Tired of watching television? Filling time before making your next meal? Want a diversion from work at home? Need to escape the stress of real life?
It's a great time to open a book, read and become more involved in stories — fiction and nonfiction.
When life returns to normal, and we get past our health/economic crisis, the Oregon Book Awards will be feting the best of the best in our state. After being postponed, the ceremony has been tentatively scheduled for June 22.
For now, here are some of the finalists and their books as some highlights of what could be enjoyable to read (of course, check out Powell's and Amazon and others for availability):
• A fiction finalist, Portland's Peter Rock teaches writing at Reed College and has produced 10 works of fiction. His "The Night Swimmers" ($25, Soho Press) is a tangle of love stories and ghost stories, and it involves, among other things, open water swimming, fatherhood, letters to ex-girlfriends, psychic photography and the use of isolation tanks as a means to inhabit the past.
• Karen Thompson Walker of Portland teaches creative writing at University of Oregon. The Portland resident's "The Dreamers" ($27, Random House), a fiction finalist, tells the story of an ordinary college town transformed by a mysterious illness that triggers perpetual sleep — and life-altering dreams. She previously produced "The Ages of Miracles," a New York Times best-seller.
• "No God like the Mother" ($19.95, Inkwater Press) is the latest work by Portland's Kesha Ajose Fisher, an OBA fiction finalist. It's steeped in the reality of women who have been tasked with holding up the sky, feet firmly planted in the dirt, while the world whispers, "You're doing it wrong."
• Barry Lopez lives in Finn Rock, located in unincorporated Lane County, and his "Horizon" ($30, Alfred A. Knopf) has garnered a nonfiction finalist spot. It's an autobiographical account of several decades of international travel, journeys made during a time of worldwide concern over global climate change, the growing number of refugee camps, and the rise of authoritarian regimes. Lopez has produced more than a dozen works of fiction and nonfiction, including "Arctic Dreams."
• Another OBA nonfiction finalist is "Aloha Rodeo: Three Hawaiian Cowboys, the World's Greatest Rodeo, and a Hidden History of the American West" ($27.99, William Morrow), by David Wolman and Julian Smith of Portland. It tells of the fascinating and little-known true story of three Hawaiian cowboys whose 1908 adventure upended the conventional history of the American West. Smith is a prolific journalist/author who has written for Smithsonian, Wired, Outside, National Geographic Traveler and Washington Post, and is a contributing editor for Archaeology magazine. Wolman is contributed editor at Outside and longtime contributor for Wire. Both have authored several books.
For information on all Oregon Book Awards finalists, see www.literary-arts.org/2020/01/announcing-the-2020-oregon-book-award-finalists.
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