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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Whatcha readin’?

At the end of 2003, as the first issue of The Believer was rising from the primordial ooze, Nick Hornby turned in the inaugural installment of a monthly column that immediately became a reader favorite. For the next ten years, Hornby’s incandescently funny "Stuff I’ve Been Reading” chronicled a singular reading life — one that is measured not just in "books bought” and "books read,” as each column begins, but in the way our feelings toward Celine Dion say a lot about who we are, the way Body Shop Vanilla Shower Gel can add excitement to our days, and the way John Updike might ruin our sex lives. Hornby’s column is both an impeccable, wide-ranging reading list and an indispensable reminder of why we read.

CdA schools have a tall stack of books to review

School officials were hoping to attract a couple dozen community members to read works of fiction and nonfiction used in grades 6-12 to make sure the books meet district standards and student interests. As of Tuesday, just one person had applied to sit on the new ad hoc committee on literature. The deadline is next Wednesday.

"Ideally, we would like to have literature lovers – people who have a voracious talent for reading and can give us feedback as to how those books may be used in a classroom setting,” said Mike Nelson, the director of curriculum and assessment for the Coeur d’Alene School District.

The district has 88 titles to be reviewed, with more than half of those new additions to the classroom. They include classics such as “Catcher in the Rye” and “Lord of the Flies,” and newer works like “The Kite Runner,” “Life of Pi” and “The Hunger Games.”  Read more. Scott Maben, SR


Idaho woman plans to read 1,000 books by 25th BD

Alanna Love explained to Idaho On Your Side that, “I have developed a better idea of how people think and the wide variety of opinions that people can hold so dear to themselves because I've gotten to see the world through so many eyes."

To bolster those ideas or children across Idaho, The United Way is collecting new and gently used books that will be the given out to children who want to read through the summer months. IdahoOnYourSide

For more information, visit here.

Book review: ‘Console Wars’ more about personalities - and that’s not a good thing

Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo and the Battle that Defined a Generation
Author: Blake J. Harris
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release: May 13, 2014
List Price: $28.99 (buy it on Amazon)

Cover of "Console Wars" by Blake J. Harris

Like the marketing push for overpriced, overcomplicated consoles in the mid-1990s, Blake Harris' “Console Wars” touts itself as something every video game fan needs. To be sure, there are glimpses of deep insight into the reasons Sega rose from obscurity to superstardom, then back to obscurity once more.

But Harris' book, at its core, is a tale about corporate executives, many of whom lack the love of the medium that will attract readers, and its New Journalism style falls flat. A book that could be the definitive essay on the rise of the video game industry from the ashes of the 1980s bust is instead a bloated exposé about one affluent man's many gambles.

A screenshot of Sonic the Hedgehog 2
In 'Console Wars,' you'll learn how Sega created the Tuesday release date for games
with Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

Anyone who picked up a controller during the 16-bit era will immediately gravitate towards Harris' prose. It's clear the author truly cares about his subject and wants to write a great story that details gaming's heyday. To achieve this, Harris adopts a hypersensitive narrative with Tom Kalinske, Sega of America president during the heady days of the Genesis and Sonic the Hedgehog, to humanize the colossal face-off in gaming that defined the early 1990s.

The need for story, however, leads to long passages of dialogue that couldn't have possibly have happened the way Harris writes them. The words are too kitschy and formulaic, the swearing too obviously shoehorned in. The framing devices – having Kalinske sit at a table during a party and reminisce – get in the way of the truly gripping story that lies underneath.

A photo of the Sega Genesis
Whether you pledged allegiance to Sega or Nintendo, you'll find some nostalgic bliss 
from 'Console Wars.'

In short, Harris is chasing a narrative advice to tell us a story his audience has already bought into. We pick up a book called “Console Wars” because we want the inside track on how Sega made the decisions it did running up against goliath Nintendo, not the minutiae of management that led to those decisions being carried out.

In the latter half of the book, Harris intimates that Kalinske is realizing Sega is becoming a company that celebrates style over substance. This is the theme of Sega of America – and Kalinske's – downfall. It is the most interesting undercurrent of a book that concerns itself too much in establishing narrative and not enough in exploring the ideas, values and cultures (America vs. Japan) that make the book an ultimately compelling read.

Picture of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Harris provides a nuanced portrait of Nintendo as industry titan - and dictator.

In short, Harris buries the lede in a story that doesn't need to exist. He could have achieved the same result, with greater context, had he left the biographic trappings behind. The same attribute that leads to Sega's downfall – telling a great story at the expense of concerning themselves with the details that make a piece of entertainment compelling – keeps Harris' book from reaching its potential.

Verdict: 3/5 stars

Vestal visits Little Free Libraries

The dispersion followed no logic: Dickens and Whitman in Browne’s Addition. Sherman Alexie and Jonathan Lethem on the North Side. Marilynn Robinson and Joyce Carol Oates in the Perry District. Henry James and Saul Bellow on the South Hill.

In no particular order, and for no reason other than this week is Get Lit! – which fills me with good cheer over books and the people who make and read them – I spread a bunch of books around Spokane this week. Cleared them off my shelves and left them in “little free libraries” all over town.

One might fairly accuse me of trying to thin the crushing piles of books around my house. But, while I did not give up many of my most treasured books, neither did I spread around junk. Because I set out to write about this, I probably let go of better books than I otherwise would have – my book vanity is strong. More. Shawn Vestal

Best books of 2014

The year’s best books, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.

The list includes; All the Light We Cannot See, Dept. of Speculation, Euphoria and Family Life.

I haven't read one book on this top 10 list. Have you? What's on your top 10 list of best books you read this year?

Appalachian Trail tale tops 2014 Outdoor Book Awards

OUTDOOR READING — They call her Grandma Gatewood.  She carries an umbrella, wears a checked skirt, and she loves to hike. 

In fact, she is the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail.  After her first 2,000-mile hike, she did it again, becoming the first person - man or woman - to hike it twice.  And then for good measure, she hiked it a third time.

Grandma Gatewood is the subject of a new book which is one of the award recipients of the 2014 National Outdoor Book Awards, announced today.

The awards program is sponsored by the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, Idaho State University and the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education.

Her remarkable Appalachian Trail hikes took place in the 1950's and 60's, and they would have been largely forgotten had it not been for Ben Montgomery who chronicled her life in "Grandma Gatewood's Walk."

"Montgomery is a first rate story teller," said Ron Watters, the chairman of the Awards program.  "He weaves the facts of her life into a moving narrative.  We really come to know and understand this amazing woman who found deliverance in the simple act of walking."

Montgomery's book is the winner of the History/Biography category, one of ten categories which make up the National Outdoor Book Awards. 

The winner of the Outdoor Literature category is "Small Feet, Big Land."  Authored by Erin McKittrick, the book is about her family and their experiences in Alaska.  She and her husband Hig, and her two children live in a 450-square foot yurt near Seldovia in the Southcentral portion of the state.  McKittrick writes of her family's endeavors on wilderness hikes, visits to remote Arctic villages, and their stay for two months atop one of the world's largest glaciers. 

"It's a beautifully written account," said Watters.  "It is, quite simply, what exceptional outdoor literature is all about: an honest, perceptive, and graceful account of life close to nature." 

One of the winning books this year received two awards.  "Life on the Rocks" won the Nature & Environment Category and also tied for first place in the Design & Artistic Merit Category.  This double win represents the first time in the history of the National Outdoor Books that a title entered in two categories has won both. 

"Life on the Rocks," written and photographed by wildlife biologist Bruce L. Smith, is all about mountain goats: their habitat, life cycle, behavior, and the challenges they face in an Alpine environment. 

"This is a stunning book," said Watters, "with dramatic photographs of mountain goats perched on rocky outcrops.  From the very first page, Smith draws us into, and shares with us, that unique high mountain world inhabited by those resplendent white creatures."

The other winning book in the Design category is "Salt: Coastal and Flats Fishing."  It's a coffee table sized book richly illustrated with photographs by Andy Anderson and accompanied with essays by noted fishing expert Tom Rosenbauer.  The Design judges were impressed.  At least two of the judges labeled Anderson's photography as "dazzling."

"Anderson's artistic and dramatic photos combined with an equally dazzling design has created a book that is utterly exhilarating in its depiction of the sport of coastal fishing" Watters said.

Winning the children's category is a book about a mother and son taking a short, early morning canoe trip.  The book, for the 4 to 8 year age group, is entitled "Good Morning Loon" and is written by Elizabeth Varnai and illustrated by Kate Hartley.

The story is told through the eyes of the boy.  While canoeing across a lake, the two spot fascinating wildlife:  a frog, mergansers, beaver, osprey, and a great blue heron.  Just before they are ready to turn back, they finally come across what the boy was hoping to see: a loon.

"It's an enchanting story," said Watters, "and educational.  With each new discovery, the boy learns a little more about the natural world.  It's a perfect bedtime read."

Here is a list of the 2014 winners. 

Outdoor Literature.  Winner.  "Small Feet, Big Land:  Adventure, Home and Family on the Edge of Alaska."  By Erin McKittrick.  Mountaineers Books, Seattle. 

Natural History Literature.  Winner.  "The Small Heart of Things: Being at Home in a Beckoning World."  By Julian Hoffman.  The University of Georgia Press, Athens. 

History/Biography.  Winner.  "Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail."  By Ben Montgomery.  Chicago Review Press, Chicago. 

Classic Award.  Winner.  "Not Without Peril: 150 Years of Misadventure on the Presidential Range of New Hampshire."  By Nicholas Howe. Appalachian Mountain Club Books, Boston. 

Nature & Environment.  Winner.  (Also tied for first place in the Design & Artistic Merit category).  "Life on the Rocks:  A Portrait of the American Mountain Goat."  Written and photographed by Bruce L. Smith.  University Press of Colorado, Boulder, CO. 

Nature and the Environment.  Honorable Mention.  "Feathers: A Beautiful Look at a Bird's Most Unique Feature."  By Stan Tekiela.  Adventure Publications, Cambridge, MN. 

Design & Artistic Merit.  Winner.  "Salt:  Coastal and Flats Fishing."  Photographs by Andy Anderson.  Essays by Tom Rosenbauer.  Rizzoli International Publications, New York.

Children's Category.  Winner.  "Good Morning Loon."  By Elizabeth S. Varnai.  Illustrated by Kate Hartley.  Vista Court Books, New Hope PA.

Outdoor Adventure Guidebooks.  Winner.  "Chattahoochee River User's Guide by Joe Cook."  University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA.

Nature Guidebooks.  Winner.  "The Warbler Guide."  By Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle.  Princeton University Press, Princeton. 

Instructional Category.  Winner.  "Training for the New Alpinism:  A Manual for the Climber as Athlete."  By Steve House and Scott Johnston.  Patagonia Books, Ventura, CA. 

Instructional Category.  Honorable Mention.  "Simple Fly Fishing: Techniques for Tenkara and Rod & Reel."  By Yvon Chouinard, Craig Mathews and Mauro Mazzo.  Paintings by James Prosek.  Patagonia Books, Ventura, CA.

Work of Significance.  "Fieldbook: Scouting's Manual of Basic and Advanced Skills for Outdoor Adventure."  By Robert Birkby. Boy Scouts of America , Irving, TX.

‘Tis of Thee: A history

 Like thousands of Americans, Spokane author Claire Rudolf Murphy tuned in to watch President Barack Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009.

She enjoyed Aretha Franklin’s soul-stirring rendition of my “My Country ’Tis of Thee,” commonly known as “America,” but wondered why Franklin chose to sing that particular anthem on such a momentous occasion.

That question provided the prompt for Murphy’s 17th book, “My Country ’Tis of Thee: How One Song Reveals the History of Civil Rights.”

“I discovered there were all kinds of versions of this melody,” she said. Read more. Cindy Hval, SR

My youngest son and I still read aloud to each other and we really enjoyed this book. Do you have a favorite patriotic song?

What Do Your Books Say About You?

 I’ve been thinking about the life cycle of books. Well, about my books, anyway.    Lately, realizing it was time to thin the shelves in my library downstairs, I’ve been going through them one by one, bagging up the books that no longer interest me or attract me enough to keep. First, the books go to Auntie’s Bookstore’s “used books” desk. The bookstore staff takes what they want, what they think they can resell, and add a percentage of the original price of the book to my in-store account. I come back a few hours later, pick up what they can’t use and donate what’s left in the bag to a favorite charity/Cheryl-Anne Millsap, Home Planet. More here.

Question: Well, hat do the books you keep say about you? And/or: Is it easy for you to discard books?

What do the books you keep say about you?


   I’ve been thinking about the life cycle of books. Well, about my books, anyway.


   Lately, realizing it was time to thin the shelves in my library downstairs, I’ve been going through them one by one, bagging up the books that no longer interest me or attract me enough to keep. First, the books go to Auntie’s Bookstore’s "used books" desk. The bookstore staff takes what they want, what they think they can resell, and add a percentage of the original price of the book to my in-store account. I come back a few hours later, pick up what they can’t use and donate what’s left in the bag to a favorite charity.


   They exercise has opened my eyes to the deeply personal side to what we choose to read. My bag has been filled, time and time again, with fiction, travel guidebooks—so many guidebooks— literary classics, reference books and a variety of books written around the periods of history that interest me most. (It must say something that I’ve carried out hundreds of books and there was not one self-help title among them.)


   Of course, I haven’t returned empty-handed. I’ve already used my account at Auntie’s several times, bringing home a new book that caught my eye. 


   I wrote about this process of deciding what what I could and could not let go for Spokane Public Radio. You can read that essay here and listen to it here.


   So far, after a month of excavating, bringing up one bag of books at a time, I’ve only regretted letting one go. Within days of donating it, one of the short stories in the book crossed my mind and I wished I could put my hands on it. I guess I’ll have to replace that one.


   I’d love to know what you read, what you keep and how you share what you no longer want or need. Do you donate? Pass along to a friend?


Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the U.S. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” (available at Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane) and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

The top 10 books people lie about reading

File photo: Paul Wasson has read 4,000 books and counting.

Have you ever lied about reading a book? Maybe you didn’t want to seem stupid in front of someone you respected. Maybe you rationalized it by reasoning that you had a familiarity with the book, or knew who the author was, or what the story was about, or had glanced at its Wikipedia page. Or maybe you had tried to read the book, even bought it and set it by your bed for months unopened, hoping that it would impart what was in it merely via proximity (if that worked, please email me). Read more.

The list includes Atlas Shrugged, Moby Dick and War and Peace, none of which I've read or plan to read. Actually, I haven't read a single book on this list have you?

National Outdoor Book Awards name best reads

OUTDOOR LITERATURE — A clash between politics and nature is front and center among the winners of the 2013 National Outdoor Book Awards.

Krista Schlyer in her winning book "Continental Divide" reports on the controversial border wall between the United States and Mexico and its effect on the natural environment.

"This is a groundbreaking work," said Ron Watters, the Chair of the National Outdoor Book Awards. "The effects of the border wall on the environment have been left out of the national discourse, but Krista Schlyer casts a bright light on this forgotten part of the debate."

Schlyer's book won the Nature and Environment category, one of 10 categories which make up the National Outdoor Book Awards sponsored by the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, Idaho State University and the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education.

When Congress authorized the border wall, it allowed the Department of Homeland Security to waive all environmental laws, and as a result, according to Schlyer, the wall has devastated wildlife migration paths. It has also rerouted human traffic through the most pristine and sensitive of wild lands.

"This book is an important work on nature, and it's timely," said Watters. "It is the judges' hope that the book plays a role in jump-starting a more fully informed debate on the wall."

Read on for more details and a list of all the winners, including the award for children's books.

Arctic Dreams author Barry Lopez to speak at SCC

OUTDOOR LITERATURE — Barry Lopez, one of America's premier nature writers, will give Spokane Community College’s first 2013-14 President Speakers Series lecture at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, in the Lair-Student Center auditorium, Bldg. 6. The college is at 1810 N. Greene St.

Topics for his free presentation include sustainability from a global perspective and ways writing and environmental concerns intersect.

Lopez won the National Book Award for “Artic Dreams,” a study of the Far North, its terrain, wildlife and history of the Eskimo and the region’s explorers. Other nonfiction works include “About this Life” and  “Of Wolves and Men,” a National Book Award finalist. Lopez’ fiction works include “Field Notes,” “Winter Count” and the novella, “Crow and Weasel.” He also has written for The New York Times Magazine,d Harper’s and National Geographic.

Lopez has been honored with Association of American Geographers’ 2011 Honorary Geographer Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Literature Award and the John Burroughs and John Hay Medals.

Whatcha Readin’?

Just finished "Joyland" yesterday. It was a fun, light read with none of the usual King macabre. I started "The Aviator's Wife" last night. I can't be confined to any particular genre. Heck, I even still read newspapers.

What are you reading?

Once Upon A Time with ‘My Book House’ stories

   Some of my favorite childhood memories are of the hours I spent sitting sideways across my grandfather’s big reading chair, one padded chair arm at my back, the other under my knees, and a book under my nose.

   We had an old set of My Book House books, a classic collection of stories edited by Olive Beaupre Miller. They may have been my mother’s when she was a child, but for as long as I can remember they were on the bookshelf by that chair and I read them all. I liked the old-fashioned Nursery Rhymes and I was intrigued by the myths, but my favorites were the Fairy Tales. As a young girl my head was filled with the elaborate illustrations of tall castles with moats and towers, dashing knights in armor and fierce horses draped in colorful blankets and bridles.    

   The day before I left for a recent trip to France, I dropped into The Vintage Rabbit. I’d been upstairs at the public radio studio to record audio essays for the upcoming weeks and although I was pushed for time, I couldn’t resist.  I walked through quickly and was turning to go when I saw the distinctive green-to-blue “rainbow” covers of the books I’d loved as a child. The mixed-edition set was a bargain at only $28. Sold. I gathered the books, paid and left.

   I knew what would happen if I opened one so I put the set on a shelf near my favorite reading spot and didn’t go near them again until I was packed and ready to catch my flight the next morning.  Finally, worn out from all the work that goes into preparing for any trip, keyed up and a bit stressed, I sat down and looked over what I’d bought.

   It was like going back in time. The stories and illustrations were so familiar to me I knew exactly where to find my favorites.

   A few days later I was walking down the narrow, curving, cobblestoned streets of Carcassonne, the beautiful medieval fortress city in the south of France. As I climbed up to walk along the stone walls, I thought about the little girl who’d buried her nose in fairy tales. The lucky coincidence of finding the books again was particularly sweet.

   Then, a week after my return from France, a friend and I drove down to the little town of Rockford to shop at Hurd Mercantile. One space was filled with vintage French items, including books. One 1907 book, ‘A Spring Fortnight in France’ was particularly intriguing. The cover was illustrated with an old photograph of the French countryside and it was about the travels of two young women who’d visited southern France more than 100 years before I’d set foot there. The chapter on Carcassonne had photos of the city as it had been at that time. Sold again. I brought it home and read most of it that night.

   I traveled on a modern Air France jet.  I carried an iPhone, a digital camera and a credit card, but my trip was even more memorable because as a child my imagination had been fired by the illustrations in a set of story books. Then, when I returned home, I was able to contrast my trip with the words of a woman writing for other women more than 100 years ago.

  My own experience was bound with words and pictures from long ago.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer whose audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com.

Whatcha Readin’?

I really, really wish I was reclining in our shady gazebo and reading this book. It's a young adult book, but I'm finding 'How I Live Now' engrossing. From Goodreads: "Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy."

What's on your summer reading list?

Travel: A Room with a View

   There is a house down the street from where I live and I often pass it on my afternoon walks through the neighborhood. It is a small white house, a classic Cape Cod, probably built in the lean years before the second World War. There is ivy climbing up the chimney and a tall evergreen tree anchors one corner of the front yard.

    Most days, there is nothing about the little house that would draw your attention. It is like a hundred others in the city. But if you pass it on a summer evening, just at the softest part of the day when the sky is darkening to a deep shade of violet but still light at the western edge of the horizon, maybe a few of the earliest stars are already out, it’s possible the front door will be open. And through the screen door you can see into the small living room of the compact house where two baby grand pianos sit side by side, situated so that the pianists can see one another as they play.
I know nothing about the house or the people who live there, but to my way of thinking it is the pianos that tell the story, the way they fill the room, claiming it as a place where music is, or has been, made. When I look into that room I see love. There are people there who love music enough to make it the center of the house.

    Once, at the end of a day in Paris, I walked down a narrow street near the Latin Quartier and past an apartment building. A tiny slice of one of the apartments was visible through the open terrace doors and I could see a faded but still elegant armchair, upholstered in a soft blue velvet that was worn in places from years of use. Tall shelves filled with rows and rows of books lined the wall and a lamp cast a soft glow over the chair.

    With nothing more than a glimpse into the room I could imagine the person who lives there. I could see him (I don’t know why, but it felt like a man’s room) come home each evening, scan the shelves, select a book and then settle into the chair to read. From the outside, the building gave no clue to its inhabitants. Rows of windows shuttered the lives of those inside, but the love of books, the familiar and satisfying feel of a favorite book in one’s hands, spilled out out through the open door, carried into the night by the golden lamplight.

    The peek into those two rooms has changed the way I think about my house. Now, I try to look past the usual clutter, the sleeping, shedding, cats and dog, past the unfinished projects on my to-do list. I focus hard on the way the chairs sit next to the window, perfect for watching the seasons change and the parade of people on the way to the park. I look at the books I’ve collected over a lifetime and the photographs I’ve taken of the people and places I love.

    The places we call home say much about us in ways we don’t always appreciate. We focus so much on the superficial—the wreath on the door, the curb appeal, the fresh coat of paint— that we forget that what defines any room as the place we belong has little to do with the decor and everything to do with how we live, and love, in the space.


Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a journalist and travel columnist whose audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com


If you have read this book…

…I would be interested in hearing what you thought of it.


2012 Outdoor Book Awards spotlight top titles

OUTDOOR READING — Stunning underwater photography.  A coming-of-age story of three women.  Wonder and magic in a small patch of forest.  Nail biting adventure and a desperate self-rescue from a crevasse on Mount Rainier. 

These are some of the themes found among the winners of the 2012 National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA),  said Ron Watters, awards program chairman.  The annual awards program recognizes the best in outdoor writing and publishing.

The judges also pegged some top natural history and adventure guidebooks produced this year.

"A masterpiece," is the term the judges used to describe photographer David Hall's  "Beneath the Cold Seas," a collection of photographs taken in the underwater world of the Pacific Northwest. 

A total of 15 bookswere honored in this year's awards.  The awards program is sponsored by the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, Idaho State University and the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education.

Among the winners is "Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail" by Suzanne Roberts.  It is one of two winners in the Outdoor Literature category. 

"Almost Somewhere" is about a backpacking trip that Roberts takes with two other women.  It's outdoor adventure from a feminine perspective.  Roberts obsesses with her weight and grapples with conflicted views of sex and relationships.  One of the other women on the trip struggles with bulimia.

"It's an introspective and honest narrative of their journey," said Watters.  "What emerges from the book is a revealing and insightful coming-of-age portrait of women of the post baby boom generation."


The other winner of the Outdoor Literature Category is "The Ledge" by Jim Davidson and Kevin Vaughan. It is the true story of Davidson's desperate attempt to escape from a crevasse on Mount Rainier. After he falls, he finds himself caught with his pack wedged between two walls of ice. Below him is an abyss.

"I promise," said Watters. "'This is a book that will keep you turning the pages. Davidson must dig deep into his inner physical reserves, all the while, struggling internally with a range of emotions that alternate between hope, despair, and terror. It's a spellbinding account."

Read on for more highlights from this year's judging and a complete list of the award-winning books for you to consider.

Storms of Denali author to speak at Auntie’s Bookstore

MOUNTAINEERING —  Spokane Mountaineer John Roskelley is mentioned in a new climbing novel and serves as an inspiration for one of the characters, says author/climber Nick O’Connell of Seattle.

The Storms of Denali, is a disaster epic that O'Connell ranks in the tradition of Into Thin Air and The Perfect Storm. Four young men set out to climb a new route on the 20,320-foot peak, the highest and coldest summit in North America. They battle avalanches, fierce winds, and mind-numbing cold to ascend a classic new line up the south face. In confronting these obstacles, the group splinters, leading inexorably to tragedy.

O'Connell will be reading from the novel Thursday (Aug. 9) at 7 p.m. at Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane.

See a video trailer of the novel featuring the author and scenes from Denali.

An extraordinary novel. Through verisimilitude and candor rarely found in the nonfiction literature of North America's highest peak, O'Connell plumbs the motivations, risk, and nuances of an ordinary climber's life.  The mounting tension, deft characterizations, and sun-burnt realism of The Storms of Denali transport the reader more vividly than any other book about the mountain.

—Jonathan Waterman, author of In the Shadow of Denali and Running Dry.

Ice Age Floods guidebook authors coming to Auntie’s

GEOLOGY — A just-published guidebook on the region's channeled scablands — a second volume on exploring the aftermath of the Ice Age Floods — is being celebrated with a reading and lecture Wednesday at Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane.

On the Trail of the Ice Age Floods: A geological field guide to northern Idaho and the Channeled Scabland" will be unveiled by geologist and Eastern Washington University alumnus Bruce Bjornstad and retired EWU geology prof Eugene Kiver.

The event is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Auntie's, 402 West Main Ave.

The floods helped gouge out Lake Pend Oreill, Idaho’s largest and deepest lake, and sculpted the weird topography of Eastern Washington.

This field guide explores a vast expanse of land on the ground and with great aerial photos. Specific hikes are recommended to see key features.

After hiking and exploring the Channeled Scabland region for 35 years, I didn’t know what I was missing until I read this book.

Forget the app, there’s a map for that

   In the jumble of odds and ends I carry around in my purse, a mix of grocery store receipts, loose change, lipgloss, hairbands and bobby pins, mints, a small leather notebook and a pen, there is an honest-to-goodness map of the world. And I don’t mean the Google Maps app on my iPhone.

   The portable, purse-size Oxford World Atlas was a gift from my daughter, something I asked for last December, when, for once, I had an answer ready when asked what I would like to unwrap on Christmas morning. She bought it, brought it home and put it under the tree and now it is almost always with me.
   I pull out the book often and I am never disappointed. In less time than it would take to type in a keyword and track the tiny virtual map on the tiny screen on my phone, I can check the milage from Tokyo to Mumbai. I can, using the graph, measure the distance in miles or kilometers from one side of Paris to the other. I can daydream and make plans. I can follow along with the BBC or NPR news anchors when they’re talking about a drought, or disaster in some distant part of the world. Or, if I’m in the mood for something closer to home, I can look for unexplored places just a day’s drive from my backyard. And it isn’t all maps. At a glance, I can see what the national flag of Luxembourg or Montenegro looks like. I can find the capital city of the Slovak Republic, the population of the Mariana Islands, a list of the world’s busiest airports, the annual rainfall in Rome and even the average income of residents of Berlin.

   The information in the atlas is random and immediate. No searching for service or wireless. Just as men and women have been doing for centuries, I open a book and find a place that sparks my imagination. I like the satisfactory sound and feel of crisp, glossy, paper when I turn a page or trace my finger along printed highways, railways and rivers. I get swept away by possibilities and before I know it I’m connecting the map-dots of cities and countries. 

   I know a few facts may have changed since the book was updated, in fact, I’m sure of it. The world in always in flux. If I need to confirm the data, I do. But, for the most part, I’m sure of what I see. The socio-economic situations, politics and migratory habits of people are constantly changing but, and I find this immensely comforting, the continents, islands and land masses that make up the physical world as we know it are all still, barring any meteor strikes, volcanic eruptions and other cataclysmic surprises before this goes to print, exactly where they are supposed to be. And thanks to my daughter, I’m happy to say they are right at the bottom of my purse, between yesterday’s to-do list, a white shirt-button and my phone.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane, Washington. In addition to her Spokesman-Review Home Planet and Treasure Hunting columns and blogs and her CAMera: Travel and Photo blog, her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Authors of new Ice Age Floods book celebrate at EWU

GEOLOGY — A just-published guidebook on the region's channeled scablands — a second volume on exploring the aftermath of the Ice Age Floods — is being celebrated Saturday at Eastern Washington University.

On the Trail of the Ice Age Floods: A geological field guide to northern Idaho and the Channeled Scabland" will be unveiled by geologist and Eastern Washington University alumnus Bruce Bjornstad and retired EWU geology prof Eugene Kiver.

The event is set for 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Science Building, located on Washington Street across from Roos Field.

The floods helped gouge out Lake Pend Oreill, Idaho’s largest and deepest lake, and sculpted the weird topography of Eastern Washington. This field guide explores a vast expanse of land on the ground and with great aerial photos. Specific hikes are recommended to see key features.

After hiking and exploring the Channeled Scabland region for 35 years, I didn’t know what I was missing until I read this book.

Roskelley presents climbing slides, stories

MOUNTAINEERING — Spokane's John Roskelley, perhaps America's premier mountaineer in the 1980s, will present a slide show and share climbing insights in a presentation Thursday (June 21), 7 p.m., at  the Mountain Gear retail store, 2002 N. Division.

The photos and stories will relate to Roskelley's latest book, "The Roskelley Collection: Nanda Devi, Last Days and Stories off the Wall.

The book compiles his previous works.

’Three Cups’ readers take fraud claims to court

MOUNTAINEERING — Three people who bought books by mountain climber Greg Mortenson are taking their claims of fraud against the humanitarian to a federal appeals court. 

Last month, U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon dismissed their lawsuit that alleged that Mortenson, his publisher, his co-author and his charity lied in his books “Three Cups of Tea” and “Stones Into Schools” to boost sales and donations.  

Haddon called the case flimsy and “fraught with shortcomings.”  

The Associated Press reports today that on Wednesday, attorneys for the readers from Montana and California filed a notice of appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A fourth plaintiff from Illinois has dropped out of the lawsuit. 

The best-selling memoirs recount how Mortenson started building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The lawsuit was filed last year after media reports that Mortenson fabricated parts of them.

Daggers hidden in book at D.C. airport

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Transportation Security Administration says officers found two throwing daggers hidden in a hollowed-out book at a checkpoint at Reagan-Washington National Airport.

A TSA spokesman says a passenger was stopped Monday when officers found the knives in the person's carry-on bag. The daggers measured just over a half-foot long and were hidden in the hard-cover book.

The passenger was flying to Chicago and surrendered the knives and book.

The TSA has the authority to fine passengers who bring deadly weapons into the airport checkpoint. It was not known if this was done in this case.

A spokesman for the airport did not immediately return a call for comment.

Our Christmas Story

    Each year, after Thanksgiving dinner, some time after the last of the dishes are washed and before the pie comes back out again, I bring up a big handwoven basket from the storeroom in the basement. The basket is the size of a bed pillow, a split-oak rectangle with a sturdy handle, and it is filled with books.

     There are one or two that my husband and I brought with us when we married: his old copy of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. My 100-year-old edition of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Stories with A Christmas Carol, a story I’ve read and reread since I first opened the book as a girl. But mostly, it holds an assortment of holiday books we’ve collected since our first daughter was born more than 25 years ago; familiar titles like The Night Before Christmas, The Gift of the Magi and The Littlest Christmas Tree.

    Some are old toddlers’ board books, with broken spines and peeling pages, showing the wear and tear of little hands. Others are children’s classics filled with familiar illustrations.

    To me, the basket is a time capsule. A record of time spent together as a family and in the company of beloved books and stories. Each year another book is added to the collection. The new book is left propped under the tree late on Christmas Eve and is passed around on Christmas Day before going into the basket and, eventually, after the tree is undressed and all the decorations are put away, back down to the basement to wait until Christmas comes again.

    It pleases me to see my grown children sit down and pull out a book when they drop by during the holidays or on Christmas Day when we’re all together. Especially the older books that were in the house when they were babies.  I steal glances at them as they read. I like to think they hear, in some shadowy corner of memory, the sound of my voice and the feel of my arms around them as we read together; that they hear again the creak of the rocking chair and recall other rooms in other houses and are reminded of the sweetest years.

    So much of what happens during the season is rushed and hurried. So much is new and shiny and meant to be tossed away as soon as the New Year arrives.  But the basket, with it’s cargo of paper and ink and memories is evergreen. Like a precious ornament taken off the tree and put away for another day.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com