Celebrating the Most Notorious Works of Beverly Cleary

Beverly Cleary was born on April 12, 1916, in McMinnville, Oregon, about an hour outside of Portland. Beloved author, daughter, spouse, and librarian (she was even named a “Living Legend” by the 2000 Library of Congress), Cleary knew from a young age that she loved books and reading. She began writing and telling stories that kids could identify with after hearing concerns from her children at school. After publishing her first story, Henry Huggins in 1950, Cleary began her journey as a published author, writing over forty books that were translated in twenty-nine languages, and receiving countless awards. It’s easy to say that one could not go through their life without encountering her name or her stories at least once.
With her recent passing on March 25, 2021, the world has collectively mourned the loss of one of the greatest authors in our history. It all started here in Oregon, where she took inspiration from her early childhood memories growing up in areas such as Portland and Yamhill. With little pieces of home woven throughout, let’s take a look at some of Cleary’s most notable works and how they connect to her life in Oregon.

  1. Henry Huggins (1950)
  2. Cleary’s first published book followed the story of Henry, his dog, and his neighbors, including some familiar names: Beezus and Ramona. Cleary explained that her first book took much inspiration from her own childhood and the neighborhood kids that she grew up with in Oregon, as well as the kids she knew from school as a librarian. Because Cleary spent most of her time in the Portland area, the Henry Huggins book series showcases familiar Portland landmarks, including Grant Park, where Henry was well-known for hunting nightcrawlers, and Knott Street, where Henry had his infamous paper route.

  3. Beezus and Ramona (1950)
  4. The main characters in what is probably her most popular book series, Beezus, and her younger sister, Ramona, were first introduced in the Henry Huggins books. Known for their dynamic duo of personalities, the sisters have adventures all over town, even in their very own home located on Klickitat Street in Northeast Portland. Other spots around the city include the Rite Aid on NE 41st, where the Colossal Market from the books is located, and Ramona’s school, Cedarhurst Elementary, is based on Portland’s own Laurelhurst School. The Multnomah County Library even features a stonewall map titled “Walking With Ramona” that maps out the areas that are mentioned throughout the book series so you can walk along the same paths! The books also inspired the 2010 film, Ramona and Beezus, starring Selena Gomez and Joey King. The movie was a box office hit, earning over twenty-seven million dollars.

  5. A Girl From Yamhill (1988)
  6. Although not as well known as her children’s books, Cleary also wrote and published an autobiography about her childhood and early teen years in Oregon. She expresses the difficulties that she had connecting with those in her family and her struggles with learning how to read. She grew up more independent than most would have thought, and her stories are not only inspired by her childhood, but they are also a recreation of what she wished her childhood was like. Cleary opens up and brings forth raw emotions as readers take a look at the woman behind the books. Her yearning for a relationship with her mother and missing her father, who was away so many hours of the day due to his job, are just some examples of what shaped Cleary’s life as she began her writing career.

Many people know the name, “Beverly Cleary” but not everyone knows the story behind the name. With so many iconic characters and series, Cleary has given a name to the Portland area and showcased its beauty through each of her books. The rest of the world will miss her, but the Oregon community in particular will feel her loss the hardest. While she may not be able to recount these stories in person any longer, her words will live on forever and continue to inspire readers of all ages and backgrounds. She not only wrote for herself and her imagined childhood, but for every child out there.

From Fanfiction to Publishing

Have you ever been so engrossed in a book series that you just had to continue the story beyond the pages? If so, then you are not alone! Before the internet, members of the Star Trek fandom would write fanfiction to send to their friends and pass out at fan conventions. This phenomenon has been around for quite some time, and it continues to grow in popularity as more and more fandoms are created.

I have been reading and writing fanfiction since I was thirteen, and it’s something that I have continued doing as an adult. For many of us who are prolific readers, the book doesn’t just stop on the last page; its world goes deeper than what is written in the pages of the book. As fans of both the world and the characters, we want the legacy of the series to continue long after the series ends. This mindset can not only get you started on the path to writing your own works of fiction, but it can also allow you the opportunity to edit new works by different authors before they get out into the world.

Cassandra Clare, author of the well-known series, The Mortal Instruments, got her career started by writing Harry Potter fanfiction. (If you’d like to check out her current fiction, you can do so on her website). You have to start somewhere, right?

Creating fanfiction is a great place to start writing. You can get feedback from the community, practice developing characters, and delve deeper into a world that you already love. It’s a great way to hone your craft from the very beginning, in a safe and welcoming environment. I’ve even seen fanfiction authors who have created their own characters that fit into the world of the original book.

Many fanfiction authors even have what they call beta-readers, who essentially act as editors to help with organization, plot, world-building, character development, and more. Some fanfiction authors even have people who create custom artwork for their stories! There are so many elements that go into the development of fanfiction that it’s almost a microcosm of the publishing industry.

Many people automatically equate publishing with editing, which isn’t necessarily the case. While it is true that editing is a crucial aspect of publishing, it isn’t the only aspect. If you enjoy reading and contributing to the numerous (and usually hilarious) tags on AO3 and Fanfiction.net, then search engine optimization (SEO) and social media work might be a great option for you to pursue. Do you love art and design? Then you can work in a design department creating book covers and art for the interior of books. If you are fascinated by computers and coding, then you can work in the relatively new and evolving field of ebooks and audiobooks. The publishing industry has a place for every bibliophile out there—even fanfiction writers. The best part? You are getting paid to do it ! My advice to you is to keep calm, follow your dreams, and write fanfiction!

pile of books with no time to read

Getting Published: The Magic of the First Page

So, You Want to Be an Author

You’ve probably spent years of your life hunched over your newest novel, affectionately referring to it as your “baby.” This is the culmination of your life’s work. It’s got it all: an interesting protagonist, a brewing mystery, the perfect romance, and an idyllic setting to ground it all. You’ve eagerly sent it off to all the local publishers who have reputable connections under their belt to launch your dreams of being published. Now you are impatiently waiting for that acceptance letter to hit your inbox.
You finally hear back from those sluggish publishers, and there you see it: rejected. Rejected. And rejected, again. It feels like years of your life have been thrown away like it was a haphazard poem scribbled on a Denny’s napkin, submitted on some drunken whim.

Think Like an Editor

Each year publishers receive thousands of submissions from hopefuls just like you. According to Sophie Playle, a writer for Liminal Pages, publishers receive “between three and ten . . . of thousands” of manuscripts per year. While editors would love to slush through each and every submission for the next best-seller, it just isn’t feasible.
Imagine you’re an editor at one of your local indie publishing houses. A slush pile of submissions stares back at you every day, overflowing your submissions inbox. One of your volunteer readers acquires one manuscript among every fifty; the first page kicks off without much of a bang, and the setting is described in a way that is reminiscent of the pastoral poetry of (way) yester-year. Maybe the volunteer reader has the time to graze the second page. More rolling hills. More “a whole lot of nothing.” The manuscript is tossed into the rejection pile along with eighty to ninety percent of the other submission hopefuls.
Now, imagine you’re an editor for a mid-range publishing house. They’ve got the higher-up connections of your dreams, and a few catchy titles to back them up. Their slush pile is about twice the size, if not more, of the indie publishers’. You pick up a manuscript, eye the lengthy, adjective-laden prose, and off it goes into the rejection pile. You dive into the next submission without a second thought, just waiting for the magic.
Publishers often have volunteer readers perform the preliminary acquisitions process in order to sort through their growing mound of submissions. These readers are typically undergrad or grad students who are engaged with literature in their programs. These readers don’t have time to sift through one hundred pages of every manuscript to wait for the storm to finally brew: if the magic isn’t there from the beginning, forget about it.

Think Like a Reader

According to Michael Shymanski, one of Ooligan’s Acquisitions Managers, think of your first page as the reader’s initial impression, much like “meeting your friend’s spouse for the first time.” First impressions can be insignificant, even disastrous, or they can be absolute magic. If the magic is there, an editor will know it immediately.
It’s no surprise then that pacing is crucial. While you wouldn’t want to jump straight into all the juicy details in the first paragraph, the first impression needs to “hint at an underlying theme,” and demonstrate a “nuance that provides depth to conflict and characters” (Shymanski). You want to give away just enough so that the reader gets a sense of the story’s direction and they can’t wait to continue reading.

Creating the Magic

So how do you create that “magic”? Shymanski suggests that it’s pretty simple: be original. A submission that may need some developmental or copyediting will receive more attention if it’s “beautifully written” and utterly original.
Hammering in on the importance of the first page, Lincoln Michel, author, editor, and Buzzfeed Contributor Extraordinaire, suggests that if your story can’t captivate the editor in the first page, the chances of it capturing a “random reader” are nil. Michel suggests constructing your story backwards if all the action begins on page three hundred.
Don’t be afraid to dive deep into “diversification and experimentation of voice” (Shymanski). Let your characters shine in a new light. Keep your reader craving more. And if the magic is there, maybe that editor will turn the page.
Oh, and please read the publisher’s submission guidelines before you submit your Harry Potter fan fiction to a poetry house.

What Ever Happened to New Adult?

Over a decade ago, readers, authors, and publishers alike started to recognize a widening gap between the young adult and adult fiction genres. While the young adult genre tends to encompass stories targeted towards readers ages twelve to eighteen, adult fiction almost always features thirty-year-olds and older. This left out an entire market of twenty-somethings who wanted their stories told as well. Hence, in 2009, St. Martin’s Press coined the term “new adult” to describe this subgenre of fiction that bridged the gap between YA and adult.

In the following years, the new adult genre saw a surge in popularity, especially in the self-publishing community. However, it was almost immediately written off by major publishers as a marketing gimmick and dismissed as a credible genre. Publishers believed that readers’ needs were already being met through YA and adult books. This led best-selling authors such as Cora Carmack and Jennifer L. Armentrout to go down the self-publishing route in order to get their new adult fiction into readers’ hands.

Although this new genre proved promising in the early 2010s, and even started to become more and more accepted in traditional publishing and bookselling, the genre has fallen off in the last five years. Mentions of the genre have all but disappeared, even though books that technically fit the requirements are still being published by major publishers. Take Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo, or House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas, both published in the last year. Both feature characters in their early to mid-twenties, and both pull elements from YA and adult fiction. Reading them, it’s clear that they don’t quite fit into either category, and instead lie somewhere in the middle. And yet, in both cases, they are marketed not as new adult, but just as adult fiction.

Some of the resistance to using the new adult label has come from the way the genre has been portrayed over the years. When new adult had its first surge of popularity, the majority of books being published and marketed in the genre were romance or erotica. This led to the stereotype that new adult was just “YA but with sex,” and prevented it from truly branching out into other subgenres such as sci-fi and fantasy or thriller and horror. Without being able to break out into other subgenres as YA and adult fiction have both accomplished, new adult is stuck being seen as a small subgenre of adult fiction that encompasses romance books for the twenty-somethings. This failure of the genre is the main reason why it just can’t seem to rise to the same popularity as a genre like YA.

Despite there being a proven market for new adults that are seeking stories about people like them, the genre seems to have failed to truly establish itself as a staple in publishing. Books continue to be published that fit the category, but they are still few and far between, and are refusing the label “new adult.” It is hard to say what the future of this genre looks like, but it seems that for now, the new adult revolution has officially flopped.

Escape with Audiobooks

It goes without saying that self-isolation has been hard on all of us, especially if you had plans to travel somewhere this year. There’s nothing that can truly replace travel experiences, but I’ve been looking for ways to fill the void of that loss. I’ve found myself gravitating toward audiobooks in order to escape. It’s definitely not the same––there’s nothing like the excitement of traveling to a new place and smelling the differences in the air for the first time, or that little thrill you experience when you first step into the sun of a new country––but with audiobooks, I’ve managed to forget for a while that I’m sitting on my couch.

Before self-isolation, I only really listened to audiobooks in the car, but now I find myself listening when cleaning or taking a walk. When I find myself unable to focus on a book, audiobooks allow me to read while I keep my hands busy or just zone out. Sometimes all I need is to have someone else read to me, the words of the story taking on a life of their own with their narration, in order to get out of my slump. So if you’re like me and miss traveling––or merely need to escape your current couch situation––these are some audiobooks to help you escape to a different place.

Explore the Stars with Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Though the characters remain on Earth, there’s nothing mundane about this full cast audiobook. Sleeping Giants explores what it means to be human when a discovery shows that we’re not as alone as we thought.

Discover Family with Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Two girls with no idea the other existed soon find themselves thrown together in shared loss. Suddenly sisters, this novel-in-verse explores what it means to be family. As a bonus, this audiobook is read by the author!

Expand Your Knowledge with Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

After a worldwide apocalyptic flood, Dinétah was reborn in a world where monsters and gods are now real. This urban fantasy explores what it means to confront your past and starts right in the action, so it’s a good one to jump into and you’ll learn more about Dinétah while reading.

Run the Iditarod with Iditarod Nights by Cindy Hiday

Iditarod Nights is an Ooligan title with a little bit of romance and a lot of adventure! If you’re interested in dog sledding and the world of the Iditarod, or if you just want to imagine you’re in a cooler place for a while, Iditarod Nights will let you escape to the cold wilderness of Alaska.

Explore History with Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

This historical fiction novel explores friendship and what people do to survive. It’s set during the Second World War and is a harrowing audiobook of two friends who will do anything to save the other. I recommend it if you enjoy historical fiction.

There are far more audiobooks to explore than the five mentioned here and I urge you to explore your favorite genres. I love finding audiobooks with full casts as they really allow you to truly experience the book. Happy reading!

How Goodreads Helped Me Find My Memories

An unsettling thing happened when I went home to Colorado for the holidays last year. While my family sat around a fire in Summit County, trading stories and recent news, my sister asked me about a time she and I had shared that she remembered vividly.

“You don’t remember that?” She stared at me emphatically, as if asking the question would light the match to the memory that had clearly grown cold and damp in my mind. No such luck. In fact, I couldn’t recall even a portion of the memory she described to me—a memory that wasn’t from too long ago, but distant enough that it’s not tangible anymore, something vaguely familiar.

I don’t know when I started noticing gaps in my memories of things, but it became more pervasive and embarrassing in my early 20s. Large swaths of time suddenly go dark, dissolve from within me. It starts small, with a drive home from a late shift that I couldn’t really describe, to a song that sounded like something I knew but couldn’t pinpoint who it was. People waving and saying, “How are you?” who I didn’t recognize or couldn’t name. Then more of those questions:

“Remember that time?” “What year was that?” “When did you get that tattoo?” Significant portions of my own timeline were missing. I became skilled in leading conversations away from my frustration and increasing anxiety over these lost portions of time. I started leaving myself notes around the apartment.

“Don’t dry the tan, wool shirt!” “Remember your sister’s birthday is on the 13th, CALL HER.” “There is spinach in the fridge, if you don’t eat it, it will go bad and you will feel like a failure again.” While some of these were reminders about small tasks, I started to wonder if this was how my life was just going to be now. The problem for me wasn’t just why I couldn’t remember, but how I could get these memories back.

My partner and I were talking about books we had read in 2019; books that blew us away and books that we wished we had put down sooner. I knew I had read stellar books last year, but I couldn’t pinpoint those titles. I reached for my phone, as many of us who need to remember something right away do, and opened my Goodreads app. My “2019” shelf sat, neatly and chronologically ordered for me to peruse. Month by month, the books I had slogged through and the books that shone brilliantly awakened in my memory, but something else happened too. I began to remember other parts of my life in those months, what I was doing while reading The Song of Achilles, or where I had been sipping a particularly delicious sticky rice tea in Sellwood while devouring La Fronterra in June. One by one, my memories filtered back in, and as I looked further and further through my Goodreads archive, pieces of 2017 and 2016 came together before me.

It turns out, it’s not just me; our memories are getting worse and that’s largely due to the
Google effect, in which the ability to look up or search is so readily available to us that our minds have “decreased dependency on internal memory storage.” I can’t recall the amount of times I’ve been thinking of a word for something or a fact about so-and-so and just Googled it. While I was briefly euphoric at the discovery that Goodreads had carefully catalogued the past three years of my life for me with dates and metadata to support the timeline, I wonder about the accuracy of archival memory. It’s unsettling to consider that memory may become something that lives on a server farm somewhere, susceptible to be infiltrated, altered, or vanished. But there is a rather simple solution: write more. Research has shown that writing things down is essential to memory retention. Perhaps the digital cataloguing of the books I’ve read in some way has captured those memories within the pages of those books. In rereading the titles, I am able to relive those parts of my life with more clarity, and to engage again with my life through the “written” lists of how my past was spent.

Four Haunting Halloween Reads

Halloween is not the first, nor the last, holiday to be derailed by the pandemic this year. Kids won’t plague the streets in search of sugary treats, and festivities might only involve a party of one, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to revel in a devilish spirit. Grab yourself a cup of hot cider, some fun-size candies, and a cozy blanket to settle in with these spooky reads for an evening of fun and fear.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Prepare yourself for a dive into psychological horror. This collection of short stories is a fantastical, mind-bending journey. “Especially Heinous” will disturb you and have you questioning every episode of Law & Order: SVU you have ever watched. “The Inventory” chills you with its human intimacy at the end of the world. In all of her stories, Machado haunts the mind with realism and myths. They will make you feel powerful. They will make you feel lost.

The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Daniel Mallory Ortberg

Perhaps the most unsettling books on this list, The Merry Spinster will keep you up at night, and not for the reasons you expect. Ortberg’s short stories are dark retellings of children’s stories, fairy tales, and folk tales. While the horror in each story is overwhelmingly present, the dissection of gender roles and the feminist twists on classics are what keep your brain churning at night. A princess is someone’s male daughter. A character is given the option to be the husband or the wife. The stories within the collection leave you with more questions than answers. Some people are put off by the lack of concrete concepts, but I believe that the vagueness of it all is entirely the point. The Merry Spinster is an exploration of identities, not a declaration of one.

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

Hauntingly dreamy, Claire Legrand’s latest standalone novel is a ferocious, femme-forward horror story. Everything about the island of Sawkill Rock is perfect: rolling pastures are punctuated with sleek horses, the dark sea crashes up to meet picturesque cliffs, rich people populate the island in their opulent houses. Everything is great except for the legends of an insidious monster roaming the land—oh, and the decades of missing girls. Three girls are tangled together on a journey to transform their fears into power as they unravel the mystery of what exactly haunts Sawkill Rock and what happened to all of those missing girls. What pleases me most, in addition to the lesbian romantic representation, is the asexual romance. Ace-rep is not something commonly found in popular novels. I was delighted for people to have a chance to feel seen and represented in mainstream young adult fiction.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Let me just sum it up for you: lesbian necromancers in space. This book is my personal favorite on the list. I don’t know how Tamsyn Muir did it, but she has crafted a masterpiece of skeletons, swordplay, and mystique. Harrowhark (Harrow) Nonagesimus, heir to the Ninth House, is invited to the First House of the Emperor to participate in a series of tests of wit and skill. If she and the other heirs survive, they will have a chance to become powerful immortal servants of the Resurrection. None of this will be possible for Harrow without her reluctant cavalier, Gideon. Determined to escape the Ninth House forever and leave Harrow to rot underground with her skeletons, Gideon is roped into Harrow’s trials with the promise of eventual freedom. As the two of them explore the haunted gothic mansion of the First House, deadly secrets spill out and a mystery unfolds. The great news is that if you pick this book up today you don’t even need to wait for the sequel, which arrived on shelves August 2020.

Preparing Authors for Digital Readings

Reading is often a solitary experience, but it becomes a social experience when we attend an event where we get to see authors read their work live. One of the most common ways that publishers and authors promote their books is by holding readings. These events can take place digitally or in person, but are becoming increasingly popular as digital occurrences. In light of the global pandemic of 2020, we learned just how valuable it can be to have a strong digital reading event.

Although digital readings are great opportunities for publicity, it can be daunting when a digital event is one of the only events that will occur, as was the case for many events for debut authors in early 2020. With all of that pressure, how can publishers get their authors ready for these events? What is the best way for an author to prepare for an online reading?

First, the basics. What will they read? The author probably has a good idea of what selections may read well. In general, the passage should be engaging, and involve some kind of mini plot or character arc. It should sound beautiful and read naturally out loud, without dragging on and on. Dialogue is a great thing to include, but too much can be confusing to the audience, as the “he said, she said” can be hard to follow.

Next, how will they read it? They’ll need to practice. While it might not be poetry, a reading is still a performance of sorts. The author will need to take time to run through the reading aloud, noting where to place special emphasis, change pacing, use a different voice, or make minor changes to the text in order to ensure audiences will be able to follow along, as they may not have a copy in front of them. This can also help sharpen their focus and aid in creating smooth transitions. This practice is also a time to make decisions about what kind of background would be fitting for the reading, what they will choose to wear, and how they will handle possible distractions like children, sirens, or pets (if the reading is occurring in their home).

And finally, where will they read it? Authors and publishers should spend time getting to know the platform they’ll be using. Whether it’s Instagram Live, a large Zoom call, or a recorded reading, time must be spent familiarizing oneself with the ins and outs of the technical aspects of the software. Several tests should be run prior to the real deal, and everyone should have a contingency plan for troubleshooting technical issues. What if the audio cuts out? What if the dog barks? What if there is a disruptive audience member? Things can and will go wrong, and having a plan for how to deal with it can both save everyone from embarrassment as well as give everyone involved a sense of confidence.

Nailing down the what, where, and how of the reading will prepare the author to have the most successful, stress-free online event possible. This will be especially necessary as book marketing moves online. As debut author Kevin Nguyen said in a New York Times interview on the way book publicity is shifting to an online presence, “…there’s an opportunity here, if we can all figure it out…I’m hoping these hurdles can encourage us to think about how book promotion can be reinvented.”

Ooligan in Quarantine: Our Best Titles Paired with the Rooms of Your Home

We are tired of our dwellings. The COVID-19 quarantine has given us house fatigue and has made our precious casas mundane. But what if I told you there was a new way to look at your house? A path—no, a tour—that would help you see your humble abode with fresh eyes?

After minutes of research into our Ooligan titles, I’ve paired each book with a topographical feature of the modern American home. We’ve already endured many weeks of social distancing—during which we’ve learned new recipes or drunk our entire wine cellar—and this tour will provide you with the entertainment and intellectual stimulation you’ll need to get you through the rest of your time at home.

Kitchen: The Widmer Way by Jeff Alworth
According to George Costanza, the kitchen is the most sociable room in the house. But why not learn a little bit about the history of the beer industry with Jeff Alworth’s The Widmer Way: How Two Brothers Led Portland’s Craft Beer Revolution? It’ll catch you up on Portland’s craft beer scene and how Widmer’s Hefeweizen became Portland’s unofficial beer. So stay inside and “sociable” with a few pints and this read.

Living Room: Odsburg by Matt Tompkins
In what might be the quirkiest book on our frontlist, Tompkins takes us to the fictional Pacific Northwest town of Odsburg to experience strange tales and eccentric characters. While you won’t find Odsburg on a map, Tompkins fills the book with entertaining short tales and pokes fun at PNW tropes. “The entire book,” according to Locus Magazine, “is full of strange and inventive ideas.” So strange and original you’ll read long into the night.

Bathtub: The Names We Take by Trace Kerr
Coming in May 2020: you in your bathtub with a bunch of bubbles, reading this book by candlelight. In the wake of a devastating plague (stay with me), our characters must fend for themselves and stick together. This book is a perfect match for our time in quarantine. This may take a few sessions, so settle into that bubble bath and soak up a speculative-fiction story with a premise that might not be too far off in the future.

Dining Room: The Portland Red Guide by Michael Munk
A great conversation piece, The Portland Red Guide plots Portland with walking tours and guides readers through the city’s rich history of radical social dissent. Break bread (with yourself) and celebrate a town of ideas and activism, but also plot your next city activity for when our COVID-19 quarantine finally lifts.

Porch/Backyard: 50 Hikes in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests by the Sierra Club Oregon Chapter
Speaking of planning, pick a bright spring day and a refreshing drink to help you select your next trail. With a wide selection of day hikes between Portland and the coast that range in difficulty, this guide has something for everyone. Summer is right around the corner, so get planning.

Office/Study: Elephant Speak by Melissa Crandall
One of our more recent releases, Elephant Speak is a nonfiction book that dives into one man’s career caring for our favorite pachyderms. Rated 5/5 by the San Francisco Book Review for its clarity and “wealth of information,” this book is one to dwell on and ruminate over as we get a behind-the-scenes look at a zoo through Roger Henneous’s eyes.

Bedroom: Iditarod Nights by Cindy Hiday
In Ooligan’s first romance (brought to you in partnership with our friends at the Multnomah County Library Writers Project), Cindy Hiday takes us to Alaska, where two wandering souls enter the famed Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in pursuit of healing and redemption. In this adventure near the Arctic, the two must navigate the treacherous path as their own paths intertwine. This is no snoozefest, but rather a steamy journey for your nightstand.

(Bonus) A More Optimistic Post-Quarantine Future: Rethinking Paper & Ink by Jessie Carver and Natalie Guidry
When we emerge from quarantine into a bright future, Rethinking Paper & Ink will give us a look into sustainable publishing. Bright, informative, and perfect for reading outside, this book is an optimistic title and a step toward a healthier future for our planet.

The end (of quarantine) is nigh, but instead of completing Netflix or thinking you’re actually going to get to your Duolingo, break up your time inside with a few Ooligan titles of various genres. Happy reading and stay inside.

Editing for Grammarians and Grammarphobes

When you work as an editor, you become familiar with a veritable library full of texts to help you hone your craft and sharpen your expertise. Whether you’re a die-hard fan of Strunk and White’s classic Elements of Style or whether you prefer a more modern approach to the field like that of Carol Fisher Saller’s The Subversive Copy Editor, you will have no trouble finding the right title for your skill level and preferences.

But what if you’re not an editor and you want to learn about editing anyway? Maybe you’re looking to polish your resume or cover letter. Maybe you want to brush up on all the grammar you forgot from elementary or high school. Maybe you just like learning about English, and that’s that. If this sounds like you, the aforementioned texts might not quite fit the bill.

Not to fear! For grammar experts and novices alike, compiled here is a short list of books dedicated to presenting the particulars of the English language in an accessible, engaging, and fun (yes, fun!) way. The following books are written by experts who can appeal to both seasoned editors and to a more general audience who wants to get better at writing on a technical level without falling asleep in the process.

  1. Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris

    A copyeditor and proofreader at the New Yorker since 1978, Mary Norris has certainly earned the title of comma queen. This book, published in 2015, suits novice editors particularly well because Norris takes a distinctly kind and humble approach to edifying her audience. Rather than feeling like an academic text, this book reads like a memoir full of funny personal stories from Norris’s career with short, grammatical lessons interwoven with subtlety and care. Most importantly, Norris’s tone is sympathetic rather than pedantic so as not to exclude any potential readers, no matter how much experience with grammar they may have. To entice the more experienced grammarian, she takes a critical and fresh approach to some long-held grammatical rules (e.g., arguing that “between you and I” is, in fact, never correct—between you and me, I think she’s right).
  2. Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer

    For those of us looking for something slightly more academic but no less entertaining, this book is just the thing. As the copy chief and managing editor at Random House since 2008, Dreyer has copyedited numerous titles and has perfected the distillation of some of language’s most complex concepts into short, engaging tidbits. In this book, published in 2019, he uses personal stories, current events, and useful examples to illustrate his points. One such example is his suggestion to plug the phrase “by zombies” into the end of a sentence to determine whether it is in the active or passive voice. If it sounds like the zombies did it, it’s passive. The takeaway from this one is that the true aim of correct grammar is clarity of meaning, not being a snob.
  3. Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O’Conner

    The final title in this list is a classic that has demystified English grammar in a super engaging and entertaining way since the publication of its first edition in 1996. O’Conner’s Woe Is I was perhaps one of the first of its kind, a brave renegade seeking to bring the joys of correct spelling and punctuation to the masses. In it, O’Conner both coins the glorious term “grammarphobe” and seeks to make the minutiae of English something even grammarphobes themselves can enjoy.

What all these books have in common (aside from the use of colons in their extra-long titles) is their dedication to making the traditionally stuffy or elitist world of editing accessible to anyone interested in it. So whether you are an experienced editor or just someone looking for a fun, educational read about language, these titles are a great place to start.