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Recommended rainy day reads

February 11, 2015

It’s raining. It’s pouring. The old man is snoring. And you? You, my friend, are searching for a book with which to curl up by the fire. You’re looking for the perfect title to alleviate the drudgery of a drizzly Oregon day, something to excite your senses and spark your synapses. And what better way to spend a day indoors than snuggled beneath a blanket, hot cocoa in hand, eyes glued to a page? I’ll answer that one for you: none.


Still not convinced? Then here’s some inspiration from your fellow book lovers at OSU Press. Grab your heated blanket, prepare the hot water, and read on to hear some of our staff’s recommended rainy day reads.




Marty Brown, Marketing Manager


Trask by Don Berry


I’m a sucker for historical novels and all things Oregon, so how could I not love Don Berry’s TraskTrask? Loosely based on the life of Elbridge Trask, an early fur trapper and mountain man, the novel follows its eponymous character as he treks in the early 1850’s from the Clatsop Plains, near Astoria, to the mouth of Tillamook Bay. Trask takes the form of a hero’s journey, but this is not your typical myth of manifest destiny. The story is sensitive to the many complexities of native culture and has a strong spiritual thread running through it. It’s full of adventure and the search for meaning at the wet edge of the continent. For best effect, read it while wrapped in a Pendleton blanket.


The Next Tsunami by Bonnie Henderson


As long as we’re on the north coast of Oregon, I have to mention The Next Tsunami by Bonnie TheNextTsunamiHenderson. Like a lot of other people, I have a certain…  prurient fascination with natural disasters. I thought that Henderson might offer a cautionary tale, a dark vision of how our coast will look after its bays and estuaries are scoured out by the next big tsunami, with marinas reduced to match sticks, collapsed highway bridges, underwater shopping districts, and etc. Instead, I finished this book with an uncanny sense of calm and hope. Henderson tells the story of how scientists came to discover the Cascadia Subduction Zone and definitively proved the Pacific Coast’s long geological history of earthquakes and tsunamis. Thanks to Henderson’s skillful telling, this history of science unfolds like a mystery. Who knew that geologists could be such fascinating characters?


Up all Night by Martha Gies


What else? We have so many worthy books and authors on our list, I could go on all day, and all then all night. Which reminds me of Up all Night by Martha Gies, another personal favorite. This collection of stories about swing- and graveyard-shift workers takes readers on a guided tour of one city’s nocturnal professions. That city happens to be Portland, but it could be anywhere. Night workers live in a country all their own, and Gies is a friendly, companionable guide.




Tom Booth, Associate Director


Three books that I’m likely to pull from the shelf during the dark, wet days of an Oregon winter:


Mink River by Brian Doyle

Doyle’s debut novel brings to life a wet Oregon coastal town through the jumbled lives and braided stories of its people. Rain, “in every form from mist to sluice,” is a constant presence in the book: 


"Rain slips and slides along hawsers and chains and ropes and cables and gladdens the cells of MinkRivermosses and weighs down the wings of moths. It maketh the willow shiver its fingers and thrums on doors of dens in the fens. It falls on hats and cats and trucks and ducks and cars and bars and clover and plover. It grayeth the sand on the beach and fills thousands of flowers to the brim. It thrills worms and depresses damselflies. Slides down every window rilling and murmuring. Wakes the ancient mud and mutter of the swamp, which has been cracked and hard for months. Falls gently on leeks and creeks and bills and rills and the last shriveled blackberries like tiny dried purple brains on the bristle of bushes."


Up All Night by Martha Gies UpAllNight

Martha Gies guides readers on a nocturnal tour of Portland, offering fascinating profiles of the graveyard shift workers who keep our city running after dark. I grew up here and have lived in Portland for most of my life—but Gies shows a side of the city that even longtime locals haven’t encountered. It’s one of the great unsung books about Portland.


Land Snails and Slugs of the Pacific Northwest by Thomas Burke, with photographs by William P. Leonard LandSnails

An essential tome for understanding and identifying terrestrial slugs and snails in the Pacific Northwest. Know thy neighbor.





Faye Chadwell, Director


Breaking Chains by R. Gregory Nokes BreakingChains


Greg Nokes explores an important aspect of Oregon’s history that I don’t believe a lot of Oregonians know.  That includes Oregonians who moved here like myself 20 years ago.




Ava Helen Pauling by Mina Carson AvaHelenPauling


Mina Carson’s biography is the first ever to reveal more of the personal side of the Paulings’ life together.  More importantly, she rightfully establishes or acknowledges Ava Helen’s contributions to Linus Pauling’s anti-nuclear stance for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  Arguably many feel like this should have been his 2nd shared Nobel Prize.



Mink River by Brian Doyle Kesey


I love reading and rolling along with Brian Doyle’s lyrical prose.  I would actually recommend reading this title and Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion.  Together the two provide two worthwhile perspectives on coastal communities in Oregon albeit separated by time and imagination of their respective authors.






Still looking for the perfect rainy day read? Browse our online database, read some previous blog post synopses, or request a print copy of our Spring 2015 catalog. Questions, comments, or concerns? Shoot us an email!


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