Friday, January 26 @ 7pm (PT) / Powell’s City of Books
In a searching and powerful debut memoir, award-winning poet and literary translator Ani Gjika tells a different kind of immigrant story by writing about the ways a woman listens to her own body, intuition, and desire. Gjika was born in Albania and came of age just after the fall of Communism, a time in which everyone had a secret to keep and young women were afraid to walk down the street alone. When her family immigrates to America, Gjika finds herself far from the grandmother who helped raise her, grappling with a new language, and isolated from aging parents who are trying in their own ways to survive. Then she meets a young man whose mind leans toward writing as hers does, and Gjika falls in love — at least, she thinks it’s love. Set across four countries — Albania, Thailand, India, and the U.S. — An Unruled Body (Restless Books) tells the story of a young woman’s journey to selfhood through the lenses of language, sexuality, and identity, and how she learned to find freedom of expression on her own terms.
Annie Liontas suffered multiple concussions in her thirties. In Sex with a Brain Injury (Scribner), she writes about what it means to be one of the “walking wounded,” facing her fear, her rage, her physical suffering, and the effects of head trauma on her marriage and other relationships. Forced to reckon with her own queer mother’s battle with addiction, Liontas finds echoes in their pain. Liontas weaves history, philosophy, and personal accounts to interrogate and expand representations of mental health, ability, and disability — particularly in relation to women and the LGBT community. She uncovers the surprising legacy of brain injury, examining its role in culture, the criminal justice system, and through historical figures like Henry VIII and Harriet Tubman. Encountering Liontas’s sharp, affecting prose, the reader can imagine this kind of pain, and having to claw one’s way back to a new normal. The hidden gift of injury, Liontas writes, is the ability to connect with others.
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Saturday, February 3 @ 10:30am (PT) / Powell’s City of Books
Gabi Snyder’s welcoming and joyful picture book, Today (Simon & Schuster/Pamela Wiseman), reminds us that every moment can hold many surprises and to look for the wonder in every day. Today may seem long before leaving for a summer vacation or short during the time away. The moments that make up the day are filled with surprises, joy, fun, and memories. Today guides young readers to keep their eyes and ears open so the day doesn't slip by.
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Monday, February 5 @ 7pm (PT) / Powell’s City of Books
John Mark Comer, author of The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, calls us to rediscover the path that leads to a deeper life with God. What if there is a better way to live? Life in the modern world is busy, noisy, and crammed with over-activity. Many of us are exhausted from being pulled in a thousand directions, numbed by our devices, and disillusioned by our lack of spiritual change. We struggle to find time for any spiritual life at all. As we eliminate hurry from our lives, Comer calls us to live with a greater intentionality in our apprenticeship to Jesus. To live by what the first Christian disciples called a Rule of Life, a set of practices and relational rhythms that slow us down and open up space in our daily lives for God to do what only God can do — transform the deepest parts of us to become like him. This introduction to spiritual formation is full of Comer’s trademark mix of theological substance and cultural insight as well as practical wisdom on developing your own Rule of Life. These ancient practices have much to offer us. By learning to rearrange our days, we can follow the Way of Jesus. We can be with him. Become like him. And do as he did. Practicing the Way (Waterbrook Press) is Comer’s manifesto for the future of Christian spirituality. The future is ancient. It's practicing the Way.
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Thursday, February 8 @ 7pm (PT) / Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing
In Anthony Nerada’s YA pop punk debut about queer romance and destroying labels, a teen risks everything to write his own story. Stonebridge High’s resident bad boy, seventeen-year-old Wesley “Big Mac” Mackenzie, is failing senior year — thanks to his unchecked anger, rowdy friends, and a tendency to ditch his homework for skateboarding and a secret photography habit. So when his mom drags him to a production of The Nutcracker, Wes isn’t interested at all… until he sees Tristan Monroe. Mr. Nutcracker himself. Wes knows he shouldn’t like Tristan; after all, he’s a ballet dancer, and Wes is as closeted as they come. But when they start spending time together, Wes can’t seem to get Tristan out of his head. Driven by a new sense of purpose, Wes begins to think that — despite every authority figure telling him otherwise — maybe he can change for the better and graduate on time. As a falling out with his friends becomes inevitable, Wes realizes that being himself means taking a stand — if only he can blow up the bad-boy reputation he never wanted in the first place. From a debut author to watch, Skater Boy (Soho Teen) delivers a heart-wrenching, validating, and honest story about what it means to be gay in a world where you don’t fit in. Nerada will be joined in conversation by Rosiee Thor, author of Tarnished Are the Stars.
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Friday, February 23 @ 7pm (PT) / Powell’s City of Books
Scott Guild’s Plastic (Pantheon) is both a novel and a full length-album: a multimedia project that tells a haunting yet hilarious story in prose and music. Erin, the main character, is a plastic girl living in a plastic world. Every day she eats a breakfast of boiled chicken, then conveys her articulated body to Tablet Town, where she sells Smartbodies: wearable tech that immerses her fellow figurines in a virtual world, a refuge from real life’s brutal wars and eco-terrorist insurgency. If you cut her, she will not bleed — but figurines can still be cracked by gunfire or crumble from nuclear fallout. One day, a terror attack at work leads Erin to meet Jacob, a blind figurine with whom she feels an instant connection. Together they start to explore the wonders of the virtual reality landscape. But just as they begin to heal from their traumas, secrets from Erin’s past threaten to crack the facade she’s built around her life, revealing everything vulnerable beneath. Both a dystopian comedy and a serious dissection of our own pre-apocalypse, Plastic is a fabulously inventive look at the hollow core of American society — and a guide to how we might reanimate all its broken plastic pieces. This event will feature readings from the novel interspersed with songs from Plastic: The Album, performed by composer and multi-instrumentalist Cindertalk, Guild's main collaborator on the album. Guild and Cindertalk will be joined in conversation by Jon Raymond, author of Denial.
Please note: Vinyl copies of Plastic: The Album will be available for purchase at the event (in-store only). Plastic: The Album tells the story of the novel through a cycle of dynamic pop songs, featuring lyrics from the musical numbers in the book. Two singers feature as Erin on the album: Stranger Cat (a frequent collaborator of Sufjan Stevens and Sharon Van Etten) and Anna Hoone (Loch Lomond). The album itself is a collaboration between Scott Guild and visionary artist Cindertalk (Son Lux, My Brightest Diamond), as well as Grammy-winning producer Peter Katis (The National, Interpol). Other contributors include Portland-based artist Gainsayer (Ages and Ages).
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