January 2014: Staff Reviews & More

 
In This Issue:
More Staff Favorites
theme section
World Book Night
Staff Reviews
Readings
New in Psycholocy
More Staff Faves
Our staff enjoyed these books, too.

by Joni Rendon & Shannon McKenna Schmidt
by George Saunders
 
by Donna Tartt
 
by Robert Crais

by Marlene Zuk
Valentine's Day Books
Unlikely Loves
by Jennifer S. Holland

by Alexander McCall Smith
 
by Todd Parr
     Love Sense
by Sue Johnson
 
by Lauren Myracle
Join Our Mailing List
Thanks for Giving!

Thank you to our customers for another successful Holiday Giving Tree Book Drive. With your generous support we were able to fulfill the Wishlists for children benefited by the Community Transitional School and Neighborhood House as well as meet our donation goals for SMART and Raphael House.
A total of 359 books were donated this year!

January 2014: Staff Reviews & More

Greetings!

Here are three new staff reviews for you! We also have some great readings coming up. Plus, see our Valentine's Day Books and check out what's new in Psychology.   
Staff Reviews
Our staff brings you three new favorites:

The Luminaries
by Eleanor Catton
reviewed by Michael
This homage to 19th century literature takes place in a small New Zealand gold rush town, where the newly arrived Walter Moody stumbles upon a clandestine meeting between a dozen men, including a priest, a druggist, a hotelier, a Maori warrior, and a pair of Chinamen. In turn, the members of this unlikely assemblage narrate to Moody the recent spate of events that have brought them together: a hermit's death, a prospector's disappearance, a prostitute's near-fatal overdose, a missing fortune in pure gold, and the recent arrivals of an ambitious politician, the dead hermit's mysterious wife, and a scar-faced ship's captain. Eleanor Catton brilliantly unfurls all of these interconnected plotlines via her richly drawn and fully inhabited characters. Though epic in length, I tore through this novel. Catton's Booker Prize was well earned.

Badluck Way
by Bryce Andrews
reviewed by Bobby
I picked up Badluck Way, subtitled "A Year on the Ragged Edge of the West," drawn by the title but uncertain whether I would find it interesting. I emerged from this haunting meditation two days later feeling "heartsore"-- the word Andrews uses to describe his anguish at being torn between his rage at the ravaging of the cattle under his care and his fascination and kinship with the wolves, one of which he must kill. The gorgeous 18,000 acre ranch in southern Montana is also a character, covered with windswept grasslands but also littered with blood and bones. As author Jana Harris noted, this account reads like "a campfire ghost story." Andrews does justice to a timely issue in a candid and eloquent voice.

The Rosie Project
by Graeme Simsion
reviewed by Sandy
This is a laugh-out-loud read. The main character has Asperger's, and while the syndrome is anything but funny, the author deals with the subject with honesty and respect and has created a loveable and lovely character. Don Tillman is a good-looking, successful, intelligent bachelor. When he decides it's time to get married, he goes about attempting to find the ideal woman in his typical methodical style, by first having each "applicant" answer a 16-page, double-sided, questionnaire (The Wife Project) which he figures will save time by first weeding out all those not meeting his requirements. Then along comes Rosie who has none of the qualifications he's looking for. This book is utterly charming and delightful. Caution: I wouldn't advise reading it in public. 
Readings
We have great readings scheduled for January and February:

Stephanie Lehmann
Astor Place Vintage
Wednesday, January 22, 7pm
In this novel, Amanda Rosenbloom, proprietor of Astor Place Vintage, thinks she's on just another call to appraise and possibly purchase clothing from a wealthy, elderly woman. But after discovering a journal sewn into a fur muff, Amanda gets much more than she anticipated. The pages of the journal reveal the life of Olive Westcott, a young woman who had moved to Manhattan in 1907. As Amanda reads the journal, her life begins to unravel until she can no longer ignore this voice from the past. Despite being separated by one hundred years, Amanda finds she's connected to Olive in ways neither could ever have imagined.

Phillip Margolin
Worthy Brown's Daughter
Monday, January 27, 7pm
The Portland author explores intriguing new territory in this compelling historical drama, set in nineteenth-century Oregon, that combines a heartbreaking story of slavery and murder. One of a handful of lawyers in the new state of Oregon, recently widowed Matthew Penny agrees to help Worthy Brown, a newly freed slave, rescue his fifteen year old daughter, Roxanne, from their former master, a powerful Portland lawyer. Worthy's lawsuit sets in motion events that lead to Worthy's arrest for murder and create an agonizing moral dilemma that could send either Worthy or Matthew to the hangman.

Kathy Masarie
Face to Face: Cultivating Kids' Social Lives in Today's Digital World
Tuesday, February 4, 7pm
As caring adults, we must protect the building blocks of kids' vitality and wellness. Outdoor play, family ties, safe havens, creativity, and rituals-these critical assets are especially vulnerable in a time of unprecedented busyness and ever-present media influence. To assist parents, grandparents, educators, and counselors in helping their children navigate the complexity of fostering relationships, we have written an inspiring guide: Face to Face: Cultivating Kids' Social Lives in Today's Digital World. The more people who read our book or hear our authors speak, the sooner we can shift the consciousness toward the value of real relationships in our kids' lives.

Mark Braverman
A Wall in Jerusalem
Thursday, February 6, 7pm
An American Jew, Braverman thought he understood the reasons for Israel's existence. But when he began to understand the forces perpetuating the conflict, he realized just how far we are from achieving peace. Drawing on the historical lessons of the Civil Rights movement and the struggle against South African apartheid, Braverman offers a course of action both at home and abroad that will bring about a just and lasting peace. He delivers a strong message to Jews and Christians alike: it is not anti-Semitic to stand up for justice for the Palestinian people. A Wall in Jerusalem offers a provocative and unique perspective on this controversial issue and specific, real-time prescriptions for action, with specific emphasis on the role of the church in our time.

Harriet Scott Chessman
The Beauty of Ordinary Things
Wednesday, February 12, 7pm

Back from a tour of duty in Vietnam, Benny Finn, eldest son in a large Irish-American family, strives to find his bearings amid the everyday life of 1973 New England. At a Benedictine abbey in rural New Hampshire, Sister Clare, a young novice, confronts the day-to-day realities of a cloistered existence. Linking these two is Isabel Howell, a college student soon to discover that she must chart the course of her own life in a way she could not have imagined. Deeply felt, often luminously moving, The Beauty of Ordinary Things carries forward the promise of Harriet Scott Chessman's earlier work, revealing a writer richly aware of the range of human tragedy and tenderness.

 

Oregon Poets Jenny Root, Dawn Diez Willis, and Carl Adamschick
Thursday, February 13, 7pm

Jenny Root is the author of the collection The Company of Sharks. She lives in Eugene, working as an editor and event planner at an educational nonprofit in criminal justice.

Portland poet Carl Adamshick is the author of the collection Curses and Wishes. His new collection, Saint Friend, will be published by McSweeney's in August 2014.

Dawn Diez Willis is a poet, editor, and teacher. The author of Still Life with Judas & Lightning, she holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Oregon.

 

Suzy Vitello & Kate Scott

Portland Teen Read Novelists

Tuesday, February 18, 7pm

 

Both of these young adult novels are set in Southwest Portland! In Kate Scott's Counting to D, Sam is sick of being known for her dyslexia. When she starts at a new school, she decides not to tell anyone about her little illiteracy problem. Sam's got to get the grades, get the guy, and get it straight--without being able to read. Suzy Vitello's The Moment Before is a novel about a 17-year-old girl, Brady Wilson, whose popular sister has just died in a tragic cheerleading accident. And the boy everyone blames for the accident seems to be her only ally in her search for answers surrounding her sister's death. 

 

Judy Nedry
The Difficult Sister
Wednesday, February 19, 7pm
The Difficult Sister is the newest mystery/suspense novel featuring Emma Golden. This latest adventure takes Emma and her friend, Melody, to a remote, southern Oregon Coastal town to search for Melody's missing, ne'er-do-well younger sister, Aurora. However, they quickly both realize that at the very least, Aurora is in some sort of major trouble and may even be dead. Emma, a snarky, fifty-something, former food and wine writer, is recovering from a series of sad, drunken escapades that successfully ended her career. Melody, rich, high-handed and spoiled, expects those around her to do her bidding. Instead the two women discover that there are secrets to protect, bodies to uncover, and unexpected passions that threaten to derail the investigation.
New in Psychology  
Here are some of the latest titles from our Psychology & Self-Help section:

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking
by Oliver Burkeman
Burkeman introduces us to an unusual group of people who share a single, surprising way of thinking about life. They argue that in our personal lives, and in society at large, it's our constant effort to be happy that is making us miserable. And that there is an alternative path to happiness and success that involves embracing failure, pessimism, insecurity, and uncertainty--the very things we spend our lives trying to avoid. The Antidote is the intelligent person's guide to understanding the much-misunderstood idea of happiness. 

Happier at Home
by Gretchen Rubin
Here, the author of The Happiness Project goes deeper on factors that matter for home, such as possessions, marriage, time, and parenthood. Each month, Rubin tackles a different theme as she experiments with concrete, manageable resolutions--and this time, she coaxes her family to try some resolutions, as well. With her signature blend of memoir, science, philosophy, and experimentation, Rubin's passion for her subject jumps off the page, and reading just a few chapters of this book will inspire readers to find more happiness in their own lives.

My Age of Anxiety
by Scott Stossel
Drawing on his own long-standing battle with anxiety, Stossel presents an astonishing history, at once intimate and authoritative, of the efforts to understand anxiety from medical, cultural, philosophical, and experiential perspectives. Stossel vividly depicts anxiety's human toll-its crippling impact, its devastating power to paralyze--while at the same time exploring how those who suffer from it find ways to manage and control it. My Age of Anxiety is learned and empathetic, humorous and inspirational, offering the reader great insight into the biological, cultural, and environmental factors that contribute to the affliction.

The Question Book
by Mikael Krogerus
There's one truly great way to learn about ourselves and others: ask questions. The Question Book is full of provocative questions, with space for you to answer. It canvasses a wide range of subjects, from the professional (How replaceable are you?) to the personal (Whose future do you have an influence on?) to the everyday (How much time do you spend on the Internet?). Intended to provoke short "yes or no" answers as well as open-ended responses, The Question Book can be used alone as a journal or as a conversation starter with a group of friends. Brief, direct, and compulsively fun to answer, each one of the more than 600 questions is an opportunity to gain insight and wisdom into our everyday lives.