Readers

Reading Recommendations from PBF Advisory Council

Members of the Portland Book Festival Advisory Council know good books when they see them. We’ve asked these avid readers to share their recommendations with us, and here is a selection of books they have recently loved! We hope you will enjoy them, too.


The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters
by Priya Parker

Recommended by:
Sarah Rothenfluch
Journalist, strategist, & storyteller

“At at time when so many of us are sheltering at home, I’m loving The Art of Gathering. Priya Parker talks about how to create meaning when we get together in the same space. Now along with her with her new podcast, Together Apart,  I’m enjoying thinking about how to bring that importance to our distant lives.”

Order your copy of The Art of Gathering from an indie bookstore!
Powell’s Books | Broadway Books | Annie Bloom’s Books | Bookshop


War Girls
by Tochi Onyebuchi

Recommended by:
Alicia Tate
Teen Librarian at Multnomah County Library

“After reading and falling in love with Tochi Onyebuchi’s Beasts Made of Night series I have been waiting anxiously for his next afrofuturistic tale. This past year Onyebuchi gave his fans what they have been waiting for by releasing two new titles, War Girls and Riot Baby. I’ve been listening to the War Girls audiobook read by actress Adepero Oduye. This is a sci-fi tale set in 2172 in a world that is for the most part unlivable due to climate change and nuclear disasters. Two young sisters living in war-torn Nigeria, who have known nothing but violence and political unrest their whole lives, dream of a peaceful life together. This is definitely not an uplifting tale, but rather a tale that highlights the real human costs of war and the bonds that hold a family together. Next up is Riot Baby!”

Alicia moderated a conversation with Marissa Meyer and Tochi Onyebuchi (pictured above, with Alicia on the right) at the 2018 Portland Book Festival. You can listen to their conversation in this episode of Literary Arts’ The Archive Project: https://literary-arts.org/archive/marissa-meyer-tochi-onyebuchi/

Download the audiobook or the eBook of War Girls FOR FREE from Multnomah County Library!
Audiobook | eBook

Or order your copy of War Girls from an indie bookstore!
Powell’s Books | Broadway Books | Annie Bloom’s Books | Bookshop


House of Leaves
by Mark Z. Danielewski

Recommended by:
Edward Ash-Milby
Field Merchandiser at Barnes & Noble

“I’m reading House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. This is my third go at it. It’s hard to believe this book is 20 years old. I love reading it now because I wanted something to distract me and this demanding read, at times spooky and more often than not, odd, uses words as bread crumbs as it leads the reader through a labyrinthine plot. This isn’t a book one simply reads; one has to decode it. It challenges storytelling tradition and leaves narrative structure in its wake. I would actually say something about the plot but that would be too easy. Figure it out for yourself. A true original voice in these unique times.”

Order your copy of House of Leaves from an indie bookstore!
Powell’s Books | Broadway Books | Annie Bloom’s Books | Bookshop


The Mirror & the Light
by Hilary Mantel

Recommended by:
Kathi Berens
Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities and Publishing at Portland State University

“I’m adoring The Mirror & the Light, Hilary Mantel’s conclusion to the Wolf Hall Trilogy. It is exactly the other-worldly transport I need during COVID sheltering: the machinations of Henry VIII’s court, the rending of papal supremacy, and Thomas Cromwell’s mercantile values clashing with aristocratic entitlement. “Don’t ask, don’t get”: that’s Cromwell’s credo, and it’s dazzling to watch his conscience, and those of about forty other significant characters, use Henry’s lack of a legitimate male heir as the impetus to transform the world order. I’m reading it slowly, living with these characters over a long period of time, which to me is much more like those characters (those people!) would have experienced time. It’s total respite from our modern plague.”

Order your copy of The Mirror & the Light from an indie bookstore!
Powell’s Books | Broadway Books | Annie Bloom’s Books | Bookshop


“Sometimes it is years before we can see who are the heroes in an affair and who are the victims.”

Hilary Mantel, The Mirror & the Light