“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” -Cicero
This quote combines two of my favorite things, reading and being outside in my garden. In fact, I love to read outside. I have written before in this column about my love of good books and the fulfillment I get from being part of two book clubs. Good books have the power to transport one to another time and place, to inspire, to challenge and change minds. While I read plenty of book reviews, the best book recommendations always come by word of mouth. Here are some books people are buzzing about:
“The Help” by Kathryn Stockett
A debut novel, “The Help” is set in Mississippi in 1962. Stockett, who grew up in Jackson, Miss., creates a work of historical fiction that reveals the lives of black women—”The Help”—who were hired to care for and nurture white children. Though tackling serious themes, this book is winning praise for its storytelling, and for the inspiring, even humorous, tone of this new author.
“Ghost Map: The story of London’s most terrifying epidemic and how it changed science, cities and the modern world” by Steven Johnson
Chosen as 2010’s Everybody Reads selection, a program of Multnomah County Library, this non-fiction page-turner tells the story of London’s 1854 Cholera outbreak. Johnson constructs a narrative by tracing the work of a maverick doctor and local curate who are working against the clock to solve the most pressing public health crisis of their time. The book intertwines history, science, sociology and more, all combined with powerful story telling.
“Raymond Carver: A writer’s life” by Carol Sklenicka
Carol Sklenicka is the author a new biography of one of the Northwest’s most esteemed writers. Raymond Carver, born in Clatskanie, Oregon, in 1938, is considered among the most talented writers of his time; he is often credited with revitalizing the American short story. Carver encompassed themes of working class life into his stories, and experienced his own challenges with alcohol abuse and financial issues before achieving success as a writer. This biography documents his life, relationships, and ultimate rise to fame in the writing world.
### Erika Weisensee, a writer and native Oregonian, lives in Milwaukie and teaches journalism and communication courses at the University of Portland.