Put a Book in Your Backpack

Illustration by Santiago Uceda
Illustration by Santiago Uceda

By Lee Anna Sherman

As winter ends, readers transition from overstuffed chairs bathed in lamplight to chaise lounges drenched in sunlight. One of summer’s purest delights is reclining poolside or riverside, lost in a well-told story. Books are also essential summer companions for travelers and trekkers, birders and explorers, scholars and thinkers.

OSU Press – Oregon’s only academic publisher – has released a number of intriguing titles in recent months, including several by Oregon State University faculty members. Consider the list below when planning your summer reading.

For a catalog and ordering information, see http://osupress.oregonstate.edu//.

History and Social Science

Race and Science: Scientific Challenges to Racism in Modern America. Paul Farber and Hamilton Cravens. 2010.
Edited by Paul Farber, OSU Distinguished Professor of History of Science Emeritus, and Hamilton Cravens of Iowa State University, this is a collection of essays from leading voices in law, history, history of science, botany, and the social sciences exploring the roots of and the scientific challenges to racial essentialism – the notion that a person’s racial identity and characteristics define everything of importance about them. During the course of American history, scientific theories have been used to legitimate racial ideas that in turn have been important in creating and interpreting the law. These essays illuminate the roots of this belief and present case studies that explore how and why natural and social scientists have challenged these racist views.

The Environmental Justice: William O. Douglas and American Conservation. Adam M. Sowards. 2009.
From the late 1940s to the mid-1970s, American conservation politics underwent a transformation. Adam M. Sowards, a professor of history and the University of Idaho, tells the previously untold story of how Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas’s passion for nature helped to define the modern environmental movement in Oregon and the Northwest.

Cultural Studies

Mexicanos in Oregon: Their Stories, Their Lives. Erlinda V. Gonzales-Berry and Marcela Mendoza. 2010.
Erlinda Gonzales, professor and chair in OSU’s Department of Ethnic Studies before becoming director of Casa Latinos Unidos de Benton County, and Marcela Mendoza, interim director of Centro LatinoAmericano, shed new light on the stories and lives of mexicanos in Oregon: why migrants come to Oregon fields, construction sites, and warehouses; what their experiences are when they settle here; and how they adapt to life in the United States.

Massacred for Gold: The Chinese in Hell’s Canyon. R. Gregory Nokes. 2009.
In 1887, more than 30 Chinese gold miners were massacred on the Oregon side of Hells Canyon, the deepest canyon in North America. In the first authoritative account of the unsolved crime, former longtime editor of The Oregonian R. Gregory Nokes unearths the evidence that points to an improbable gang of rustlers and schoolboys as the killers.

Oregon and the Northwest

Another Way the River Has: Taut True Tales from the Northwest. Robin Cody. 2010.
A collection of the finest nonfiction by acclaimed author Robin Cody. “This remarkable Northwest book is a rare gift – worth owning and sharing,” says Craig Lesley, author of Burning Fence and Winterkill.

Eden Within Eden: Oregon’s Utopian Heritage. James J. Kopp. 2009.
Oregon has long been a destination for those seeking new beginnings. The state has been home to nearly 300 communal experiments, from the Aurora Colony to Rajneeshpuram. In the first book to survey Oregon’s utopian history, James Kopp of Lewis & Clark College tells the stories of religious and Socialist groups of the 19th century to ecologically conscious communities of the 21st century.

Sustainable Living

To the Woods:  Sinking Roots, Living Lightly, and Finding True Home . Evelyn Searle Hess. 2010.
The true story of Evelyn Searle Hess, who, in her late 50s, walked away from the world of modern conveniences to build a new life with her husband on 20 acres of wild land in the foothills of Oregon’s Coast Range. It is a tale of adventure, inspiration, and living life in concert with nature.

Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities. Jeff Mapes. 2009.
In a world of increasing traffic congestion, a grassroots movement is carving out a niche for bicycles on city streets. Jeff Mapes, a longtime reporter at The Oregonian, explores the growing bike culture that is changing the look and feel of cities, suburbs and small towns across North America.


Afield: Forty Years of Birding the American West. Alan Contreras. Illustrations by Ramiel Papish. 2009.
Eugene resident, birder and author Alan Contreras recounts his lifelong bird-watching experiences. Sprinkled with comments from ornithologists and early explorers of the West, the essays offer elements of natural history, personal memoir and adventure travel.

Oregon Fossils: Second Edition. Elizabeth L. Orr and William N. Orr. 2009.
This revised and expanded edition by William and Elizabeth Orr, director and collections manager of the Condon Collection at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the University of Oregon, includes a record of all known fossils in Oregon going back 400 million years, along with collecting localities by country, age, rock formation and published source.

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