What We’ve Read in Past Years
2021 marked the 20th anniversary of Spokane Is Reading! We did not hosting a community book event again due to the pandemic, but knew we wanted to honor this milestone. We reached out to many of our past authors and asked them what books they had read recently that brought them joy during the pandemic. The list below is the result and it is as varied as the books we've selected over the years. Enjoy!
In 2020, we did not hosting a community book event due to the pandemic. Instead, we presented this booklist which reflects the rich tapestry of the American experience.
Read one. Read several. Or read them all.
Circe is Madeline Miller’s retelling of the story of Helios’ unwanted daughter who doesn’t seem to fit with the world of gods or mortals. Circe has a unique power though – witchcraft and that power is threatening to the gods. She is banished to a desert island where she hones her skills and tames wild beasts and comes into herself as a powerful woman. Circe’s story shines bright even adjacent to the gods and her strength is an inspiration to all who listen in and watch where she goes.
Amy Stewart's first book in the Kopp Sister's series, Girl Waits With Gun tells the story of Constance Kopp and her two sisters. What's really interesting about this novel is that Constance Kopp is not a fictional character. She and her sisters are pulled from the newspapers of the early 1900's. This is not only an entertaining read but one that gives readers a view into what life was like for women at the turn of the century, when the industrial revolution was threatening the way of life that many were accustomed to.
2017's featured title is a haunting tale of courage in the face of cruelty and the power of love to overcome the darkness that lives in us all. (From the publisher.) There are snakes and storefront churches with their windows covered over with newspaper, broken hearts and feelings of hope. This is a book that stays with you for long after you've closed it.
2016's featured book is a deftly interwoven collection of tales of life in Russian spanning decades and political movements. Like a good mixtape, what emerges is a compelling narrative arch of hope, heartbreak, and humor. Containing a cast of remarkable characters whose lives intersect in surprising ways, this book speaks evocatively to both the shortcomings and triumphs of the human condition.
2015's featured book is set in a post-apocalyptic future after the flu has wiped out 99% of the world's population. This audacious, darkly glittering novel tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity. It asks the question of is survival sufficient alone or do we need art and literature to make survival worthwhile?
Swamplandia! is full of alligators and amusement parks and ghosts and lots and lots of mosquitoes. One of the characters dives into a pool filled with alligators and we think readers would enjoy diving into Swamplandia's weird world of Southern Florida where, amongst those mosquitoes, there is a strange mingling of ghosts, gators and three siblings whose lives are a bit adrift.
Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.
We don't want to tell you too much about this book. Once you have read it, you'll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.
Packing for Mars explores the quirks and oddities of things like zero gravity and the day-to-day experiences of astronauts. Learn about the trials and tribulations of those honored few who have been deemed to have “The Right Stuff” — and have a few laughs along the way.
A dramatic page turner, The Big Burn delves into the great fire of 1910 that consumed nearly three million acres in just a few days. From the overmatched rangers to the citizens caught in the inferno, we learn vivid details of the lives of those affected.
Enzo knows he is different from other dogs, he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.
Junior leaves his school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white high school in this chronicle of the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he seems destined to live.
Just before the 1980 presidential election, in a quiet house in Spokane, Vince Camden pockets stolen credit cards and drops by an all-night poker game before heading to his witness-protection job. When a familiar face shows up Vince realizes that his past is closer than he'd like.
Mary Russell literally stumbles over retired detective,Sherlock Holmes and the two pursue a succession of cases together, but what began as a pleasant diversion swiftly turns into a deadly game of chess with a mysterious, ruthless enemy from Holmes' past.
Taking its title from a fictional Vermeer painting, the reader follows the painting back in time, visiting with each of its owners until readers meet the artist himself and learn of the painting’s beginnings.
Aliens have attacked Earth twice and now the world government has taken to breeding military geniuses. Ender Wiggin the genius among geniuses, but is he smart enough to save the planet? Equally popular with non-science fiction readers as with science fiction fans.
A Confederate soldier faces marauders, bounty hunters and witches, both helpful and malign as he walks back to his home and to Ada, who is trying to revive her father's derelict farm and learn to survive in a world where the old certainties have been swept away.
Old farmers, a girl in trouble, a broken family, and a devoted high school teacher are featured in this narrative about how families can be made between folks who are not necessarily blood relatives.