Photoshopped cat sitting on a couch in front of a bookshelf in the background, with a girl reading a book in the foreground.

Nonfiction Titles That Read Like Fiction

As someone who finds comfort in fiction, nonfiction can be a difficult genre to tackle. As a reader, I get nervous when someone mentions a nonfiction title because I associate the genre with the need to provide an overwhelming amount of information. After years of insisting that nonfiction “simply doesn’t resonate with me,” I stumbled upon a certain memoir that changed the game. These are the four titles I found myself thinking about long after I had finished them. Please check for trigger warnings on these titles as they all have serious and/or graphic content.

  • I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
  • This book inspired the making of this list! Like many of her readers, I grew up watching Jennette McCurdy and only picked up the book to learn more about her time on TV. I didn’t expect to feel like I was standing right next to her through it all, because that had never really happened for me with a nonfiction title before. McCurdy shows readers the horrific reality of being a child star and the effects it has had on her mental health to this day. This book covers some extremely sensitive content and McCurdy somehow manages to make it hilarious. This was my favorite release of 2022 because it introduced a brand-new genre and got me reading titles I wouldn’t normally gravitate towards.

  • Wasted by Marya Hornbacher
  • This title is not for the weak of heart. Wasted follows Hornbacher through her life as she struggles through various traumatic events and eating disorders. I initially picked this up as an educational resource on mental health and honestly didn’t expect it to be a page turner. But alas, I was wrong. Hornbacher’s emotional yet blunt language puts you directly into her head during some of the worst times of her life.

  • Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
  • If the stories above are a little too intense, but you still want something that pulls at the same heart strings, Everything I Know About Love is your next read. Journalist Dolly Alderton gives us an all-telling glimpse into her life as she navigates work, friendship, and love through the ages. With each age, comes a new curated list about what she’s learned.

    If you like the book, there’s also a TV show that was released in 2022 based on it!

  • Elephant Speak: A Devoted Keeper’s Life Among the Herd by Melissa Crandall
  • For readers not looking for a coming-of-age title but a heartwarming read instead, Elephant Speak: A Devoted Keeper’s Life Among the Herd should make its way on your TBR. An educational, but also riveting account of senior elephant keeper Roger Henneous and the thirty years he spent at the Oregon Zoo. Crandall met Roger while volunteering at the zoo and stated in her author’s note that,”His devotion to the elephants in his care, and their obvious love for him, affected me so profoundly that twenty years later I searched him out and asked to write his life’s story.”

    The autism infinity symbol.

    How to Write Autistic Characters

    Note: The author of this blog post is autistic and was diagnosed as an adult. I do not claim to speak for all autistic people and experiences; this blog post is solely to provide information on autism and how to write autistic characters. The information in this post comes from my own experiences, those I am in community with, and my research.

    Autism is a spectrum with many traits and personality types; it’s not a one size fits all diagnosis, yet what is shown of autism in popular media are typically negative stereotypes of autism: bluntness, a lack of empathy, abrasiveness, among others.

    When you think of autism, what characters come to mind? Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory (fairly bad representation), Maybe Shaun Murphy from The Good Doctor (could be better, but not the worst representation)? Both of these characters lack empathy and emotion, and tend to be so blunt that they come off as offensive. While some autistic people do have issues with empathy, not all of us are like that. If you want to know more about autism and writing authentic autistic characters, or how to spot them, read on! I’ve also included a list of books with diverse autistic representation that I recommend!

    Diversity in Demographics

    One of the stereotypes surrounding autism is that all autistic people are little boys. Males are more likely to receive an autism diagnosis, especially as a child or before eighteen, as their typical traits match the diagnostic criteria, but autism presents itself in all genders and races. Autism presents itself differently in all genders, and autistic people can be people of color, queer, and/or gender diverse.

    A lot of people assigned female at birth get an autism diagnosis in their teen years or as adults, as the signs go unnoticed in childhood. Additionally, autism doesn’t just disappear as people age. Some autistic people mask (or hide) their autistic traits as they get older, but autism never goes away. As Elizabeth Bartmess of the blog Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism says, “A given autistic person will have their own individual configuration of neurological differences, associated life experiences, and related skills and strategies; they will also have a particular life history surrounding their and others’ knowledge (or lack of knowledge) that they’re autistic, which may or may not include a formal diagnosis and/or misdiagnoses.”

    Traits Associated with Autism

    Every autistic person has different traits. Some of the most common ones are sensory issues, language and speech differences, social skills, and a tendency to have special interests. Some autistic people have severe sensory issues, like sensitivity to sound and texture, and we all have different ways of processing these differences and dealing with them, like stimming. Stimming isn’t just rocking back and forth or hand flapping, but those are two popular ways to stim. Other types of stims include using fidget toys and needing deep pressure (tight hugs, hitting oneself). Sometimes, extremely adverse reactions to sound and other senses happen, which is called sensory overload or overstimulation, which can lead to anxiety, panic attacks, or “melting down,” which can look like a tantrum, but isn’t.

    A lot of autistic people experience difficulties speaking, which is called being nonverbal or going nonverbal. Some autistic people are 100 percent nonverbal, some speak a little bit, and some experience periods of going nonverbal. For me, when I’m burnt out or experiencing sensory overload, I can sometimes go nonverbal because it physically hurts to talk. Some autistic people experience auditory processing issues as well, and some prefer using text to communicate over speaking.

    Autism usually affects our social skills; our brains work differently, so socializing works differently for a lot of us. A lot of us prefer direct communication and have a hard time understanding sarcasm or hints. Eye contact can also be difficult, but it isn’t for everyone. Controlling volume while speaking and filters when speaking are other things autistic people may struggle with, but don’t always.

    Every autistic person is different and will have different experiences and traits. While we are conditioned to enjoy structure and routine, we do also grow as people; your autistic characters should, too. Your characters don’t have to exhibit all of these traits, but they can have some. For more information on creating autistic characters and spotting good autistic representation, see this autism resource.

    Finally, below is a list of books with good autistic representation to add to your TBR!

    • You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle
    • On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis
    • Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
    • The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester by Maya MacGregor
    • Please Don’t Hug Me by Kay Kerr
    • The KC Warlock Weekly: Accused by M.N. Jolley
    • The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews
    • Even if We Break by Marieke Nijkamp
    • Things I Should Have Known by Claire La Zebnik
    • When My Heart Joins the Thousand by A.J. Steiger
    • Stim: An Autism Anthology by Lizzie Huxley-Jones
    photograph of New York City from above the Empire State Building at night

    Some Might Say It’s Too Big: How To Identify the Size of a Press

    In book publishing, we hear about the sizes of presses often. The “Big Five” are the biggest publishers in the United States. The term “small press” is used synonymously with “small business”; especially in a book town like Portland, readers like to support the little guys. When I visited Scotland with Ooligan Press last year, I was introduced to the idea of a “micro press.” And then “medium press” is thrown in there somewhere.

    How are size designations for trade publishing presses made? Is bigger better? Does size really matter?

    I had to confront these questions for my senior research project, which has to do with profit and loss statements (P&Ls). I won’t get too much into P&Ls here; that’s a whole other opportunity for a blog topic. All you have to know is that my project is about comparing different presses’ P&Ls, and one of the factors that I’m interested in for my comparison is how the sizes of the presses affect the structure of the P&Ls. So I had to determine the sizes of each press that I reached out to. Notably, I limited my scope to trade book publishers in the US, and the following categorizations were made specifically with that group in mind.

    There’s no hard-and-fast rule for dictating a press’s size, so I broadened my scope when I was searching for answers. Since book publishing is a business, I decided to search for what constituted a small business in the US. I found that the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy qualifies any book publisher with less than one thousand employees as “small,” while the United States Census Bureau includes the categorization of “very small” to describe any given enterprise and reverts back to the general 500+ employees for a large enterprise.

    Ideally, “size” would include the size of a publisher’s influence rather than just the size of its workforce. Another factor that would better indicate size would be the press’s net profit However, influence is much more difficult to quantify than the number of employees, and most presses’ profits are not available for free to the public. Therefore, I have combined the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) and US Census’s guidelines to develop these qualifiers:

    1. 1,000+ employees = large publisher
    2. 200–999 employees = medium publisher
    3. 100–199 employees = small publisher
    4. < 100 employees = micro publisher

    When the SBA’s and the US Census’s guidance no longer sufficed, I made the decisions on where to draw the parameters based on businesses in the US as a whole. In publishing, the majority of organizations that could be considered trade presses would fall under the category of micro based on the way I have categorized them here (86 percent of the trade presses I reached out to fall under “micro”), and the number of large publishers in the US is only six (the Big Five plus Scholastic). This categorization also doesn’t take into account the presses whose employees can be counted on two hands. Even so, very few of the micro publishers on my list even came close to approaching the next bracket, and that was my goal: to make parameters that would effectively encompass the general size of other presses in its group.

    Other size categorizations could be valid depending on what specifications are used to create the labels. Some folks may consider the size of the backlist, the renown of authors in the frontlist, or the identity of the press’s founder to be indicative of size, but there really isn’t much discourse on the topic—probably because it only matters for research or legal purposes. Small businesses can get funded and be marketed differently than larger businesses because they don’t have as much cash flow. This is why I was interested in size for my research; a press with less resources may not have as robust of a P&L.

    In other words, it’s not about the size of the press; it’s about the quality of the books. And support small presses! They have really great personalities.

    black and white photo of a desk with laptop, pens, comic images on paper, books about comics editing

    What Have I Done: Acquiring Ooligan’s First Comic Book

    I was asked recently how I felt having acquired Ooligan Press’ first comic book. I meant to say excited or hopeful, or perhaps confident. What came out of my mouth surprised me and elicited laughter from the roomful of editors I was addressing. “I’m terrified,” I answered. And it was the honest to goodness truth.

    In theory, bringing Ooligan into the world of comics makes perfect sense. Portland has a thriving comics community with several well-known, successful publishers based here. Many of our alums have gone on to work for these houses. Portland State University has a Comics Studies program. And above all, we are a learning press. Producing a comic presents tremendous learning opportunities to supplement the skills we’ve gained producing books for trade publication, particularly in the editing, digital, and design departments. So then why am I terrified? I’m glad you asked.

    When people learn about what we’re doing, entering the world of comics with no experience, with only logical reasoning and a sincere desire to learn spurring us on, I generally get two reactions: enthusiastic delight or doubtful dissuasion. Either way, you’re facing something unsettling. Those who love comics and think it’s great for us to infiltrate this industry could wind up disappointed. And those who think we should stick to what we know because we’re going to fall flat on our faces going down this hostile road could wind up being right! For transparency’s sake, and to reassure our supporters and, maybe not silence, but soften our critics, let me share with you how seriously we are taking this.

    Before the pitch, I consulted with our publisher and the director of the publishing program, and together, we consulted with the director of the Comics Studies program, Dr. Susan Kirtley. She provided guidance and resources and agreed that this project would be a great educational opportunity for our departments to work collaboratively. I also consulted with an editor at Dark Horse, who graduated from the publishing program a few years ago, for my first lesson on comics editing. It became apparent after speaking with them and a few other experts that I was in over my head! All of these experts, while incredibly supportive, warned of the dire consequences of not doing this right. Comics makers and readers are passionate about the craft and will take you to task when you get it wrong. But that simply meant I had a lot to learn and little time to learn it, so I got right to work despite the fear creeping in.

    During and after acquisition, we have been working with the author, Henry L. Miller, to raise funds to pay for the intensive illustration work (it costs a lot of money). Artist Jeff Parker will be illustrating this project, and he is an incredibly skilled, experienced professional, who is lovely to work with. He didn’t shame me or make me feel bad for being new to comics, or not knowing the difference between a word balloon (it’s balloon, not bubble) and a caption box. His willingness and ability to work with a first time author and an amateur comics editor is the only reason we were able to take on this new medium as a press.

    Aside from reading a bunch of comics and books about comics, I’m also taking the Comics Editing course at PSU, taught this term by comics editor extraordinaire, Shelly Bond, who literally wrote the book on the subject. Not only have I learned about the rules, about word balloons and caption boxes, panels, tiers, and gutters, shots and angles, roughs, pencillers, letterers, inkers, and all the rest; I’ve also learned about creating harmony, among your creative team as well as on the page.

    What does this all mean for Ooligan’s first foray into comics? Well, I’ll be passing along what I’ve learned to the person taking over the editorial role after I graduate in June. And continued collaboration with the Comics Studies program, particularly the editing course, will be highly encouraged if the press doesn’t want this first comic to be our last. After all, there’s a changing of the guard every year. Thankfully many students are participating in both programs just to be part of this project, which is a promising sign!

    So what have I done acquiring Ooligan’s first comic? I can honestly say I have done my best.

    a group of six people standing shoulder to shoulder in a conference hall

    Expanding My Understanding of Publishing at the PubWest Conference

    Although I’ve been learning a lot about the different facets of publishing at Ooligan Press and in the Book Publishing Program, I wanted to learn more. So, when I heard the 2023 PubWest Conference was happening in Seattle, I jumped at the chance to attend.

    The Publishers Association of the West (PubWest) is dedicated to offering professional education, providing publishing-related benefits, creating opportunities for members and associate members to do business, speaking as an advocate for members, recognizing outstanding achievement in publishing, and providing a forum for networking to their publishing and associate members from across the United States and Canada. Founded in 1977 as the Rocky Mountain Book Publishers Association, the association initially focused on supporting publishers in the West; it now consists of members across the US and Canada and even overseas.

    This year’s PubWest Conference was unique in that it overlapped with The Book Manufacturers’ Institute’s (BMI) Book Manufacturing Mastered Conference. BMI supports book manufacturing leaders in their work to drive the promotion, efficiency, and growth of book markets for readers and educators in North America. Established in 1933, BMI’s early roots are connected to the “Employing Bookbinders of America” which started out in the early 1900s as a group of bookbinders in the city of New York.

    Being a collaboration between BMI and PubWest, the theme of this year’s conference was, fittingly, collaboration.

    Kicking off the conference was a panel on Book Manufacturing in 2023 and Beyond. The panel consisted of Angela Engel (The Collective Book Studio), Bill Rojack (Midland Paper), Joe Upton (Gasch Printing), Tim Hewitt (Friesens), and Moderator Matt Baehr (BMI). My knowledge of the production side of making books was severely lacking, so this panel was incredibly illuminating. I knew peripherally about supply chain issues caused by the pandemic, but I hadn’t realized how drastically the process of manufacturing books has changed. Book manufacturing capacity peaked in 2000, and it’s now 75 percent less than pre-2000. Seventy-five percent less! Capacity, scarcity of supply, decreased options, and labor issues were all discussed. The key takeaway from the panel was that publishers and printers are partners and they need to communicate, collaborate, and make compromises for everyone to get what they need.

    Being interested in marketing and publicity, I attended a workshop on How to Read Your Market. The panel consisted of Joe Biel (Microcosm Publishing), Richard T. Williams (Independent Publishers Group), Robert Sindelar (Third Place Books), Bob Durgy (BR Printers) and moderator, Sidney Thompson (Independent Publishers Group). Topics that were discussed included Amazon, brand, fandom, niche markets, the impact of the pandemic, and the impact of the changes in book manufacturing. Again, it was awesome to hear from not only publishers but also printers and booksellers on the trials and tribulations of the book industry.

    I was particularly interested to see the results of the PubWest Book Design Awards. As the current publicity manager, I’m responsible for submitting our books for awards, and I had submitted one of Ooligan’s titles for the adult trade non-illustrated category. I was disappointed that our title didn’t win, but the competition was fierce. So many excellent, innovative, and beautiful books were featured at the awards and passed around the audience.

    I also appreciated attending Indigenous Voices, a panel on indigenous publishing featuring Terri Mack (Strong Nations Publishing) and Tess Olympia (Sealaska Heritage Institute) and moderated by Doug Symington (Friesens). It was inspiring to see the work that Terri Mack had done with Strong Nations Publishing. The advice she had for publishers was to take great care and have attentiveness with indigenous books—from pairing cover artists from the same communities as authors to making sure permissions are granted for the stories being published. Tess Olympia was equally inspiring with her work at the Sealaska Heritage Institute. Among other contributions, they have substantially increased literacy in Alaskan communities through the Baby Raven Reads program.

    The conference ended with Speedy Spiels, in which eight speakers had six minutes each to speak to the topic of collaboration. It was a riot! Some gave quick presentations, some sang, and one speaker even did a magic trick. It was a great way to end the conference.

    Getting in-person insight into the behind the scenes of publishing and mixing and mingling with book professionals was a fantastic experience. It’s a truly special industry and kind of magical when you think about it: all the hard work, creativity, ingenuity, artistry, craftsmanship, editorial insight, marketing, publicity, the blood, sweat, tears, and love—everything—that goes into making books.

    photo of two lane highway with ocean on one side, steep hill on the other

    West Coast Road Trip Guide: Bookstore Edition!

    On the West Coast, summer is the best time of the year. There is so much to explore and it can be easy to get overwhelmed when deciding what hot spots to visit in a new town or city. Personally, I love going to independent bookstores on my road trips. In the same way that Powell’s is an essential Portland experience, a hometown bookstore can help you feel like a local in a new place. As you travel up and down Highway 1 or 101 this summer, here are some bookstores you won’t want to miss:

    • Seattle, Washington
    • Driving Distance = About Three Hours North of Portland

    Seattle has so many amazing independent bookstores to visit that I couldn’t pick just one. My favorites are The Elliot Bay Book Company, Lamplight Books, and Queen Anne Book Company.

    • Gold Beach, Oregon
    • Driving Distance = About Five and-a-half Hours South of Portland

    In my very biased opinion, the Oregon Coast has some of the most beautiful beaches and scenic overlooks in America. If a coastal road trip is not yet on your summer to-do list, it needs to be. If you venture all the way south to the California border, you’ll reach the town of Gold Beach, Oregon. Gold Beach Books & Art Gallery is an art gallery, a coffee shop, and a bookstore with a wide selection of new, used, and rare books.

    • San Francisco, California
    • Driving Distance = About Ten Hours Away from Portland
    • (Direct) Flight Time = About Two Hours

    City Lights Booksellers & Publishers in San Francisco is, as you’ve probably gathered, both a bookstore and a publishing house. On their website, City Lights explains, “The press is known and respected for its commitment to innovative and progressive ideas, and its resistance to forces of conservatism and censorship.” Pick up a new book and head to the Presidio of San Francisco, a beautiful park where you can read and enjoy a breathtaking view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

    • Santa Cruz, California
    • Driving Distance = About Eleven Hours Away from Portland

    About one-and-a-half hours south of San Francisco, Santa Cruz is a charming surfing city that you won’t want to miss. After a day of riding the roller coasters on the iconic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and enjoying ice cream from Marianne’s, it will be time to curl up on the beach with a good book. Bookshop Santa Cruz is in the middle of downtown and the perfect place to pick up a beach read.

    • Santa Barbara, California
    • (Direct) Flight Time = About Two Hours

    Santa Barbara is beautiful and one of my favorite places in the world. Chaucer’s Bookstore is located on State Street in the middle of the lovely downtown area. Pick up a good book then stop by McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams for the best ice cream in the world.

    • Los Angeles, California
    • (Direct) Flight Time = About Two Hours and Fifteen Minutes

    Aptly named, The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles will be the last stop on our West Coast bookstore tour. The Last Bookstore feels just as cavernous as Powell’s Books and will be the perfect place for a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of LA. According to their website, The Last Bookstore is “California’s largest used and new book and record store,” so it will be the perfect place to end your summer road trip.


    South Asian woman in a green and yellow dress reading a book with legs crossed on a bench outside between two trees

    Spotlight on South Asian Literature: Five Books by Indian Americans

    In this blog, I wanted to highlight the voices of Indian Americans, a subgroup of Asian Americans that often gets overlooked. Although Indian Americans are often remembered as an afterthought when people think about the Asian American community, they are a sizable and growing part of the community. As of 2019, 4.6 million Indian Americans live in the United States, more than two times the population of 1.9 million in 2000. Indian Americans are an important part of the Asian American community and it’s past time that their literary contributions are recognized.

    I have selected five works of fiction published by authors of Indian origin who grew up or are living in the US. I chose these titles with an eye towards covering a wide range of genres that were published relatively recently. These selections are not meant to be comprehensive and are shaped by my own subjective literary taste. I hope you will find something that piques your interest and give one of these titles a try!

    1) The Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara (2022)

    Genre: Literary Fiction, Satire, Dystopian, Historical Fiction

    Vara’s genre-bending debut is a sweeping epic told through three timelines in alternating chapters: the tale of a Dalit clan in early independent India, the success story of an immigrant in 1980s America, and a dystopian future with a corporatized government. The Immortal King Rao is an ambitious novel that explores many challenging questions that our technologically advanced society faces today while also weaving in themes of family lore and love. Vara resides in Colorado.

    2) You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins (2017)

    Genre: Realistic Young Adult (YA)

    This YA novel follows five women in the same Bengali family from the 1960s to the present day. The character-driven story is told in alternating teen voices across three generations and follows the struggles of these young women as they navigate the everyday struggles of race, identity, friendships, crushes, and relationships with each other. Perkins is currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    3) Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel (2022)

    Genre: Fantasy, Mythology

    Kaikeyi is a retelling of the Ramayana , one of the great epic poems of India. Reviewers have compared Kaikeyi favorably to Madeline Miller’s Circe. Patel’s feminist retelling puts the traditionally reviled queen at the center and portrays her in a more compassionate light by articulating the pressures of manipulative gods and the patriarchal society she must have faced. Patel grew up in the Chicago area.

    4) The Perfumist of Paris by Alka Joshi (2023)

    Genre: Historical Fiction

    While working for a master perfumer, Radha discovers that she has a rare talent of being able to detect each layer of scent in a perfume. However, Radha finds herself caught between her desire to work and her husband’s desire for her to stay at home with their daughters. When a dark secret comes to light, the life she has carefully built for herself threatens to fall apart. Joshi resides in Pacific Grove, California.

    5) If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi by Neel Patel (2018)

    Genre: Literary Fiction, Short Stories

    In this defiant collection of eleven short but meaty stories narrated by Indian Americans, Patel’s characters wrestle with relationships that fall apart from marriages to families to friendships. Patel’s compelling characters rebel against the familial expectations placed upon them, make the wrong decisions, and subvert readers’ expectations while resisting model minority stereotypes. Patel lives in Los Angeles.

    The sun setting over the St. John's Bridge, a large, blue-green suspension bridge.

    Book Genres and the Best Portland Parks To Read Them In

    If there’s anything Portlanders can agree on, it’s that we love our green space. Take a stroll within any one of Portland’s whopping 154 Parks and you’re sure to notice all kinds of park-goers: the picnickers, the dog walkers, the bubble blowers, the spikeballers . . . but keep your senses tuned and you’ll notice the quiet force of another kind of park-goer: the readers. Usually tucked beneath the shadiest trees with a cozy blanket and perhaps a few snacks, these bookworms understand the importance of a beautiful environment when it comes to enjoying literature. But with so many parks to choose from—all with their own unique flair and personalities—how are Portlanders supposed to decide where to bring their newest literary conquest? Good news! I’ve compiled a list of popular book genres and the Portland parks they can be best enjoyed at. The next time you crave that fresh pacific air and a cozy reading session, you can easily decide where to head.

    Romance: Laurelhurst Park

    From the nervous first date by the pond to the couple pushing the boundaries on PDA, one lap around Laurelhurst Park is all you need to see that romance is simply in the air there. It’s not a far stretch to imagine your own beloved protagonists strolling through the park’s regal pathways or the historic winding streets of the surrounding Laurelhurst neighborhood–making this park the perfect fit for your newest romance read.

    Classics: Washington Park

    As one of the oldest and largest parks in Portland, Washington Park in northwest Portland provides the sense of history and drama requisite for enjoying a good classic. Dust off your favorite Brontë or Steinbeck and head to this Portland favorite to make those classic stories come alive in a new way.

    Sci-Fi: Elizabeth Caruthers Park

    If you’re looking for a futuristic vibe in Portland (though some may argue that’s an Oxymoron), look no further than Elizabeth Caruthers Park. Positioned beneath the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) sky tram and the tall, modern, glassy buildings of the Southwest Waterfront, this park calls to mind many popular sci-fi themes, such as technology, healthcare, artificial intelligence, and dystopia.

    Children’s: Westmoreland Park

    If there’s a little one in your life, packing up your favorite children’s books and heading to Westmoreland Park in Portland’s Sellwood-Westmoreland neighborhood is a must. Let the kiddos get some energy out playing on this park’s beautiful nature-based playground and then settle down with a cozy, educational read (bonus points for nature themes in the book itself).

    Poetry: Peninsula Park

    Peninsula Park in north Portland is home to a public rose garden, a gorgeous fountain, and a historical bandstand. The park’s stunning landscaping and historic architecture create a cerebral quality perfect for enjoying poetry both old and new.

    Literary Fiction: Cathedral Park

    The sophisticated, serene nature of Cathedral Park makes it a perfect place for literary fiction lovers to crack the code on their latest lyrical masterpiece. Situated in the St. Johns neighborhood directly under the majestic St. Johns Bridge, this park is also the perfect place to capture the obligatory #Bookstagram story featuring the gorgeous, artful covers associated with the genre.

    Nonfiction: Mt. Tabor Park

    We’ve gone a little broad here, but at 176 acres in size, Mt. Tabor Park in southeast Portland has enough room for a whole host of nonfiction titles. That being said, the best fit might be nonfiction titles about geology, geography, or geochemistry. Mt. Tabor is actually a volcanic cinder cone. The more you know!

    While we can’t come close to hitting each book genre or each of Portland’s many parks, hopefully this guide can be a jumping off point next time you decide to take your reading to the great outdoors. The perfect book-park pairing is sure to enhance your reading experience and provide a wonderful way to explore our city’s vast array of unique parks and green spaces. Happy reading!

    I heart New York umbrella over rainy city street

    Sorry New York, Not Everyone❤️s You: It’s Time for Publishing to Diversify

    New York has long been the hub of the publishing industry. Even in the wake of COVID-19 and the realization that much of what we do can be done remotely, that NY-centric state of mind does not seem to be changing. I am months away from graduating with a master’s degree in Book Publishing from Portland State University, so I’ve been doing my research into the publishing job market and most roads lead to New York.

    While conducting my research, I came across dozens of articles with titles like, “Can You Afford to Live in New York City?” or, “Cost of Living in New York City”. Never mind the crowds of people, the crime, or the cat-sized rat problem: what it comes down to for most people when considering relocation to New York is the cost. It is highly competitive in terms of the housing and job markets, with one-third of renters spending 50 percent of their income on housing, and huge markups on just about everything else. The articles say it’s possible to survive if you live frugally, choose a less desirable neighborhood, and live with roommates. And make at least $40k per year after taxes: not easy to do when New Yorkers pay some of the highest taxes in the country which include federal, state, and city income taxes. Another fun fact, the average landlord makes you prove you make forty times the monthly rent. Want to guess what the average entry-level publishing job pays? Not enough. Think of how many talented, qualified people with diverse lived experiences this keeps out of the industry, simply because they do not have the economic or social capital to enter it.

    Those NY-averse publishing professionals among us are no strangers to the grind. We are willing to hustle and sacrifice to do the work we love. But how much sacrifice is enough? Personally, aside from becoming impoverished, I’d also have to sacrifice my two dogs. Both my eighty-pound babies have special needs and do not belong in a tiny NY apartment. And one is a rescue who, much like his mom, does not take kindly to strangers. I’d have to surrender both to a shelter where, as adult dogs with emotional and fear-aggression issues, they would likely be put down. If you’re thinking I should have planned better, consider this: circumstances change. I rescued my babies while living in sunny San Diego, long before the pandemic, when I had a husband and a house with a huge backyard. Now it’s just me and the dogs—and boy do we miss that yard.

    There is simply no good reason why workers within any industry should be forced to move to a centralized location to do a job that could be done from literally anywhere else. And make no mistake, it can. Publishing was affected by COVID-19 just like every other industry, but while others struggled and shuttered, publishing thrived. While print sales were up, deals were being made, people were meeting virtually, and stuff was getting done, New York experienced a mass exodus. People realized that they didn’t have to be physically in the office (or in NY) to do their jobs.

    Sure, remote work has its challenges, but the benefits for the health of the industry far outweigh them. Yet, what I’m proposing is for major publishers to open more offices outside of New York—namely on the West Coast. Doing so would have a similar effect as offering more remote positions while potentially mitigating the demand for remote work. The Big Five clearly value the work being done out here, in places like Portland, and scoop up our indies once they experience a modicum of success. Instead, why not deliberately set up shop, hire local, and watch your company flourish because your workers can afford to live and live where they want to instead of where they must?

    New York offers a certain prestige, to be sure. But staying centralized in New York is not exclusivity—it’s exclusion. Get it together, publishing: you’re an industry, not a nightclub. If you don’t disperse for the diversity and well-being of your workers, for pup’s sake, do it for the dogs!