Friday, January 30, 2009

Live Through This: A Mother's Memoir of Runaway Daughters

Eugene writer Debra Gwartney’s memoir, Live Through This: A Mother’s Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love is a riveting account of being a single parent. Gwartney is the mother of four daughters, and after her divorce, she moved with her girls from Arizona to Eugene. Amanda and Stephanie, the two oldest girls, full of anger and blaming their mother for their broken lives, soon ran away and spent the next several years living on and off the streets. The author went through years of trying to find them and help them and bring them back home, only to have them leave again. This is a ruthlessly honest and incredibly brave book – one that deals with the unraveling of a family, and also with the hard work of forgiveness it takes to mend one. It’s also impossible to put down. We read it in one sitting. (Note: Debra Gwartney will be at the store on March 10th to read from this book!)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Shaun Tan's Tales From Outer Suburbia

Since our favorite blogger, Sally, is on vacay (well, okay, she's not really on vacay--she's actually braving the wilds of Salt Lake City to attend the American Bookseller Association's mid-winter institute in order to learn how to better serve you, our lovely, loyal customers) she has asked me (Jennie) to guest spot for the next few days. And, since I happen to love graphic novels, it is likely that they will be the subject of my posts. If you have yet to check out our graphic novel section, perhaps it is time to break out of that reading rut and try something new. I'm always happy to make suggestions...

That being said, my current recommendation is Shaun Tan's Tales From Outer Suburbia (Scholastic, $19.99). Tan is the author/illustrator of the amazingly beautiful and moving The Arrival (which is also worth taking a gander at if you happen to be browsing for something different). Tales is a series of illustrated vignettes detailing fantastical little slices of life from suburbia. The characters and plots that inhabit his strange universe may seem unusual and foreign, but the emotions they arouse will most certainly be familiar. Now, I should tell you this--I am not generally a crier. Sure, I can be sentimental, but rarely do I allow the expulsion of salty moisture to leak from my ducts. However, I will admit to you that one paticular story in this book made me bust out into a serious blubber-fest. (What's even worse is that I was reading it at the store, and there were customers around!--which just goes to show you how affected I was by it.) It's not so much that the story was sad, but that it was just incredibly moving in the simplicity of its message. Still makes me feel a little misty just thinking about it...

My point (circuitous as it may seem) is that it is a spectacularly awesome book that is worth a trip to Broadway Books. And, it's appropriate for big and little people of all ages. What a great deal.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sebastian Barry Wins 2008 Costa Book of the Year

Irish author Sebastian Barry has won the 2008 Costa Book of the Year award for The Secret Scripture, a moving account of one woman's stolen life and her journey to reclaim the past. The announcement was made last night at an awards ceremony in London. The Costa Book Awards recognize the most enjoyable books of the last year by writers based in the UK and Ireland. Originally established as the Whitbread Award in 1971, Costa took over sponsorship of this prestigious and popular book prize in 2006.

Barry, the bookmaker's odds-on favorite, won against one of the most acclaimed collections of finalists in the Book Awards history, beating 91 year-old author Diana Athill for her memoir Somewhere Towards the End, bestselling first-time novelist Sadie Jones for The Outcast, poet and writer Adam Foulds for The Broken Word and popular children's writer Michelle Magorian for Just Henry, to win the overall prize and a check for £25,000.

Matthew Parris, chair of the final judges, said: "Sebastian Barry has created one of the great narrative voices in contemporary fiction in The Secret Scripture. It is a book of great brilliance, powerfully and beautifully written." The Secret Scripture, published by Faber and Faber (published in the US by Viking), is the ninth novel to take the overall prize. A. L. Kennedy was the last author to win the Book of the Year with a novel, taking the prize in 2007 for Day. Since the introduction of the Book of the Year award in 1985, it has been won eight times by a novel, four times by a first novel, five times by a biography, five times by a collection of poetry and once by a children's book. Novels named Book of the Year in previous years include Small Island, by Andrea Levy; The Tenderness of Wolves, by Stef Penny; The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, by Mark Haddon.

Here's something I didn't know: Costa, the sponsor of this award, is now officially the largest and fastest growing coffee shop chain in the UK. The chain was founded by brothers Sergio and Bruno Costa in 1971. Hmmmm. I kind of wish I still didn't know that.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Saying Goodbye to John Updike

John Updike, a leading writer of his generation who chronicled the emotional drama of American small-town life with searing wit and vivid prose, died on Tuesday of lung cancer. He was 76. Updike died in a hospice in Massachusetts, the state where he lived for many years. He was known for mining themes of sexual tension and spiritual and moral angst in small-town settings. Updike wrote four novels and a novella about the life of the fictional Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom: Rabbit is Rich, published in 1981, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. A decade later, Rabbit at Rest won a second Pulitzer. His most recent novel, published this past fall, was The Widows of Eastwick, a follow-up to his 1984 novel The Witches of Eastwick.

Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, he studied English at Harvard University, where he contributed to and later edited the satirical Harvard Lampoon magazine. He later joined the writing staff of the New Yorker. One of America's most prolific writers, Updike was acclaimed nearly as much for his short stories, poetry, and critical essays as for his novels. In 2005 he was asked in an interview which genre he preferred -- short stories, novels, poetry or criticism -- he paused before answering: "If I had been asked that 10 years ago I would have said short stories is where I feel most at home. I'm not sure I do feel totally at home any more, whether I have maybe written all my short stories. In a short story, as short a form as it is, you've got to make everything count toward a certain effect at the end. That's maybe a muscular feat that I've lost muscle to perform," he added. "But anyway I'm still trying."

Celebrating William Stafford Tonight

Please join us tonight for our annual birthday celebration of the life and work of the wonderful William Stafford. The world-wide William Stafford birthday celebrations are coordinated by Paulann Petersen. Tonight at Broadway Books, Harold Johnson will be hosting our birthday event. Other readers include Casey Bush, Paula Lowden, Joanna Rose, Mazarine Treyz, Stephanie Van Horn and FWS Board Member Tim Barnes. After the designated readings, we'll open the floor to members of the audience who wish to read their favorite William Stafford poems. This event is always joyful, celebratory, and well-attended, so come early to get a good seat! We hope to see you tonight -- festivities will begin at 7 pm.

Monday, January 26, 2009

National Book Critics Circle Award Finalists

The National Book Critics Circle announced the finalists for its 2008 awards in New York City Saturday night. I'm particularly excited about the recognition for The Eaves of Heaven, by Andrew X. Pham, author of Catfish and Mandala -- what beautifully written books, two of my all-time favorites. Here are the rest of the finalists:


  • Roberto Bolano, 2666 (FSG)
  • Marilynne Robinson, Home (FSG)
  • Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project (Riverhead)
  • M. Glenn Taylor, The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart (West Virginia University Press)
  • Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kittredge (Random House)

  • Rick Bass, Why I Came West (Houghton Mifflin)
  • Helene Cooper, The House on Sugar Beach (Simon & Schuster)
  • Honor Moore, The Bishop's Daughter (W.W. Norton)
  • Andrew X. Pham, The Eaves of Heaven (Harmony Books)
  • Ariel Sabar, My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq (Algonquin)

  • Dexter Filkins, The Forever War (Knopf)
  • Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the Civil War (Knopf)
  • Jane Mayer, The Dark Side (Doubleday)
  • Allan Lichtman, White Protestant Nation (Atlantic Monthly Press)
  • George C. Herring, From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776 (Oxford University Press)

  • Paula J. Giddings, Ida: A Sword Among Lions (Amistad)
  • Steve Coll, The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in an American Century (Penguin Press)
  • Patrick French, The World is What it is: The Authorized Biography of V.S. Naipaul (Knopf)
  • Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (Norton)
  • Brenda Wineapple, White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson & Thomas Wentworth Higginson (Knopf)

  • August Kleinzahler, Sleeping it Off in Rapid City (FSG)
  • Juan Felipe Herrera, Half the World in Light (University of Arizona Press)
  • Devin Johnston, Sources (Turtle Point Press)
  • Pierre Martory, trans by John Ashbery, The Landscapist (Sheep Meadow Press)
  • Brenda Shaughnessy, Human Dark with Sugar (Copper Canyon Press)

  • Richard Brody, Everything is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard (Metropolitan Books)
  • Vivian Gornick, The Men in My Life (Boston Review/MIT)
  • Joel L. Kraemer, Maimonides: The Life and World of One of Civilization's Greatest Minds (Doubleday)
  • Reginald Shepherd, Orpheus in the Bronx: Essays on Identity, Politics, and the Freedom of Poetry (University of Michigan Press)
  • Seth Lerer, Children's Literature: A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter (University of Chicago Press)

Newbery & Caldecott Award Winners Announced

Neil Gaiman has won the 2009 Newbery Medal for The Graveyard Book (Harper Collins) and Beth Krommes has won the 2009 Randolph Caldecott Medal for The House in the Night (Houghton Mifflin), written by Susan Marie Swanson. The awards were announced this morning at the American Library Association's midwinter conference in Denver.

Four books were named Newbery Honor Books: The Underneath (Simon & Schuster/Atheneum) by Kathi Appelt; The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom (Holt) by Margarita Engle; Savvy (Dial) by Ingrid Law; and After Tupac & D Foster (Putnam) by Jacqueline Woodson.

There were three Caldecott Honor Books: A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever (Harcourt) by Marla Frazee; How I Learned Geography (FSG) by Uri Shulevitz; and A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams (Eerdmans) illustrated by Melissa Sweet and written by Jen Bryant.

The Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production went to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Recorded Books), written and narrated by Sherman Alexie.

The John Newbery Medal is a literary award given by the American Library Association to the author of the Outstanding American Children's Book. The award is named for John Newbery, an 18th century publisher of juvenile books, and has been given since 1922. The Caldecott Medal, awarded annually by the ALA to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children published that year, was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. The Caldecott award was established in 1937.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Temple Grandin's Latest is a Winner

Temple Grandin, writing with Catherine Johnson, is the author of Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior. Together they have produced a new book, Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals. Grandin is a professor of animal science at Colorado University, but she is best known for her work with the meat industry and with companies such as McDonald's who buy from the meat industry and her efforts to improve the lives of the animals they work with. In fact, she has designed humane and stress-free slaughter systems that are used to process about half of all the cattle in the US and Canada. Her response when asked how she can work with industries that slaughter animals? "Some peole think death is the most terrible thing that can happen to an animal....The most important thing for an animal is the quality of life.

In this new book she talks about her work with the meat industry, but also about her work with zoo keepers, ranchers, farmers, and other animal owners -- including regular old pet owners like you and me. Sometimes, she says, the lives of cattle on their way to slaughter can be better than those of some pets: "Too many dogs are alone all day with no human or dog companions." With all animals, she says, the key is to work with the animal's nature, rather than against it, and to recognize the physical and behavioral signs of both stress and satisfaction to bring out the best in any species.

Many of the observations in this book are based on the work of WSU neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp, who has identified a series of core emotion systems in animals. "All animals and people have the asme core emotion systems in the brain," she writes.

Animals Make Us Human is essential reading for anyone who's ever owned, cared for, or simply cared about an animal. It is destined to become a classic in the field of human/animal relationships. The book is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ($26).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Big Day for Portland Filmmaker

The nominations for this year's Academy Awards were announced this morning, and local filmmaker Gus Van Sant was a big winner, with his movie "Milk" earning eight nominations. I saw this movie recently and I would say it is deserving of all this recognition and more. Simply wonderful. (But bring tissues.) The eight nominations are for Best Picture, Best Actor (Sean Penn), Best Supporting Actor (Josh Brolin), Best Director (Van Sant), Best Original Screen Play (Dustin Lance Black), Best Film Editing (Elliot Grahm), Best Costume Design (Danny Glicker), and Best Original Score (Danny Elfman). The Oscars will be presented on Sunday, February 22. Congratulations and good luck to Gus!

If the movie has piqued your interest about Harvey Milk and you'd like to learn more, check out the book The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, by Randy Shilts. We've got the book in paperback at the store.

I was surprised to see that "Revolutionary Road," based on a novel by one of my favorite writers, Richard Yates, was essentially shut out of the Oscars. I haven't seen this movie yet, but my friends who have say it is stunning. Interestingly," The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" earned the most awards of any movie this year -- thirteen. The movie is adapted from a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, who of course is also the author of The Great Gatsby. When Revolutionary Road was published in 1962 -- a finalist for that year's National Book Award -- author Kurt Vonnegut called it "The Great Gatsby of my of the best books by a member of my generation." If you haven't read anything by Yates (who died in 1992), I highly encourage you to do so -- but don't be counting on anything particularly upbeat; that just wasn't his thing.

How to Find a Book Club

Speaking of book clubs, are you looking to start the new year by joining a book club? Maybe you're looking for one that reads only classics, or maybe you want a non-fiction-only club. Whatever you're looking for, here are a couple of Web sites you can use to help you find just the right club. -- then type in "book clubs" -- and type in your zip code

The local branch of your library might also be able to steer you to a book club that's right for you.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Book Club in a Rut?

If your book club is in a rut, just call on the Book Broads to get you whizzing down the road again. Give us a call (503-284-1726) and let's talk about some options -- you come to us, we come to you, we meet somewhere in the middle, we send you some suggestions. We're open to all sorts of possibilities, so let's talk! We love to talk about books -- and we're happy to fill you in on some of the new books coming out in hardback and paperback throughout the year. Just give us an idea of the kinds of books your group likes to read, and we'll come up with some ideas.

Calling All Grisham Fans!

Yes, he's back with another thriller! The Associate, by John Grisham, will hit our shelves next Tuesday, January 27th. Remember Mitch McDeere from The Firm? Well, in The Associate Kyle McAvoy is in an even deeper world of hurt. He excelled in college and was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal. But he has one deep dark secret from an episode at college, and naturally it falls into the wrong hands. So Kyle finds himself working reluctantly at the world's largest law firm, where he is expected to lie, steal, and take part in a scheme that could send him to prison - if not get him killed. Grisham is a great storyteller, and this book has the usual cast of unforgettable characters. We open at 10 am on Tuesday, so come on down!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What an Incredible Day!

Wow. Inauguration Day has finally come. How exciting was it to watch today's inauguration of Barack Obama?? Almost as exciting as watching the swearing in of the new president and vice-president and the activities before and after was watching the people watching the events -- whether it was the people who braved long lines and frigid temperatures to watch the events in person, or the shots of people in cities all over the world clustered together to watch the events on big screens, or the thoughts of people gathered together or individually in homes around TVs or radios or computers to follow along, no matter their age, race, gender, or location. It was just darned tootin' exciting.

As a bookseller, I'm particularly excited to have a president in the White House who is not only an avid reader but also a respected author, and someone who is proud to wear both labels. In our store we have books about Barack Obama, including the newly published A Long Time Coming: The Inspiring, Combative, 2008 Campaign and the Historic Election of Barack Obama by Evan Thomas of Newsweek and Obama: From Promise to Power by David Mendell. From Life Magazine and Little, Brown we have The American Journey of Barack Obama. And for younger readers there is Barack Obama: United States President by Roberta Edwards and Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope by Nikkie Grimes. And these are just a few of the many!

Then there are the books we've heard that President Obama has praised or used to guide him at different times in his life, including The Bible, the collected writings of Lincoln, Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, Shakespeare's tragedies, Melville's Moby-Dick, Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch, and -- most recently -- Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin and The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope by Jonathan Alter. Again, this is just a sampling of the many cited or that he has been seen reading.

And, finally, there are the books he has written himself. Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, his memoir, has been touted by many as a work of literature, as well as a wonderful story and view into his background. And Audacity of Hope: Thoughts of Reclaiming the American Dream has joined his first book as a consistent New York Times bestseller.

What a great time to be a reader. What a great time to be a bookseller. What a great time to be an American.

Full-Size Calendars for Half the Price!

Tick tock tick tock....It's almost February; do you have all the calendars you need? These calendars are so gorgeous you could probably use one in every room, don't you think? Starting today, all of our 2009 calendars and datebooks are 50% off, so you can afford to outfit your entire house! Let's see, the golf calendar for the den, the bird calendar for the living room, the food-for-thought calendar for the kitchen, the Portland Bridges calendar for the bedroom, and the extreme ironing calendar for the laundry room. Got more than one bedroom? Not to worry, we have lots and lots of calendars. They'll go fast, so come in soon while the selection's still good.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tomorrow's the Big Day!

Yes, it's that day we've all been waiting for: the day when Peter Fogdtal comes to Broadway Books to read from The Tsar's Dwarf!! We've been waiting so long for this day to get here -- eight long years! No, wait a minute; wrong event. It's the inauguration tomorrow that we've been waiting for for eight long oh-so-very-long years. I knew there was something else going on tomorrow besides the reading....But really, how about after whooping it up all day celebrating Barack Obama's inauguration, when you're feeling all warm and fuzzy and cheerful and full of hope, come to Broadway Books to continue that warm and fuzzy feeling.

Our night with Peter is sure to be fun and entertaining. Sure, he's written a well-received book about a Danish dwarf living in 18th Century Russia, along with eleven other novels in Danish. But he's also a bit of a hoot. He lives part of the year in Copenhagen and part of the year in Portland. When in Portland he teaches at PSU. This term he is teaching a course he developed called European Comedy and Satire. According to his blog, "I often cry myself to sleep when students refuse to take my classes. I mean, why does everbody want to become doctors, lawyers, and nail technicians, when they can take meaningless courses from me?" He points out that there are about 25,000 students at PSU, which means about 24,990 have chosen not to take his class this quarter. Bummer.

He also has this to say about Portland: "Portland is the most trendy city in the US. At least it was trendy before I came. Now I'm not so sure." And this: "Portland is known as being a hotbed for liberals, lesbians, and environmentalists with acne, so you don't find many fan clubs for Dick Cheney here. Portland has a European feel as well. You can actually ride your bike in the city without getting slaughtered."

Now who can resist an evening with Peter Fogdtal as a perfect cap to an exquisite day of celebration? We hope you'll join us at 7 pm Tuesday night to hear Peter read from The Tsar's Dwarf and talk about whatever else is on his mind.

Looking for a Great Deal????

We just received a new shipment of sale books, and our shelves are bursting with great bargains! We only have a couple of each, so hurry in to check out the selection. There are fabulous deals to be had -- cookbooks, art books, gardening books, birding books, children's books, and plenty of good fiction and non-fiction. Grab yourself a copy of Richard Ford's novel The Lay of the Land in hardback for only $6.50, or Daniel Mendelsohn's The Lost for only $7.50. If you're a doggie fan, snatch up a collection of classic dog literature -- Best Dog Stories -- for only $4.50. A biography of Harper Lee, Boris Akunin's mysteries, a book on the history of woodcraft -- all kinds of treasures to be found. But don't delay or you might miss out on your favorites. We've also got some great new music collections at fabulous prices.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Rumpole's Creator Dies

British lawyer and writer John Mortimer, creator of the curmudgeonly criminal lawyer Rumpole of the Bailey, died Friday at age 85. Mortimer was both a lawyer and a writer. He published his first novel in 1947 and was best known for his character Horace Rumpole, a cigar-smoking, wine-loving barrister. He also wrote dozens of screen and stage plays and radio dramas, including the 1891 television adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. Mortimer was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998. He was a noted raconteur and wit who "ruthlessly" used material from his own life in his writings.

He said he found writing to be far more challenging than lawyering: "No brilliance is required in law. Just common sense and relatively clean fingernails." As a lawyer he represented Penguin, the publisher of D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterly's Lover, against obscenity charges in the 1960s. He also noted that he found the murderers he represented far easier to work with than the divorce cases: "Matrimonial clients hate each other so much and use their children to hurt each other in beastly ways. Murderers have usually killed the one person in the world that was bugging them and they're usually quite peaceful and agreeable." He adds, "People will go to endless trouble to divorce one person and then marry someone who's exactly the same, except probably a bit poorer and a bit nastier."

Fleeting Beauty

In a recent conversation with the publisher of Wild Beauty: Photographs of the Columbia River Gorge, 1867-1957, we learned that the first printing is just about gone -- just what's left on store shelves. The book currently sells for $75, but in the next printing the price is likely to go up -- probably to around $100 or so. We've still got copies of the first printing, but they're going fast. If you want a copy stop by soon or give us a call (503-284-1726). This book -- recently recognized by the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association -- is indeed a treasure.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Anthologies of African-American Writing

Although the official Martin Luther King Jr holiday is not until Monday, today -- January 15th -- is his actual birthday. He was born January 15th, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, and was assassinated 39 years later in Memphis, Tennessee. There will be lots of events on Monday to celebrate the birth of this great and important man -- and how wonderful to be honoring him on the eve of the inauguration of the nation's first African-American president! In the meantime, however, there are some new books in the store to help get things started. The African-American Experience: Black History and Culture through Speeches, Letters, Editorials, Poems, Songs, and Stories is edited by Kai Wright and contains excerpts from more than 300 primary documents recording the transformation of a people in captivity into a proud community defined by its members rather than by its oppressors. These excerpts, organized chronologically, include writings by Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Cornel West, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, and many more. The anthology is pubished by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers.

Two other new anthologies in the store are Best African American Essays (with guest editor Debra J. Dickerson) and Best African American Fiction (with guest editor E. Lynn Harris). Gerald Early is the series editor for both books. The fiction anthology will showcase the year's most outstanding fiction by some of today's finest African-American authors. Refreshingly, not all of the stories are set in the US, as African-American life plays out beyond the borders of this country. The anthology also includes young adult material.

The essay anthology is intended to showcase the range and variety of African-American essays, including personal, literary, polemical, intellectual, comic, and contemplative writings. And while the series promises to feature writers of African descent, it will also, from time to time, reprint good writing by non-African Americans on African-American subjects. Both of these anthologies are published by Bantam Dell, a subsidiary of Random House, and are the first in what will be annual anthologies.

Where to Go When in the Great Northwest

Wouldn't it be great if you could know exactly where and when to go if you want to see migrating whales, nesting puffins, soaring raptors, tidepool treasures, frozen waterfalls, nesting great blue herons, wintering waterfowl, blooming mountain wildflowers, and more great experiences of the natural world of the Pacific Northwest? Well, now you can! Just published by Timber Press is The Northwest Nature Guide: Where to Go and What to See Month by Month in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, by James Luther Davis. The book presents 150 best bets for wildlife adventures throughout the Northwest and even in your own backyard! With contagious enthusiasm and laugh-out-loud humor, popular Oregon naturalist Davis gets you where you need to go to see nature at its peak every month of the year. As the author says in his introduction: "Ahh, another day in paradise. If you've lived in the Pacific Northwest for long you've probably figured out that you reside in one of the greatest places on Earth. Yet, like urbanites in any developed country, we Northwesterners spend so much of our time in environments of our own creation and on schedules of our own design that we are out of touch with the natural world and its rhythms." This book is the cure for that, enabling you to have "outdoor adventures that leave you feeling revitalized and inspired, with a renewed sense of wonder and appreciation for nature. You may even have some experiences that can best be described as spiritual." What are you waiting for? There's no better way to push through the winter doldrums than to explore the natural treasures of the Northwest.

These Kids Can Write!

Writers in the Schools is a program of Literary Arts, a statewide, nonprofit organization that enriches the lives of Oregonians through language and literature. In 2007-2008, Writers in the Schools placed writers in 73 classrooms to lead semester-long writing workshops with students in nineteen schools: Sixty-one talented, inspired and brave Portland Public High School teachers working with 25 professional writers and more than 2,600 students. During this dedicated writing time, students experimented with poems, plays, fiction, creative nonfiction and graphic novels. They wrote about themselves, their families, their friends and the world we all share. A selection of their work -- honest, wise and funny -- has just been published in the anthology entitled I Once was Young and Strong: Writers in the Schools 2007-2008 Student Anthology, with cover art by Jeff Vorhies of Lincoln High School and back cover art by Emily Spearing, also of Lincoln High School. Mary Rechner directs the Writers in the School Program, and Broadway Books is proud to be a supporter of this great program. The anthology is available for purchase for $10 at our store.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Web Site is Alive, I mean Live!

Yes, after months of promises promises, I'm happy to announce that the first-ever Broadway Books official Web site is up and running! It's a work-in-progress, of course, so please forgive any slips. We'd love to get your feedback on the site -- what would you like to find there, how does it look, and so on -- so please drop us an email (or use the contact page on the site). You can reach us at The address for our site is Thanks for your patience!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What a great day!!!

One week from today, Tuesday, January 20th, will be a great day indeed! In the morning, you can watch the official inauguration of our 44th president -- the first African-American president in our history. In the evening, you can come to Broadway Books to hear what I'm willing to guess will be another first for you: A reading from a novel about a Danish dwarf living in 18th Century Russia. It's just a guess. Maybe you're an ardent devotee of books about Danish dwarves in 18th Century Russia. But, regardless, it's sure to be an exciting evening. Peter H. Fogtdal, author of The Tsar's Dwarf (recently translated by Tiina Nunnally and published by local Hawthorne Books), splits his time between Copenhagen and Portland, where he teaches at PSU. He was born in Copenhagen and has a degree in playwriting from Cal State Fullerton. He is the author of twelve books in Danish; this is his first to be translated into English. In the novel, Sorine, a saucy, sarcastic dwarf, is given to Russian Tsar Peter the Great by the King of Denmark, and she is taken to St. Petersburg against her will to serve as a jester in his court. This bawdy and deeply human tale is masterfully rendered and brilliantly translated. We hope you'll come join us for this entertaining evening -- and we'll all be in great moods! Well start the evening festivities at 7 pm -- come early to get a good seat.

Lunch with Calvin Trillin!

How would you (and a friend) like to have lunch with Calvin Trillin at a Vietnamese restaurant of your choice?? Literary Arts is offering a chance for you to do just that! Raffle tickets cost $25 each, or five for $100 and can be purchased at Broadway Books (cash or check only, please). Only 200 tickets max will be sold for each drawing, so your chances are good. The lunch will take place on February 17th, and Mr. Trillin will be speaking that night as part of the Portland Arts & Lectures series. Included in lunch -- besides his scintillating conversation -- will be an autographed book. Mr. Trillin's most recent book is Deciding the Next Decider: The 2008 Presidential Race in Rhyme. He is also the author of the moving memoir about his wife Alice, entitled, not surprisingly, About Alice, as well as several other collections of essays (many about food) and collections of humorous political rhymes. The winning ticket will be drawn February 10th from the stage at the Elizabeth Gilbert/Ann Patchett lecture. As they say about the lottery, you can't win if you don't play!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Love a Good Short Story?

The 2008 Story Prize finalists have just been announced. The Story Prize, in its fifth year, is an annual award for books of short fiction. This year's finalists are Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri (Knopf), Demons in the Spring, by Joe Meno (Akashic Books), and Our Story Begins, by Tobias Wolff (Knopf). The winner will be announced at a ceremony in New York City on March 4th. I'm surprised that Nam Le's The Boat, didn't make the list, but I have no quarrel with the ones selected (although I must admit I'm not familiar with Demons in the Spring -- must go check it out). I'm a big fan of good short stories. Are you? Some of my favorite writers are Alice Munro (everything) and Lorrie Moore (sadly no new collection for about ten years or so), and, recently, James Salters' Last Night. Wow. Past winners of The Story Prize include Mary Gordon, Tessa Hadley, Vincent Lam, and Jim Harrison.

It's just Me, Pooh

On October 5, 2009, the lovable bear known for getting wedged into tight spots makes his return in the first authorized sequel to A.A. Milne's Pooh series. Return to the Hundred Acre Wood will be written by novelist and playwright David Benedictus, who has adapted several Pooh stories for audio CD. The book will be published in Britain by Egmont Publishing and in the US by the Penguin imprint Dutton's Children's Books. Pooh first appeared in 1926 in Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh, followed by the 1928 sequel The House at Pooh Corner. The well-loved books have been translated into more than 50 languages, including Latin. The author says he intends "to capture the spirit and quality of those original books." I sure hope so! The Pooh books, with charming illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard, are classics, along with When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six. A recent Pooh spin-off I'm particularly fond of is Positively Pooh: Timeless Wisdom from Pooh (Penguin), with favorite quotes from Pooh texts and Shepard's illustrations. With chapters entitled, for example, "For those Bothersome Days" and "For those Hummy Sorts of Day," this book makes a great gift for Pooh lovers of all ages.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

2009 Pacific Northwest Book Awards

The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association is proud to announce the winners of its 2009 Book Awards, which were selected by a committee of independent booksellers from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska. The committee chose the following five books from nearly 200 nominees, all of which were written by Northwest authors and published in 2008. The committee also chose to give Alexandra Day, author of the ever-popular Good Dog, Carl series, a Lifetime Achievement Award. Alexandra Day is the pen name of Seattle-based author, illustrator, and publisher Sandra Louis Woodward Darling. In her Good Dog, Carl books, she has created a largely wordless, beautifully rendered world of bright colors and blissful days, the perfect fantasy of innocent exploration.

Here are the other books and authors recognized by the PNBA, as described by the Awards Committee:

Guernica: A Novel, by Dave Boling. In a fictional epic based on the very real tragedy of an extraordinary place devastated during the Spanish Civil War, debut novelist Dave Boling has written the kind of rich, compelling, and utterly unforgettable novel all too rarely attempted and even more rarely realized. Boling's remarkably researched book is a humane and thoughtful narrative of genuinely good people in impossible circumstances.

Wild Beauty: Photographs of the Columbia River Gorge 1867-1957, by John Laursen and Terry Toedtemeier. The writers/editors have selected some 130 images from dozens of photographers, covering 90 years of natural and man-made history, and, in doing so, have recreated an otherwise lost history of a truly awe-inspiring wonder of the West. This book is a beautiful and breathtaking work of research and rediscovery, to be appreciated and treasured by anyone with an interest in photography, history and the majesty of landscape.

American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon, by Steven Rinella. The author brings a contemporary sensibility and a breathtaking grasp of the history of the bufaffalo in America with him on the hunt of a lifetime. In the process, he redeems the tradition of great writing by American outdoorsmen. Few books of this or any year offer such an immediate and lasting connection with the reality of our long and often tragic interaction with the natural world.

The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein. As a novelist, Garth Stein has already shown a remarkable talent and sensitivity. In this, his third novel, the author has set himself the almost impossible task of telling his story from the perspective of the one participant whose faith in the protagonist can never be doubted: his dog. In doing so, Stein has created, in Enzo, an aging and surprisingly wise mutt, who is perhaps the most memorable narrator of the year.

The William Stafford Memorial Poetry Award to Selected Poems 1970-2005, by Floyd Skloot. In this selection from a long and accomplished career, the poet and memoirist Floyd Skloot has established his place as one of the nation's premier poets. Across a wide range of moods, Skloot offers us his deeply moving and -- ultimately -- celebratory enthusiasm for the common moment.

The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association is a non-profit trade association that supports independent bookselling, literacy, and free speech in the Pacific Northwest. Each year since 1965, the PNBA has celebrated exceptional books written by Northwest authors through its awards program.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Wimpy Tuesday!

I've already written about that wonderful series for kids (8-12 or so), The Diary of Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney. It's a hoot! Next Tuesday (January 13th) the third book in the series, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw, will be available. Call to reserve your copy today!

Fans of Shadow of the Wind

Fans of The Shadow of the Wind finally have a new book to look forward to from author Carlos Ruiz Zafon! At least once a week, someone asks me if he has written anything else, because they loved that book so much. And finally I can give them some GOOD news. The Shadow of the Wind, a bestseller in Spain (second most successful Spanish novel ever, with Don Quixote Number 1) and translated into more than 40 languages, was translated into English in 2004. Set in 1945 Barcelona -- Spain under Franco -- the book tells the story of 10-year-old Daniel, who is taken by his widowed bookseller father to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, where he is told to choose one book to protect. He soon learns that the book he has chosen is both very valuable and very much in danger. Part detective story, adventure tale, romance, fantasy, and gothic horror, with a colorful cast of characters and a meticulously crafted plot, the book tells of the perilous nature of obsession in literature and in love.

In June, Doubleday will publish The Angel's Game, which also revolves around the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, this time in 1920s Barcelona. The book is a "dizzingly constructed labyrinth of secrets where the magic of books, passion, and friendship blends into a masterful story."

If you haven't yet read The Shadow of the Wind, read it now before the new book comes out! When asked why he writes, the author says "I am in the business of storytelling. I always have been, always will be. It's what I've been doing since I was a kid." He is also a musician and a composer. In fact, at his Web site ( you can download music that he composed to accompany The Shadow of the Wind.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

From Grumpy to Blissful???

Just out in paperback is The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World, by NPR correspondent Eric Weiner. As a foreign correspondent for two decades, Weiner (pronounced, interestingly, WHINER) has traveled to 30 mostly unhappy countries, chronicling catastrophes and maladies wherever he goes. In this book, however, he chronicles his travels to some of the world's most contented places, including Switzerland, Bhutan, and Qatar. Henry Alford (author of the just-published How to Live: A Search for Wisdom from Old People) says of this book "With one single book, Eric Weiner has flushed Bill Bryson down a proverbial toilet, and I say that lovingly. By turns hilarious and profound, this is the kind of book that could change your life." And Tony Horwitz, author of Confederates in the Attic and most recently A Voyage Long Strange, says "Think Don Quixote with a dark sense of humor and a taste for hashish and you begin to grasp Eric Weiner, the modern knight-errant of this mad, sad, wise, and witty quest across four continents. I won't spoil the fun by telling if his mission succeeds, except to say that happiness is reading a book as entertaining as this."

This is what the author has to say:
"Is this a travel book? Yes, but not a typical one. While I do log thousands of miles in researching this book, it is really a travelogue of ideas. I roam the world in search of answers to the pressing questions of our time: What are the essential ingredients for a good life? Why are some places happier than others? How are we shaped by our surroundings? Why can't airlines serve a decent meal?"

"Place. That is what The Geography of Bliss is about. How place -- in every aspect of the word -- shapes us, defines us. Change your place, I believe, and you can change your life."

As for the subtitle, is he really grumpy? "Yes. I'm not particularly happy, and in that way I'm typical of my profession. Journalists are a sullen lot, perhaps understandably so, given the misery we're exposed to on a regular basis. Still, I've always had a hidden buoyancy. I'm a closet optimist. Please don't tell anyone." But through writing the book, that grumpiness has abated somewhat through the morsels of wisdom he gathered: "One of my favorites is the Thai notion of "mai pen lai." It means basically just let it go. You don't have to solve every problem right now. A simple idea, but a tremendously liberating one. I'm not exactly the Dalai Lama, but I'm definitely less grumpy than I used to be."

Give us a call (503-284-1726) if you want us to save a copy for you!