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April 29th, 2019

Dangerous Subjects Book Cover

Congratulations to OSU Press author Kenneth R. Coleman!


His first book, Dangerous Subjects: James D. Saules and The Rise of Black Exclusion in Oregon, won the Frances Fuller Victor Award for General Nonfiction at the 2019 Oregon Book Awards.

Dangerous Subjects examines the history of black exclusion in Oregon through the story of James D. Saules, a black sailor who was shipwrecked off the Oregon coast in 1841. Coleman follows Saules’ story as he settles in Oregon and is faced with mounting dangers and racism from white settlers and the government as Oregon Trail emigrants arrive in the region.


In this interview with OSU Press, Coleman speaks more about why he chose to share this history through the eyes of a historical figure, and the impact he hopes this book will have.

Get your copy of Dangerous Subjects here!

April 24th, 2019

Welcome back to Part 2 on our blog series on literature about rivers!

We're thrilled to feature this guest blog post by Peter Brewitt, author of Same River Twice: The Politics of Dam Removal and River Restoration.


There’s always a dam.


The neighborhood where I live in South Carolina is built around a lake, created by a dam. The pond down the street from my wife’s home in Vermont? Plugged up by a dam. The environmental studies center where I teach? Just below one dam, which hides another, older dam – we see it when the water’s low. This afternoon I biked through Columbus, Ohio, where I attended the American Society for Environmental History conference earlier this month. In a brief ride I saw two dams.


Your own streams are surely dammed-up as well; there are 2.5 million dams in this country. If you want to find your own dams, you can check out the Army Corps of Engineers’ map. But the Army Corps only includes about 4% of dams, so keep your eyes open. It may take some effort – our local dams are so routine that we often don’t notice them.


But they shape the waters around us. Along with turning streams into lakes, dams stop silt from going downstream, fish from swimming upstream, and water from flowing naturally. They are one-stop shops for ecological destruction.


Now, to be fair, dams can be useful tools, and every aspect of human life has some environmental impact. But dams, for the most part, are no longer offering much benefit in return for the costs they put on nature. 80+ percent of them are past their useful lives.


So we’ve started taking them out. For most of the 20th century, dam removal was crazy, the province of radicals and novelists. Why, people asked, would anyone take out a dam? Dams were progress and prosperity and civilization. Most people didn’t think about the environment very much, and those who thought about it didn’t have much power. Now in the 21st century, nearly a thousand dams have been removed, 69 of them in 2018 alone, according to NGO American Rivers. People are coming to realize that old dams and degraded rivers don’t need to exist forever.


But in many places, dam removal is controversial. There are plenty of people who loved the dammed water-scape, and plenty of people who still can’t believe anyone would take out a dam. The politics of dam removal – the ways people fight for and against their dams – are dynamic and passionate. There are few laws about old dams, so people who care about their rivers, and their dams, are creating a new political landscape, and a new part of river history, as they go. In Same River Twice, I tell stories of three major dam removals and the people who made them, as part of the larger story of America’s rivers.  


The story continues to evolve. In 2018, dams came out all over America, from Georgia to Minnesota, from Maine to California. And in Columbus. Just a little downstream of the last little dam I saw, on the Scioto River, is a dam removal site. Above it stand the skyscrapers of the city’s busy downtown. Below them, the river’s returned to its natural channel, and the banks are lushly recovering. Along the bike path are signs sharing the history of the Scioto and some semi-technical discussion of its restoration. The Scioto River runs freely through Columbus.


 Learn more about the politics and history of dam removal and purchase Same River Twice here!


PETER BREWITT grew up in Bangkok, Thailand, and East Alton, New Hampshire. After majoring in history at Dartmouth College, he spent five years as a naturalist, primarily in Yosemite National Park. He received his PhD in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he focused on environmental policy. He is now a professor at Wofford College, where he teaches and conducts research about the politics of ecological restoration. Same River Twice is his first book.

April 12th, 2019

Here at the 
OSU Press office in Corvallis, we’ve been watching the high flows on the Willamette this week and rivers are on our mind. Today we’re featuring three recent Press books that tell the story of rivers, in Oregon and around the world.



Speaking for the River book cover

Speaking for the River: Confronting Pollution on the Willamette, 1920s-1970s

Though the state of Oregon has a reputation for being green, one of its major rivers, the Willamette, has struggled with pollution throughout history and in the present day. James Hillegas-Elting looks to the past to explain the present, examining the complex political and technological issues that challenge this Or

egon river, and the communities and ecosystems that live alongside it. A must read for Oregonians and all interested in the health and protection of rivers.




book cover

Wild and Scenic Rivers: An American Legacy

Author and photographer Tim Palmer shares 160 breathtaking images of rivers in this book. All the rivers depicted are protected under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. In addition to highlighting their beauty, Tim investigates the importance of these rivers and the challenges they face. Also, several of the photographs from this book were recently made into postage stamps! Read more about this story and hear from Tim on the importance of these rivers in this blog post.



Same River Twice book coverSame River Twice: The Politics of Dam Removal and River Restoration

Using case studies from rivers in the Pacific Northwest, Peter Brewitt explores how dam removals, politics, and public policy intersect. This book is perfect for scholars of environmental politics, wildlife and public land professionals, and environmental activists.


Peter Brewitt will guest blog and focus on dam removals.


Stay tuned for Reflecting on Rivers, Part Two.

April 4th, 2019

We were thrilled to debut this new book at AWP 2019 in Portland and excited to share that it is available for purchase online.

Memory, place, and experience intersect in David Axelrod’s new collection of essays, The Eclipse I Call Father. David’s writing is lyrical and observant, reflecting his identity as a poet and traveler. Though he has lived and worked abroad for periods of time, David calls the Northwest home, and home is a central image in the essays of this book. Take a look at an excerpt from the essay “To Live as We Dream”, one of the essays in The Eclipse I Call Father  also featured online at Terrain:





My parents’ house, which they built in 1960, was a tiny, white, Modernist tract house constructed from sturdy materials, trimmed in green, with clean, plain lines, and overall an expression of practical, affordable design. Situated at the middle of a crabgrass lot, it fronted the bucolically named Pleasant Place, one lot north of forests and marshes that on summer nights erupted in choruses of frogs. Standing on my bed and looking through the casement window screen (why were windows always placed so high on the walls of houses built in that era?), I looked out into darkness hallucinatory with fireflies and the Milky Way. In a recent dream, I moved back into that house decorated as it was in 1960: sleek Danish-style furniture, Fauvist and Cubist prints, the RCA Victor console stereo with its collection of LPs by Johnny Mathis, Peggy Lee, Sammy Davis Jr., and Nat King Cole. The accretions of over fifty intervening years of my life fit comfortably, if improbably, within the dream of that tiny house.


Early in his classic exploration of the home, The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard dwells on the way the intimacy of childhood spaces persists throughout our lives, especially in reveries. Lost in daydreams, we don’t so much inhabit the memory of our childhood home; instead, we live in its absence as we once dreamed in its presence. I’m inclined to agree with this, though it’s the houses not lived in as a child but visited and departed with an unusual feeling of well-being that interest me now.


That tract house my young parents built, and occupied as briefly as their marriage endured, always seemed untidy and cramped, at first full of manias, then a long bleak period of grief. It was quite the opposite of the houses of some of the family and friends we visited. Those houses always seemed aglow with the calm light of a November afternoon just before it begins to snow. Or in the oppressive humidity of an Ohio summer, those rooms remained cool, full of shadows the color of polished oak. Without exception, those were Craftsman houses.


The heavy front doors or foyers of Craftsman houses open into living rooms with large stone hearths, the many-lighted and beveled-glass windows, dark and heavily grained woodwork, built-in cabinets with glass-paneled doors, dining rooms with large bay windows, and the sight-lines of one room opening into another, creating the illusion of spacious luxury. The walls above the wainscoting were often painted in pale green that contrasted with the dark-grained woodwork, intended to harmonize with the natural world. These were houses designed with such a deep sense of spatial balance, intimacy, and structural integrity it’s hard to believe today that they were the typical homes of many working-class and lower-middle-class families in my hometown. That such houses could be purchased as kits and built quickly, often for less than a thousand dollars, is mind-blowing.


After more than a generation of shipping manufacturing jobs overseas, wage stagnation, the destruction of labor unions, and tax redistribution that transfers wealth upwards, today such working- and lower-middle-class families are lucky to be living in trailers or suburban ticky-tacky; lucky, that is, if they aren’t living in their cars, the homeless and dispossessed refugees of post-modernity.


Many of these same Craftsman houses now sell for as much as half a million dollars, even during the Great Recession we’re only now coming to the end of. At the height of its popularity, though, such architectural design was an expression of socialist idealism and respect; namely, the belief that all segments of society had access to domestic space that, at least in its design, nurtured the souls of its inhabitants and brought them into greater harmony with the natural world.


That’s a lot of wishful thinking, and it would be folly to imagine such an ahistorical reality existed; but as an ideal, as an aspiration, I’m all for it now, and even as a child, sensed its power. In her survey of social reform aesthetics, “House and Home in the Arts and Crafts Era: Reforms for Simpler Living,” Cheryl Robertson quotes Kate Greenleaf Locke from a 1907 issue of House & Garden: “[Craftsman design] appeals to a wide circle and several classes. . . . there is yet in its atmosphere a delightful flavor of Bohemianism and the liberty and originality that camp life and studio life permits.” Robertson concludes: “the bungalow combined the attributes of taste, rusticity, and economy . . . [and applied them] to the villa, farmhouse, and cottage . . . [a] democratization of domestic architecture [that is] evidenced in ‘classless’ bungalows.” That’s surely a more thoughtful idealism about how we might occupy space and has proven far more durable than most contemporary, postmodern spaces. Many corporate spaces and post-war apartment blocks, by contrast, particularly those remnant examples of Brutalism, compound error upon error and become, in the critique of Christopher Alexander, forbidding “reservoirs” of stress. Such poured concrete, bunker-like buildings seem designed to allow for little else than the possibility of siege.




In the summer of 2002, I visited a friend in Billings, Montana, who lived in a neighborhood like many in the American West, dating from the 1920s and full of Craftsman houses. His house, located near a corner on a narrow lot along a leafy street was, he stipulated, a “Craftsman cottage.” Inside were two bedrooms in which the original family raised five children. There were a multitude of kitchen cabinets, built-in bookcases in the half-walls between dining and living rooms, and wainscoting and hardwood floors. Filled with his sturdy antique furniture, it felt cozy inside despite the enormity of the Great Plains stretching north, south, and east for a thousand miles beyond the horizons.


During that visit, we rose early one day and drove to the mountains above Red Lodge. The light that July morning in the Rocky Mountains filtered down through lodgepole pines. We slowed as we passed through a cluster of structures, a pre–Great Depression “camp” below the Beartooth Plateau, where we intended to spend our day hiking. Scattered throughout the dense trees above and below the dusty road were a dozen or so tidy cabins and outbuildings constructed from materials available in the surrounding forests: unpeeled pine logs, river cobbles, and mud. The screened windows, porches, and doorways, and the rolled green asbestos roofing, recalled an era deep in the past, the world of my grandfather’s coming of age during the Great Depression. It was a moment when citizens briefly shared a belief in our egalitarian national destiny. Call this again what it is: an ahistorical claim. Nevertheless, it’s the lens through which I was taught to perceive my country’s ideals, if not its reality.


We passed by the camp so quickly, all I can recall with any clarity was a single fastidious cabin just above the road on the passenger side. It seemed more like a playhouse than a cabin. It was so tiny that it would have allowed just enough room for a bunk, maybe a bench, and a small stove on the front porch. Whoever had spent summers living there, I imagined, spent most of their days outdoors. When these cabins were built, only the most rudimentary road or, more likely, trail would have existed. Getting into that canyon would have required a good deal more effort than we made driving there in little more than an hour from Billings. These were very resourceful sojourners. Whoever they were, I immediately assumed I wanted to know them.


That tiny camp in the immensity of a Montana canyon, like my friend’s cottage back in Billings, seemed an unlikely confluence of egalitarian ideals and domestic intimacy, a reservoir of calm and comradeship, at ease with the natural world into which it was unobtrusively tucked away.




The Eclipse I Call Father is available to purchase online here.

DAVID AXELROD is the author of eight collections of poetry, most recently The Open Hand and Folly, both from Lost Horse Press, as well as a previous collection of essays, Troubled Intimacies: A Life in the Interior West (Oregon State University Press). He is the editor of Sensational Nightingales: The Collected Poems of Walter Pavlich and the award-winning basalt: a journal of fine and literary arts, as well as the director of Eastern Oregon University’s low-residency MFA in Creative Writing. In the spring of 2019, he joined Lynx House Press as its managing editor.

March 15th, 2019

We’re celebrating Women’s History Month by sharing powerful stories by and about women from our recent titles.

Paulus CoverThe Only Woman In the Room: The Norma Paulus Story is an inspiring look at the life and work of Norma Paulus, the first woman to be elected to state-wide office in Oregon. This book follows Paulus’ journey, which includes surviving polio, graduating from law school with honors despite not having a college degree, running for governor, and being elected Secretary of State. Paulus, who recently passed away, left behind a powerful legacy in Oregon politics.


Remembering the Power of Words: The Life of an Oregon Activist, Legislator, and Community Leader tells the powerful story of Avel Louise Gordly, the first African American woman to be elected to the Oregon Senate. Throughout her career, Gordly worked to confront and renounce Oregon’s racist history. Her work and words will continue to inspire generations to come. Read more about Gordly’s legacy in our recent blog post.

Beyond the Rebel Girl by Heather Mayer sheds light on the important roles that women played in the Wobbly movement in the Pacific Northwest. Counter to the popular perception of International Workers of the World members as being mainly male, women were instrumental in Wobbly life and fights for justice. To learn more about Beyond the Rebel Girl, you can read our recent interview with Mayer.


Homing Instincts cover

Homing Instincts features essays by OSU MFA alumnus Dionisia Morales that investigate ideas of identity and home. Ranging from topics like rock climbing to love, and geography to pregnancy, Morales wonders what it means to belong in a world in which migration and social integration present urgent political and ethical questions. Homing Instincts is a finalist for the Oregon Book Awards for creative nonfiction.

In our current age of environmental unbalance, Stephany Wilkes weaves a fascinating and timely account of the origins and importance of a resource present in all of our lives. Wilkes shares her story of becoming a certified sheep shearer along with the ecological concerns of the textile industry in Raw Material: Working Wool in the West, which made the longlist for the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (NCIBA) 2018 Golden Poppy Award.

March 7th, 2019

Today on the OSU Press blog, we are looking at an important conversation that is happening in community-based research.



In Giving Back: Research and Reciprocity in Indigenous Settings, R.D.K. Herman pulls together twelve case studies in order to provide ways for researchers to move forward while working ethically in partnership with communities, and to identify areas where there is still work to be done. Below, read excerpts from contributor Maria Fadiman and R.D.K. Herman on the ethical issues researchers face when trying to give back to the communities in which they work.


From Chapter 8: “Are You Making A Million Dollars?” Reciprocity as Cultural and Environmental Reconnection by contributor Maria Fadiman


“Are you making a million dollars?” Don Jorge asked.

            “No,” I replied.

            He laid his hand on the bark of the tree and said, “We heard that a researcher in the next village made a million dollars,” he paused, “and didn’t give any to the people.”

“No money for me.”

            “Then why are you doing it?” he asked.

            That was a good question.

Why do I do what I do? I am an ethnobotanist studying the relationship between plants and people. My overall goal is to promote conservation and cultural retention from within communities. Through helping local people maintain their own plant knowledge, this can lead to a more concrete re-connection to the plants themselves and raise the value of the ecosystems in which these plants live. One of the issues I need to address on every project is: how do I compensate people for the time they take out of their daily schedule working with me and sharing their information?


 R.D.K. Herman:

As Maria’s story illustrates, those of us who conduct field research in Indigenous settings know that our success depends upon the assistance, cooperation and even aid of peoples in those communities. The framework and methods of research have historically encouraged an extractive approach to data collecting: the researcher goes in, obtains the data and leaves, returning nothing to the community, and sometimes even publishing or patenting knowledge and “discoveries” derived from the local informants to the detriment of the local people. While newer research methodologies recognize that this is exploitative, and have developed approaches to at least engage the local communities as partners in research projects, the notion of reciprocity in research is slower to take root.  Especially for those of us who engage closely in the lives of the peoples we work with—building relationships for the short, medium or long term—we have to negotiate these relationships constantly.  And particularly in Indigenous communities, that involves giving.

The act of reciprocity in Indigenous research involves a cross-cultural encounter wherein two (or more) sets of values, senses of obligation, social rules and ritual protocols collide.  Western notions of individual ownership and intellectual property come up against Indigenous notions of collective ownership—or no ownership, for how can certain things be owned by anyone?—and responsibility. 

The growing field of Indigenous Studies recognizes that as scholars—whether Native or non-Native—we are entering into a relationship with a community and its members that is rooted in trust, responsibility, integrity, and genuine concern for the wellbeing of that community and its knowledge and traditions.  Meanwhile, Native communities themselves are increasingly demanding more say over or about the nature of research projects in their communities and on their lands, and are willing to say No to projects that do not clearly serve their interests.

The aim of this volume is to discuss how research with communities can better accomplish reciprocity with those communities.  Despite recent university and professional-association ethics policies, individual researchers must define for themselves what the quality and nature of their relationships will be with the communities with whom they work. They must ask themselves, What does reciprocity look and feel like in my working relationships with communities? What institutional barriers must be navigated in efforts to develop reciprocal relationships with community partners? How do you know when the outcomes of a research project have upheld your ethical obligations or goals of reciprocity? How do you navigate the unequal power relations inherent in academic research with Indigenous and “other” communities, in defining appropriate ways of ‘giving back’? How can research be mutually beneficial, given the historical and ongoing relationships of power in centers of knowledge production? How are the multiple perspectives within an individual community navigated in efforts to ensure positive outcomes for research partners? Even for researchers who are members of the communities with whom they work, ‘giving back’ may present unique challenges and opportunities. Can research itself be a form of ‘giving back’?

Many of us are never sure whether our attempts at reciprocity got it right, so this volume turns to those who have had more experience in this matter, or given it more thought, or engaged in innovative practices to create different paradigms from that of extractive research.  There is much more that can be said on this topic, and this is not a cookbook or a how-to. Yet we hope that some maps to this complex territory may emerge.


Pick up a copy of Giving Back: Research and Reciprocity in Indigenous Settings and learn more about the work that is being done to address unethical relationships between researchers and communities.

RDK Herman is senior geographer at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. He has served the Indigenous Peoples Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers since 2000, and has authored work on decolonizing research methodologies. In 2000 he created Pacific Worlds, a web-based indigenous-geography education project for Hawai‘i and the American Pacific. 

February 28th, 2019

It’s a wonderful time to be a writer or reader in the Pacific Northwest!

It’s March 1st, and in just a few short weeks the Association of Writers & Writing Programs will take place in Portland from March 27–30. We at OSU Press are thrilled to be part of this annual literary celebration along with several of our authors.

AWP can be overwhelming: there are so many authors, readings, panels, and booths to keep track of! Here’s a handy guide on how to connect with OSU Press at AWP:

OSU Press authors in conversation!

On Saturday, March 30, OSU Press author Ana Maria Spagna, author of Potluck and Now Go Home, is moderating the panel “Back to Basics: Untangling Environmental Stories”. OSU Press authors Sharman Apt Russell, author of Diary of a Citizen Scientist, and Stephany Wilkes, author of Raw Material, will be a part of this conversation with Ana.


The panel description: Writing the "environment" often means telling stories of people trying to fill basic needs—food, water, clothing, and shelter—in healthy and sustainable ways, but doing so also means tackling complicated issues of politics, race, gender, and work. This panel addresses how nonfiction writers can craft compelling stories that embrace this complexity. Panelists will discuss approaches to research, strategies for structure, ways to integrate sources, the role of the “I,” and the possibility of hope.


Visit us at the Bookfair!

Stop by the OSU Press booth at T10027 in the Bookfair to say hi! We’ll have sweet treats, books for browsing, and authors to meet.

Browse some books!  

We’ll be bringing lots of books for sale and perusal at the Bookfair. Check out a few of the titles you'll see at our booth!


Get your book signed!

We’re so lucky to get to feature several OSU Press authors in person at our booth. Stop by T10027 to meet and get your book signed by Bernard Quetchenbach, author of Accidental Gravity, Sharman Apt Russell, author of Diary of a Citizen Scientist, and Stephany Wilkes, author of Raw Material. Our author signing schedule is below:


Friday March 29

Bernard Quetchenbach from 11:00 AM to 11:30 AM

David Axelrod from 1:30 PM to 2:00 PM


Saturday March 30

Stephany Wilkes from 2:00 PM to 2:30 PM

Sharman Apt Russell from 2:00 PM to 2:30 PM

And more to Come…

We will be in touch in the coming weeks with even more ways to participate and connect. Let the countdown begin, and see you soon!


February 22nd, 2019

During the most recent midterm elections, there was a record number of women and diverse candidates who were elected into office. In light of these results and in honor of Black History Month, we'd like to highlight Avel Gordly, the first African-Remembering CoverAmerican woman elected to the Oregon State Senate.

Gordly served three terms as a member of the House of Representatives, and was elected as State Senator in 1996, retiring from her position in 2008. During her time in office, she worked on tasks forces and committees as well as on legislation. In her foreword for Remembering the Power of Words, Charlotte B. Rutherford highlights that Gordly worked to remove racist language from Oregon’s constitution, renounce Oregon’s legacy of institutional racism, proclaim Juneteenth a day for statewide celebration, and require every county police force to be trained in the use of appropriate deadly force, among other essential political work.

Remembering the Power of Words also explores Gordly’s personal experiences, and Rutherford writes that “Avel’s personal story is one of faith and perseverance in the face of adversity, while dealing with clinical depression. Anyone who has battled depression while holding down a responsible position will identify with Avel’s observations. Anyone who is faced with doubts about whether he or she is up to the challenge of single parenting or any single parent who wants more from life will gain strength from her story. Anyone who believes that social change is possible and that individuals can accomplish it will be encouraged by Avel’s story...Avel has lived a life of service and she has blazed a trail of Black female ‘firsts.’ Her story includes her personal challenges and growth and how that growth has affected and improved the communities she has served.”


To learn more about Gordly and Remembering the Power of Words, you can read an excerpt of the book here. Remembering the Power of Words is part of a OSU series that highlights women and politics in the Pacific Northwest.


February 14th, 2019

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.



February 8th, 2019

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!

Member of AAUP