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At the Library: The best of current nonfiction

By Joseph Bernt

Cannon Beach Gazette

Published on August 8, 2018 3:22PM

The Cannon Beach Library offers a host of spring events, including the Memorial Day Book Sale. incl

Cannon Beach Library

The Cannon Beach Library offers a host of spring events, including the Memorial Day Book Sale. incl

Recent columns touted volunteers, book sales and other events at the Cannon Beach Library. It’s time to emphasize the library’s primary mission—meeting the reading interests of community residents and visitors, what volunteers and fundraising make possible.

One library member plays a pivotal role in acquiring new titles. Every month Marjorie MacQueen scans bestseller lists, major library purchases, and book reviews to identify about 20 new books for the library.

This past month MacQueen added precisely 20 books, including 15 fictional books (seven mysteries and eight popular novels) but only five nonfictional titles. Authors and titles for all 20 titles are accessible under at

MacQueen notes that patrons favor fiction over nonfiction to explain the imbalance between fictional and nonfictional titles. As a reader of four nonfiction titles for every novel cracked, this columnist periodically will devote columns to highlighting nonfictional titles available in the Cannon Beach Library or through its interlibrary loan service. Nonfiction purchases can only increase if patrons check out titles already available. To that end, I recommend two nonfiction books now available at the library.

“The Glass Castle,” a memoir by Jeannette Walls, opens with Walls, age three, catching fire while boiling hot dogs. The fire brings a lengthy hospital stay and lasting scars. From that initial scene, Walls details the poverty, insecurity, hunger and embarrassment of life in a dysfunctional, nomadic family that travels throughout the American Southwest before landing in a three-room hovel without plumbing or regular electricity in a holler in Welch, West Virginia, a down-on-its-heels coal town where her alcoholic father grew up. In seventh grade at Welch High School, Wells attracted the attention of an English teacher and newspaper adviser. She joined the newspaper staff as a proofreader, becoming editor as a junior who wrote most articles the paper published.

Recognizing Welch offered few prospects, Walls and two siblings planned an escape to New York. Lori, her older sister, would leave after graduation; Walls after her junior year; and her brother Brian later. The three pooled money from part-time jobs for the trip, only to discover after a year that their father stole their savings for booze. They began another fund for Lori’s start in New York.

Eventually they reached New York and found jobs. Walls finished high school and entered Barnard College with scholarships, grants and a job answering Wall Street telephones until she received an internship at “The (Brooklyn) Phoenix.” That experience led to work as a gossip columnist for New York Magazine, Esquire and and to marriage and an apartment on Park Avenue. Her parents, always spoilers, followed their children to New York, living on the streets for three years before squatting in an abandoned building.

This beautifully written memoir describes why and how seriously homelessness affects families in contemporary America, and especially why Walls both hates and loves her brilliant, crazy parents. Anyone who begins this description of abject poverty and where determination and education took Walls may choke back tears but will read to the very last page.

Published in 2005, “The Glass Castle” has sold nearly three million copies, remains on the “New York Times” bestseller list, became a hit movie in 2017, was translated into 22 languages and won major book awards. Walls has also published “Dish: The Inside Story on the World of Gossip” and two novels, “The Silver Star” and “Half Broke Horses.”

“Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump,” is recommended for those trying to follow the intricacies, turns and twists and changing assertions of the current investigation into Russian “meddling” during the 2016 election. This easily read narrative by Michael Isikoff and David Corn, two veteran DC investigative reporters, brings order to the daily press revelations about interactions of Trump’s circle with Russian hucksters, oligarchs and friends of Vladimir Putin from 2013 through 2017.

Containing as many Russian names as Dostoyevsky’s novels, “Russian Roulette” explains the interest of the Obama administration and U.S. intelligence agencies and justifies Robert Mueller’s investigation of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian sabotage of the election.

Finally, don’t miss these upcoming library events:

Consider attending the Cannon Beach Reads discussion of “The Glass Castle” and enjoy cookies and coffee, Wednesday, Aug. 15, at 7 p.m.

Members of the Cannon Beach Library will gather for a presentation on “The State of the City” by City Manager Bruce St. Denis, a monthly business meeting, brunch and conversation, Wednesday, Sept. 5, at 10 a.m.

Manzanita author Holly Lorincz will discuss the world of collaborative writing and read from “The Everything Girl,” her latest novel, at the Northwest Authors Series, Saturday, Sept. 8, at 2 p.m.

Library members and volunteers are crafting handmade items and planning baked goods to sell at the library’s Fall Festival, Saturday, Sept. 29, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Additional crafters and bakers would be welcomed. Local shops have donated gift certificates valued at nearly $1500 for drawings, and five hotels have donated local stays for silent auction. Gift certificate tickets and bid sheets will be available at the library from Sept. 1 through 29. All proceeds support the library.


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