Bloomsbury Books Ashland

Bloomsbury Books Ashland

290 E. Main St
Ashland, OR 97520
541-488-0029
bloomsburyashland
@gmail.com

Open 7-days:
M-Fri 8:30am-9pm
Sat 9am-9pm
Sun 10am-6pm

Home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Specializing in contemporary fiction, children’s books, young adult, local authors, & a large Shakespeare & theater section

After shopping, enjoy your book at… Bloomsbury Coffee House
Organic eats, drinks, treats
Above Bloomsbury Books.
290 E. Main
(541) 482-6112
More about
the cafe…

BLOOMSBURY PICKS FOR JULY

Spinning SilverSPINNING SILVER

Naomi Novik

Naomi Novik has quite possibly surpassed herself in Spinning Silver. Once again the lines between good and evil blur and ordinary people become heroes and heroines. A moneylender’s daughter, a poor farmer’s daughter, and the daughter of a duke are unexpectedly bound by a magical being’s demand for gold. Strong women populate this clever reimagining of Rumpelstiltskin, and the magic is both beautifully and simply rendered. There is also an interesting thread of Jewish history running through the narrative. Readers will love falling under the spell of Novik’s Polish fairytale. I’m so excited to recommend this book! -Becky

 

MY YEAR OF REST AND RELAXATION
Ottessa Moshfegh

What would you give for a good night’s sleep? This book can be read allegorically, as the pre-9-11 sleepwalking New Yorker and/or American; a literal reading is also possible, as it is rare to encounter a narrative making something as necessary and mundane as sleep so compelling. Orphaned and grieving both the deaths of her parents and the deaths of the parents she wished she had, Moshfegh’s heroine decides sleeping for a year will make her a better version of herself. She finds a questionable therapist and begins a Carrollesque descent into the world of prescription sleep aids. There is an element of poor pretty rich white girl here, she wants to eat her privilege and have it too, but her desire for sleep is palpable enough to transcend class even as her wealth enables her quest. Moshfegh is a keen observer of New York and an astute chronicler of its denizens—a veritable van diagram of some of the most and least privileged people in our country, if not the world. Provocative, sharp, and surprisingly moving. -Becky

LULLABY ROAD
James Anderson
“What becomes of the broken-hearted?” Sometimes, they become inhabitants of Lullaby Road, a stretch of highway 117 in the Utah desert, along which Ben Jones, a truck driver with his own damaged heart, makes deliveries. Ben has found a small hispanic child, abandoned in the snow at a gas station with a note that reads, “Please, Ben, help my son. Big Trouble.” Ben takes the child with him in the truck–and there is big trouble. Lullaby Road is a well-plotted, satisfying mystery; but it is Anderson’s broken-yet-resilient characters, who have chosen–or were forced–to live in the lonely desert, who make it memorable. Ben Jones is a great modern protagonist–funny, compassionate, flawed and so human. The solitude and sere beauty of the landscape are always present and the descriptions of the flat vistas and endless horizons are haunting on James Anderson’s fine prose. –Sheila

THE GREAT BELIEVERS

Rebecca Makkai

This is a book to spend the day doing nothing except reading.  In 1985, as the AIDS crisis is growing,  Yale Tishman is  the young director of an art  gallery whose career is flourishing but, one by one, his friends are dying …and he may have the virus himself.  Finally, the only friend he has left is Fiona, the little sister of a dead friend.   Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris, searching for her estranged daughter, and grappling with the way the AIDS crisis affected her and her relationship with her daughter.  The novel captures the heartbreak of the AIDS epidemic so poignantly, reminding us of how many young, often talented and brilliant, people were lost to it and how it affected those who loved them.  The characters are so fully realized- they will remain in my heart forever.    -Sheila

CIRCE

Madeline Miller

Madeline Miller, author of Song of Achilles, adds depth and beauty to a recognizable but narrowly defined character of myth: Circe, immortal daughter of Helios, witch of Aeaea, lover to gods and mortals alike. When we think of Circe we likely think of a vindictive witch who turns men into pigs and slaughters them until brave Odysseus, warned by Hermes, outwits her. But what about the story of an eldest and least favored daughter, one rejected by love and tortured by her own regrets, a victim of banishment and abuse and assault who remains different from the callous nature of her fellow gods? What of the before and the after of Odysseus? Gorgeously rendered and populated with some of the greatest monsters, heroes, demigods and goddesses of Greek myth, Circe proves once again that Miller is the Gregory Maguire of mythology. -Becky

BLOOMSBURY PICKS FOR APRIL

OVERSTORY
Richard Powers
They were here long before us. They will be here long after us. Trees. Nine strangers are connected by the arboreal, and by a desire to preserve a story larger than their own. Environmental activists live in old growth redwoods. An orphaned artist inherits the photographic family legacy of one chestnut tree. A partying and promiscuous college girl dies and returns to life, called to an aborescent destiny. The stories in this novel are both concentric, like the rings inside each trunk marking a tree’s age, and interlocking, like the complex root systems which send nutrients and water upwards and messages outwards. No living writer equals Powers for creating a novel that is both literary and commercial. Stunning, prescient, and one of the best books I’ve read this year.

TANGERINE
Christine Mangan

This is a deeply atmospheric and disturbing debut. Reading Tangerine is like drinking a gin martini that is icy enough to hurt your teeth and strong enough to burn all the way down. Morocco, 1956. The air is tight with both heat and the start of revolution. Two former college roommates are entangled in a psychological dance reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith, Shirley Jackson, and Daphne du Maurier. This is a perfect spring break read!

ITALIAN PARTY
Christina Lynch

Chris Pavone’s The Expats meets Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow in this delightful novel. Scottie and Michael Messina are newlyweds when they arrive in Italy in April of 1956, where Michael is supposed to head up a new division of Ford. There is so much unknown between any typical pair of newlyweds, but Michael and Scottie harbor deeper secrets from each other, among them Michael’s true occupation as a spy for the American government. Mynch evokes the period of the 1950s—Betty Crocker, Wonder Bread, and an entrenched distrust of Communism—in a story that froths with gossip and is sweetened by intrigue, stirred with the complex history of Italian and American relations. Delicious and positively drinkable.
-Becky (as seen in the April Indie Next List)

BLOOMSBURY PICKS FOR MARCH

AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE
Tayari Jones

Celestial and Roy are still newlyweds when Roy is wrongfully accused of raping a white woman and is sentenced to twelve years in prison. The two write letters to bridge the chasm between their sundered lives, but as the years pass their marriage is made up of more time spent apart than together. The writing is bright and sharp and unexpected, like a weapon fashioned from folded layers of sheet metal, and cuts to the quick of both what it means to be married and what it means to be a black man in America, while also exposing the systemic flaws in our justice system. I don’t agree with the decisions of Celestial, Roy, and their best friend Andre, but I am deeply moved by their plights. This is a haunting and important novel.

JANESVILLE
Amy Goldstein

General Motors (GM) had a long history of success in Janesville, Wisconsin, reaching back to the end of WWI with tractor manufacturing, surviving the Great Depression, and the autoworker strike of the 1930s. But in 2008, GM announced they were closing the Janesville plant. Amy Goldstein, a staff writer with the Washington Post, tells the story of the next five years as a traditionally democratic union town tries to rebuild, and ends up deeply split along party lines. Families are irrevocable changed as fathers work hundreds of miles away and teenagers take on part-time jobs. There are clashes between republicans and progressives who both want job growth, but disagree about how to make that happen. Goldstein explores the flawed concept of reeducation, retraining does not guarantee jobs, and the shortsightedness of Janesville’s blind belief that the GM plant would always be there. There is a systemic cultural problem, not just in Janesville but across America—conspicuous consumption as symbols of success. This is a devastating and unflinching look at our vanishing working and middle class. In the vein of Evicted, and Hillbilly Elegy, this is an impressive and important piece of reporting.

BLOOMSBURY PICKS FOR FEBRUARY

I AM I AM I AM
Maggie O’Farrell

Life is a series of near death experiences punctuated by moments of brief, beautiful, reprieve. In these seventeen essays, each centered on a brush with death, O’Farrell explores how life and death work in tandem to create meaning for the living. This is not a book about dying, nor is it macabre. Instead, this is a story about embracing the wonder and ugliness, the dichotomy, inherent in conscious existence. This memoir, penned for O’Farrell’s daughter who lives with a serious immunology disorder which means every day, for her, is a sequence of small and large encounters with mortality, defies both life and death in its depth and breadth and moments of pure perfection, and is absolutely stunning. I am. She is. We are, together, alive.

PRAIRIE FIRES
Caroline Fraser

As a lifelong devotee of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I was thrilled by the publication of her annotated memoir, Pioneer Girl; so much was fictionalized, made softer, or omitted in her novels. Fraser’s fascinating and comprehensive biography goes far deeper than Pioneer Girl. Fraser draws on Wilder’s memoir, historical records, letters, and a myriad of never-before-complied sources to provide a vivid portrait of America leading up to and during the Gilded Age, through womens suffrage, two World Wars, the Great Depression, the New Deal and the start of the Cold War. There are personal facts, such as a deeper examination of Wilder’s childhood poverty, which she carefully hid in her novels by detailing the small joys and comforts her parents were able to provide, and a more tarnished portrait of Wilder’s father. There is the birth and death of Wilder’s son, the heavy debts that Almanzo Wilder incurred, and his stroke, brought on by diphtheria, which hurt his use of his legs for the rest of his life. Surprisingly, Wilder was wary of feminism, and had negative feelings towards Roosevelt’s federal programs following the Depression. Also surprising is the selfishness of Wilder’s daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, who was equally bullish and childish in her treatment of her mother, and had fascist leanings. Far from dry, and never boring, this is an incredible book, both a history of America and a more complete look at one of our country’s most famous pioneer women.

THE RED CLOCKS
Leni Zumas

The wife. The daughter. The biographer. The mender. These are archetypes, but are also four very different women who chafe against the legislation of their bodies, and feel the ticking of their red clocks. In this stunning, disturbingly prescient debut, abortion is illegal in all fifty states, and in vitro fertilization is federally banned under the Personhood Amendment. Laws further restricting adoption will soon take effect, prohibiting unmarried persons from adopting. The world Zumas creates feels eerily familiar. Just like her characters, many of us woke up to a President-elect we didn’t vote for. We felt a sense of misplaced incredulity: “Many horrors are legitimated in broad daylight, against the will of most of the people.” Zumas’ book reads like a Handmaid’s Tale for a new generation. Both Atwood and Zumas are pointing to a large hole in the ground, warning us not to fall in. Zumas ties togeher the stories of four women in surprising ways in writing that is sharp, daring, and wise.

PRIESTDADDY
Patricia Lockwood

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this memoir, and I’m still not sure how to classify it, except to say how compelling, beautifully written, and unexpectedly funny it is. Circumstances force Lockwood, a 30-something poet, and her husband to move in with Lockwood’s parents, who are both larger-than-life characters. Lockwood’s father is a Catholic priest who spends as much time in his underwear as possible, plays loud riffs on his various guitars, and has an abiding love for trilogies (he vehemently believes the original Star Wars trilogy is about priests in space). Her mother, who tries to stuff plates of toast under the door to her daughter’s bedroom, and pops B vitamins by the handful, may not have a direct line to God, but she does have a flair for drama. Lockwood’s book is a moving tribute to her eccentric family life, a deep examination of belonging and religion, and an analysis of how a good Catholic girl has become a poet who deftly weaves magic of the profane, and who re appropriates the language of the church into a vocabulary that makes sense to her. This profound memoir brings to mind Jeanette Walls, Jenny Lawson and Jeanette Winterson.

THE IMMORTALISTS
Chloe Benjamin

What if a fortuneteller told you the day of your death when you were just a child? Would belief or disbelief rule your life? The four Gold children each react to their prophesied deaths differently. Simon charges ahead to the San Fransisco of the 1980s, carrying the knowledge of his death in his back pocket but never consulting it. Klara becomes a magician in Las Vegas, treating her own demise as part of a greater magic act, but her greatest trick won’t be her death after all. Daniel spends his career as an army doctor fighting the mortality of others. Varya is perhaps the most stubborn nonbeliever of them all, yet her work with longevity research belies her lack of faith in the old woman’s predictions decades before. Each section in this beautiful, heartbreaking, book is narrated by a different Gold child, and begs deep questions about life, death, immortality, and inevitability. Would knowing the day of your death help you prevent or change it, or is there no intervention big enough to fight the end that comes for us all?

BLOOMSBURY PICKS FOR JANUARY

BRAIDING SWEETGRASS
Robin Wall Kimmerer

Braiding Sweetgrass, first published in 2014, has quietly climbed to the top of our store bestseller list. What has prompted this phenomenon? Word of mouth. Moved by Kimmerer’s powerful prose and enduring message, readers have pressed copies into the hands of their friends and loved-ones, and have submitted the title to their book clubs, eager to share this antidote to what feels like an increasingly reckless and dangerous political climate. Kimmerer applies her background as botanist, a professor of plant ecology, and a Potawatomi woman to argue that our path forward requires remembering and honoring ancient wisdom. She explores nature through the lens of science, and encourages readers to increase their ecological consciousness by connecting more deeply with other living beings. Elizabeth Gilbert calls the book “a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise.” Being informed is important, but sometimes we need to turn off the news and pick up a book. Braiding Sweetgrass is that book.

THE FUTURE HOME OF THE LIVING GOD
Louise Erdrich

“Perhaps all of creation…was just a grandly detailed thought that God was engrossed in elaborating upon, when suddenly God fell asleep. We are an idea, then. Maybe God has decided that we are an idea not worth thinking anymore.”

This book is terrifying in the way that The Handmaid’s Tale is terrifying—the horror comes from the plausibility of the plot (there is so much still unknown in science), and is connected to the writer’s deep understanding of how humans react in times of uncertainty, how governments enact legislation, and how quickly democracy can erode. No one knows why evolution has stalled. Animals are reverting, plants are changing. The future of humanity is tenuous as newborns also exhibit symptoms of reversed evolution. Cedar Songmaker’s pregnancy is one of equal parts terror and wonder. Her pregnancy cannot be celebrated and honored because she must go into hiding. Pregnant woman across the country are rounded up and housed in hospitals and jails. Their fates are unknown, as are the fates of their infants. Cedar begins a journal chronicling the deterioration of her known world in the form of a love-letter to her unborn child. Suspenseful and beautiful, this is a deeply affecting book told in Erdrich’s incomparable style, with an ending that will leave readers breathless.

BLOOMSBURY PICKS FOR DECEMBER

HOOVER
Kenneth Whyte
From his classically American humble, rural, Quaker origins, Herbert Hoover became the classically American self-made man. By his thirties, he had become bored with making millions from his international mining operations and turned his drive towards becoming a player in “the big game”. With the near-death of Europe following WWI, Hoover, the globalist, rationalist, results-oriented technocrat, was the perfect man to help America re-imagine itself and push to the forefront of the 20th-century. Running on the Progressive platform of the Republican party (think Teddy Roosevelt), he became the thirty-first U.S. president. Seven months after his inauguration, Wall Street experienced the Great Crash of 1929, and the follow-on global Depression made him a one-term president. Feeling that FDR alternately lied about or appropriated many of his own programs and attempts to manage the Depression, Hoover was an implacable New Deal foe. Hoover juggled a fervent belief in boot-strapping, American individualism and local solutions with a robust, activist government agenda of action in the national economy, and a deeply-felt but tightly conceived support for a national social safety net. As one observer put it, “Hoover was as radical as he needed to be.”-JG

ELMET
Fiona Mozley
We know there was a fire. Ash still clings to the air at the novel’s onset as Daniel, the teenage narrator, follows the railroad tracks leading away from his family’s land. He is searching for someone, but who, and why? Daniel lives with his older sister, Cathy, and his father, a boxer who is rough around the edges but is gentle at home, in the isolated outskirts of a small town in Yorkshire. They live close to the land, in a house hewn from the surrounding forest and raised by pure manpower. When their autonomy is threatened, a series of events escalating in violence lead to horrific consequences. Set against a devastatingly gorgeous backdrop, this is a study of power: who wields it, who abuses it, and how one man leads an uprising against it. This examination of the male archetype is reminiscent of My Absolute Darling, but has a softer touch. Amazing. –Becky

BLOOMSBURY PICKS FOR NOVEMBER

THE POWER
Naomi Alderman
What if women had a new set of muscles which allowed them to conduct electricity and to control electric impulses? How might the current power structures be toppled? Alderman bravely explores a world of shifting allegiances. Roxy, the daughter of an English mob boss, discovers her gift the day her mother is murdered—and her gift is formidable. Margot, a newly single mother of two daughters, is a mayor with her eyes on a governorship who seeks to harness public panic and to remake the government from the inside. Allie, an orphan on the run from her dark past, is reborn as Mother Eve, a prophetess who claims to have a direct line to the divine. Tunde is a young Nigerian journalist who scents the coming revolution and positions himself to be the major chronicler of the world-wide uprising. Their connected stories begin as a feminist fairytale, but quickly evolve into a study of power; regardless of sex, power is consuming, corrupting, and easily abused. Retribution and revenge can disguise themselves as redistribution and equality. Alderman’s prose is searing, her plot dizzying, and her characters will burn your heart.

THE BOOK OF DUST
Phillip Pullman
Before Will there was Malcolm. Before Lyra underwent the arduous journey to fulfill her destiny, the witches prophesied of another boy, one who would protect a great treasure. Malcolm, an innkeeper’s son, faces a great flood and other forces of evil to deliver an infant Lyra to safety. In this return to the England of Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, a network of spies battle branches of secret service and an oppressive government. Pullman creates new characters for readers to care deeply about in the intrepid Malcolm and Hannah Ref, a historian-turned-spy whose work with the alethiometer will have far-reaching implications.

HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES
Carmen Maria Machado
The opening story in this startling debut collection is based on the classic ghost story about a bride with a ribbon around her neck, but Machado reaches for truths beyond a simple campfire tale. Each successive story takes readers deeper into the intimate lives of females: a woman undergoes bariatric surgery, but the ghost of her shame continues to live in her home even after the weight falls away; a virus spreads across the country, killing humans indiscriminately, as a survivor indexes a list of her former lovers; women are vanishing, and the shadows left behind fold themselves into the stitching in prom dresses. Machado’s writing is reminiscent of Clarice Lispector, achieving surrealism based in both the fantastic and the domestic. She uses ghost stories, urban legends, and myths to explore the interior lives of women as a map of their exterior world. This collection is stunning in its clarity, strength of voice, and sense of purpose. Disturbing, beautiful, haunting, and true.

THE REVOLUTION OF MARINA M.
Janet Fitch
Marina is the petted daughter of a powerful lawyer when the forces of revolution march across Russia in the winter of 1916. Her journey from girl of privilege to daughter and poetess of the revolution is harrowing, sexy, and disturbing. Her selfishness and naiveté are infuriating, and supremely real. Fitch long ago proved herself adept at writing girls on the cusp of womanhood coming undone, and in this newest novel also proves herself a chronicler of history, as she details the century-old political battles which shaped modern Russia. Her writing is, as always, gorgeous, lucid and powerful. Some might wonder whether Marina’s personal life needs to be so dramatic when cast against the natural drama of revolution, until we realize that the men and women who participate in history are humans who are fallible, prone to self-aggrandizement, and are searching for meaning. The plot might feel far-fetched towards the end, until we recognize the roles of mysticism and spirituality in Russia at that time. I can hardly wait for book two!

OUR CHOICE

MURDER ON THE LEFT BANK The eighteenth mystery in the Parisian detective series by Cara Black. A notebook surfaces, and is then stolen, that may contain insight into the death of  Aimée Leduc’s father. Will Aimée finally be able to answer some of the questions surrounding her fathers death?

PARIS BY THE BOOK Robert Eady, an eccentric author, suddenly vanishes. The only clue to his fate are plane tickets to Paris he left for his wife and daughters.

THE GOOD PEOPLE In nineteenth-century Ireland three women are brought together to protect a child from the towns superstition.

THE SONG OF ACHILLES A beautiful retelling of the myth of Achilles and the Trojan war told from the perspective of Patroclus. Wonderful as a precursor to Miller’s CIRCE  or as a standalone novel.

LESS Failed writer Arthur Less is about to turn fifty and his ex boyfriend is about to get married. In an attempt to avoid the wedding without looking defeated Arthur accepts all of the book event invitations on his desk. Starting an adventure around the world.

THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE Vasya has a wild untamable spirit. When the balance of magic is shifted and an ancient evil is freed she discovers she may be the only person capable of stopping it.

ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE Eleanor Oliphant struggles with social skills and tends to avoid people. When she meets Raymond, an IT guy from he office, and they save an elderly gentleman, Sammy, he life changes. The three friends help rescue each other from the isolated lives they’ve been living.