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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

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.

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?

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.

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

Man on bond must write book reports

RICHMOND, Calif. (AP) — A man charged in an undercover sting operation in Northern California that ended in gunfire has been ordered released on bond on the condition that he read and write book reports.

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers allowed 23-year-old Otis Mobley to be freed Monday, although she delayed an order to allow prosecutors to appeal her decision.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that under the bond order, Mobley would be required to spend an hour reading and a half hour writing each day as he awaits trial on robbery and assault charges.

Mobley and two others are accused of arranging to sell a grenade launcher for $1,000 to an undercover federal agent in Richmond, Calif. Hutcherson was shot and wounded by agents during the alleged meeting.

It must be an abrupt transition

There's a woman on the bus who reads romance novels during her ride downtown.

That's fine. I'm not judging her.

But I assume she is on her way to work. And it just seems like going from the world of her books to real life could be an uncomfortably jarring change.

Reading one of those at bedtime, that I could see. But to be immersed in the story of a beautiful, headstrong lass one moment and then walk right into “You're late — I need you to redo that inventory report”…well,  that seems like an invitation to experience emotional whiplash.

But maybe that woman puts her book aside but keeps thinking about the story. And when her boss is giving her a bad time about some minor matter, maybe she's nodding but actually thinking about a handsome outcast who simply needed the love of a special woman to be the man he yearned to be.

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

Steve Tucker makes public appearance

“I'm 4,” says Aidan Cameron to Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick at the YWCA Thursday. Kirkpatrick, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich and County Prosecutor Steve Tucker read to children at the YWCA to support continued federal and state funding for early childhood programs.

Education experts describe children as sponges of learning, soaking up language and information from those around them.

 “They, like adults, learn languages best in an environment where learning enhances their self-esteem and reinforces their sense of who they are and who they are becoming,” according to the International Children's Education.

A revelation Thursday by largely inaccessible Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker could serve as Exhibit A in that theory.

Tucker, who joined Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick and Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich to support early childhood learning programs at the YMCA, shared a humorous vignette about his 3-year-old grandson's impressive vocabulary, including the toddler's unprompted uttering of this all-too-familiar phrase: “I am not availabe to answer that question at this time.”

Kamm: 1st Memory Of My Father

Kamm: Reading has alway been my refuge. My first memory of my father, who was at sea for loooong periods of time, was taking me to the main library so I could print my name on a check out card. I could check out as many books as I could carry. It was a wondrous experience. I can still be found in a chair by the fireplace at least weekly. I’m open to any book, even complicated relationships and dark subjects, as long there is some hope by the end.

Question: What is your first memory of your father?

Goodbye, Paper. Hello, Pixels!

Are electronic book devices in the near future for reading?

The e-book industry has remained a silent secret for almost a decade, but now, due in part to sky-rocketing advertising efforts on Amazon.com, e-books’ sales will launch.

Although the book industry and technology have always been tightly linked what with online libraries, web sites, reading lights, and the ability to download documents onto iPods and iPhones, Kindle hopes to introduce a new connection.

Kindle is a wireless device with the ability to display electronic books like any other traditional print copy. The approximated cost is $359; the popularity of the product is credited mostly to Oprah Winfrey, who featured the product on her show, and in part to Amazon.com by analysts.

From the New York Times’ article on the subject:

“The perception is that e-books have been around for 10 years and haven’t done anything,” said Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading division. “But it’s happening now. This is really starting to take off.”…

 …“E-books will become the go-to-first format for an ever-expanding group of readers who are newly discovering how much they enjoy reading books on a screen,” said Markus Dohle, chief executive of Random House, the world’s largest publisher of consumer books.