Bookseller at Ravenna
Dana is new to the Third Place Books Ravenna store, but it already feels like home. She reads mostly memoir and nonfiction, but she’s looking for the right place to jump back into the fiction stream. You will find her smiling away at the front desk or shelving in Religion, Philosophy, Mythology, New Age, Self Help, Psychology, etc. When she’s not at the bookstore, she’s writing, editing, making art, walking the dogs, and spending time with her family.
Reading a memoir is like looking through a window into someone's life. If you're lucky the window is clean, the curtains pulled back just enough, and the life inside revealed in such a way that the reader learns something important and moving about that life. Good memoirs go a step beyond and reveal truths and realities about entire realms, and those truths and realities change forever how the reader views the world. This is one of those good memoirs.
The Book of Joan is a savage love letter to the human race. In this seemingly prescient, post-apocalyptic tale, a cruel ex-talk show host controls the (upper) world world while a Kali-esque Joan (of Arc) lives beneath scorched earth. Christine, who lives in the upper world, inscribes Joan story on her pale body, and when the two women meet, change happens. Give this gorgeously-written speculative novel a read. You'll be transported.
The Just So Stories are integral to the inner landscape of my childhood; I am always surprised to hear that a new friend has never read them. Forever I have understood "The Cat That Walked by Himself," in my own cats, and, when life events get the best of me, I have held my nose and said, "This is too much for me," so I sound like the Elephant's Child with his (then short) nose in the mouth of the Crocodile. My Uncle Harold read these stories of transformation to my mother when she was small, my mother read them to me, and my mother and I read them to my daughter, now 22. There is a silly logic to them, an appeal to the imagination, and a true seeing into the fact of existential alchemy. Enjoy!
I'll admit I'm a longtime fan of Natalie Goldberg's work. Writing Down the Bones has informed my work as a writer for decades, and her book The Great Failure is a model of how to tell a difficult truth about a respected figure with grace and honesty. But I feel secure saying that if you've never read her before, you will find The Great Spring a generous invitation into Goldberg's creative life, her spiritual path, and her take on life. Rather than recommending a book, I feel like I'm introducing you to a dear friend. Enjoy.
Myles Horton, cofounder of the Highlander Folk School, was in it for the long haul. He knew social change was a project he couldn't finish in his lifetime, and that was okay with him. He understood anger as a flame that can, if banked and used wisely, be a powerful fuel for social change. In this book Mr. Horton tells the story of how he cofounded Highlander and of the people who helped shape the school: Martin Luther King, Jr., Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, Saul Alinsky, and Ralph Abernathy, to name a few. These people helped change our world for the better; Highlander still exists and continues to work for "justice, equality and sustainability."
Like many women of a certain age I read Women Who Run With the Wolves when it came out, before I was a mother. While I can't say I cracked it open as I struggled to balance caring for myself with caring for an infant, I know what I absorbed from this book helped me listen to my wild nature, helped me survive the inundation of motherhood. Now my daughter is 22 and reading Clarissa Pinkola Estés book herself, and reading parts aloud to me. If ever there was a time to remind ourselves to listen to our intuition, to stay free, to honor the wild in us, it is now.
A half a million glass photographic plates hold the only visual record of the night sky between 1885 and 1992. This dazzles me and I'm not an astronomer. It dazzles me even more to learn that a group of dedicated women (mostly unpaid) spent decades attending to these glass slides with utmost dedication well before women were allowed to attend Harvard. These women helped count the stars, helped astronomers learn what the stars are made of, created the classification system astronomers still use, and inadvertently helped measure our Universe. I didn't have to be an astronomer to love this book, and neither do you.
This story is woven out of the twin threads of love and loss. Alternating chapters offer up an exquisite emotional balance between the story of Sonya's husband losing the memory of their life together, and the story of how the couple met, fell in love, and built a life together. Sonya writes with brute honesty, inviting the reader to stand witness at a profound level. This story is set primarily in the Puget Sound where Sonya teaches writing at Hugo House and with the Red Badge Project. Treat yourself.
"He knew when the geese flew south and the leaves fell from the trees, that winter would soon be here and snow would cover the forest. It was time to go into a cave and hibernate." Beautifully illustrated by the author, this is a children's book adults will love too about a bear who knew his place in the world. But when he wakes up, his world has changed. A factory is operating right on top of him! He wanders into the factory and the foreman yells "Hey you, get back to work!" The sleepy bear replies, "But I'm a bear!" Thus begins this bear's ongoing struggle to maintain his identity in the face of pressure to conform to what is expected of him, both by humans and other bears. My mom read this book to me, I read it to my daughter, and I would be happy to read it to you.
When my family flew to Greece to visit cousins I had never met, my mother brought a small pocketbook edition of Durrell's classic My Family and Other Animals and read it aloud to my then 5-year-old daughter. On a small sailboat winging across the Mediterranean we learned about 10-year-old Gerald, a budding naturalist, his brother Lawrence, and the rest of their quirky family during the years they lived on the Greek island of Corfu. This book is a love letter to the natural world, laugh-out-loud funny, touching, and replete with characters that are at once familiar and bizarre. It was my daughter's favorite bedtime story until she fired me from reading to her before bed, and seventeen years later this is still our favorite read aloud.
I read The Phantom Tollbooth as a kid, in fact it was released within months of my own arrival in the world. I loved it then for the witty wordplay and lovable characters. As an adult, I have come to appreciate the philosophy of Norton Juster's classic. "The most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what's in between," seems a fine motto for living. The story follows a bored boy who accepts an invitation to a world of adventure filled with quirky friends. Participation in this journey requires him to be curious, to pay attention, and to care, excellent skills for humans of every age. It's a fun read and Jules Feiffer's illustrations are a perfect accompaniment. Enjoy.
Tribe is not just a book about PTSD, it is a serious reflection on the dominant culture in American society. Sebastian Junger lays out, in detail, an argument that American culture has wandered so far from our tribal roots that we can’t offer a meaningful experience of connection and community to returning veterans that rivals what they experience in war. We can’t offer it because we’re not living it. If you love someone who went to war and came home, this will likely speak to you (reading Tribe helped me come to a deeper understanding of my ex-Marine father). If you don’t have any veterans in your circle, even more reason to educate yourself.
The latest in a wave of long overdue child-of-the-counterculture memoirs, Juan F. Thompson's Stories I Tell Myself: Growing Up with Hunter S. Thompson does not disappoint. Whether you're a Gonzo Journalism fan or new to the party, each chapter head includes a list of important events in Hunter's life giving the reader historical signposts, and Juan's introspective and scrupulously honest and forgiving account of his relationship with his father is fascinating, heartbreaking, and ultimately heartening.