Last Friday afternoon, as part of the week’s virtual regional trade show, booksellers from around the Pacific Northwest watched members of the PNBA Book Awards Committee present a selection of books they are excited about for the 2021 Book Awards. This post is the second part of the list of books mentioned during that session.
About 400 titles have been nominated for the award (more were arriving during the conference). To be eligible, a book must have been published between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020 and have an author (or illustrator) who resides in the Pacific Northwest (WA, OR, ID, MT, AK, or BC). A longlist of 12 titles will be announced in November and the six winning books will be announced in January, 2021.
The committee is chaired by Alexa Butler from Beach Books in Seaside, OR. Other members sharing their enthusiasm for regional titles included Ruby Meyers of Annie Bloom’s Books in Portland, OR; Rosa Hernandez of Third Place Books, Seattle, WA; Realy Ann Wingert of Rediscovered Books in Boise and Caldwell, ID; Anna Ecklund, freelancer and former bookseller at University Book Store of Seattle, WA; Earl Dizon of Green Bean Books in Portland, OR, and Jill Owens Leigh of Powell’s Books in Portland, OR.
For the first post with the rest of the titles recommended by the committee, click here.
The Magical Language of Others by E. J. Koh. Ruby and Jill both wanted to talk up this memoir by poet and translator E. J. Koh, which incorporates the author’s mother’s letters, translated from Korean, alongside Koh’s own recollections of her young adulthood. This book is “very personal” and “beautifully told.”
Sleep Donation by Karen Russell. Anna read this book in 2014 when it was only available as an experimental e-story, so she’s very happy that it’s a paper book now. This novella is all about a pandemic of insomnia, and the paper version has added content and illustration.
rough house by Tina Ontiveros. Alexa told us that this is the book that she would fight to give an award. (She usually has one a year that she’s that passionate about.) She loves this moving, raw, well-written memoir. Alexa also shared that from the very beginning, she wanted to hug the author (who is also a PNW bookseller and the president of the PNBA, but as with all award committee spotlights, this book recommendation is solely about the book’s merit, not the author’s connections). Sales rep Cindy Heidemann called rough house “the perfect northwest memoir” in the session’s chat.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Rosa loves this atmospheric, can’t-put-down novel that she describes as “Shirley Jackson meets ‘Get Out.'” She also reminds readers that this is not a debut novel, so there’s already more great stuff where this comes from.
Cedar and Salt: Vancouver Island Recipes from Forest, Farm, Field and Sea by DL Acken and Emily Lycopolus. Earl gave this gorgeously photographed cookbook the highest praise from a busy bookseller: it makes him actually want to cook.
There wasn’t much time for audience participation, but there were two books mentioned to make sure they’re considered:
House Lessons: Renovating a Life by Erica Bauermeister. I didn’t take notes on what was said about this because I was saying it… I think I mentioned that I love that this book is memoir from a beloved local fiction author, and that it explores home and self in a way that really resonated with me, especially since we’ve all been spending more time at home. This book came out the week we went into lockdown, so I don’t feel like it’s gotten as much attention as it would have otherwise.
A Small Crowd of Strangers by Joanna Rose. This novel had a lot of fans at the session! James Crossley of Madison Books spoke up for it first, mentioning that it’s an unusual pick for him, since there’s nothing absurd or surreal about it. He appreciates that it is just beautiful– and that it went to unexpected places. For more about this wonderful book, read the double face out post.
So, readers, what are YOUR favorites? What books by regional authors or illustrators in the last year do you want to make sure others know about?