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LitWatch October: Reading lists, author events, and a Fall Festival

Spooky books and sweet books to help set an autumn mood; a festival in Cannon Beach; readings to write home about.


O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.

– Excerpt from ‘October‘ by Robert Frost

As the coming cooler weather welcomes us to October, I couldn’t help but share one of my favorite October poems by Robert Frost. Frost lived between 1874 and 1963 and was an American poet first published in Britain before gaining any notoriety in the United States. Throughout his career, he changed American ideals of literature by utilizing his metered poetry style to encompass natural themes in often melancholic tones—making him the perfect spokesman for this Halloween season.

In addition to Frost’s poem and a literary events calendar chock-full of author readings and a Fall Festival, I am pleased to share with you two short lists of must-read books: one of horror stories to get you in a ghoulish mood; the other a list of nature-based nonfiction to celebrate the shifting of the seasons.

Reading list for a spooky October:

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler
The Shining by Stephen King
The Pier Falls by Mark Haydn
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

Reading list for a sweet Autumn season:

Autumn by Karl Ove Knausgaard
When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams
The Living Mountain by Nan Shepeard
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova
Stronghold: One Man’s Quest to Save the World’s Wild Salmon by Tucker Malarkey
A World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds by Scott Weidensaul
Erosion: Essays of Undoing by Terry Tempest Williams

Week 1: October 1-7

Cannon Beach Library Annual Fall Festival
Presented by Cannon Beach Library
Saturday, October 1, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cannon Beach Library
131 N. Hemlock, Cannon Beach, OR 97110

Join Cannon Beach Library as it welcomes the autumn season on the coast with a festival featuring a book sale, silent auction, craft sale, special drawings, and more. Proceeds from this fundraiser go to the library, and tickets for the drawings start at only $1. No registration is necessary to attend.

Julian Aguon in Conversation with Karen Russell
Presented by Powell’s Books
Monday, October 3, 7 p.m.
Powell’s City of Books
1005 West Burnside Street, Portland, OR 97209

Julian Aguon will appear at Powell’s to discuss his newest book, No Country for Eight-Spotted Butterflies (Astra House), a poetry-prose hybrid coming-of-age story and justice cry for Indigenous peoples. Aguon will be joined by Karen Russell, author of Orange World and Other Stories. Signed books will be available for sale at this event.

Julian Agoun. Photograph courtesy Powell’s Books.

Shäron Moalem & Daniel Kraus in Conversation with Grady Hendrix
Presented by Powell’s Books
Thursday, October 6, 5 p.m. via ZOOM

Shäron Moalem and Daniel Kraus will discuss their new book, Wrath (Union Square), a thrilling sci-fi tale of a super-engineered rat that escapes a laboratory thanks to its human genes and intellect. Moalem and Kraus will be joined in conversation by Grady Hendrix, author of The Final Girl Support Group.

Week 2: October 8-14

Three Coins: Book Talk with Russell L. Low
Presented by Portland Chinatown Museum
Saturday, October 8 , 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. via ZOOM

Historian and author Russell N. Low will appear virtually to discuss his newest book, Three Coins: A Young Girl’s Story of Kidnappings, Slavery, and Romance in 19th-Century America. In Three Coins, Low delves into the complex world of the 19th century Tong Yan Gai, or Chinatown, discovering the stories behind a found 1903 family photograph.

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Russell N. Low. Photograph courtesy Portland Chinatown Museum.

Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan at Revolution Hall
Presented by Powell’s Books
Monday, October 10, 7:30 p.m.
Revolution Hall
1300 S.E. Stark St. #203, Portland, OR 97214
$39.99 per ticket, includes hardcover book

Nationally bestselling author Jodi Picoult will be joined by the author of She’s Not There, Jennifer Finney Boylan, at Revolution Hall to discuss their new release, Mad Honey (Ballantine). The book centers on a love story filled with secrets, thrills, and suspense—when newly relocated Lily winds up dead, her lover Ash is in question. Piccoult and Boylan will also be joined live by a surprise guest.

Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan. Photo: Tim Llewellyn

Nabil Ayers in Conversation with Alicia J. Rose
Presented by Powell’s Books
Friday, October 14, 7 p.m.
Powell’s City of Books
1005 West Burnside Street, Portland, OR 97209

Nabil Ayers, son of renowned Black jazz musician Roy Ayers, will discuss My Life in the Sunshine (Viking), a story about his estranged father, the discovery of his ancestors, his life with his white, Jewish mother, and his choices to start his own music career and open a Seattle record store. Ayers will be joined by Alicia J. Rose, an award-winning filmmaker.

Week 3: October 15-21

Poetry Conversations with Jennifer Reimer, Irene Cooper, and Brittney Corrigan
Presented by Roundabout Books
Tuesday, October 18, 6 p.m.
Roundabout Books
900 N.W. Washington Drive Suite 110, Bend, OR 97703

Oregon State University MFA Program Coordinator Jennifer Reimer, debut poetry author Irene Cooper, and Portland author Brittney Corrigan will head to Bend’s Roundabout Books for an evening of poetry and conversation. Reimer will read from her book Keşke, Cooper will read from spare change, and Corrigan will read from her newest book, Daughters.

Bowen Blair in Conversation with Kevin Gorman
Presented by Powell’s Books
Thursday, October 20, 7 p.m.
Powell’s City of Books
1005 West Burnside Street, Portland, OR 97209

Bowen Blair will discuss her book A Force for Nature (Oregon State University), the triumphant tale of one woman’s attempt to save the natural beauty of the Columbia Gorge. Nancy Russell’s 1980s grassroots movement overcame opposition from governors, private companies, and counties to become one of the most inspiring conservation battles the Pacific Northwest has seen. Blair will be in conversation with Kevin Gorman, executive director of Friends of the Columbia Gorge.

Week 4: October 23-31

In-Store Reading: Sherry Fishman: Avraham and Mary
Presented by Annie Bloom’s Books
Monday, October 24, 7 p.m.
Annie Bloom’s Books
7834 Southwest Capitol Highwayy, Portland, OR 97219

When her father was away with the U.S. Navy during World War II, Sherry Fishman lived with her mother and maternal grandparents, Avraham and Mary. They told her of the horrors faced by the Jewish peoples at the hands of the Nazi regime, and Fishman, in turn, made that knowledge into stories. In Avraham and Mary: A Historical Fiction of My Immigrant Grandparents, Sherry Fishman uses the incredible stories of her grandparents to create a captivating and historically important fictionalized rendition of her family history.

Sherry Fishman. Photograph courtesy Annie Bloom’s Books

Amber Tamblyn in Conversation with Lidia Yuknavitch, Dr. Mindy Nettifee, and Dr. Nicole Apelian
Presented by Powell’s Books
Tuesday, October 25, 7 p.m.
Powell’s City of Books
1005 West Burnside Street, Portland, OR 97209

Listening in the Dark (Park Row), an anthology featuring Amy Poehler, Samantha Irby, Jia Tolentino, Jessica Valenti, U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón, America Ferrera, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, and others, explores the lives and accomplishments of women in the United States. Editor of the anthology, actress Amber Tamblyn, will be joined in conversation by contributors Lidia Yuknavitch, Dr. Mindy Nettifee, and Dr. Nicole Apelian.

Liz Nakazawa Reading: Pulse and Weave
Presented by Mother Foucault’s Bookshop
Friday, October 28, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Mother Foucault’s Bookshop
523 S.E. Morrison Street, Portland, OR 97214

Liz Nakazawa, editor and author of the anthology Deer Drink the Moon: Poems of Oregon, will appear at Mother Foucault’s Bookshop to read from her newest poetry book, Pulse and Weave (Flowstone Press). Event registration is not required.

Amy Leona Havin is a writer, choreographer, and filmmaker based in Portland, Oregon. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington, and is the Artistic Director of Portland-based multi-media dance company The Holding Project. Her works can be read in Humana Obscura, San Diego Poetry Annual, The Dust Magazine, The Chronicle, Mountain Bluebird Magazine, and others, and she has been shortlisted for the Bridport International Writing Competition Prize in Poetry. Havin’s artistic process is rooted in classical and somatic movement practices, non-fiction writing, and honoring the landscape of the natural world.

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