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Hello.

Grace is a writer, reader, and producer living in Portland, Oregon and working globally.

Winter Series

Winter Series

Hello! And welcome to the TBC Winter Reading List. This is a fun time of year to pack on the pages, with more time indoors, cozy sweaters, fireplaces, and lots of hygge.

As we wrapped up our Summer reading, there was one glaring quality that I noticed: all the books I completed were written by women. Which, honest to blog, gave me a quick squeak of pride. Before that is, I realized they were all written by white women. Which… isn’t great. One of the many benefits of reading is that it gives us an opportunity to expand our boundaries, our minds, our comfort zones, and I was robbing all of us of going into a new space. One of my favorite quotes is by Maya Angelou. She said “when you know better, do better.” So with our new Winter Reading List, I aim to widen the scope of influence we are all exposed to.

This season I curated a list of 10 books that balance the gender scale and which features a Vietnamese writer, a Nigerian writer, a rainbow of experiences from the UK in Nikesh Shukla’s The Good Immigrant, and one set in Kyrgyzstan. I am so excited to dive into these with you.

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A refresher on how the TBC works… pick one book or pick them all! Read them in order or mix them up! The rules are loose and the goal is to simply read more and to share with each other. Another important reminder is that if you aren’t jiving with a book, put it down and move on! Reading should make you squirm with glee and new possibilities, not make you suffer from self-imposed boredom. We all have different tastes, so keep an open mind and get to reading!

Introducing the TBC Winter Reading List!

(in the order I think I’ll read them in…) Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I haven’t read these books yet either - rather it’s a collection of books I want to read. So we’ll be experiencing them, fresh, together.

THE SYMPATHIZER
by Viet Thanh Nguyen, 2016

Purpose: I was gifted tickets to Viet Thanh Nguyen, a writer foreign to me, by my former landlord, Paul, of all people. Viet was a visiting speaker through the Literary Arts speaker series here in Portland, and because I love walking in to new experiences without preconceived ideas, I let myself be surprised. For 90 minutes, I sat spellbound, and bought his book the following day.
Plot: “The Sympathizer is a sweeping epic of love and betrayal. The narrator, a communist double agent, is a “man of two minds,” a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who arranges to come to America after the Fall of Saigon, and while building a new life with other Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles is secretly reporting back to his communist superiors in Vietnam. The Sympathizer is a blistering exploration of identity and America, a gripping espionage novel, and a powerful story of love and friendship.”
Plot copy borrowed from Amazon

THE THIRD INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
by Jeremy Rifkin,  2013

Purpose: Because I didn’t get to it over the Summer (did you?) and it definitely deserves a read. Major themes include: saving the planet.
Plot: “Facing the prospect of a second collapse of the global economy, humanity is desperate for a sustainable economic game plan to take us into the future. Here, Jeremy Rifkin explores how Internet technology and renewable energy are merging to create a powerful "Third Industrial Revolution." He asks us to imagine hundreds of millions of people producing their own green energy in their homes, offices, and factories, and sharing it with each other in an "energy internet," just like we now create and share information online.”
Plot copy borrowed from Amazon

STAY WITH ME
by Ayobami Adebayo, 2017

Purpose: I was seeking some non-white, non-American voices in my reading, when I came across this Belletrist recommendation. Do you follow Belletrist? You should! Their reading club is superb. I also love books set in Africa: The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuscinski, Desert Flower by Waris Dirie, and What is the What by Dave Eggers are other favorites.
Plot: “Ever since they first met and fell in love at university, Yejide and Akin have agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage—after consulting fertility doctors and healers, and trying strange teas and unlikely cures—Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time—until her in-laws arrive on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin’s second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant. Which, finally, she does—but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine. The unforgettable story of a marriage as seen through the eyes of both husband and wife, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.”
Plot copy borrowed from Amazon
Praise: One of the Best Books of the Year: NPR, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Chicago Tribune, BuzzFeed, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Post, Southern Living, The Skimm

OVER THE EDGE
by Greg Child, 2015

Purpose: Climbers love Tommy Caldwell. He’s broken records - a lot of them, he’s buddies with Alex Honnold, he’s a family man, and a downright nice guy. And I, as a Poli Sci major who focused on US-Mid East Policy, love Tommy extra for his fascinating tale of being one quarter of a group unexpectedly caught up in a hostage situation. Of all the scenarios climbers prepare for, this certainly isn’t one of them. The group of four were captured and held hostage by the Taliban in Kyrgyzstan for ten days. Greg Child, notable outdoor adventure writer, chronicles their story.
Praise: “Over the Edge is a charged and unforgettable look into the many faces of international terrorism and human nature itself.” -- Lesley Reed (amazon.com)

MY DEAD PARENTS
by Anya Yurchyshyn, 2018  

Plot: “When she was sixteen, Anya’s father was killed in a car accident in Ukraine. At thirty-two, she became an orphan when her mother drank herself to death. As she was cleaning out her childhood home, she suddenly discovered a trove of old letters, photographs, and journals hidden in the debris of her mother’s life. These lost documents told a very different story than the one she’d believed to be true.”
Plot copy borrowed from Amazon
Praise: "Sharp and searching...The book grapples with the limits of what we can know of each other and is a potent look at the fraught, painful, and complicated relationship between parents and children, and the mysteries — revelatory, difficult — that can and cannot be solved." -- Boston Globe

MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS
by Richard and Florance Atwater, 1938

Purpose: I like to revisit books I loved in my childhood. Last season it was A Wrinkle In Time (though I didn’t share it with the book club), this season it will be Mr. Popper’s Penguins, originally gifted to me in my Easter basket by my mother as one of her favorite childhood books.
Plot: “More than 60 years have not dated this wonderfully absurd tale--it still makes kids (and parents) laugh out loud. Poor Mr. Popper isn't exactly unhappy; he just wishes he had seen something of the world before meeting Mrs. Popper and settling down. Most of all, he wishes he had seen the Poles, and spends his spare time between house-painting jobs reading all about polar explorations. Admiral Drake, in response to Mr. Popper's fan letter, sends him a penguin; life at 432 Proudfoot Avenue is never the same again. From one penguin living in the icebox, the Popper family grows to include 12 penguins, all of whom must be fed. Their adventures while on tour are hilarious, with numerous slapstick moments as the penguins disrupt other acts and invade hotels. Classic chapter-a-night fun.” --Richard Farr (amazon.com reviews)
PS: This book is co-bylined by husband and wife duo Richard and Florence Atwater, which sounds like an impossible task until I learned they worked on the book consecutively, not collaboratively. When a stroke disabled Richard in 1934, Florence took over writing, editing, and shopping it around to publishers.

THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES
by Ben Wohlleben, 2016

Purpose: My best friend lives in a home in Southwest Portland with views to make your jaw drop. Mere minutes outside the city, she has floor to ceiling windows and a massive pocket of forest to stare at all day long. I often spend hours here, reading with her cat, the birds, and these trees for company, thus birthing the name of our fine reading community, The Treehouse Book Club. So this book feels like an apt choice for inclusion.
Plot: “Are trees social beings? In this international bestseller, forester and author Peter Wohlleben convincingly makes the case that, yes, the forest is a social network. He draws on groundbreaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers. After learning about the complex life of trees, a walk in the woods will never be the same again.”
Plot copy borrowed from Amazon

THE FAMILY GENE
by Joselin Linder, 2018

Purpose: I met Joselin through a respected colleague and booked her as a speaker for our conference stage as a Patient in a sea of technologists, medical professionals, data scientists, and venture capitalists. She is the humanity behind all the work of science, and her story is unique because her condition is unique. From our conference, she went on to give a TED talk, then write a book, and is now in talks with Netflix. Get it while it’s hot, folks!
Plot: “A riveting medical mystery about a young woman’s quest to uncover the truth about her likely fatal genetic disorder. After years of misdiagnoses, doctors discovered a deadly blockage in her liver. Struggling to find an explanation, Joselin compared the medical chart of her father—who had died from a mysterious disease, ten years prior—with that of an uncle who had died under similarly strange circumstances. Delving further into the past, she discovered that her great-grandmother had displayed symptoms similar to hers before her death. Clearly, this was more than a fluke. Setting out to build a more complete picture of the illness that haunted her family, Joselin approached Dr. Christine Seidman, the head of a group of world-class genetic researchers at Harvard Medical School, for help. Dr. Seidman had been working on her family’s case for twenty years and had finally confirmed that fourteen of Joselin’s relatives carried something called a private mutation—meaning that they were the first known people to experience the baffling symptoms of a brand new genetic mutation. Here, Joselin tells the story of their gene: the lives it claimed and the future of genomic medicine with the potential to save those that remain.”
Plot copy borrowed from Amazon

THE GOOD IMMIGRANT
edited by Nikesh Shukla, 2017

Purpose: Now that we’re well into the Trump presidency, throwing punches in the negotiation of Brexit, standing at the precipice of the migrant caravan from Central America reaching the US border, and as an immigrant watching all this, I am devastated on the daily, and yet, fully aware of the privilege that my Norwegianness affords me. You’d never know I was an immigrant - white skin, lack of accent, voting rights, a passport. But I crave immigrant stories. Mostly because they differ from my own - in economic ways, in cultural ways, nonconsensual ways, in seeking better education ways, in seeking freedom ways, in war-torn ways, in got-married ways, in sought-a-better-life ways - all the ways Immigrants pixelate with uniqueness. Connecting us through all of it though are lives that hold sacred dual identities. And with that we carry an understanding of how to navigate the place we’re from with the place we live.
Praise: “Quite simply a wonderful antidote to the tired cliches” - Fatima Manji
“To say the publication of The Good Immigrant has come at a good time would be an understatement… if 2016 has left you feeling helpless, desperately wondering what you can do to repair the damage of anti-immigration rhetoric, then reading it would be a good place to start.” - VICE
PS: Somehow books shipped from the UK smell gloriously more book-ish than books in the US.

CRASH COURSE
by Julie Whipple, 2018

Purpose: I’ve known Julie for as long as I can remember. She’s friends with my mom, and she was always around the Norwegian community center I grew up in. To me she was always Julie-at-Norse Hall, and never in my mind, Julie-the-writer. But she is! And in parallel, I’ve lived all 26 of my years in Portland with zero clue that our fair city was the backdrop of what would become not only a national drama but also the catalyst for a transformational airline safety policy. This is must-read for you, my fellow local Portlander.
Plot: “On a cold winter night, a passenger jet with 189 aboard crash landed, out of fuel, in a suburban neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. Ten people died. The pilot was blamed and stripped of his career, and a sweeping transformation of flight crew training took place that made United Flight 173 (in)famous worldwide as the model for failure and change. That was only the half of it. Hiding in plain sight for years in an attorney’s file boxes, the forgotten truths of the landmark air disaster reveal much more: an emotional journey tethered to the disgraced pilot and a three-year-old girl who survived the crash and became an unlikely hero for justice and public safety in the dramatic legal battle that followed.”
Plot copy borrowed from Amazon

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Happy Reading!

Summer Series

Summer Series