Fall Books Preview!

UW+bookstore1Summer is winding down, and while we may be a little sad that the days are getting shorter, our bookish hearts are eagerly anticipating the turning of the season. Fall is the time when publishers put out their “big” books. And to help whet your appetite for what’s coming out, we talked with our friends at University Book Store about the books that they are most looking forward to this fall season. The first preview comes from Rene’ Kirkpatrick. Rene’ is a long-time northwest bookseller, having worked at All For Kids, Third Place Books and Eagle Harbor Book Company, before becoming the Children’s Book Buyer at University Book Store.

 

Looking for Betty MacDonald, by Paula Becker. September, 2016. University of Washington Press.

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Paula Becker (staff historian at HistoryLink and author of two books of Seattle/Northwest history) has written what will be the definitive biography of Betty MacDonald. Paula has been given full access to the MacDonald archives including some things never seen by any other researcher. The book will be filled with local history, maybe a little gossip, and, knowing how much Paula loved Betty M., a warm look at an amazing woman and her family. University of Washington Press is reissuing the other editions of Betty’s other books at the same time.

 

Leave Me, by Gayle Forman. September 13, 2016. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. Gayle-Forman-Leave-Me

Haven’t we always wondered what we could do or be if we could start our lives over? Like The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett and Pull of the Moon by Elizabeth Berg, Leave Me is about a woman who decides to leave everything she knows and thinks she loves. Maribeth Klein is so busy and overwhelmed by family and work she doesn’t realize she has had a heart attack until she ends up in the hospital. While she is recovering from the surgery, already besieged with family and work, feeling as if her illness is an imposition on everyone, she packs a bag and leaves. I know I have had moments where my exit is upcoming and it would be easy to just drive on. Gayle Forman is also the author of If I Stay, a young adult novel about deciding to stay or go.

635894096080491941-Kids-of-Appetite-coverThe Kids of Appetite, by David Arnold. September 20, 2016. Viking.

This is the next book by the author of Mosquitoland, one of my all-time favorite young adult road trip novels. The Kids of Appetite is filled with unforgettable and relatable characters and the story is told in alternating voices: Vic, a boy with Moebius syndrome (a neurological disorder causing facial paralysis), and Mad, a homeless girl making a family of her own. Vic needs to scatter his dad’s ashes and he and Mad’s crew of misfit kids go on a journey together to get beyond their various incarnations of grief and loss. This will be a good chance to revisit S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders! I love books that include other books. For ages 14 and up.

News of the World, Paulette Giles. October 4, 2016. Morrow. y450-293

There’s something utterly compelling about reading stories about very different people undertaking a road trip together. In News of the World, the road-trippers are in a wagon with one broken wheel surrounded by unforgiving landscape and the most brutal of outlaws. Our heroes, a 70-year old newsreader in post-Civil War Texas, and his companion, a 10-year old girl recently returned by the Kiowa four years after being kidnapped, are on a 400-mile trip to take her back home. The book itself is a beautiful package,  and it is poignant, bighearted, and, at times spit-takingly funny.

 

Thanks to Rene’ and University Book Store for their recommendations! Stay tuned for more Fall Book Previews in the next few weeks!

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My Imagination’s Blank Spot Takes a Trip to New Zealand

by Elissa Washuta

People have been asking me whether I’m excited to visit New Zealand, and the answer is yes. People want to know what I’m going to do there. My answer is brief: I’m going to lead a workshop for Ngāi Tahu writers, present a PechaKucha, and participate in an Indigenous writers panel. Yes, but—New Zealand. I know.

I’ve been out of the country fewer than five times, I think, for trips to Canada. I’ve thought I should travel more after I made an OKCupid profile and quickly began to sense, from the Machu Picchu photos and lists of passport stamps collected, that my lack of worldiness should be a secret. I grew up in New Jersey, sort of in the woods, a few miles away from a sod farming hotbed, and in those lakes and trees and people, I had a world.

I have been asked to write about my anticipation for this visit, but I’ve procrastinated, because when I think about my expectations and excitement for this visit, I visualize no landscapes, no scenes. I looked up Christchurch online, but was overwhelmed by the idea of planning for the trip, so I have only a single image of a street scene in my head from a tourism website that I didn’t explore. My life is spent imagining every possible thing that could happen to me, a process that makes up the gnarled nest of fear and hope in which I live, but this trip to New Zealand is one thing that’s going to happen to me that I can’t picture.

I see my own country through the trips I make as a working writer.  I spend time teaching in Santa Fe every year. I travel around the country for readings. This is how I spend my summer vacation: spread throughout the year, in patches and pieces, working. This is my comfort zone. I don’t think I could take a vacation without a tutorial.

With my trip just weeks away, I went back to the Christchurch tourism website. Reading about tours, museums, and parks, I realized that I draw only mental blanks when I think of places. When I think of New Zealand, I think of people.

In 2013, I told Ronnie I wanted to visit Aotearoa—and, really, it was the first place outside North America I’d given serious thought to visiting. This desire to travel, for the first time, was infused with purpose and thoughts of making relationships.

When I wrote a letter of support for Seattle’s bid to be a UNESCO City of Literature, I thought of the Māori visitors to UW, the group of Native UW students who spent a quarter in Iceland, and my colleagues connecting with Indigenous scholars around the world. I expressed my hope that the City of Literature could provide opportunities for the Native writers from Coast Salish territory to collaborate with other Indigenous peoples. To be the first Seattle writer to participate in the programming I imagined for the City of Literature is a tremendous honor.

I suspect that my imagination’s blank spot has to do with something that’s become commonplace in my brain lately as I take on projects that scare me in their thrilling enormity: My excitement is mixed with the sobering knowledge that I have a responsibility. I will make new relationships, represent my family and community, and learn from the people I’ll meet in Ōtautahi. I’ll come home with mental pictures of lands where, like here, people have created place by making and maintaining relationships with their environments over innumerable generations.

For more from writer Elissa Washuta, visit her website.