One of my favorite things about visiting the Peace Corps office in Georgetown, Guyana, was the library. OK first was the air conditioning. Then the library. It was more like a stuffed shelf, but it held books brought to the country by Peace Corps volunteers, then left and shared again and again.
Until that point, I’d only ever bought books or borrowed them from the library. I shared a few with roommates and friends. But this was a vast and random collection that helped fill quiet nights and introduced me to authors I had not yet discovered. Among the books I inhaled in those two years were “100 Years of Solitude,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Harry Potter.”
I thought of that crowded library last week when people started sharing their favorite books by journalists after I wrote about three I’d recently read. I promise this is not becoming a “books by journalists” newsletter (although I would subscribe to that.) But since I have this collection, I wanted to pass it on in hopes you can find something worth reading from this virtual stuffed shelf of other people’s books.
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The Oregonian’s Amy Wang recommends these, and I’m listening because she’s the books editor. (You can sign up for her newsletter, Bookmarks.)
- “Fire at Eden’s Gate: Tom McCall and the Oregon Story,” is by Pulitzer-winner Brent Walth and “an excellent biography of influential Oregon Gov. Tom McCall.”
- “Eliot Ness: The Rise and Fall of an American Hero,” by Douglas Perry. “… Perry is a fantastic writer and really did his research on this one.”
- “Wander,” by Lori Tobias. “A novel set in Alaska, where she formerly worked as a journalist. Tobias also just published a memoir, ‘Storm Beat,’ about covering the Oregon coast.”
- Kale Williams has a book coming out soon that’s based on his project “The Loneliest Polar Bear” about a polar bear cub that lived at the Oregon Zoo.
- “The Spy’s Son,” by Bryan Denson, “about a father-son pair from Oregon who sold U.S. intelligence to Russia. Denson used to cover the FBI and now writes a middle-grade true-crime series called ‘The FBI Files.’”
- “Guantanamo Voices: An Anthology: True Accounts from the World’s Most Infamous Prison,” a graphic anthology edited by Sarah Mirk.
Jeff Young, managing editor of Ohio Valley ReSource, recommends “Appalachian Fall: Dispatches From Coal Country On What’s Ailing America.” The book “includes lots of on-the-ground reporting on big developments in small Appalachian communities, such as the Blackjewel miners’ protest. We also highlight our major investigations into the resurgence of black lung disease and the West Virginia governor’s failure to pay taxes and mine safety fines. None of this reporting would have been possible without a collaborative approach to regional journalism.”
I also heard about ”Chesapeake Requiem” by Earl Swift, “American OZ: An Astonishing Year Inside Traveling Carnivals at State Fairs & Festivals: Hitchhiking From California to New York, Alaska to Mexico,” by Michael Sean Comerford, and I am adding to my list “She Come By It Natural,” by Sarah Smarsh.
Thanks to everyone who shared what they’re reading!
This piece originally appeared in Local Edition, our newsletter devoted to the telling stories of local journalists. Kristen Hare covers the business and people of local news for Poynter.org and is the editor of Locally. You can subscribe to her weekly newsletter here. Kristen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @kristenhare.