WA Secretary of State Blogs

Beautiful Ruins: A Novel. By Jess Walter.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016 Posted in Washington Reads | Comments Off on Beautiful Ruins: A Novel. By Jess Walter.

cinque terreBeautiful Ruins: A Novel. By Jess Walter. (New York: Harper, 2012. 337 pp.)

Recommendation submitted by:
Will Stuivenga, Cooperative Projects Manager, Washington State Library, Tumwater, WA.

In 1962, a young American movie actress shows up at the remote, obscure, Italian “Hotel Adequate View” thinking that she is dying of cancer. Pasquale, the hotelier, naturally falls in love with her. 50 years later, Pasquale travels to Hollywood, in hopes of finding her again. That’s the story in a nutshell, but there’s so much more!

Beautiful Ruins is Spokane author, Jess Walter’s sixth novel. The story spans 50 years in time, and the novel took 15 years to write, according to the author. The primary venue is a tiny seaside hamlet in Italy, but the story makes brief detours to Hollywood, Seattle, and near the end, Sandpoint, Idaho.

What is the book about? Relationships, of course. Chances for new beginnings, starting over, trying again. Unrequited love, regret, happiness (the pursuit of), and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The book bounces back and forth between then and now, and hops around the world, even spending a brief sidebar in Edinburgh, Scotland, of all places. The eventual cast of characters is much broader than we have time to delineate here, but it includes a jaded Hollywood producer and his bright young assistant, a failed rock singer, and a would-be screenwriter, who is trying to sell a script based on the story of the doomed Donner party, of all things, and more.

There is just something about the mood of the book:  wistful and sweet, enigmatic and hopeful, always yearning for something more. And yet at the same time, it’s a complicated story with more characters and moves than a chess game, which it not in the least resembles. Warning: start reading this book, and you’ll be drawn in, in spite of yourself.

ISBN-13: 978-0061928123

Not yet available at WSL Northwest Collections.
Digital Book editions available for Washington residents unable to read standard print through WTBBL.

Thurs. December 11th Book Talk – JOHN TORNOW

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014 Posted in Articles, For the Public | Comments Off on Thurs. December 11th Book Talk – JOHN TORNOW

tornow book
Courtesy of the Author


Washington State Library will host author Bill Lindstrom at a book talk featuring his recently published novel John Tornow: Villain or Victim? The untold story of the “Wildman of the Wynooche”.

“The book is about John Tornow, alleged killer of six men. The author introduces a far more compassionate individual seeking to be left alone in the solace of the woods he so much enjoyed.”
–XLibris, publisher.

Join us for this fascinating book talk:

Thursday, December 11 at 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Washington State Library
6880 Capitol Blvd SE, Tumwater, WA 98501

Books will be available for purchase at this event.

For more information, call 360-704-5221.

Read more about the author.




Border Songs, by Jim Lynch

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 Posted in Washington Reads | Comments Off on Border Songs, by Jim Lynch

U.S. Hardback Knopf - CoverBorder Songs. By Jim Lynch (New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. 291 pp.)

Recommendation submitted by:
Will Stuivenga, Cooperative Projects Manager, Washington State Library, Tumwater, WA.

Jim Lynch’s second novel, Border Songs (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009), follows his enormously popular debut novel, The Highest Tide. In Border Songs, we follow the adventures of a zany and seemingly dysfunctional cast of characters, of which the foremost is Brandon Vanderkool, a dyslexic, six-foot-eight U.S. Border Control guard who keeps a running daily bird watch count in his head, while intuitively ending up in exactly the right spot at the right time to repeatedly catch people crossing the border illegally.

Another unlikely character is Brandon’s barely competent dairy cow farmer father, Norm, who is building a yacht in his garage, but spends most of his time up to his knees in mud , manure, and mastitis, worrying about his wife’s memory loss (it it Alzheimer’s?) while suffering the daily taunts of his Canadian neighbor across the border.

Brandon harbors a crush on the neighbor’s daughter, Madeline, who herself is becoming increasingly caught up in a major marijuana kingpin’s smuggling and growing operations. This naturally makes us (the haplessly amused readers) wonder if Brandon’s border sensitivity and his wished-for girlfriend’s smuggling activities aren’t headed for a catastrophic confrontation of some sort. Will it be a romantic conclusion, or the seemingly inevitable police action?

This seriocomic novel truly takes us to the ultimate Northwest, both in physical location (the NW corner of the NW region of the U.S. lower 48) and its cultural implications. The book is a highly entertaining must-read for anyone even remotely interested in the contemporary NW literary scene.

ISBN: 9-780-30727117-4

Available at the Washington State Library, NW 813.6 LYNCH 2009
Available as an eBook, as a Braille edition, and as a talking book.