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LitWatch December: Celebrate Oregon authors at Oregon Historical Society, plus The Moth returns

Settle into winter with a holiday book fair, a new cookbook from a Northwest Jewish kitchen, an author appearance by Henry Winkler, and a solstice story time.

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Shop, meet authors, sip hot chocolate Dec. 3 at the 54th annual Celebration of Oregon Authors at the Oregon Historical Society.
Shop, meet authors, sip hot chocolate Dec. 3 at the 54th Annual Celebration of Oregon Authors at the Oregon Historical Society.

Chill the night wind moans and sighs,
On the sward the stubble dies;
Slow across the meadows rank
Float the cloud-rifts grim and dank;
On the hill-side, bare and brown,
Twilight shadows gather down,—
‘Tis December.

— Mary Elizabeth McGrath Blake (1840-1907)


With December comes a distinct descent into winter, beloved by some for the crisp air, holiday festivities, and chance of snow — despised by others for the long, dark nights and the below-freezing temperatures. Whether you love winter or wish you could skip forward to spring, the season brings a variety of literary events for adults and children.

For bibliophiles, there’s no better way to spend a wet and dreary winter day than with a book (or few!) in hand. From noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, the Oregon Historical Society will hold a Holiday Cheer special event for its 54th Annual Celebration of Oregon Authors. The book fair provides the opportunity to chat with regional authors and purchase their books. Sip hot chocolate while you get into the gift-giving spirit with a backdrop of live holiday music from the brightly costumed Dickens Carolers and browse books from more than 50 Oregon authors, editors, and illustrators. Participants include Carla Axtman, Shelley Baker-Guard, Julie Perini, June Reynolds, Dana Haynes, Linda Marie Richards, Gregory Mowe, Nancy Henry, Mollie Hunt, Frances Ippolito, Richard W. Etulain, Norman R. Williams, and Donald Witten, among others. See the full list on the Oregon Historical Society website. Admission is free.

Week 1: Dec. 1-7

Rosanna Xia in Conversation with Michelle Nijhuis
Presented by Powell’s Books
7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 4
Powell’s City of Books
1005 W. Burnside St., Portland
Free

Rosanna Xia, Pulitzer Prize finalist and environmental reporter for the Los Angeles Times, will discuss her newest release, California Against the Sea, with Michelle Nijhuis, author of Beloved Beasts. Xia’s book examines changes to California’s coastline amid environmental and climate chaos and considers the effects of engineered landscapes, development, politics, and activism when the environmental future feels uncertain. With winters becoming increasingly colder in places used to tepid temperatures, heat waves enveloping the country during summer, and growing threats from natural disasters such as hurricanes, fires, and floods, California Against the Sea offers a pinpointed look at what is going on in California and how it relates to the rest of the world.

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Cookbook Launch Party: “Braids”
Presented by Sonya Sanford and Leikam Brewing
6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6
Leikam Brewing
5812 E. Burnside St., Portland
Free

Sonya Sanford, chef, artist, and owner of Beetroot Market & Deli in Portland, will celebrate the release of her debut cookbook, Braids. Leikam Brewing will host the reading, book signing, and food tasting. Drawing inspiration from growing up in a Soviet Jewish household, Sanford offers classic recipes with a new twist on family favorites for soup, deli sandwiches, vegetable sides, main dishes, challah, and more.

Meet and Greet, Book Talk, and Signing: Gordon Nagai
Presented by Tsunami Books
2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7
Tsunami Books
2585 Willamette St., Eugene
Free

Gordon Nagai, author of Two Faces, will sign copies and talk about his new release, the story of Nina and Gordon, fifth-graders living in California as the threat of conflict with Japan begins during World War II. Through hardship and upheaval, the story examines the bond of friendship against the backdrop of war.

Week 2: Dec. 8-14

Jackie Wang (top right) and Janice Lee talk about Wang’s new book Dec. 8 at Powell’s City of Books.

Jackie Wang in Conversation with Janice Lee
Presented by Powell’s Books
7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8
Powell’s City of Books
1005 W. Burnside St., Portland
Free

Jackie Wang, poet and critical theorist, discusses her “almanac of extreme girlhood,” Alien Daughters Walk Into the Sun. Field guide, travelogue, essay series, and weather report, the autobiographical collection traces the uneven and constantly transforming trajectory Wang took “from hard femme to Harvard.” The author discusses her life, including dropping out of an MFA program, writing her first book, Carceral Capitalism, and dumpster diving. Wang will talk with the author of Separation Anxiety, Janice Lee, at Powell’s.

Sponsor

Oregon Cultural Trust

Motherhood, Hunger, and Higher Education: Author Talk with Stephanie Land
Presented by Jackson County Library Services
11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12
Online via Zoom
Free

Stephanie Land, New York Times bestselling author of Maid, will give an online talk about her new book Class: A Memoir of Motherhood, Hunger, and Higher Education. After the success of her first memoir, Land describes her struggles attending college while living below the poverty line as a parent of a young child. Facing judgment from classmates, professors, and social peers, Land navigates the hardships of getting through school in a damaged financial and educational system and graduating well into her 30s.

Henry Winkler comes to Revolution Hall on Dec. 12.

Henry Winkler: “Being Henry”
Presented by Powell’s Books
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12
Revolution Hall
1300 S.E. Stark St. Portland
$40, includes copy of book

Henry Winkler, Emmy-award winning actor, author, comedian, producer, and director known for roles in Happy Days, Parks and Recreation, and other shows and movies, will read from Being Henry. The memoir tells the story of his difficult childhood, his struggles with severe dyslexia, and his path to an acting career in Hollywood. Winkler, who has been called one of the nicest men in Hollywood, displays his vulnerable side in his thoughtful new release.

The Moth brings new stories to Portland on Dec. 12.

The Moth: Mainstage in Portland
Presented by Literary Arts
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
1037 SW Broadway St., Portland
$25-$85

The Moth returns with a new lineup of storytellers. The two-act show will feature a musical act, various performers, and one host telling true personal stories that range from hilarious to tragic to downright odd. This event will be recorded for The Moth Podcast and Moth Radio Hour.

Week 3: Dec. 15-21

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Kids’ Storytime reads “Winter: A Solstice Story”
Presented by Powell’s Books
10:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 16
Powell’s City of Books
1005 W. Burnside St., Portland
Free

Winter kids’ storytime at Powell’s is back! Debut children’s book author Kelsey Gross and New York Times bestselling visual artist Renata Liwska will read from their new release, Winter: A Solstice Story, a holiday-themed tale of the darkest day of the year where friends Owl, Mouse, and Deer connect with their forest neighbors and discover all the magic that the dark winter night has to offer. Bring the whole family in their favorite sweaters for this festive seasonal story.

Author Appearance: D. “Bing” Bingham
Presented by The bohemian peddler’s Blackbird Magical Tea & Tales
5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16
The bohemian peddler’s Blackbird Magical Tea & Tales
191 S.E. Fifth St., Madras
Free

Storyteller and photographer (and Oregon ArtsWatch contributor) D. “Bing” Bingham shares tales from his recently published collection, “Hugging a Dog: True Stories From the Dusty Dog Café.”

Cannon Beach Library's December reading group will discuss Geraldine Brooks' novel "Horse," based on the story of 19th-century racehorse Lexington. ("Portrait of Lexington," by Thomas J. Scott, ca. 1857, oil on canvas mounted on fiberboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. David K. Anderson, Martha Jackson Memorial Collection)
Cannon Beach Library’s December reading group will discuss Geraldine Brooks’ novel “Horse,” based on the story of 19th-century racehorse Lexington. (“Portrait of Lexington,” by Thomas J. Scott, ca. 1857, oil on canvas mounted on fiberboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. David K. Anderson, Martha Jackson Memorial Collection)

Cannon Beach Reads: “Horse”
Presented by Cannon Beach Library
7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 20
In person and online via Zoom
Cannon Beach Library
131 N. Hemlock St., Cannon Beach
Free

Join Mary Kerwin in person and on Zoom as she leads the discussion for Cannon Beach Library’s monthly book club. In December, the group will discuss Horse by Geraldine Brooks. The historical fiction narrative explores race, freedom, and the beauty and ugliness of humanity through the lens of two main characters and a remarkable record-breaking thoroughbred named Lexington. The book has garnered praise from The New York Times, The Washington Post, TIME, Oprah Daily, The Guardian, and more.

Neal Allen in Conversation with Anne Lamott
Presented by Powell’s Books
7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 20
Powell’s City of Books
1005 W. Burnside St., Portland
Free

Writer and spiritual coach Neal Allen will discuss his new book, Better Days: Tame Your Inner Critic, with his wife, celebrated author Anne Lamott. The guide addresses the question: “What if your superego has it wrong?” Allen explains the development of childhood survival mechanisms and what happens to them when they are no longer needed in adulthood. “Just imagine… if all that nasty, negative chatter in your head just evaporated… what would you do next? Better days are just ahead,” reads the author event page.

Sponsor

Oregon Cultural Trust

Week 4: Dec. 22-31

Meet and Greet, Book Talk, and Signing: Jeff Wyman
Presented by Tsunami Books
2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 30
Tsunami Books
2585 Willamette St., Eugene
Free

Jeff Wyman, teacher, poet, musician, and songwriter based in Eugene, will return to Tsunami Books for a reading and meet-and-greet to promote his new poetry collection, 100 More Sonnets for Our Time. With a goal of writing more sonnets than William Shakespeare’s 154, Wyman began his sonnet collection in 2020. After the reading, he will answer questions and sign book copies.

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Photo Joe Cantrell

Amy Leona Havin is a poet, essayist, and arts journalist based in Portland, Oregon. She writes about language arts, dance, and film for Oregon ArtsWatch and is a staff writer with The Oregonian/OregonLive. Her work has been published in San Diego Poetry Annual, HereIn Arts Journal, Humana Obscura, The Chronicle, and others. She has been an artist-in-residence at Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, Archipelago Gallery, and Art/Lab, and was shortlisted for the Bridport International Creative Writing Prize in poetry. Havin holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Cornish College of the Arts and is the Artistic Director of Portland-based dance performance company, The Holding Project.

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