Randi's Top Five Reads

Damned and Doomed by Chuck Palhaniuk

"Chuck Palhaniuk writes with fierce satire and wicked metaphor. Damned and Doomed follow a 13 year old post-dead overweight Maddison Spencer in her afterlife antics. The first two in a trilogy follow Madison Spencer as she acclimates herself to her damnation in hell. It may sound grueling, but these satires are hilarious, witty, and fast paced. Pahlaniuk offers readers a fun, uncomfortable and unique view into his writing and highlight satire as only Pahlaniuk can. Having read the final line of Damned - "To Be Continued..." I was anxious to pick up where I left off and follow our antagonist once again. Instead of letters to Satan like in Doomed, Damned is written as blog posts from Madison's PDA. If you are looking for books that will both disgust you and bring you to rolling laughter, these are the novels for you. Pahlaniuk most certainly challenges the norms in his writing and takes you on a wild ride."


The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac

"As a large fan of the Beat Generation, it is no surprise that I hail the writing of Kerouac. Though he is most famous for his book On The Road which was written on a single roll of paper, Dharma Bums is by far one of my favorite books of all time. It is both enlightening and poetic and truly makes you think about life the way Kerouac sees and interprets it. All characters in this book are based on actual people and poets of the Beat Generation. This novel follows Jack Kerouac's character Ray through a 3,000 mile journey across the US and his journey to enlightenment. Kerouac's poetic prose is certainly captivating and finishing this book makes you want to examine your own consciousness. "One night I was meditating in such perfect stillness that two mosquitoes came and sat on each of my cheekbones and stayed there for a long time without biting and then went away without biting". Dharma bums captures an insightful journey, love for poetry, zen and Buddhism beautifully written."


Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

"Hyperbole and a half was an extremely witty and fun read...in fact, I read it in one sitting as I could not put it down. This book brings humor to an otherwise not so funny topic of depression and bipolar disorder as Brosh's comical mind examines it. The hilarious pictures which are crudely drawn lighten the topic and had me rolling with laughter from start to finish."


Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg

"Another Beat Generation great, Allen Ginsberg's poetry is raw, sharp and beautiful. Though much of these poems have societal undertones and address things like sexuality and addiction, Howl and other poems is an excellent read for those who like poetry with a punch."


Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs

"This book is clearly a literary work of art. If it weren't for Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, Naked Lunch might not have ever been published. Ginsberg and Kerouac visited Burroughs in Tangiers and tried to salvage what literary genius had been dripping from Burrough's pen. This book is not a novel by any means, it is a collection of thoughts and fears and if you are considering jumping into this book looking for a linear plot then you will be disappointed. Rather, this book can be dissected at any point and digested for the wonderful handle of words that can only be expressed by Burroughs."


Amy Stoothoff's Top Five Reads

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems

 

I thought I’d heard more than I’d ever wanted to about Goldilocks until Mo Willems wrote this delightful tale. His adaptation of the classic includes a funny dinosaur visiting from Norway and many hidden delights in the illustrations. Goldilocks’ many faults are addressed, such as barging into strangers’ homes, and discouraged heartily. Goldilocks does eventually wizens up, notices that things are not as they should be, and escapes the dinosaur’s ingenious trap. Willems concludes that the moral is “If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave.

 

 

Frog Song by Brenda Z. Guiberson Illustrated by Gennady Spirin

 

This book combines lovely illustrations with quirky descriptions of strange frog species. The gorgeous illustrations vividly portray the most fascinating habits of these unique frogs. The onomatopoeia keeps the attention of younger readers. This book encourages us to be mindful of our water use to ensure these frogs can continue to sing.

 

 

Drops Like Stars by Rob Bell

 

Rob Bell asks 'How do we reconcile faith in God with the suffering of the human experience?' This pain causes us to wrestle with our spiritual beliefs. This wrestling deepens our faith. It results in an inner beauty which would be impossible to develop without suffering. Bell examines this beauty resulting from pain.

 

This is the only book by Rob Bell that I would recommend to everyone regardless of background. I have reread it during difficult times. It encourages me to look beyond the pain of the moment and realize that there is a reason even if I don’t understand it.

 

 

Black Count by Tom Reiss

 

Tom Reiss tells the riveting story of Alex Dumas the father of the acclaimed novelist Alexandre Dumas. Alex Dumas’ life provided source material for much of his son’s novels so much so that The Black Count reads more like a work of fiction. Born to Antoine Alexandre de l’Isle and his slave Marie Cessette Dumas in Saint-Dominigue, modern Haiti, Alex Dumas rose from a slave to a general in the French Army. Reiss deftly combines the rich historical context of an tumultuous time in European history while expanding ones understanding of a figure responsible for a large amount of this time periods perception. Portions of The Black Count seemed quite familiar almost lifted from Alexandre Dumas’ novels instead of the inverse. This is one of my favorite biographies of all time.

 

 

Cinder: Lunar Chronicles #1 by Marissa Meyer 

 

This retelling of the classic fairytale Cinderella surprised me. It’s compelling and not at all what I expected. Meyer has managed to write a YA science fiction fairytale. I don’t typically read any of these genres but I am very impressed by Cinder. I loved the heroine who is a cyborg mechanic and anything but a damsel in distress. I highly recommend this one. I devoured the third book in this series in 3 days. It is a fabulous fun read perfect for fighting the winter blues. I especially enjoy the strong female protagonists."

Emily Ring's Top Five Reads

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

 

Set in 1986, this punk-rock romance tells the story of two outcasts who fall in love over comic books and the sounds of New Wave. Prickly, overweight Eleanor is afraid to let anyone new into her life after being betrayed by the people she trusted most. And Park, the only half-Korean, half-Polish Goth in town, doesn't know how to fit complicated Eleanor into his already complicated life. I completely loved this tragic-but-hopeful novel.

 

Sandman Vol 1, Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman's Sandman is one of the most critically acclaimed comics of all time, and when you read the first volume, you'll see why. Beautiful artwork, compelling characters and staggeringly poignant writing and story lines make Sandman one of the best works of its kind. Even if you don't normally read comic books, pick this one up. You won't be disappointed.

 

 

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut  

Everything Vonnegut wrote was wonderful, but this is a particular gem. Loopy, funny, sad and fantastic, this is Vonnegut doing all of the things that he does so well. If you haven't read it already, read it now. If you have, read it again.

 

 

Matilda by Roald Dahl

I'm not sure that there is a book that captures the perfect magic and mischief of Roald Dahl's writing better than Matilda. This delightful story celebrates a precocious young girl who gets the better of all of the awful adults in her life. It's every kid's fantasy, brought to life.

 

 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This book is written for young adults, but if that description doesn't fit you, don't let that stop you. This is a hilarious, heartbreaking novel about two teens who meet at a cancer support group and fall in love. Through the ebb and flow of illness, and a madcap journey to Amsterdam, they learn about the possibilities that life supplies even in the face of imminent death. This is either the most tragic comedy or the funniest tragedy that I've ever read.

Sue Domis' Top Five Reads

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki  

 

A story about Ruth, a writer living on a really remote PNW island with her husband and dog. Ruth discovers some old stuff that washes up on the beach, including a journal written by a young Japanese girl. The journal tells the story of the bullying that is being done to her, her father's attempts at suicide after losing his job, and the tender and interesting story of her great-grandmother's life. This is all tied together with Ruth's life on the island and her troubled relationship with her husband.   

 


A Constellation of Vita Phenomena by Anthony Marra

 

The story takes place after the Russian-Chechnyian war. The book is starkly beautiful. Marra's style of writing is gorgeous and haunting. This was one of the most beautiful novels I've ever read. It is about the aftermath of the war. The main section of the book deals with an incompatent doctor (but a great artist), and his dangerous goal of bringing a 5-year old orphan girl to safety.

 


The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson  

 

I knew little about North Korea, so this was enlightening and scary. It was a wild ride but most of it was based on possibly events. My book club read this and had a great discussion about North Korea's eccentric leader's, and then a month later, one of their leader's was executed! Orphan Master's Son was a love story and a thriller.  

 

 


The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

 

I am a big Donna Tartt fan. This is sad because she's only written 3 books and they are 10 years apart, so it's been a long wait. The Goldfinch is a thriller, and a love story that is very exciting. Miss Tartt is great at writing suspense. The book opens as the main character and his mother are going to an art exhibit. When they are in the gallery a bomb goes off and his mother is killed. He is given a painting called the Goldfinch. The novel covers the next 20 plus years of his often dangerous life. What a great read.  


 

 

Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins  

 

Billy Collins is a very easy poet to read, but he can also be very insightful and good. I enjoyed his new collection of old favorites and some new poems. We all know that he is "accessible", but I think that he is actually a better poet than that. He is a poet that I enjoy spending time reading and I was happy to get his new book.


Jim Snowden, author of The Summer of Long Knives POSTPONED

02/22/2014 2:00 pm

Bellevue author Jim Snowden has published short stories in
Pulphouse, Mind In Motion, The Seattle Review, The King’s English, and MAKE.
His novella, Escape Velocities, was named a 2004 notable story by the editors
of StorySouth. Jim received his MFA from the University of Washington in
2004, where he won the David Guterson award for his work on his debut
novel, Dismantle the Sun. He also runs a small press, MMIP Books, which
published its first short story collection, Coming Unglued: Six Stories About
Things Falling Apart, in May of 2011. Its second collection, Blood Promises, And Other
Commitments was released in April of 2013.

In the summer of 1936, the racial and political climate in Munich are
growing tense, and Kommisar Rolf Wundt and his wife Klara are
increasingly desperate to leave Nazi Germany while they still can. But
when a member of the League of German Girls is found brutally
murdered and posed in the yard of a dilapidated farmhouse, Rolf’s
supervisor declares that they can’t leave until he’s solved the case. Rolf’s
investigation leads him from the depths of the underground Communist
movement to the heights of Germany’s elite Nazi society, exposing the
cracks in Germany’s so-called unified society as well as the unspoken
tensions in Rolf’s complicated marriage. Ultimately, long-buried secrets
and overwhelming evidence are laid bare, but how can Rolf bring the
killer to justice in a country devoid of justice? And how can he protect himself, his wife, and his
former lover from the barbarism of a corrupt and power-hungry government?

“Jim Snowden's The Summer of Long Knives is a powerful murder mystery whose historical
placement within Hitler's Germany adds layers of depth to an already-rich assemblage of
personalities, both good and evil. Crisply written and fast-paced, Long Knives is intriguing with
its mix of cruelty, to be expected from the nationalist Germans during the height of Nazi
control, and unpredictable outcomes surrounding the main characters' professional and
personal lives.”

$18.95
ISBN-13: 9781620151532
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Booktrope Editions, 7/2013

Location: 
Street:
5629 Summitview Ave
City:
Yakima
,
Province:
Washington
Postal Code:
98908
Country:
United States

Alicia's Top Five Reads

 

 (If you are looking for Sue Domis's reads, click here!)

 

Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul (Tyndale, $14.99)

"This book blows my mind every time I open it. I have always struggled to grasp what the bible meant when it talks about God being Holy. What is holy? How is he holy? God calls us to "Be Holy, for I am Holy" 1 Peter 1:16. How can I do this if I don't even know what it means to be holy? In the first couple chapters he explains that to be holy is to be set apart, a cut above something. In a world where we so desire to fit in and be like everyone else, God calls us to be set apart. Once we encounter him and experience his love how can we not? He takes a deeper look and meaning at God's holiness in different stories in the bible, how many times the word is used and how it has effected so many people who have encountered Christ. Sproul is an amazing theologian who writes on a level that is not head banging or mind straining. Yet his writings do take you to a deeper level of understanding and longing for more."


Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan (Disney/Hyperion, $7.99)

"I feel like Percy Jackson is quickly becoming a children's fantasy classic. Riordan tells amazing Greek mythology stories that are witty, hilarious and will keep you wanting more. I have read all of his books and quickly finish his new releases. Which is always frustrating because he leaves huge cliff hangers at the end! The Percy books has been a great read not only for young readers but for adults as well. I can't even count the number of times I have given a recommendation to adults looking for gift ideas and have sold them these books."


The Selection by Kiera Cass (Harper Teen, $9.99)

"The Selection is a mix of The Hunger Games and Delirium. In a post-apocalyptic United States, America Singer is chosen in the national lottery to compete against 35 other girls for a chance to become the next queen of Illea. For any girl this is a dream come true but for America this is a nightmare. The man of her dreams just broke her heart, she is being ripped from her family, there is a rebellion that puts her in danger with every minute she spends at the castle. To make matters worsse,  the whole contest is broadcasted for the nation to see. I loved this book because it wasn't just another sappy teen romance but having a heroine not just doing what she is told but standing up for who she is and who she wants to be. A great page turner!"


All My Friends Are Dead by Avery Monsen (Chronicle, $9.95)

"If you are needing a small humorous gift for someone, this is it. All my Friends are Dead is a small pocket-sized book full of laughs, cute drawings, sad and humorous commentary. It's something I like to read to some of my friends at my house or when they come to the store. What I also loved is that it is now a new 2014 wall calendar. Humor all year!"


Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber (Jericho, $22.00)

"It's been a long time since I have read a memoir. When we got this in the store I was instantly intrigued. Nadia isn't a typical pastor, she is covered in tattoos, curses, had an incredibly hard past and grew up with a hesitant relationship towards the church. Just coming from a missions trip I was intrigued by her story of overcoming stereotypes, seeing God take her out of the terrible situations she got herself into and starting a church for people just like herself. This is a mind stretching, rethinking book about the stereotypes we put on people who enter the church and are longing for a relationship with Jesus but whom we tend to push away with our actions, words, and unwelcomeness."


Ryan Does Top 5 Reads

Deep and Wide: Creating Churches that Unchurched People Love to Attend by Andy Stanley

The last book I completed in 2013 was also, in my mind, my most life changing. It is a absolute must read for any pastor or church

leader who wants to truly impact their community in a meaningful, Spirit-led way. Sometimes we lose perspective and Pastor Andy Stanley drives people to regain their perspective and stop looking beyond those who are at your doorstep. He makes the case that we (the Church) should stop saying we're doing the work of Jesus and just get to work. Good reminded for any person who calls themselves a Christian.

 

America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't by Stephen Colbert

I love me some good satire, that is for sure. Stephen Colbert (of the Colbert Report on Comedy Central), TV's resident king of satire, is at it again in his second book that focuses on social issues and political banter. Colbert's witty, twisted sense of humor cuts deep to the heart of so many controversial and divisive issues in our American culture and I have found it to be therapeutic. No matter if you watch Colbert's show every night or have never heard of him in your life you would do good to give this book a shot. One thing I will guarantee, you will laugh.

 

Stuff Christians Like by Jonathan Acuff

This book really helped me learn to laugh at myself. Christians (like myself) sometimes take themselves way too seriously and need to learn to simply lighten up and learn to live with more true joy in their hearts. Acuff puts an amazingly brilliant spin on so many things in Church culture like prayer circles, mega churches, and the vital role of swearing. In the middle of the laughs and chuckles this book will provide you will also be able to see some pretty unstated truths. The first of them is Acuff's premise .... God loves us and He made us to laugh!


Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974-2001) by Don Felder

Ever since I was a little kid riding around with my dad in his 1995 beat up Geo Metro the Eagles have been a huge part of my life. They are literally the first band I remember when I look back on my life. My father taught me to appreciate their impact on modern music and Don Felder was a crucial component in that appreciation. This book gives a great, insightful look into one of the most influential music group of the 20th century. It's a winner through and through.


Suicide Squad Vol 1. - Kicked in the Teeth by Adam Glass

Comics are my weakness when it comes to literature. For a comic to really stand out to me at this point it

 has to be the perfect mix of imaginative art, deep storytelling, and above all fun! Suicide Squad does exactly that in the first volume of the DC New 52 reboot. If you're new to comics or a salty veteran get this book and be prepared to enjoy every second.

Adam's Top Five Reads

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

"This is the book I want everyone to read.  You probably know the movie, but this is probably THE greatest case for what film misses when it adapts the written word.  You have to read the book to appreciate Gibbons' chops as a parodist, watching her savage the English "pastoral" novel with her melodramatic narrator Flora Poste and the immensely bonkers Starkadder clan.  Published in 1932, this book mocks the self-help movement, the film industry, the British stiff upper lip, back-to-the-landers, televangelists (well, radio-vangelists I guess), and the sort of thing Downton Abbey is doing today - all of this in 1932!  When I read this book for the first time, I couldn't believe I had missed out on something so funny, and so keenly modern, for so long.  Please consider getting the Penguin edition with the Roz Chast illustrations!  The only thing that could make this perfect book even better is Roz Chast's drawings on the cover, and the publisher was nice enough to make it happen."


The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

"I have loved Margaret Atwood's writing since I read "The Edible Woman" in high school. I don't think she needs much in the way of introduction or explanation, so I'll just say that this is, in my opinion, her best work. This book tells the story of two sisters from a well-off family, born near the beginning of the twentieth century: Iris becomes the perfect wife and mother, and Laura publishes a scandalous book before committing suicide. Or, at least, that's the official story. Atwood creates layers upon layers in the book, turning the very idea of conventional narrative on its head, not least by interpolating into the story the text of Laura's scandalous book. It's a fun and dizzying experience, and Atwood's incredible flair for storytelling leads the reader one way, only to yank you completely out of your assumptions at the next turn. It also cleverly combines many of Atwood's signature themes and styles: feminist history, industrialization and its effect on the planet, and Sci-Fi tropes, among others. It is, to me, signature Atwood."


Dogeaters by Jessica Hagedorn 

"This book was truly life-changing for me. It was the first time that I read something that even remotely captured the vibrant, hardscrabble life I had known growing up in the Philippines. Famously, the New York Times review of the book offered the opinion that there was no way life in Manila approached the frenetic, pop-culture obsessed scenario Hagedorn documents. My well-reasoned response will always be: Ha! The main narrative focuses on Hagedorn's stand-in, Rio, who basically comes of age in a movie theater during the golden age of Filipino cinema. But as Rio's world widens beyond her childhood, it reaches a breaking point that forces her to leave her homeland for America. Her story is about that place and time to which we can never return, and Hagedorn's writing here is beyond beautiful. But Rio's narrative is also peppered with countless other stories, chronicling life in the Philippines during the tumultuous second half of the 20th century, under the "soft" colonization that remained after the U.S. officially withdrew. Dictator's wives and Communist painters, wannabe stars and depraved movie directors, oligarchs and junkies; these are just some of the characters that Hagedorn also uses to paint an unforgettable and essential record of a very particular time and a place."


Gnomes by Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet

"It's probably no great surprise to hear that I love books not just for their stories and their words, but also as beautiful objects. In a world where you hear "print is dead," on an almost daily basis, I really enjoy a book like Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet's "Gnomes." I have shown this book to so many, and no matter their age, I watch them fall in love immediately. The books tells you, through Huygen's wry "anthropological" notes and Poortvliet's amazing illustrations, about the world of the gnome. It's the sort of book that you pore over, not even realizing how long you've been examining the diagrams of gnome homes, or dreaming about the dark Nordic tales Huygen weaves throughout. For some of us, there's an undeniable nostalgic element (the cartoon "David the Gnome" used this book as its inspiration), but this book is breath-taking for any generation. P.S. The "deluxe" edition even comes with prints of some of the best-loved illustrations which you can take out and frame!"


Citizen 13660 by Mine Okubo

"There are many books that bear testament to the unjust internment of Japanese-Americans during the second World War, but I would love for more people to know about this one. Mine Okubo was an artist who, in 1946, published her sketches and written vignettes of camp life under the title "Citizen 13660," the number assigned to her during her internment. The book was out of print until the 80s, when the University of Washington thankfully brought it back. The book captures small details, which I had never known, that show the confusing and maddening process whereby American citizens were stripped of their rights. Once in the camp, Okubo's sharp eye and expressive drawings really bring to life the indignity and petty abuses she and all internees suffered. But what will blow you away is the uncrushable spirit and creative cooperation these brave men and women showed in the camp, developing a supportive and even loving community at one of our country's darkest points."

Inga Wiehl, author of Reclaiming Our Brains Without Losing Our Minds

12/15/2013 3:00 pm

 

inklings bookshop and oak hollow gallery are proud to present Inga Wiehl, author of Reclaiming Our Brains Without Losing Our Minds

Inga Wiehl is a retired YVCC professor.  She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington.

 

Reclaiming Our Brains Without Losing Our Minds relates the story of a group of women in Yakima who form a reading group in dedicated pursuit of "the best that has been thought and said" in literature.  Over the course of twenty-nine years, the women hone their minds, exchange ideas, and discover a sense of closeness and community that extends beyond the page.  Featuring detailed accounts of the recruitment process, strategies for meetings, and the methods of choosing the featured texts, this book is a vital tool for anyone interested in starting a reading group or rekindling a love of literature.

Location: 
Street:
5631 Summitview Ave
City:
Yakima
,
Province:
Washington
Postal Code:
98908
Country:
United States
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