, 7pm
A land rich in human history and unsurpassed in natural beauty, Bears Ears is at the heart of a national debate over the future of public lands. Through the stories of twenty individuals, and informed by interviews with more than seventy people, Voices from Bears Ears captures the passions of those who fought to protect Bears Ears and those who opposed the monument as a federal "land grab" that threatened to rob them of their economic future. Journalist Rebecca Robinson provides context and perspective for understanding the ongoing debate and humanizes the abstract issues at the center of the debate. Interwoven with these stories are photographs of the interviewees and the land they consider sacred by photographer Stephen E. Strom. Through word and image, Robinson and Strom allow us to both hear and see the people whose lives are intertwined with this special place.
Our Favorite Books of 2018
Here are some of our top book picks from last year!
by Tara Westover
reviewed by Sharon
Educated is the extraordinary memoir of a young girl who was raised in Idaho as a Mormon survivalist. Due largely to the extreme views of her father, her family abstained from society at an alarming level. They did not attend school, go to doctors or hospitals, and many of the children did not even have birth certificates. At the age of seventeen, having never even set foot in a classroom, Tara Westover decides to break from her family tradition and enter mainstream society by attending college. Despite being horrifically unprepared for college, she rises to the challenge, and eventually obtains a PhD from Cambridge. In the process, Tara is forced to reconcile her new view of the world with the incongruous way that she was raised. She is faced with the reality that her upbringing was basically abusive, and is forced to make some hard choices. I found it easy to forget that Educated is actually a memoir because the story is so incredible and Tara does an exceptional job of telling it. If I could write as well as she does, you would be reading this book in an instant!
by Tommy Orange
reviewed by Michael
In his kaleidoscopic debut novel, Native American author Tommy Orange captures the "urban Indian" experience through a large cast of characters, all of whom are heading to a massive pow wow in Oakland. Orange writes with deep compassion about his complex characters, flaws and all. This is a wonderful novel.
by Anand Giridharadas
reviewed by Andy
This is a wonderfully unrelenting critique of the myopic do-gooding of the moneyed elite. The ruthless business practices of "winners"—think financiers, Silicon Valley CEOs, globalizers—cause and perpetuate inequality. These same winners then try to change the world for the better with their ill-begotten wealth by employing the same market-based strategies that caused the inequality in the first place, while "keeping the social order largely as is." Giridharadas shows how this tack fails by interviewing thought leaders, a former president, entrepreneurs and others and by chronicling their incestuous meetings. He also details how this "philanthropy" undermines democracy by allowing anti-government elites to dictate which problems are addressed and the form of the solutions on an extra-governmental level. Threaded through the book is a documentation of the elite corruption of the intellectual public sphere and, quite often, words themselves. Fascinating and infuriating, Winners Take All provides another perspective on the corrosive effects of gross economic inequality.
by Tessa Hadley
reviewed by Erin
A young girl accepts a ride from a car full of restless young men. A mother wakes to find her house mysteriously in disarray. A housekeeper becomes burdened by secrets from her employer's past. A young women reads the diaries she finds while housesitting. In unexpected ways, Bad Dreams explores ordinary moments and decisions that shape and influence a person. Hadley pinpoints moments of friction between our rational brain and our animal instinct and expands on those moments. Readers of her previous books won't be disappointed, and folks new to one of Britain's acclaimed contemporary novelists will find this collection a great jumping off point.
by Kim Phillips-Fein
reviewed by Will
This book is a doozy, a colorful history of a specific time and place, which continues to have major implications today. New York in the early 1970s was facing many of the same economic problems as the rest of urban America: simultaneous blows of recession, inflation, and suburban flight sucked revenue out of the city and provided an economic shock that provided the circumstances for the financial sector to impose its will on the political system. In order to ride out the immediate crisis, political choices eventually led to austerity in regards to public spending combined with subsidization of the financial and real estate sectors. These fateful, pressured decisions subsequently provided a blueprint for succeeding decades of neoliberal hegemony. Public good was sacrificed at the altar of the banking industry and economic stratification resulted. The hundred-year-plus practice of free college tuition was hurriedly discontinued and spending on the departments of parks, police, fire--and, famously, sanitation--were all drastically cut, as garbage piled high in the streets. Emblematic of this period was the rise of rich redlining heir, Donald Trump. His real estate projects were gifted with massive local tax abatements (and his subsequent misadventures have been buoyed by federal tax and bankruptcy law). In stark contrast was President Ford's harsh response to the city's request for federal public aid, which was summed up by the iconic '70s newspaper headline, "FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD." Phillips-Fien describes increasing institutional distrust in the wake of austerity measures with examples of major events of the time: garbage strikes, blue flu, and a particularly trenchant comparison of the contrasting political responses to the blackouts of '65 and '77.
by Willy Vlautin
reviewed by Carol
Willy Vlautin has never written a cheerful book in his brilliant writing career and Don't Skip Out on Me is no exception. Young Horace Hopper, half-Paiute, half-Irish, wants to be a championship boxer. Abandoned by his birth parents, he's been taken in by an elderly rancher and his wife who love him like a son. They would like nothing better than to have him take over their Nevada ranch. His desire to prove himself in the ring, however, is stronger than his sense of worthiness. The ranch isn't something he thinks he deserves. In fact, he doesn't think he deserves much of anything out of life. Your heart will break for Horace as he tries to make his way in the world and you'll find yourself pulling for him, hoping that he discovers his worth.
by Tomi Adeyemi
picked by Karen
by Jacob Grant
picked by Ruby
New in Psychology
Here are some of the latest from our Psychology and Self-Help section:
by Brené Brown
Leadership is not about titles, status, and wielding power. A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and ideas, and has the courage to develop that potential. Brené Brown has spent the past two decades studying the emotions and experiences that give meaning to our lives, and the past seven years working with transformative leaders and teams spanning the globe. She found that leaders in organizations ranging from small entrepreneurial startups and family-owned businesses to nonprofits, civic organizations, and Fortune 50 companies all ask the same questions: How do you cultivate braver, more daring leaders? And how do you embed the value of courage in your culture? In this new book, Brown uses research, stories, and examples to answer these questions in the no-BS style that millions of readers have come to expect and love.
by Alice Robb
While on a research trip in Peru, science journalist Alice Robb became hooked on lucid dreaming—the uncanny phenomenon in which a sleeping person can realize that they're dreaming and even control the dreamed experience. Robb dug deeper into the science of dreams at an extremely opportune moment: just as researchers began to understand why dreams exist. They aren't just random events; they have clear purposes. They help us learn and even overcome psychic trauma. Robb draws on fresh and forgotten research, as well as her experience and that of other dream experts, to show why dreams are vital to our emotional and physical health. Why We Dream is a clear-eyed, cutting-edge examination of the meaning and purpose of our nightly visions and a guide to changing our dream lives—and making our waking lives richer, healthier, and happier.
by Dan Harris
ABC News anchor Dan Harris used to think that meditation was for people who collect crystals, play Ultimate Frisbee, and use the word "namaste" without irony. After he had a panic attack on live television, he went on a strange and circuitous journey that ultimately led him to become one of meditation's most vocal public proponents. Harris found that meditation made him more focused and less yanked around by his emotions. According to his wife, it also made him less annoying. Science suggests that the practice can lower your blood pressure, mitigate depression and anxiety, and literally rewire key parts of the brain. In Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, Harris and Jeff Warren, a masterful teacher and "Meditation MacGyver," embark on a gonzo cross-country quest to tackle the myths, misconceptions, and self-deceptions that keep people from meditating.
by Chris Gethard
From the host of "Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People" podcast and creator of The Chris Gethard Show, this books is a self-help narrative for anyone who ever felt like they didn't fit in or couldn't catch a break. Failure is an art form, and the only way to discover who you are, what's most important to you, and how to live and work on your own terms is to learn how to lose well. With his trademark wit and inspiring storytelling, Gethard teaches us how to power through our own hero’s journey, whether we're a fifteen-year-old starting a punk band or a fifty-year-old mother of three launching an Etsy page. In the process, he shows us how to fail with grace, laugh on the way down, and as we dust ourselves off, how to turn our inevitable failures into endless opportunities.