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Let's Read Aloud!

Grab a book, find an audience, and read aloud! We’re excited to celebrate World Read Aloud day on Wednesday, February 3rd, and everyday. We love stories, big and small, but more than that we love sharing them. Reading aloud has many wonderful benefits for developing minds and lifelong readers, but it’s also a fun activity for the whole family, pets included. Here are some fun tips for reading aloud, whether that's to a child, a friend, or your dog!

  • Prepare a Comfy and Roomy Read-Aloud Area. It's important that your area is large enough that everyone can sit and see comfortably. Plus, who doesn’t love a blanket fort?!

  • Give It All You've Got! Dramatic and fun sound effects, hand motions, facial expressions, and changes in tone invite listeners to become a part of the story with you.

  • Help the Listener "See" the Story. Listeners who are attentive to the visual details of a book learn how to use visual clues to get meaning from everything on the page. Point out details in illustrations, layout, and characterizations to help listeners become keen observers, and discuss what they notice.

  • Invite Listeners to Use Their Senses. Help listeners imagine not only the sights in a story but the sounds, smells, tastes, physical sensations, and emotions, as well. 

  • Develop Ways to Respond to Questions. Folks love to ask questions while you are reading. Some questions are important and need to be answered right away, other questions will be answered in the story itself. Find an easy balance so you don’t stop the flow of the story.

  • Take Time for Discussion. This is the best part! Listeners love to talk about a book they’ve just read or listened to. What did you love? What did you hate? What did you learn? 

Happy Reading!

 

Booksellers Favorites of 2020

Curious what our booksellers were up to in 2020? Like many folks, Ariana’s reading came in stages last year. “I had ‘before the pandemic reading’ and was keeping track and had a plan, and then the pandemic hit and all I could read was poetry. As the year wore on I found some great narratives and historical fiction that captivated me and really informed my experience of 2020.”

Cassie says, “I stepped out of my comfort zone with this year’s reading. I learned a lot about indigenous cultures with the help of Tommy Orange, Zitkála-Šá, and Leslie Marmon Silko.” 

Jeanette had a similar experience: “Nearly all of my favorite books from last year were written by BIPOC authors, but two that particularly stood out to me were written by indigenous authors: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer and Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger. Their storytelling is so beautiful and effective and I treasure how much I enjoyed and learned from these books.” 

Kaycee’s reads this year were definitely indicative of some trends we saw for 2020. “I read exclusively Horror this year. Novels like Down Days, Mexican Gothic, and Devolution were comfortable literary escapes. I jumped around from dystopian pandemics to page-turning thrillers, and I don’t regret a single page!” 

A lot of Nora’s reading was for school, “But I have loved everything my English teachers have assigned so far. Other than that, I read light books with fun and easy stories.” 

Comfort was also on Jessica’s mind. “I read so many light and cozy reads this year, with lots of laughs and kissing. I was very grateful for some contemplative reads at the beginning of the pandemic that attuned my attention and observation -- they made for great listening while walking the dog around the neighborhood.” 

Kasey also chose a new reading path. “Typically I read a lot of non-fiction, specifically memoirs and essays, but this year I found myself reading almost exclusively fiction. With social distancing I instead made my social connections through the highly developed characters in Writers & Lovers, Conversations with Friends, and Before the Coffee Gets Cold, among many others.” 

Anna’s favorite books included Wow, No Thank You -- a snarky, raw, and hysterically funny read. “It was a perfect read for the beginning of quarantine.” She also liked Shuggie Bain, and found World of Wonders to be “a great end of the year soul-purging read, a reminder to delight in the natural world.”

Matt says his reading list was “as chaotic as 2020! Which is why the standout for me was the humorous and mindful Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosch.”

Kathy enjoyed tightly plotted fiction with high stakes, the many poets sharing essays, as well as a broad range of non-fiction that included some fascinating nature reading, and true crime. “ In The Magical Language of Others by E.J. Koh - Koh translates letters written to her by her mother – and is mindful of every word chosen.  Using her mastery of language to guide us through four generations of family history, Koh blends feelings of love and longing for her culture and the relationship with her mother. Beautifully written.”

There were many beloved titles from last year, and we hope you can find something from our booksellers to treasure as we did last year. Be sure to check out our 2020 Bestsellers list too. 

 

Reading Habits Do Good

We’re continuing to reflect on the many challenges and delights of 2020. One thing that kept us going and gave us hope was the outpouring of support we received from our community. We were able to do a lot of things with your support, like keep the doors open and our staff safe. We were also able to share the love with organizations and individuals in our community that needed it. 

The advent of early quarantine procedures spurred our Books 4 Kids program (which is still ongoing). Your generous donations to this program allowed us to help youth across the county have access to books when they couldn’t get to their schools and libraries. We raised over $3,500, which we matched, to donate to Thrive, the Salvation Army, Hopa Mountain, and the Bozeman Public Library Foundation. We also used this money to donate directly to folks affected by the Bridger Canyon Fire. This put more than 800 books into the hands of youth in our community.

We were able to support many other community organizations -- sending more than $12,000 dollars into our community, and more than 200 books. This includes the spotlight giving we did to celebrate Ariana’s 10 year anniversary of owning the store, which saw $500 donations given to the Bozeman Public Library Foundation, the Bozeman Schools Foundation, the MSU Library, the Montana Racial Equity Project, HRDC, Haven, BridgerCare, Cancer Support Community, GVLT, and Thrive. We also sent over $2,000 to local schools through our school book fair program, which we were able to send virtual to several schools this year. 

This is a snapshot of the good your reading habit supports, and we couldn’t do it without you! So thank you Bozeman from the bottom of our book-loving hearts.

 

PNBA Award Winners!

 

The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association is pleased to present the recipients of the 2021 Pacific Northwest Book Awards as selected by a volunteer committee of independent booksellers from 400 nominated titles published in 2020. Committee comments for the winning titles can be viewed on the 2021 Book Awards page of the PNBA website

This year PNBA and its member stores will host a free virtual public celebration with the winners of this year's Awards. The Pacific Northwest Book Awards Celebration will be hosted on Wednesday, February 10th at 6pm PT/ 7pm MT. Registration is required

About the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association PNBA is a non-profit trade association that supports independent bookselling in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Each year since 1965, the Pacific Northwest Book Awards have celebrated exceptional books written by Northwest authors. Visit our NWBookLovers blog promoting the authors and independent bookstores of the Northwest region. The site also hosts the Pacific Northwest Independent Bestseller List, a weekly presentation of the bestselling books in the independent bookstores of our five-state region. The list may be reprinted in any publication. For more information, contact info@pnba.org.

Hungry Hearts by Elsie Chapman

Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food & Love, edited by Elsie Chapman and Caroline Tung Richmond, is a short story collection that shares the impact delicious food can make on one’s life. Anthologies are usually connected by a theme, but I love that the stories included in Hungry Hearts take place in the same world. While each tale is unique, its connection to other stories in the anthology make the overall collection more meaningful to read. For example, characters who are introduced through small roles in earlier stories are featured in a later tale that may provide their backstory. Additionally, all of the stories take place in Hungry Heart Row, a fictitious town that has restaurants of all varieties on every street, so key locations are carried throughout the book. 

 

I enjoyed reading Hungry Hearts, but three stories particularly stood out to me. In “The Grand Ishq Adventure” by Sandhya Menon, Neha runs a love-related advice column. Despite giving helpful advice to her readers, Neha does not usually have much luck in the love department herself. One day, she decides to take her own advice to become braver: eat alone and try new cuisines. In “Gimme Some Sugar” by Jay Coles, Leo wants to enter a cooking competition to win money to help his mom. His grandmother suggests he cook with one of her recipes. With his grandmother’s support, Leo is able to feel more confident about his cooking in the competition. In "Panadería ~ Pastelería" by Anne-Marie McLemore, Lila wants to tell a childhood friend that she likes him, but does not know how to say it with words. So, she relies on baking. 

 

In each case, the characters are able to learn more about themselves through cuisine. The reader becomes engaged with the inhabitants and stories of Hungry Hearts Row.

Misfits in Love by SK Ali

Janna’s brother is getting married in a few days and wedding preparations are the only thing on her mind. Well that, and the fact that Nuah, Janna’s crush—who likes her back— is coming home from college for the summer. But things become complicated when Janna meets Haytham, a boy who has an amazing voice, is great at taking care of children, and is good looking. So when Nuah arrives, Janna is surprised that he does not seem to mind her spending time with Haytham. Further complications arise when Janna meets Layth, a mysterious boy who seems to understand her. With the wedding and navigation of new relationships, Janna’s summer becomes busier than she anticipated.

 

Misfit in Love by S.K. Ali continues the story of Janna from Saints and Misfits. I went into the book without having read Ali’s first book, and while Misfit in Love can be read as a standalone, I was enjoying it so much (I could not put it down) that I wanted to read Saints and Misfits to see where Janna’s story began. 

 

Misfit in Love explores different types of love: romantic, friendly, familial, and self-love. I appreciate that Ali dives deeper than just the possible romances between Janna and her love-interests by including themes of family too. Janna reflects about the change her family experienced when her parents divorced and considers how it will change again when her brother marries. Though at first unwilling to let new members into the family, she begins to open her heart as she gets to know them better. She also realizes the importance of self-love and listening to her heart. Misfit in Love by S.K. Ali is the love story I have been waiting for.

This Train is Being Held by Ismée Willimas

Isa, a ballerina, and Alex, a baseball player, first meet while riding the New York subway. From the moment that they first lock eyes, there is an instant curiosity that passes between them. But all too soon, their ride together comes to an end. Over the course of the following months, Isa and Alex continue to run into each other on the subway. With their continual meetings, the two become friends, bonding over their dedication to athletics, but they both claim they are too busy to date. Unfortunately, this means their meetings are rare, so aspiring-poet Alex starts to leave poems for Isa to find. This brings them closer, so much so, that they decide to try to make a relationship work. However, their relationship becomes complicated when secrets are kept and explanations are not given.

 

This Train is Being Held by Ismée Willimas is a lyrical story about two passionate teenagers. Williams' descriptions are beautiful and create vivid and detailed images in the reader’s mind. Both Isa and Alex have Latin American heritage, and throughout the story, the reader is exposed to experiences that the characters go through because of stereotypes that are placed on them. However, they do not let this stop them from enjoying life. Isa and Alex have so much heart; they care deeply about their family and for each other. Their story of love and being willing to fight for it is moving, as well. In addition, Williams’ discussions of family expectations and making choices to pursue one’s passion—even when it is a different path that what is expected of you—resonates with the reader. This Train is Being Held by Ismée Willimas is a beautiful and powerful love story.

More Than Just A Pretty Face by Syed M Masood

Danyal has had a crush on Kaval for the longest time, but despite his good looks, Danyal is not the smartest person, and therefore, not the most appealing marriage prospect. The Renaissance Man, an annual competition held at Danyal’s school for selected bright students, is just around the corner. Unexpectedly, Danyal is chosen to be one of the representatives. Thinking that this is his chance to impress Kaval and her parents, Danyal knows that he has to win. To help him with his speech, he works with Bisma, one of the girls his parents had him meet, but strictly as friends. However, as they work together, Danyal realizes that he enjoys spending time with Bisma, and maybe his feelings toward Kaval have changed.


More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood is a wholesome, feel-good story. In the beginning, Danyal seems like your typical good-looking teenage boy (kind of full of himself), but as the book continues, he becomes more aware and interested in the world. Learning more about himself allows him to realize what is actually important to him. He becomes more compassionate, as well, which warmed my heart. Bisma is kind, evident in her choosing to help Danyal with his speech. And she is strong for putting on a brave face despite the criticism that she faces from her family. Complete with lovable characters, delicious food, and unexpected friendship, More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood is an enjoyable read.

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callendar

Felix Love, a passionate artist, is a transgender teen attending a summer art program to work on his college portfolio. But Felix is struggling to find inspiration. To make matters worse, one of his peers puts up a gallery of photos of him before he transitioned—outing him to the whole school. Following this spectacle, he receives hateful, transphobic messages that make Felix start to question his identity. While Felix has always wanted to be in love, these messages make him wonder if anyone could ever love him.  One day, his art teacher encourages him to try painting self portraits. Through his portraits, Felix is able to express himself as he sees himself, not as other people see him. In addition to the progress on his portfolio, Felix learns that he may be lovable after all, and perhaps, he just needed to know where to look.

 

I LOVE Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, and I am so glad to have read Felix’s story. Through Felix, I was able to expand my perspective to have a greater understanding and appreciation for trans people. His story opened my eyes to the many identities a trans person may have, and his story made me aware that it is okay to question your identity until you have found the one that makes you feel like you. 

In addition, Felix is a character who you cannot help but love. He faces many trials, but he does not allow them to stop him from realizing his dreams. Furthermore, Felix is relatable. Throughout the book, he opens up and shares his honest feelings regarding love. His humility makes him seem real and genuine. Despite his insecurities, Felix truly is a strong, admirable character. Felix’s story is heartwarming.

You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson

Star student and clarinetist Liz Lighty cannot wait to attend college in the fall as she will be attending her dream school—the same school her mother attended. Liz is looking forward to following her mother’s footsteps, but she is most excited about the select music ensemble she auditioned for. However, when she receives the news she did not make it, Liz is heartbroken—especially because she will not receive the scholarship she needed to attend the school. Liz is losing hope when she remembers that the prom queen and king both receive a full scholarship to the school of their choice. Never having considered participating in prom before, Liz is suddenly determined to make the prom court, and most importantly, win prom queen. But to complicate matters, Liz finds that she may be falling in love with one of the other prom queen contestants.


You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson is an inspirational story that reminds us to believe in our true selves. Liz is such a likable character, and I found myself immediately cheering for her. I love how she completely applies herself to her passions, and I especially love how she cares deeply about the people closest to her; she is willing to drop everything she is doing to give them the support they need. The elements of family, friendship, romance, and self-love that are included in the story made my heart feel full. And I especially enjoyed watching the relationships between Amanda, Jordan, and Robbie grow as the story progressed. You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson is an uplifting story that will make you smile.

 

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