Author Vicki Conrad Shares Favorite Picture Book Biographies

We asked the author of Just Like Beverly, a new picture book biography of Beverly Cleary, to share her favorite biographies for children in this Nightstand Reads post. Here are five picks from Vicki Conrad:

As a child, the Ramona Series was dear to my heart. I truly felt so much like her. My two favorite books are Ramona and her Mother, and Ramona and her Father. I also loved The Mouse and the Motorcycle.

My 5 Favorite Biographies, right now:

Spring After Spring: How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement by Stephanie Roth Sisson
This book is packed with scientific information, but with lovely poetic language. It is a quiet gem.

Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate
I have loved this story for years. I read it when I was a classroom teacher, my students always wanted to know more about his life.

The Flying Girl: How Aida de Acosta Learned to Soar by Margarita Engle
We can never grow tired of the women who were brave enough to break through barriers. Rhyme, colorful illustrations, and an unusual topic make this worth the read.

Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge by Rachel Dougherty
Part lesson in engineering and architecture, part story of a woman blazing a new trail. Emily Roebling basic took over construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, by studying engineering all by herself. This books shows children and adults we are all responsible for our own learning, and you can figure hard things out with persistence.

When Marian Sang: the True Recital of Marian Anderson, the Voice of a Century by Pam Munoz Ryan
This book literally sings with a lyrical lilt and poetic language. It is masterfully written so you can almost hear her singing voice as you read. It is an older book, but she is a woman worth knowing about and the writing is brilliant.

Vicki Conrad is a Seattle author and also a teacher with a passion for literacy development and inspiring students to love reading just as much as she did as a child. As a young girl, Beverly Cleary struggled to learn to read and found most children’s books dull and uninteresting. She often wondered if there were any books about kids just like her. With hard work, and the encouragement of her parents and a special teacher, she learned to read and at a young age discovered she had a knack for writing. Just Like Beverly, illustrated by David Hohn and published by Little Bigfoot (Sasquatch Books) follows this beloved author’s journey. Meet Vicki and hear more about Just Like Beverly at the University Book Store on Sunday, Sept. 15, at 1 p.m.

Naomi Shihab Nye shares her Nightstand Reads

Internationally beloved poet Naomi Shihab Nye, who is coming to Seattle September 19 for a SAL event, shares a mix of her recent favorites in fiction, memoir, nonfiction and poetry.

Nye is the author and/or editor of more than 30 volumes, including  19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East (a finalist for the National Book Award), A Maze Me: Poems for Girls, and You & Yours. Her latest book for adults, The Tiny Journalist, is a collection inspired by seven-year-old Janna Tamimi, the “Youngest Journalist in Palestine,” who captured videos of anti-occupation protests with her mother’s smartphone.

Thanks to Naomi Shihab Nye for sharing her recommendations!

There There by Tommy Orange
Wow. Just wow. Have had to read very slowly because each scene and character is so absorbing and there is so much to think about.

The Long Take, Or, A Way to Lose More Slowly by Robin Robertson
Since “the short take” is exhausting most of us, this vivid “longer take” in narrative poem-form, from another time in history, by one of the world’s great poets originally from Scotland, is most appreciated.

Healing the Divide, Poems of Kindness and Connection, edited by James Crews, preface by Ted Kooser
Essential book of the season. Read again and again for sustenance.

The Words of My Father: Love and Pain in Palestine by Yousef Bashir
An exquisitely written, heartbreaking memoir which should be required reading for the American government as well as human beings interested in how people treat one another.

Spying on the South: An Odyssey Across the American Divide by Tony Horwitz
Incredibly ambitious, delightfully readable journey paralleling the travels of Frederick Law Olmsted.  You will learn more from this big thick book than from a whole history class. We had dinner with Tony when he came through Texas on his expedition and it’s devastating entirely that he died on his book tour. What a force!

And Now You Can Go by Vendela Vida
I would read anything by Vendela Vida.

Real American: A Memoir by Julie Lythcott-Haims
After hearing this writer give the most stunning presentation of the entire Sun Valley Writers Conference, it’s amazing to get more background and details of her life. Highly recommended.

Posted by Linda J. 

New Nonfiction Roundup – September 2019

September marks the beginning of the fall publishing season, and you’ll see new releases from some big names: Malcolm Gladwell, Demi Moore, Patti Smith, Edward Snowden and Tegan & Sara, just to name a few. Happy reading!

Audience of OneJames Poniewozik explains how Trump mastered television as a businessman, TV host and President.

A Beginner’s Guide to JapanA ruminative guide to Japan, from Pico Iyer (The Art of Stillness). 

Call Sign Chaos. A guide to leadership from former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. Will be at Temple de Hirsch Sinai September 16!

Creative Calling. Chase Jarvis argues that you don’t find fulfillment, you create it.  Will be at Town Hall September 23!

CoventryRachel Cusk dissects memoir, art and literary criticism through a feminist lens in her first essay collection.

Economist’s Hour. Binyamin Applebaum surveys the influence of economists exert on the U.S. government.

Education of an Idealist. A memoir from humanitatian and former Ambassador to the U.N under Obama. Will be at Town Hall September 16!

Everything is Figureoutable. Life coach Marie Forleo gives you the tools to confront any crisis and persevere.  Will be at Town Hall September 17!

Generation Friends. A behind-the-scenes look at Friends on the 25th anniversary of its premiere.

High SchoolMusicians Tegan & Sara Quin detail their first loves and first songs from their high school years.

House on Stilts. This memoir by Paula Becker (Looking for Betty McDonald focuses on mothering a son with an opioid addiction. Will be at Central Library September 21 and Third Place Lake Forest Park September 26!

How To. More absurd scientific advice from xkcd‘s Randall Munroe.  Will be at Third Place Books Lake Forest Park on September 9! A Peak Pick!

IndistractableNir Eyal explores the roots of distraction and develops a framework to control your attention and focus.

Inside Out. Demi Moore tells the story of her life, film career and high profile relationships in her first memoir.

Make It Scream, Make It BurnThe latest eclectic essay collection from Leslie Jamison combines memoir, criticism and journalism.

The Meritocracy TrapDaniel Markovits dispels the myth that meritocracy values ability and effort above all else.

On Fire. Naomi Klein (The Shock Doctrine) makes the case for a Green New Deal with trenchant essays. Will be at Town Hall September 24! A Peak Pick!

Our Dogs, Ourselves.  Alexandra Horowitz examines our unique relationship with dogs. Will be at Town Hall September 28!

Over the TopQueer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness shares how he overcame ridicule and trauma to be “the radiant human he is today.”

Own Your SelfHolistic psychiatrist Kelly Brogan argues that working through physical and emotion pain is better than pharmaceuticals.

Permanent Record. Edward Snowden tells the story of his life, from childhood to whistle-blower in exile.

Proof of ConspiracySeth Abramson follows up Proof of Collusion with a further investigation into Trump’s relationship with world leaders.

Second FoundingHistorian Eric Foner posits that the “Reconstruction Amendments” marked the second founding of the U.S.

She SaidJodi Kantor & Megan Twohey won the Pulitzer Prize for investigating allegations against Harvey Weinstein, launching the #metoo movement. Will be at Benaroya Hall January 20!

SontagBenjamin Moser delivers a massive biography of essayist, novelist and critic Susan Sontag.

Super Attractor. Gabrielle Bernstein gives readers the confidence to unleash their power and achieve all that they desire.

Super Pumped. Mike Isaac covers the rise and fall of Uber in a twelve-month period.  Will be at Third Place Lake Forest Park September 14!

Talking to Strangers. Malcolm Gladwell examines why our interactions with strangers often go wrong.  Will be at Benaroya Hall September 23! A Peak Pick! 

Think Black. Clyde Ford tells the story of his father, the first black software engineer at IBM.  Will be at Town Hall September 22!

Tools & Weapons. Microsoft president Brad Smith tackles thorny issues that tech companies face. Will be at Town Hall September 20!

Turn Around Time. This book-length poem by David Guterson (Snow Falling on Cedars) celebrates the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Will be at the Central Library September 10! A Peak Pick! 

Ungrateful Refugee. This memoir by Dina Nayeri shines a light on the lives of refugees like herself.  Will be at Elliott Bay Book Co. September 18!

United States of TrumpBill O’Reilly obtained exclusive interviews with Trump to explain his unlikely ascendancy to the presidency.

We Are the Weather. Jonathan Safran Foer(Eating Animals) argues that limiting our consumption of animal products will help save the planet.  Will be at Town Hall September 25!

Whose Story is This? A new, provocative essay collection from progressive voice Rebecca Solnit.

Wilding. A married couple decide to restore their failing farm to the wild, before human intervention. Will be at Town Hall September 26!

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? -Caitlin Doughty (Smoke Gets in Your Eyes) answers dozens of questions about death in entertaining guide.  Will be at Town Hall September 16!

Year of the MonkeyPatti Smith (Just Kidsreflects on 2016, which saw the loss of a close friend and the election of Donald Trump. A Peak Pick!

New fiction roundup, September 2019

9/3: Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore – England, 1879: a fiercely independent vicar’s daughter earns a place among the first cohort of female students at the University of Oxford, and ultimately takes on a powerful duke in a fiery love story that threatens to upend the British social order.

9/3: Dominicana by Angie Cruz – To help her family’s immigration prospects, 15-year-old Ana marries a man twice her age and moves with him from the Dominican Republic to New York City. Once there, she’ll balance duty to her family against her own desires.

9/3: The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine – Twins Laurel and Daphne Wolfe share an obsession with words, a love that binds them together until it pushes them apart in a war over custody of their most prized family heirloom: Merriam Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition.

9/3: The Long Call by Ann Cleeves – Returning to the North Devon evangelical community he grew up in for his father’s funeral, Detective Matthew Venn is called to consult on a nearby murder. First in a new series by the author of the Vera and Shetland mystery series.

9/3: Quichotte by Salman Rushdie – Middling writer Sam DuChamp creates a Don Quixote for the modern age, a character obsessed with television who falls in love with a TV star and sets off on a quest or prove himself worthy of her. At the same time, Sam faces a midlife crisis of his own.

9/3: The Sweetest Fruits by Monique Truong – A single mother living in Ireland in 1852; an African American woman working as a cook at a boarding house in 1872; a former samurai’s daughter in 1891 Japan. Three women tell stories of their time with Lafcadio Hearn, a globetrotting writer, while also bearing witness to their own existence and their will to live unbounded by the mores of their time.

9/10: Akin by Emma Donoghue – A retired New York professor’s life is thrown into chaos when he takes a young great-nephew to the French Riveria, in hopes of discovering his own mother’s wartime secrets.

9/10: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir – Called into service as swordswoman for the Ninth Necromancer, Gideon will have to navigate a system of swordplay, cut-throat politics and lesbian necromancers to achieve her freedom.

9/10: The Institute by Stephen King – Lured from his bedroom, Luke wakes up at The Institute, in a bedroom that looks just like his on a hallway with kids who have special talents. The director is dedicated to extracting the force of their extranormal gifts. No one has ever escaped from the Institute.

9/10: Out of Darkness, Shining Light by Pettina Gappah – The captivating story of the men and women who carried explorer and missionary Dr. Livingstone’s body, papers and maps across Africa so his remains could be returned to England, as told by the cook, Halima, and a freed slave, Jacob Wainwright.

9/10: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – in the early 1900s, January Scaller lives as a ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke. Exploring his mansion, she finds a strange book, one that tells of secret doors, love, danger, and the fantastical journey of self-discovery that awaits.

9/10: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood – In this sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood picks up Offred’s tale 15 years later, as told by three female narrators from Gilead. A Peak Pick!

9/17: A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill – Noah sees monsters. So does his father, who built a shrine to them called The Wandering Dark, an immersive horror experience that the family runs. What happens when Noah chooses to let the monsters in?

9/17: Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke – In the follow up to Bluebird, Bluebird, Texas Ranger Darren Matthews is searching for a boy who’s gone missing while reckoning with in a small Texas town still wedded to the racial attitudes of ante-bellum Texas.

9/17: Red at the Bone by Jaqueline Woodson – An unexpected teenage pregnancy pulls together two families from different social classes, exposing the private hopes, disappointments, and longings that can bind or divide us. A Peak Pick!

9/17: What Rose Forgot by Nevada Barr – A grandmother in her 60s emerges from a mental fog to find she’s trapped in her worst nightmare, committed to an Alzheimer’s Unit in a nursing home with no memory of how she got there, and someone trying to kill her.

9/24: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett – A novel of the indelible bond between two siblings, their childhood home, and a past that will not let them go. A Peak Pick!

9/24: The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates – Born into bondage, young Hiram Walker has his mother sold away and loses all memory of her, but is also gifted with a mysterious power. After his power saves him from drowning in the river, he’s inspired to escape and seek out his family. A Peak Pick!

9/24: The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste – Set during Mussolini’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, maid Hirut comes up with a plan to maintain morale. Disguising a peasant as the emperor, Hirut rallies her fellow women in the fight against fascism.

Book descriptions adapted from publisher copy.

~ posted by Andrea G.

Defective Detective Departments

What happens when cranky, poorly motivated or seemingly-incompetent individuals are all sidelined together into a single work unit? They end up solving the mysteries that no one else could, of course. Or, at least, in fiction they do. These books are all the first in series that find professional pariahs taking care of business.

The Keeper of Lost Causes
by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Chief Detective Carl Morck has always been difficult to get along with, but he was tolerated because he was good at his job. Sidelined after a shooting left him injured and his partner paralyzed, Carl finds himself dubiously in charge of Department Q, responsible for cold cases. With just a lackluster assistant, Assad, Carl starts investigating the 5-year-old disappearance of politician Merete Lynggaard. The reader knows Lynggaard is still alive; can Carl and Assad find her? While darkly humorous, this novel shares elements with other Scandinavian Noir mysteries such as Steig Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, including some violence and a more somber undertone. Continue reading “Defective Detective Departments”