The Indifferent Stars Above by Daniel James Brown

Find in catalogWhat an excellent, non-ficition book about the experiences of the participants in the Donner party, many of whom starved trying to cross the Sierra Nevada mountains in the 1840’s. This is the same author who wrote “The Boys in the Boat”.  And this book is similarly written – lots of information about the journey with a focus on one member of the group. The book reads like fiction. It’s a highly recommend!

Standing at the Water’s Edge by Charles K. Johnson

Standing at the Water's EdgeThis biography of former governor Bob Straub was interesting because of the local connection. He lived and worked in Springfield and later became a Lane County Commissioner, State Treasurer, and finally Governor. It’s a bit repetitious, and at times, biased, but nonetheless informative.

Reviewed by Lana

Room by Emma Donoghue

RoomThe story is an interesting premise about how a mother was able to entertain and home school her child while trapped in a small room for 6+ years. It seemed a bit implausible until the recent news story of 3 women in a similar situation! Equally interesting is what happens when they are freed from their “prison”.

Reviewed by Lana

House of Rain by Craig Childs

House of RainThe author takes us to places where native peoples have lived in the Southwest: Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, Antelope Mesa and others. He’s interested in the land during every season and exploring why they abandoned the settlements in the 1200-1300’s. Having just spent a week in Canyon de Chelly, I was very interested in learning more about the culture. The writing style is very lyrical and nature based.

Reviewed by Lana

Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Thanks to the friendly librarian who recommended this book on the “Lucky Day” shelf to me. It was indeed a very lucky find! It’s an autobiography about a young woman who hiked the Pacific Crest trail when she was in her early 20’s. But mostly it’s the story of how she discovered who she was and what was important to her. It’s very well written – I could just feel her pain when carrying the heavy backpack or the blisters on her feet. And I totally related to her feelings of abandonment when her mother died young; her love for her ex-husband even though the marriage didn’t work out; and deciding to do something very physically challenging in order to figure her life out.

Reviewed by Lana

How We Die: reflections on life’s final chapter by Sherwin B. Nuland

I found this series of essays written by a physician about the physical and emotional aspects of dying fascinating. He discusses what happens to our bodies as they start to deteriorate due to various illnesses and the difficulties faced by the patient and their families in accepting the inevitable.  The stories deal with various types of death — Alzheimer’s, AIDs, cancer, heart attack — and the accompanying physiological changes and what decisions may need to be made.  I believe reading this book would be helpful to those facing death in the near future.

Reviewed by Lana