January 2020: Staff Favorites, Author Readings, and our Best of the Decade Lists!

January 2020: Staff Favorites, Author Readings, and our Best of the Decade Lists!
 
Read our latest Staff Favorite reviews, find out which authors are reading soon, and check out our top picks for the 2010s. But first....
 
New Releases
 
These books are among the biggest new and upcoming releases!
by Brian Doyle
Out Now!
 
When Brian Doyle passed away at the age of sixty after a bout with brain cancer, he left behind a cult-like following of devoted readers who regard his writing as one of the best-kept secrets of the twenty-first century. Doyle writes with a delightful sense of wonder about the sanctity of everyday things, and about love and connection in all their forms: spiritual love, brotherly love, romantic love, and even the love of a nine-foot sturgeon. At a moment when the world can sometimes feel darker than ever, Doyle's writing, which constantly evokes the humor and even bliss that life affords, is a balm. His essays manage to find, again and again, exquisite beauty in the quotidian, whether it's the awe of a child the first time she hears a river, or a husband's whiskers that a grieving widow misses seeing in her sink every morning. Through Doyle's eyes, nothing is dull. Purchase on Our Website
by Dav Pilkey
Out Now!
 
In this eighth book in the Dog Man series, Petey the Cat is out of jail, and he has a brand-new lease on life. While Petey's reevaluated what matters most, Li'l Petey is struggling to find the good in the world. Can Petey and Dog Man stop fighting like cats and dogs long enough to put their paws together and work as a team? They need each other now more than ever--Li'l Petey (and the world) is counting on them! Purchase on Our Website
by Isabel Allende
Out: January 21
 
In the late 1930s, civil war grips Spain. When General Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee in a treacherous journey over the mountains to the French border. Among them is Roser, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love. In order to survive, the two must unite in a marriage neither of them desires. Together with two thousand other refugees, they embark on the SS Winnipeg, a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda, to Chile. Destined to witness the battle between freedom and repression as it plays out across the world, Roser and Victor will find that home might have been closer than they thought all along. Preorder on Our Website
by William Gibson
Out: January 21
 
Verity Jane, gifted app whisperer, takes a job as the beta tester for a new product: a digital assistant, accessed through a pair of ordinary-looking glasses. "Eunice," the disarmingly human AI in the glasses, manifests a face, a fragmentary past, and a canny grasp of combat strategy. Realizing that her cryptic new employers don't yet know how powerful and valuable Eunice is, Verity instinctively decides that it's best they don't. Meanwhile, a century ahead in London, in a different time line entirely, Wilf Netherton works amid plutocrats and plunderers, survivors of the slow and steady apocalypse known as the jackpot. His boss, the enigmatic Ainsley Lowbeer, can look into alternate pasts and nudge their ultimate directions. Verity and Eunice are her current project. Wilf can see what Verity and Eunice can't: their own version of the jackpot, just around the corner, and the roles they both may play in it. Preorder on Our Website
 
Staff Favorite Reviews
by Abbi Waxman
reviewed by Sandy
 
In these days of trying times, political unrest, uncertainty on many fronts, it's good to just take a step back and find some joy somewhere, anywhere. Reading Abbi Waxman's novel is a good start. From the first page to the last, this is a book that will keep the reader giggling, chuckling and even laughing out loud over an unexpected phrase or incident or reference. Nina Hill works in an independent bookstore. She is young, introverted, shy and highly intelligent. She lives alone in a small guardhouse with her books and a cat. Life is good. Suddenly she is thrown for a loop when she meets a guy she actually might like. In addition, she discovers a father she never knew she had (recently deceased) and a whole passel of relatives thinking she should definitely not be in his will. If you dislike trivia, literary references, non sequiturs, movie quotes or anything of that nature, this is not the book for you. But for those book lovers among us, this novel is made to order. It's witty, charming, fun, highly entertaining, and I cannot praise it enough. Purchase on Our Website
by Jeanine Cummins
review by Michael
 
In her third novel, Jeanine Cummins tells the riveting story of Acapulco bookshop owner Lydia and her son, Luca, who must flee for their lives after the local cartel murders Lydia's journalist husband, along with the rest of her extended family. Hunted by the cartel at every step of the way, Lydia and Luca's only chance for survival is to abandon their comfortable middle-class life and somehow find their way to the United States. As mother and son chart their slow and perilous migration across Mexico, they team up with a pair of teenage sisters on their own treacherous journey. Cummins skillfully utilizes multiple points of view, allowing the reader to experience this heart-stopping--and often heartbreaking--story from a full range of perspectives. Every character is deeply felt, the scenes are vivid, and the story is thoroughly compelling from the first sentence to the last. Brimming with sorrow and beauty, American Dirt is essential reading for our times. Purchase on Our Website
 
Upcoming Author Readings
Poetry Reading
TONIGHT! Wednesday, January 15, 7pm
 
The Hardy Tree is Washington poet Linda Bierds's latest collection. Focusing on figures such as Thomas Hardy, Alan Turing, Virginia Woolf, and the World War One poets, The Hardy Tree examines power, oppression and individual rights in ways that reverberate through our lives today. Uniting these themes is the issue of communication—the various methods and codes we use to reach one another. Backed by Bierds' intensive research and woven with scientific evidence, she pushes us to consider our futures in direct conversation with the past. Republic Cafe is the latest collection from Portland poet David Biespiel. This is a meditative, poetic journal about love during a time of violence. The book is a tally of what appears and disappears in every moment. Mindful of epigenetic experience as our bodies become living vessels for history's tragedies, David Biespiel praises not only the essentialness of human memory, but also the sanctity of our flawed, human forgetting. More Info on Our Website
Brian Doyle's One Long River of Song
Monday, January 20, 7pm
 
Join us for Mary Miller Doyle's reading from her late husband's essay collection. When Brian Doyle passed away at the age of sixty after a bout with brain cancer, he left behind a cult-like following of devoted readers who regard his writing as one of the best-kept secrets of the twenty-first century. Doyle writes with a delightful sense of wonder about the sanctity of everyday things, and about love and connection in all their forms: spiritual love, brotherly love, romantic love, and even the love of a nine-foot sturgeon. At a moment when the world can sometimes feel darker than ever, Doyle's writing, which constantly evokes the humor and even bliss that life affords, is a balm. His essays manage to find, again and again, exquisite beauty in the quotidian, whether it's the awe of a child the first time she hears a river, or a husband's whiskers that a grieving widow misses seeing in her sink every morning. Through Doyle's eyes, nothing is dull. More Info on Our Website
Poetry Reading
Thursday, January 23, 7pm
 
Emmett Wheatfall presents his latest poetry collection, Our Scarlet Blue Wounds. He shows us how the roots of love grow deep in the soil of sacrifice. He illustrates the intensely complex relationship between idealism and realism. His poems hurt in just the right way. And it's no small feat opening one's own racial and cultural wounds for the world to see. It takes courage. It takes trust that a country will recognize itself, and its complicity, in those wounds. And Wheatfall trusts us to witness along with him. He proves himself ready and willing, even eager, to, as the titular poem in this collection demands, "build a new world" together. John Sibley Williams's latest collection is Skin Memory. He will also read from 2019's As One Fire Consumes Another. A stark, visceral collection of free verse and prose poetry, Skin Memory scours a wild landscape haunted by personal tragedy and the cruel consequences of human acts in search of tenderness and regeneration. In this book of daring and introspection, Williams considers the capriciousness of youth, the terrifying loss of cultural identity and self-identity, and what it means to live in an imperfect world. He reveals each body as made up of all bodies, histories, and shared dreams of the future. More Info on Our Website
A Generous Nature
Wednesday, January 29, 7pm
 
Portland author Marcy Houle's A Generous Nature: Lives Transformed by Oregon offers profiles of twenty-one conservationists and activists who have made enduring contributions to the preservation of Oregon’s wild and natural places and its high quality of life. These stories speak to their courage, foresight, and actions—at times against great odds—to save places, enact legislation, and motivate others to cherish and protect the places that make Oregon unique. A Generous Nature is a crucial reminder of our individual and collective responsibility to stand for and defend the places, ideals, and laws that make Oregon a progressive model for the rest of the nation. More Info on Our Website
Northwest Memoirists
Thursday, January 30, 7pm
 
How do you live when all you can feel is pain? Rachel Carter lived a picture-perfect life—then Multiple Sclerosis caught up with her. After two years of rapid decline, Rachel found herself lying on the floor, writhing in agony, hoping to die. In Enduring the Cure, Rachel Carter shares how she overcame her struggle with the debilitating disease. It’s a story of pain, decline, an experimental treatment, and healing. In Sarah Coomber's memoir The Same Moon, the recently wed—and quickly divorced—twenty-four-year-old escapes the disappointments of her Minnesota life for a job teaching English in Japan. Her plan is to use the year to reflect, heal and figure out what to do with her wrecked life. The reality? Sarah finds herself the lone English speaker in an isolated rural area, where she is drawn into serving tea to her male coworkers, performing with a koto (zither) group, advocating for her female students and colleagues, and embarking on a controversial romance with a local salaryman. This isn't the Japan Sarah was seeking, but it just might be the Japan she needs. More Info on Our Website
Prospects of Life After Birth
Monday, February 3, 7pm
 
The latest collection from Oregon poet David Hedges chronicles the first 17 years of his life, from the high drama of his birth through one lively adventure after another. At six, he swings on a rope into the fiery blast from a locomotive's smokestack. At seven, he carries water for circus elephants and earns a reserved seat under the Big Top. At 10, he helps Sailor Jim build the "world's most fantastic hobo shack." At 11, he travels to St. Louis on the Portland Rose and is taken under the wing of Louis, a black waiter who shows him the "other side" of the train, the galley, in full swing. At 15, he leads a troop of 12-year-olds to victory in the Camp Meriwether Olympics after the Scoutmaster falls ill; is serenaded up close by jazz singer June Christy; brews moonshine gin at a Central Oregon science camp, and takes in the Battle of the Strippers at two Portland burlesque theaters. At 16, he works on an Eastern Oregon ranch, pitching peas and driving a tandem axle truck in the wheat harvest--and experiencing his first brush with love. Noted poet X.J. Kennedy writes, "David Hedges has given us a major work of literature--an account of his early life in vivid, masterfully crafted verse." More Info on Our Website
A Faithful But Melancholy Account of Several Barbarities Lately Committed
Thursday, February 20, 7pm
 
The ten linked stories in Oregon author Jason Brown's A Faithful But Melancholy Account of Several Barbarities Lately Committed follow John Howland and his descendants as they struggle with their New England legacy as one of the country's founding families and the decaying trappings of that esteemed past. Set on the Maine coast, where the Howland family has lived for almost 400 years, the grandfather, John Howland, lives in a fantasy that still places him at the center of the world. The next generation resides in the confused ruins of the 1960s rebellion, while many in the third generation feel they have no choice but to scatter in search of a new identity. Brown's touching, humorous portrait of a great family in decline earns him a place among the very best linked-story collectionsJames Joyce's Dubliners, Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, Alice Munro's Beggar Maid and Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son. More Info on Our Website
American Daughter
Tuesday, February 25, 7pm
 
In her childhood, Portland author Stephanie Thornton Plymale survived neglect and horrible accidents while living with her mother. After a period of homelessness, she was placed in foster care. By age 10, Stephanie's experience was that of criminal neglect, chronic hunger, truancy, homelessness, and ongoing sexual violation. Stephanie's mother suffered from severe mental illness and was in and out of jail and a series of ghastly psych wards throughout her entire life. Meanwhile and despite all odds, Stephanie's lifelong desire for a sense of home led to her passion for interior design and burgeoning career in the industry. However, time seemed to stop when Stephanie received a call from her mother after a period of estrangement that was enforced by a court order. Her mother revealed her terminal illness and Stephanie became her mother's sole guardian. Her powerful memoir, American Daughter, tells an extraordinary story of trauma, healing and transcendence. More Info on Our Website
 
Our Favorites Books of the Decade
 
Now that the 2010s are behind us, the Annie Bloom's staff are looking back at our favorite books from the last decade. Here's a sampling of our picks. Come in to browse our Theme section for the full selection!
Bobby's Picks
 
Room, by Emma Donoghue
The Soul of an Octopus, by Sy Montgomery
Carol's Picks
 
Remarkable Creatures, by Tracy Chevalier
Lean on Pete, by Willy Vlautin
The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd
The Martian, by Andy Weir
The Last Bus to Wisdom, by Ivan Doig
Andy's Picks
 
Collected Poems, by Jack Gilbert
Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
The Indian Slow Cooker, by Anupy Singla
The Death of Expertise, by Tom Nichols
The Return of Munchausen, by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky
Edie's Picks
 
The Orchardist, by Amanda Coplin
Fever, by Deon Meyer
A Single Thread, by Tracy Chevalier
The Tiger, by John Vaillant
Educated, by Tara Westover
Michael's Picks
 
All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan
Tenth of December, by George Saunders
Go, Went, Gone, by Jenny Erpenbeck
Erin's Picks
 
The Neapolitan Novels, by Elena Ferrante
H Is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald
The End of Days, by Jenny Erpenbeck
Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
Flights, by Olga Tokarczuk
Will's Picks
 
Fear City, by Kim Phillips-Fein
The Unwinding, by George Packer
Orfeo, by Richard Powers
Ruby's Picks
 
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli
Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo
Quiet, by Susan Cain
Aaron's Picks
 
Midnight in Chernobyl, by Adam Higginbotham
Wasteland, by W. Scott Poole
A Spy Among Friends, by Ben Macintyre
Sandy's Picks
 
On Tyranny, by Timothy Snyder
The Library Book, by Susan Orlean
Lights Out, by Ted Koppel
Sharon's Picks
 
Jane Steele, by Lyndsay Faye
The Nix, by Nathan Hill
Magpie Murders, by Anthony Horowitz
The Martian, by Andy Weir
Nick's Picks
 
Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer
Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari
Walkaway, by Cory Doctorow
1493, by Charles C. Mann
Chasing the Scream, by Johann Hari
Karen's Picks
 
The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill
Scythe, by Neal Shusterman
Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi
Martin Marten, by Brian Doyle