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February 2019

From OSU Press, With Love


We’re celebrating Valentine’s Day in our own way at the OSU Press. We have a passion for literary projects that celebrate the earth and bring to light ecological issues, so what better way to show our love for eco-lit than by highlighting some recent and forthcoming books:

Speaking for the River: Confronting Pollution on the Willamette, 1920s-1970s by James V. Hillegas-Elting

Oregonians in search of a fascinating ecological history need look no further than the first book describing the causes and implications of the pollution of the Willamette River. This major Oregon river’s history of pollution and ongoing rehabilitation has affected local communities and ecosystems. In Speaking for the River, independent historian James V. Hillegas-Elting takes a close look at this ‘blot’ on the record of a state known for its commitment to environmental protection. Hillegas-Elting’s history of the iconic and imperiled Willamette focuses on the period starting in the 1920s through governor Thomas L. McCall’s push to clean up the river. Though progress has been made, protecting river quality, like love, takes constant care and maintenance.  

California Condors in the Pacific Northwest by Jesse D’Elia and Susan M. Haig

The California condor once soared the skies of the Pacific Northwest, from northern California to British Columbia. While some people may not think agree that this bird of prey is gorgeous and glorious, we definitely do and this year, we choose the California condor as our true Valentine. In order to learn more about our scavenger Valentine, we’re revisiting California Condors in the Pacific Northwest. This book explores cultural relationships between Native American tribes and condors, investigates the condor’s history from prehistoric time to the early twentieth century, and evaluates potential causes of regional extinction. It’s a must-read for anyone who loves the California condor as much as we do.

If you’ve enjoyed us gushing over our nature, you’ll want to know about this two forthcoming Spring titles:

Field Guide to the Grasses of Oregon and Washington: an illustrated guide to all 376 species, subspecies, and varieties of grasses. Read more about the book here.

Same River Twice: The Politics of Dam Removal and River Restoration: three case studies of major Northwestern dam removals that share lessons for communities worldwide.



Snow Day Reads from the OSU Press!

The OSU Press team in Corvallis, Oregon is anticipating some very snowy days are on their way this week. Our Griffis Interns Zoë and Carolyn prefer to spend cold afternoons inside with a good book.

Check out their snow day reads below, and stay safe and warm when the snowflakes start falling!



I’m in the middle of Homing Instincts, a collection of essays by New Yorker-turned-Oregonian writer Dionisia Morales. As a fellow coast to coast traveler (I grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania and moved to Corvallis, Oregon for my MFA at OSU) I deeply connect with her writing on identity, travel, and home. Below is an excerpt from the essay “Blue Means Water”, one of my favorites so far, in which Dionisia writes about the geographic particularities that make up her childhood home:

“When you grow up on an island, you can circumnavigate the limits of your world by following a forever-arcing line. There are different names for different kinds of islands, names like islets or keys. An island in a river is sometimes called an eyot or an ait, words I have never seen written on any map. We didn’t have a special name for where we lived; I didn’t know there could be a special name for it. We just called it the city.”


Homing Instincts is a wonderful read for a snow day when you might be imagining the spaces you call home, whether near or far away. This book is also longlisted for an Oregon Book Award! Congrats, Dionisia.



If you’re looking for a children friendly book for the cold days ahead, I suggest Ellie’s Strand: Exploring the Edge of the Pacific. While staying warm indoors, children can read a story set outdoors on a later winter day. The book focuses on Ellie and Ricky who travel to the Oregon coast, help with a one-day beach clean-up, and discover much about animals and tidepools.


Through Ellie and Ricky’s outdoor adventures, the story explores ocean conservation and the power of volunteering. Ellie’s Strand is beautifully and charmingly illustrated that may inspire young readers to sketch and draw. This book is a wonderful way to stay cozy inside and still enjoy the beach!

Spring Releases

Although it’s still winter, we are looking ahead to Spring and all that the new season brings: blossoms, brightness and books. Yes, books! We’re excited about our forthcoming releases and our Spring catalog is available now. The catalog highlights The Eclipse I Call Father, an essay collection on absence, Same River Twice, an examination of the politics of dam removal and river restoration, Edge of Awe, an anthology of personal impressions of the Malheur-Steens country, and many more. Today on the blog, our Griffis Publishing Interns each highlight a Spring book that they are looking forward to reading.



Gifted Earth Cover

This spring I’m looking forward to spending more time outside enjoying the beautiful Oregon outdoors, and the OSU Press Spring Catalog features a book perfect for my interest in the botanical culture of the Pacific Northwest. Gifted Earth: The Ethnobotany of the Quinault and Neighboring Tribes does more than help readers identify regional plants: it also promotes a sustainable relationship between readers and the environment.

This respectful and balanced attitude towards plant usage is a core value of the book. Collaboratively written by the Quinault Indian Nation and Douglas Deur, Gifted Earth captures the beauty of the plants it describes in over 80 color photos.

Each of the descriptions of the plants shared in Gifted Earth features a summary of the plant’s cultural significance and tips for gathering and using the plant. Throughout these entries you will find writing on ethical plant usage guided by Native American resource management principles, touching on issues from land access to Native American gathering rights.

Gifted Earth is as fascinating and comprehensive as it is user friendly, guiding readers through the foliage and into a new understanding of the living tradition of plant use in the Quinault Nation.


Red Coast CoverThis academic year I became slightly more involved in the Coalition of Graduate Students, a union at Oregon State University, and also read Beyond the Rebel Girl, a narrative that examines the role of women in the Industrial Workers of the World in the Pacific Northwest. Now I find myself interested in learning about the past and present state of unions and radicalism in the Pacific Northwest. This Spring, I am very much looking forward to the release of The Red Coast, a thorough and accessible history of activism in Southwest Washington from the late nineteenth century until World War II. While the book highlights radicalism, it also delves into anti-radical forces that fought against the work of organizers. I’d recommend The Red Coast to both academics and general readers who are interested in histories of activism and labor.

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