good books for gorge readers.jpg

With topics Gorge-specific and beyond, Gift Guide presents a selection of books, mostly by local authors, available at Klindt’s Bookstore in The Dalles, Waucoma Books in Hood River, and other bookstores.

(Stop yourself from ordering these online, and get down to your local bookstore and look for these and other titles; such a search brings on a serendipity you cannot get at your keyboard or tablet.)

Of the river

Peter Pochocki Marbach’s Healing The Big River — Salmon Dreams and the Columbia River Treaty, combines the art of visual storytelling with passionate essays. ($29.95, selfpublished, Brown Printing)

Marbach’s labor of love was published in October 2019.

From the source, a tiny spring in the Canadian Rockies, to the sea, readers are guided on a journey back in time to the origins of the 1,243 mile Columbia and learn about the complicated history of the Columbia River Treaty.

Hood River photographer and writer Marbach, well known for his Gorge books and calendars, made repeated visits to places the length of N'Chi-Wana, from the source to the mouth on the Pacific Ocean.

The photo essay has 12 contributing authors, a mix of leaders from first nations, tribes, and salmon recovery advocates. Each author writes eloquently about their relationship to the river and their hopes for a modernized treaty that honors indigenous input and starts the process to restore one of the greatest salmon runs the world has ever known.

“I am humbled by the coalition of powerful voices that agreed to share their stories. This is truly a collaborative effort,” Marbach said. “This is just the beginning of a long journey to bring about change, to right the wrongs of the past, and convince decision makers to do the right thing.” The book can also be purchased at the Hood River News and The Dalles Chronicle offices.

Bridging A Great Divide; Battle for the Columbia River Gorge, by Kathie Durbin ($21.95, Oregon State University Press) Environmental journalist Durbin draws on interviews, correspondence and extensive research to detail what’s happened in the Gorge since passage of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Act in 1986. Durbin suggests that the story of the Scenic Area is the story of Pacific Northwest in microcosm, as the region shifts from a natural resource-based economy to one based on recreation, technology and quality of life.


Astoria by Peter Stark deals with the mouth of the Columbia and the early-19th century European exploration of the wild lands of what we now all the upper Northwest Pacific coast.

($21, HarperCollins)

“Astoria is a tale of high adventure and incredible hardship drawing extensively on first-hand accounts of the men who made the journey,” states the book jacket. “Though Astoria, the colony itself would be short-lived, its founders opened provincial American eyes to the remarkable potential of the Western coast, discovered the route that became the Oregon Trail, and permanently altered the nation’s landscape and global standing.”

This book could be complemented by the Marbach’s Big River, for an examination of the sobering realities of what European expansion did to the land and indigenous cultures of the region.

Stubborn Twig: Three Generations of Life in a Japanese American Family by Lauren Kessler ($19.99, Oregon State University Press) is really a history of Hood River. While focusing on the lives of the Yasui family from 1910 through World War II, it is a living work of social history that rings with the power of truth and the drama of finction. First published in 2006, everything in Kessler’s book is true (research fostered by Hood River’s long-time columnist Maija Yasui) but it reads like a somber, inspiring novel.

The earth

We Are All Greta is a graphic telling of the life and work of climate crisis activist Greta Thunberg of Sweden. As she is quoted on the back cover, “Humans are very adaptable: We can still fix this. But the opportunity to do so will not last for long. We must start today. We have no more excuses.” Valentina Giannella wrote the book and Mauria Marazzi illustrated.

The book ($12.99 is a quick, memorable read for all ages.


Cyclepedia: 90 Years of Modern Bicycle Design by Michael Embacher, foreword by Paul Smith, is a visually rich study of the two-wheeled creations beloved by so many. Bernhard Angerer took the photographs. (Thames & Hudson, $19.95) “Whether you are a rider, spectator or collector, a lover of design and craftsmanship, a do-it-yourself type or even a professional constructor, the bicycle has avid supporters of every kind,” write the authors. “Of course we can also celebrate the bicycle for its environmentally friendly attributes, which perfectly reflect the ever-present concerns for our planet.” Food and drink

“We read every ______ about beer we could get our _________on, and ordered all of the _________ we needed to start brewing ...”

Fill in the blanks, with Craft Beer Mad Libs, a hopped-up version of the popular party game where participants take turns filling in nouns, verbs, adjectives, and other words, for a sight-unseen story or scenario bound to create laughter brought on by the random association of words, and other non sequiturs. Wine, drinking games and marijuana editions are also available.

These Mad Libs editions ($4.99, are also ideal stocking-stuffers.

The Gorge is filled with creative people, some of whom write books you can read and then meet them at places such as farmers’ markets.

Such is the case with writer, recipe developer, and farmer Andrea Bemis of Tumbleweed Farm in Parkdale, and her 2017 book Dishing Up The Dirt: Simple Recipes for Cooking Through the Seasons, a lush compendium of recipes and insights inspired by the organic farm and kitchen Bemis founded with her husband. ($29.99, Harper Wave)

Oregon Blue Book

One you WILL need to order on-line, and do it soon, as supplies are limited: Consider it the official state almanac — a good gift for Oregonians and visitors.

2019–20 Oregon Blue Book came out earlier this year and is available online at The paperback books cost $18 each. (Hardback Blue Books are sold out.)

Since 1911, the Oregon Blue Book has been providing readers with important and fascinating facts about Oregon.

The Blue Book is Oregon’s official almanac and fact book.

Want to learn about Oregon history? See the Blue Book. You’re a government or elections nerd? See the Blue Book. Interested in Oregon tribal information? See the Blue Book. The Oregon outdoors is your thing? You must see the Blue Book! Arts and Sciences are your bag? Put the Oregon Blue Book in one and carry it home.

The 2019–2020 edition spotlights Oregon’s local festivals and community celebrations, celebrating a wide variety of uniquely Oregon themes.

This edition of the Blue Book was printed as a limited edition, with less than 1,000 still available for sale.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.