for more detailed reviews click here:
2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 |2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 |
2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 |2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 |
The White Witch, Elizabeth Goudge. 439 pages, historical fiction, set during the English Civil War, a little magic realism before that became a thing.
All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr. 531 pages, novel set in Nazi-occupied France, incandescent.
Cheese and the Worms: the cosmos of a sixteenth-century miller, Carlo Ginzburg, translated by John and Anne Tedeschi. 177 pages, quirky medieval history.
A Glass of Blessing, Barbara Pym. 256 pages, brilliant novel. Also An Unsuitable Attachment, 256 pages; Civil to Stranger, and other writings, 388 pages. Re-reads. Still refreshing. Still funny. Even over and over. I love Barbara Pym.
Lyrics Alley, Leila Aboulela. 310 pages, autobiographical novel set in Sudan -- more about an appealing and talented family than one person.
The Keep, Jennifer Egan. 239 pages, experimental novel. (also A Visit from the Good Squad) I can't say why I like these two novels, which are hard-bitten and sour but at the same time full of a lush yearning. The mastery of the writing leaves me in a state of awe.
Together Tea, Marjan Kamali. 321 pages, mother-daughter novel set in New York and Tehran, lovely interaction and appealing characters.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer. 326 pages, novel set in New York City, heart-warming tale of boy whose father died in the Twin Towers attack.
Lark Rise to Candleford, Flora Thompson. 556 pages, incredibly rich memoir of an English village
Two Wheels North - Cycling the West Coast in 1909 - Evelyn McDaniel Gibb. 181 pages, memoir of two boys who rode bikes from California to the world's fair in Seattle in 1909.
Shepherdess of Sheep by Noel Streatfeild (also, Caroline England. 360 pages), novels of the era between the wars in England with delightful female protagonists.
Pied Piper - Nevill Shute. 303 pages, novel that reads like a memoir, WWII England and France of a brave old man.
Happy City: transforming our lives through urban design - Charles Montgomery. 358 pages, city planning
A Pure Clear Light - Madeleine St. John. 233 pages (also The Essence of the Thing. 234 pages), comedy of manners, novels of modern London.
How to Travel Incognito - Ludwig Bemelmans. 244 pages, comic novel that sets itself up as an autobiographical memoir and how-to travel cheap in France.
Perennial Vegetables: From Artichoke to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener's Guide to Over 100 Delicious, Easy-to-grow Edibles - Eric Toensmeier. 241 pages. Fantastic resource for planting a garden that looks great from the garden to your plate.
Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist: How to Have Your Yard and Eat It Too - Judd, Michael. 143 pages. Great pictures for inspiration and useful instructions to actually get you there.
The Science of Good Cooking: Master 50 Simple Concepts to Enjoy A Lifetime of Success in the Kitchen - America's Test Kitchen. 486 pages, cook book explaining the science behind its successful results.
Book of Mercy, Leonard Cohen. Unpaged.
Slim book of modern psalms that never settle for the easy insufficiencies.
State of Wonder, Ann Patchett. 353 pages.
Exotic novel in an ethnobotanist's camp in the Brazilian Amazon, where a visiting pharmacologist tries to solve the mystery of her colleague's death while uncovering the mysteries of being female in a changing world.
Alif the Unseen, G. Willow Wilson. 431 pages.
Modern Islamic techno/sci-fi thriller that's a great read for plot alone but intriguing, too, for its picture of the modern Middle East and its Muslim view of reality.
Monstrous Regiment and Soul Music, both novels of Discworld, Terry Pratchett. 405 and 373 pages.
Brilliant comic fantasy that sheds its clarifying (and hilarious) light on life's lingering questions and our day's most vexing puzzles. Also The Light Fantastic, 216 pages; Mort, 243 pages; Pyramids, 323 pages; Wyrd Sisters, 265 pages; Guards! Guards!, 355 pages; the Fifth Elephant, 389 pages; Interesting Times, 368 pages; Thief of Time, 378 pages.
Natural Fashion: tribal decoration from Africa, Hans Walter Silvester. 167 pages.
This brilliant collection of exotic photographs of the Omo people of Ethiopia celebrates the human instinct for ornament.
From Falasha to Freedom: an Ethiopian Jew's journey to Jerusalem, Shem'uel Yilmah. 112 pages.
An exciting real-life journey of a faithful family from genocide through the wilderness to the Promised Land, only to find that the quest to arrive requires mental rigor and perseverance as much as physical courage.
Faith, Jennifer Haigh. pages.
A novel about trust and betrayal, sustaining family love and the destructions of desire, vulnerability and power. Seen through the eyes of doubting modern woman whose brother is a struggling Catholic priest, this is a difficult story compassionately and beautifully told.
Free-Range Chicken Gardens: how to create a beautiful, chicken-friendly yard, Jessi Bloom, photos by Kate Baldwin. 218 pages.
Chicken Coops: 45 building ideas for housing your flock, Judy Pangman, 166 pages.
The first book is packed with inspiringly lovely pictures and a generous scatter of information. The second is more practical with useful diagrams and building plans.
Homestead, Rosina Lippi. 210 pages.
Twelve exquisite linked stories focusing on the lives of different women in a tiny village in the Austrian alps, from 1909 to 1977.
I Feel Bad about my Neck: and other thoughts on being a woman, Nora Ephron. 137 pages.
A collection of intimate and amusing autobiographical essays about being a woman in the youth-obsessed West, wittily, sometimes movingly, written by today's queen of rom-com.
Horace and Me: life lessons from an ancient poet, Harry Eyres. 238 pages.
Ah! What would it be to be able to read the hieroglyphs that are Greek to me? Second best is to read these essays by critic and translator of Horace. Eyres reveals a lively ancient voice who speaks pithily to the excesses and shallow facility of the modern world.
Women and Microcredit in Rural Bangladesh: anthropological study of the rhetoric and realities of Grameen Bank lending, Aminur Rahman.
Scholarly non-fiction, a corrective to some of the more boostering reports of microcredit, 188 pages.
Give Us Credit, Alex Counts.
Economic philosophy and history of the microcredit movement, Grameen in Bangladesh and in Chicago, 361 pages.
Edible Forest Gardens. Volume one: ecological vision and theory for temperate-climate permaculture; Volume two: . . . design and practice . . ., Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier.
Permaculture theory, 378 pages, and design guide, 655 pages.
The White Witch, Elizabeth Goudge.
Historical novel set at the time of the English Revolution. Pure nostalgic romance, 439 pages.
By Faith Alone: one family’s epic journey through 400 years of American Protestantism, Bill Griffeth.
Family/ American history, a personal tour of American history tracing the author's genealogical line, 288 pages.
Mayflower: a story of courage, community, and war, Nathaniel Philbrick.
Colonial history, brilliant and essential, 461 pages.
Out of Poverty: what works when traditional approaches fail, Paul Polack.
How to end poverty, 232 pages.
Break Through: from the death of environmentalism to the politics of possibility, Ted Norhaus and Michael Shellenberger.
Environmental philosophy and blatant hope-mongering, 344 pages.
(Auto)biography of climbing enthusiast and his school-building efforts in Pakistan, 338 pages.
Wooden Fish Songs, Ruthanne Lum McCunn.
Biographical novel of the father of the Florida citrus industry and groundbreaking hybridizer – Lue Gim Gong. A beautiful book, 385 pages.
A New England Town: The First Hundred Years: Dedham, Massachusetts, 1636-1736, Kenneth A. Lockridge.
History of a Massachusetts town established as a Puritan utopian society by some of my fore-parents, 220 pages.
Everlost, Neal Shusterman.
YA fantasy of the afterworld and adventures therein, 313 pages.
The World is Flat: a brief history of the 21st century, Thomas L. Friedman.
Economic philosophy and observations on globalization, 639 pages.
Sailing Alone Around the Room, Billy Collins.
Poetry, witty and lucid, 171 pages. Also The Trouble with Poetry, 88 pages.
Daniel Plainway; or the Holiday Haunting of the Moosepath League, Van Reid.
Novel set in 19th century Maine, 385 pages. Also Peter Loon, historical adventure in post Revolutionary Maine, 298 pages.
Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula to Fast and Sustained Weight-Loss, Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
Common sense nutrition, 292 pages.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver.
Locavoring memoir by popular novelist, 370 pages.
The Gospel of Food: everything you think you know about food is wrong, Barry Glasner.
Nutrition. An entertaining historical overview of diet orthodoxies, restuarant anecdotes, McDonald’s and foodie-snobbery, so-called miracle foods, food purity and GMOs. 228 pages.
Room to Fly: A Transcultural Memoir, Padma Hejmadi.
Autobiography of a childhood in southern India within a non-written language, magically evocative, 202 pages.
Coming Home Crazy: an alphabet of China essays, Bill Holm.
Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier.
Luminous post-Civil War novel, 356 pages.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling
7th (and final) novel in YA fantasy series, 759 pages.
Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado, Marc Aronson
Amazing historical narrative for mid-teens on up, 222 pages.
Oaxaca Journal, Oliver Sacks.
Travel in Mexico and fern-collecting journal by one of the most brilliant minds of our time, 159 pages.
Gardening under Cover: a Northwest guide to solar greenhouses, cold frames, and cloches, William Head.
Northwest cold-weather gardening, 135 pages.
Winter Gardening for the Maritime Northwest: cool-season crops for the year-round gardener, Binda Colebrook.
Northwest cold-weather gardening, 163 pages.
Gaia’s Garden: a guide to home scale permaculture, Toby Hemenway.
Northwest permaculture, 222 pages.
The Nine Tailors: changes rung on an old theme in two short touches and two full peals, Dorothy Sayers.
Classic mystery set in East Anglia between the World Wars, 331 pages.
The World to Come, Dara Horn.
Novel of trust and enduring love in a post-Holocaust world, set in urban, artsy America, 314 pages.
Real Food: What to Eat and Why, Nina Planck.
Nutrition, 343 pages.
The Saddlebag, Bahiyyih Nakhjavani.
Inter-linked stories of a caravan beset by sandstorm and bandits, 263 pages.
An Area of Darkness, V.S. Naipaul.
Autobiography of a return to his ancestral India, 304 pages.
From Heaven Lake: Travels through Sinkiang and Tibet, Vikram Seth.
Autobiography of a journey home to India from China, 192 pages.
A Goddess in the Stones: Travels in India, Norman Lewis.
Travels in tribal, caste-free India, 336 pages.
Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie.
Allegorical novel of independent India, 560 pages.
1491: New Revelations on the Americas before Columbus, Charles C. Mann.
History/ Archaeology, what we never learned about the history of America before Europeans, 560 pages.
Mysteries of the Alphabet: the Origins of Writing, Marc-Alain Ouaknin, translated from the French by Josephine Bacon.
History and interpretation of the alphabet, 384 pages.
The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World, David Abram.
Philosophy / Alphabet/ Cultural critique, 352 pages.
Not Your Mother’s Slow-cooker Cookbook, Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann.
Obviously, 520 pages.
Before the Flood: The Biblical Flood as a Real Event and How It Changed the Course of Civilization, Ian Wilson.
Archaeology and plenty of engaging speculation, 352 pages.
The Knox Brothers, Penelope Fitzgerald.
Delightful biography of the author's literary family, 304 pages.
Angelina’s Children, Alice Ferney, translated from the French by Emily Read.
Evocative novel of a gypsy clan's befriending of a young librarian, 275 pages.
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell: A Novel, Susanna Clarke.
Fantasy novel set in 18th century England, 800 pages.
Thanksgiving 101, Rick Rodgers.
Cookbook, no-fail recipes for all the standards, 165 pages.
The Taste of the Season: Inspired Recipes for Fall and Winter, Diane Rossen Worthington.
Cookbook, inspired play with root vegetables, savory meats and other cold-weather dishes, 179 pages.
Fast Vegetarian Feasts, Martha Rose Shulman.
Cookbook, basic vegetarian with common pantry ingredients, 368 pages.
366 Delicious Ways to Cook Rice, Beans, and Grains, Andrea Chesman.
Cookbook. THE cookbook for basic wholesome non-meat meals. Everything turns out delicious, 480 pages.
By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion, Terryl L. Givens.
Early 19th century American religious historical context for the publication of Book of Mormon, 336 pages.
Bones: Discovering the First Americans, Elaine Dewar.
Archaeology, revises the outdated Bering Straits theory of settlement with convincing argument and solid scholarship, 628 pages.
The Lost Chronicles of the Maya King, David Drew.
Fascinating and very clear history of two contemporaneous Mayan societies, 461 pages.
The Goose Girl, Shannon Hale.
YA fantasy novel about integrity and true love, 400 pages.
Greensleeves, Eloise Jarvis McGraw.
Novel about a college girl in Portland, Oregon, early 1960’s, 311 pages.
Emma, Jane Austen.
Classic novel, 416 pages. Also, Persuasion, 288 pages, and Pride & Prejudice, 352 pages. Essential reading.
Middlemarch, George Eliot.
Classic novel of marriage, by one of the greatest minds that ever took pen in hand, 880 pages.
The Wandering Scholars of the Middle Ages, Helen Waddell. (1932)
Essays, historical literary criticism by one of the most sparkling minds of the century, 364 pages.
Inkheart, Cornelia Funke, translated from the German by Anthea Bell.
Fantasy YA novel about the power of the written word, 544 pages.
City Making and Urban Governance in the Americas: Curitiba and Portland, Clara Irazabal.
Environmental comparison of Curitiba, Brazil, and Portland, Oregon, 335 pages.
Children of Summer: Henri Fabre's Insects, Margaret J. Anderson, pictures by Marie LeGlatin Keis.
Children’s bio-novel told in the voice of the famous entomologist’s 10-year-old son,100 pages.
Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation Of Language And Music And Why We Should, Like, Care, John McWhorter.
Cultural critique by witty and insightful African-American linguist, 304 pages.
One More River to Cross (Standing on the Promises, Book 1), Margaret Young & Aidan Darius Grey.
Historical novel of early African-American Mormons, 337 pages. (2 other books in series.)
Black Athena: the Afro-asiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, vol. 1, Martin Bernal.
Controversial scholarly non-fiction about the African and Hebrew roots of Greek traditions, 575 pages.
A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry.
Novel of India, 624 pages.
The Dancing Bear, Peter Dickinson.
YA historical novel of the fall of Byzantium, 300+ pages.
The Year 1000 : What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium, Danny Danziger and Robert Lacey.
Month-by-month history, illustrated with drawings from the medieval Julius Work Calendar, 240 pages.
I Don’t Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother, Allison Pearson.
Novel set in modern London, 352 pages.
The Perfect Heresy: The Revolutionary Life and Death of the Medieval Cathars, Stephen O’Shea.
Medieval history of a believing people in Southern France destroyed by the pope’s crusade against them, an intricate and enthralling story, 224 pages.
Rituals of Dinner: The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities and Meaning of Table Manners, Margaret Visser.
Non-fiction, history of table manners, 448 pages.
The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, Jessie Wise & Susan Wise Bauer.
Homeschool guide, inspiring and encouragingly clear, 800 pages.
The Wanderings of Odysseus, Rosemary Sutcliff.
Illustrated retelling of Homer’s Odyssey, 120 pages.
John Adams, David McCullough.
Great biography of a good man, 736 pages.
The Life of the Bee, Maurice Maeterlinck, translated from the French by Alfred Sutro.
A poet-playwright's great naturalist masterpiece observing bees, 427 pages.
alpha beta: How 26 Letters Shaped the Western World, John Man.
History of the alphabet, 312 pages.
One Year Off: leaving it all behind for a round-the-world journey with our children, David Elliot Cohen.
Travel with children, 312 pages.
The Secret Adversary, Agatha Christie.
Mystery, set just after WWII in England, 426 pages.
Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey through Yugoslovakia, Rebecca West.
Travel/ History of the troubled Balkan region on the eve of WWII, 1181 pages.
Italian Vegetarian Cooking, Emanuela Stucchi.
Cookbook of restrained elegance and simplicity.
The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton.
Essays on travel, 272 pages.
Kershisnik: Painting from Life, Leslie Norris, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Mark Magleby and Brian Kershisnik.
Biography and reproductions of paintings of a gifted contemporary artist, 128 pages.
Stories of New England, latter half of the 1800’s, 269 pages.
The Alphabet versus the Goddess: The Conflict between Word and Image, Leonard Shalin.
Philosophical linguistical argues word/linear/violent/exclusionary vs. image/holistic/peace-loving/inclusive, 464 pages.
The Pursuit of Paradise: A Social History of Gardens and Gardening, Jane Brown.
History of European gardens from medieval times until now, 400 pages.
The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory, Brian Greene.
Modern science overview for the general reader, 448 pages.
The Secret of Platform 13, Eva Ibbotson.
Children’s fantasy, better than Harry Potter, so far, 250 pages.
Passage, Connie Willis.
Strong Poison, Gaudy Night, Busman’s Honeymoon, all three by Dorothy Sayers.
Mystery and intelligent romance, 272, 512, and 416 pages, respectively.
Villette, Charlotte Bronte.
Poignant novel, 672 pages.
Home Economics, Wendell Berry.
Essays about living upon the earth, utterly lucid, 192 pages
Colcorton, Edith Pope.
Forgotten novel about race and the meaning of house, set in the early 20th century South, 330 pages.
Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson.
Novel set in northern Idaho about the nature of home, 219 pages.
Moby Dick, Herman Melville.
Immense prose-poem of 19th century American whaling as an allegory of the democratic experiment (among other things), an essential text, 704 pages.
The Neverending Story, Michael Ende.
Deep and believable children’s fantasy, 384 pages.
The Railway Children, E. Nesbit.
Delightful children’s novel from the early 1900’s, 288 pages.
The Read-Aloud Handbook, Jim Trelease.
Convincing argument for reading to children and a list of great books to read aloud. 432 pages.
Nancy Hoberman: A House is the House for Me and Seven Silly Eaters.
Else Minarik: all the Little Bear books (and Signourey Weaver’s lovely recording on audiotape).
Russell Hoban: all the Frances books (and Glynis Jones’ delightful recording on audiotape).
Charlotte Zolotow: Mr. Rabbit & the Lovely Present and I Like Being Little and When I Have a Little Girl and Over & Over.
Roy Gerrard: The Favershams and Rosie & the Rustlers and Sir Cedric.
Mem Fox: Wilfrid Gordon MacDonald Partridge and Koala Lou I do Love You and Whoever You Are.
Trina Schart Hyman: Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White and Winter Poems.
Graeme Base & Lewis Carrol: The Jabberwocky.
Douglas Wood: Old Turtle.
Arnold Lobel: all the Frog and Toad books.
William Steig: The Amazing Bone and Shrek! and Dr. DeSoto and Sylvester & the Magic Pebble and Caleb & Kate.
Maurice Sendak: Chicken Soup with Rice and Where the Wild Things Are.
Barbara Cooney: Ox-Cart Man and Miss Rumphius.
Mercer Mayer: East of the Sun & West of the Moon and Beauty & the Beast and Liza Lou & the Yeller Belly Swamp and What Do You Do with a Kangaroo?
Kevin Henkes: Lily and the Purple Plastic Purse and Julian the Baby of the World.
Robert Munsch: The Paperbag Princess.
Caralyn Buehner: Fanny’s Dream.
Dr. Seuss: The Lorax and Mr. Brown Can Moo and Dr. Suess' ABC.
Eugene Trivizas: The Three Little Wolves and the Big, Bad Pig.
Arlene Mosel: Tikki Tikki Tembo.
Joanne Oppenheim: Have You Seen Trees?
Tomie de Paola: The Clown of God and Strega Nona and Helga's Dowry.
Jane Yolen: The Girl in the Golden Bower and Dove Isabeau and Old Dame Counterpane and Letting Swift Water Go and All Those Secrets of the World.
Julian Scheer: Rain Makes Applesauce.
Margaret Wise Brown: The Color Kittens and Pussy Willow and The Important Book and The Quiet Book and Mister Dog and The Sailor Dog and Home for a Bunny and The Little Island.
Christian Garrison & Diane Goode: Dream Eater.
Jay Williams: Everyone Knows What a Dragon Looks Like.
My Kind of Verse, compiled by John Smith.