Tag Archives: reading

The Best Books to Read This Winter


When the cold weather rolls in, it’s time to curl up by the fire with a good book. Cash4Books is here to help! We’ve put together a list of the best books to read this winter. Whether it’s a thriller to keep you on the edge of your seat, or something romantic and imaginative, stay warm with one of these good reads. Continue reading

Keep Portland Weird (Word Wise)

Portland has a reputation for being different. It is also known for being a great literary city. So, of course, there would be some things that makes it weird- or, at least, unique- for its residential readers. Let’s take a look at a couple of these.

The Bookstores

It’s no surprise that when bibliophiles come to Portland, one of their first stops is Powell’s Bookstore. With its four floors of color coded rooms, it really does seem that you’ve stepped into a “city of books”.

There are also many local independent stores specializing in a specific genre. For mystery maniacs, Murder by the Book is “the scene” in the Hawthorne Neighborhood. It’s all Agatha all the time (and other Mystery greats as well.) There are not one, but two children’s bookstores for young ones and the young at heart. A Children’s Place is in the beautiful Beaumont neighborhood. My favorite is Green Bean Books (in the Alberta Arts district) where you’ll find vending machines selling finger puppets and mustaches. Those features just help the imagination run wild.

Reading Frenzy is a great store for anyone interested in supporting popular self-made mini-publications called zines. Whatever range of topics people want to read about- from mundane and trivial to innovative and awesome, there’s sure to be something for everyone there.

Everywhere You Go, There’s Something to Read

For anyone who feels that walls are too confining, walking around Portland can be a reading experience in itself.

In “Portland’s Living Room”, check out the brick squares and read the names of those who raised funds for Pioneer Courthouse Square. And, although they weren’t sponsors, Sherlock Holmes, George Washington, and Elvis Presley (just to name some famous few) can be found among the names.

Popping up around Portland are poetry posts. These are just nice little distractions when one stumbles upon them.

While riding the streetcar, I noticed a man tattooed with words. I guess you can literally read him like an open book, which I didn’t. That would just be too weird, even for me.

There are many other ways Portland is weird, word wise. When you’re here, keep your eyes open. If your city has some interesting literary character, we would love to hear about it!

New Year’s Resolution: Finish Reading Books!

Since it’s a new year, it’s time to create a new year’s resolution. This year, I plan on reading all the books I bought in 2010 before I start buying books in 2011. I’m a notoriously slow reader; before I’m even finished reading a book, I’ve bought a new one. And before I start reading that new book, I’ve bought two more. So, books tend to pile up in my house. Here’s just a few that I need to read:

  • Boneshaker, Clementine and Dreadnought all by Cherie Priest. Cherie Priest writes faster than I can read. She wrote two sequels to Boneshaker before I finished it. And I bought it went it first came out. I imagine that she’ll have eight more books published by the time I finish Clementine.
  • For the Win by Cory Doctorow. This is a book I purposely didn’t finish reading. Now that might make it seem like a bad book, but quite the contrary, it’s a fantastic book. The problem is it’s about a MMORPG similar to World of Warcraft, and reading about the game will make me want to play the game again. And I wouldn’t get anything else accomplished. Ever.
  • Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey. I read anything that Kadrey writes. I’d read cereal boxes if he wrote them. I’m actually reading this one now; I might finish it by the end of February.
  • Lady of Mazes by Karl Schroeder. I don’t even know what this book is about; I just bought it because I love Schroeder’s Virga books.
  • That doesn’t even include the piles of comics and manga.

I imagine I’ll finish at least two of these books before my resolution comes crashing down around me. I already know the next book I’ll buy: Zoo City by Lauren Beukes. It’s a South African book finally available in the US. I’m not completely sure what it’s about; I only know that whenever someone does a bad thing, an animal bonds with their soul and they get magical powers. I can’t wait to read it (slowly)!

Libraries vs. Bookstores

Aside from buying one of those electronic reading devices, one of the greenest things you can do in your reading life is to get a library card. It’s free and one of my most favorite things ever. It might seem odd that I’d be touting the merits of libraries since I work at a bookstore. I can go on and on like the Titanic song about how I much I love public  libraries but I just want to focus on the most basic service they offer: lending books.

Readers are often asked which they like best- libraries or bookstores. And it makes it sound as though the choice should be exclusive. In a reader’s world, there’s room for both and each has their own pros and cons.

Libraries are great places to sample authors and their works without having to fork over some hard-earned cash. It’s not uncommon that you’ll find that book that you absolutely must have. That’s where bookstores come in. Sometimes the pages are just asking to be highlighted or underlined or personalized in a way that you can’t do to a library book- at least, you shouldn’t.

For those new releases and current bestsellers that you either want to read right now or at your own leisurely pace, the bookstore is where you want to be. You don’t even have to necessarily buy the book. Just read it there and then. If you’re willing to wait, libraries often get the same titles the same time but it’s the holds list that may try your patience. On the off chance the library does not have a particular title in their system, there’s usually also the option of suggesting a purchase.

Libraries and bookstores may have different sets of rules but, as long as they provide the books readers need and want, there’s no way I can choose between them.

Do you have a preference over the two? What are some things you love about each one?

Banned Books Week

American Library Association's Banned Books Week Poster 2010

Imagine walking into your favorite bookstore or library and finding certain titles- Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”, Judy Blume’s  “Forever”, J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye”, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, just to name a few- missing from the shelves not because of budget cuts or any financial reasons but because they were banned.

Scary thought, right?

In these modern times we live in, you wouldn’t think literary censorship still occurs. But it does. Only recently in Stockton, Missouri, Sherman Alexie’s Young Adult novel “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian” was removed from schools citing objectionable language and sexual content. In Texas, Ellen Hopkins was uninvited from the Teen Lit Festival because her novels tackled topics that were deemed age inappropriate.

Due to language, violence, sex, the topic itself, or even just a different viewpoint, lots of people will find something unacceptable in many books. That’s fine. Unfortunately, there are also people that band together to demand these types of books be banned from schools, libraries and bookstores. That’s not fine. They may have the best intentions but if their challenges result in actual banning, others are denied the opportunity of reading the books and forming their own opinions.

Banned Books Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of this issue and to make sure censorship doesn’t occur. It’s a constant battle and not always successful. As readers, we have to do our part. Back in Texas, with the whole Ellen Hopkins controversy, several authors who were slated to appear at the Teen Lit Festival withdrew to show support. The event has since been cancelled.

BannedBooksWeek.org is a great resource to find more information in regards to its history and purpose, actions on what’s being done to combat literary censorship, and lists of banned and challenged books.

Share your thoughts with us on your favorite banned books and celebrate your freedom to read!