May 2018 Staff Favorites, Travel, Readings, and More!

May 2018 Staff Favorites, Travel, Readings, and More!
Read new reviews from our staff, see which authors are appearing here in late May and June, and check out the latest releases from our Travel section.
New Staff Reviews
Here are three new staff reviews for you!
by Laura Purcell
reviewed by Karen
Elsie, newly widowed and pregnant, moves from London to her husband’s country estate expecting to live in quiet comfort during the period of her confinement. Instead, she finds the house in disarray, the servants resentful, and the company of her husband’s young cousin, Sarah, less than satisfactory. Yet, when strange and dangerous events occur, Elsie and Sarah draw ever closer while the entities known as the silent companions create suspicion within the household and the nearby village. This Victorian-Gothic is not the novel read in bed – unless your intention is to remain wide awake!
by Gilbert King
reviewed by Nick
Beneath a Ruthless Sun is an all too real history of racism and corruption in rural 1950's Florida, told in a deeply readable narrative that will ensnare readers in conspiracy. Centered around sheriff Willis McCall and the injustices he frequently served to African-Americans and other disadvantaged peoples in his own Lake County, King explores institutionalized racism and the extent to which desegregation was vehemently and unconstitutionally resisted by Southern States.
by Jenny Erpenbeck
reviewed by Erin
A poignant, gripping novel about the refugee crisis challenging the globe. Recently retired and suddenly finding himself adrift, Richard becomes captivated by a group of young African refugees being housed by the German government in his quiet Berlin suburb---Who are these men? What do they want? The answers seem simple, yet issues of power, humanitarian responsibility, bureaucracy, and intolerance make their lives and reality complex. Erpenbeck is a skilled novelist, and her talent as a storyteller serves as a humanizing lens on a daunting political crisis. Go, Went, Gone is imperative for us to read, discuss, and share.
More Staff Favorites
Here are more great new titles from our Staff Favorites table (with publisher descriptions):
by Richard Powers
Powers delivers a sweeping, impassioned novel of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of--and paean to--the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, exploring the essential conflict on this planet: the one taking place between humans and nonhumans. The Overstory is a book for all readers who despair of humanity's self-imposed separation from the rest of creation and who hope for the transformative, regenerating possibility of a homecoming. If the trees of this earth could speak, what would they tell us?
by Madeline Miller
The daughter of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, is banished to a deserted island. There, Circe hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus. But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
by Patricia Lockwood
Father Greg Lockwood is unlike any Catholic priest you have ever met--a man who lounges in boxer shorts, loves action movies, and whose constant jamming on the guitar reverberates "like a whole band dying in a plane crash in 1972." His daughter is an irreverent poet who long ago left the Church's country. When an unexpected crisis leads her and her husband to move back into her parents' rectory, their two worlds collide. Lockwood pivots from the raunchy to the sublime, from the comic to the deeply serious, exploring issues of belief, belonging, and personhood. Priestdaddy is an entertaining, unforgettable portrait of a deeply odd religious upbringing, and how one balances a hard-won identity with the weight of family and tradition.
by Ruth Ware
Three women in and around London--Fatima, Thea, and Isa--receive the text they had always hoped would never come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, "I need you." The four girls were best friends at boarding school and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty. But their little game had consequences, and as the four converge in present-day Salten, they realize their shared past was not as safely buried as they had once hoped.
Upcoming Author Readings
Thursday, May 17, 7pm
Annie Bloom's welcomes Jes Baker to read from Landwhale: On Turning Insults Into Nicknames, Why Body Image Is Hard, and How Diets Can Kiss My Ass.
Baker burst onto the body positivity scene when she created her own ads mocking Abercrombie & Fitch for discriminating against all body types--a move that landed her on the Today Show and garnered a loyal following for her raw, honest, and attitude-filled blog missives. Building on the manifesta power of Things, this memoir goes deeply into Jes's inner life, from growing up a fat girl to dating while fat. With material that will have readers laughing and crying along with Jes's experience, this new book is a natural fit with her irreverent, open-book style. A deeply personal take, Landwhale is a glimpse at life as a fat woman today, but it's also a reflection of the unforgiving ways our culture still treats fatness, all with Jes's biting voice as the guide.
Poetry Reading
Monday, May 21, 7pm
Annie Bloom's welcomes local poets Penelope Scambly Schott and Kirsten Rian to read from their latest collections. Schott's House of the Cardamom Seed is a journey from the soil and roots of memory to a late flowering of wisdom, facing personal and public spaces in the world. In Life Expectancy, Kirsten Rian looks far back to her Scandinavian roots to explore what remains, cultural and genetic ties as tethers to something bigger than the literal visceral skewing of life expectancy statistics relative to her own health and her family.
The River by Starlight
Thursday, May 24, 7pm
Annie Bloom's welcomes Portland writer Ellen Notbohm, who will read from her debut novel, The River by Starlight, a sweeping century-old tale of passionate love, unimaginable loss, resilience, and redemption embodied in one woman’s tenacious quest for self-determination in the face of devastating misfortune and social injustice.
Based on true events revealed through more than a decade of research, The River by Starlight explores a history rarely seen in fiction. Its themes of women’s mental health, gender inequity, climate disaster and economic boom-and-bust remain powerfully and painfully relevant today.
Nonfiction Reading
Thursday, June 7, 2018
In Jan Redford's funny and gritty debut memoir, End of the Rope, she tells of heart-stopping adventures, from being rescued off El Capitan to leading a group of bumbling cadets across a glacier. It is her laughter-filled memoir of learning to climb, and of friendships with women in that masculine world. Rachel Rose never expected to spend her nights careening along for the ride with police K9 units. With insight, humor, and awe, The Dog Lover Unit reveals the feats that these human and canine teams accomplish, and the emotional and physical risks that they take for one another, and for us. Carol Shaben's Into the Abyss chronicles the 1984 crashing of a commuter plane in northern Alberta, killing six people. Four survived: the rookie pilot, a prominent politician, a cop, and the criminal he was escorting to face charges. As the men fight through the night to stay alive, the dividing lines of power, wealth, and status are erased, and each man is forced to confront the precious and limited nature of his existence.
Zen Odyssey
Monday, June 11, 7pm
Schwartz's biography is about Ruth Fuller Sasaki and Sokei-an Shigetsu Sasaki. One made his way to the West and the other would find her way to the East, but together they created the First Zen Institute of America and helped birth a new generation of Zen practitioners: among them, Alan Watts, Gary Snyder, and Burton Watson. They were married less than a year before Sokei-an died, but Ruth would go on to helm trailblazing translations in his honor and to become the first foreigner to be the priest of a Rinzai Zen temple in Japan.
New in Travel
Check out these great new titles:
by Eric Hazan
The author takes the reader on a walk from Ivry to Saint-Denis, roughly following the meridian that divides Paris into east and west, and passing such familiar landmarks as the Luxembourg Gardens, the Pompidou Centre, the Gare du Nord and Montmartre, as well as forgotten alleyways and arcades. Weaving historical anecdotes, geographical observations, and literary references, Hazan's walk guides us through an unknown Paris. With the aid of maps, he delineates the most fascinating and forgotten parts of the city's past and present. Drawing on his own life story, as surgeon, publisher and social critic, Hazan vividly illustrates the interplay and concord between a city and the personality it forms.
by Paul Theroux
This writerly tour-de-force features a satisfyingly varied selection of topics that showcase Theroux's sheer versatility as a writer. Travel essays take us to Ecuador, Zimbabwe, and Hawaii, to name a few. Gems of literary criticism reveal fascinating depth in the work of Henry David Thoreau, Graham Greene, Joseph Conrad, and Hunter Thompson. And in a series of breathtakingly personal profiles, we take a helicopter ride with Elizabeth Taylor, go surfing with Oliver Sacks, eavesdrop on the day-to-day life of a Manhattan dominatrix, and explore New York with Robin Williams. An extended mediation on the craft of writing binds together this wide-ranging collection, along with Theroux's constant quest for the authentic in a person or in a place.
by Rick Steves
With the world facing divisive and often frightening events, from Trump, Brexit, and Erdogan, to climate change, nativism, and populism, there's never been a more important time to travel. Rick believes the risks of travel are widely exaggerated, and that fear is for people who don't get out much. With gripping stories from Rick's decades of exploration, this fully revised edition of Travel as a Political Act is an antidote to the current climate of xenophobia. When we travel thoughtfully, we bring back the most beautiful souvenir of all: a broader perspective on the world that we all call home. All royalties from the sale of Travel as a Political Act are donated to support the work of Bread for the World, a non-partisan organization working to end hunger at home and abroad.
by Darryl Sleath
For anyone who has fallen under its spell, a car represents freedom and adventure. For decades, the American tradition of the road trip has been bound up with the idea of new possibilities and new horizons. This book is an indispensable guide to the most beautiful, breathtaking, extraordinary, and fun road trips the world has to offer. Complete with road trips varying in length and level of challenge, from an epic transglobal route inspired by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman's Long Way Round documentary series to a two-mile blast around Monaco's F1 street circuit, there is something for any adventurer. Each entry provides information about distance, start and finish points, road surfaces, must-see stop-offs, detours, and other details to plan an unforgettable trip.