Amidst the ongoing global pandemic, the Literary Arts staff has been working remotely to continue to serve the writers, writers, and youth of Oregon and beyond. Despite the physical distance between us, we’ve found new ways to connect as a team. For one: We’ve started an internal, staff book club to read and discuss fabulous books with each other. Our club has tackled three titles thus far. Take a look at what we’ve been reading below.
The Vanishing Half
by Brit Bennett
From The New York Times-bestselling author of The Mothers, a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.
“The Vanishing Half has propelled me back into my reading practice after a pause to process the environment our community finds itself in. Brit Bennett’s narrative style is engaging and easy to slip into, and the struggles with identity that the characters experience from both internal and external sources questions the way in which it’s defined. At its core, the novel feels like a discovery of self—a lesson of openness to the experiences and emotions of others.” — Brandon Lenzi, Development Assistant
H is for Hawk
by Helen Macdonald
When Helen Macdonald’s father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer—Helen had been captivated by hawks since childhood—she’d never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk’s fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own.
“H is for Hawk is a memoir about deep personal grief but, as a reader, I found joy in Macdonald’s exploration of our human connections to the natural world. How do we gather healing and emotional nourishment from the land, how do we see ourselves reflected in the wilderness? Her imagery is poetic yet grounded, elegantly and achingly transporting you with her to the fields and forests. In a book about the death of a loved one, there is life calling out on every page.” — Liz Olufson, Public Programs Coordinator
by Chelsea Bieker
Drought has settled on the town of Peaches, California. The area of the Central Valley where fourteen-year-old Lacey May and her alcoholic mother live was once an agricultural paradise. Now it’s an environmental disaster, a place of cracked earth and barren raisin farms. In their desperation, residents have turned to a cult leader named Pastor Vern for guidance. He promises, through secret “assignments,” to bring the rain everybody is praying for.
“Godshot’s lush descriptions of a desiccated landscape are vibrant and masterful, and its heroine’s dizzying coming-of-age journey is simultaneously terrifying and thrilling.” — Jen Gurney, Ticketing & Data Specialist
“I wish that we would not fight for landscapes that remind us of who we think we are. I wish we would fight, instead, for landscapes buzzing and glowing with life in all its variousness.”Helen Macdonald, H is for Hawk