Ask, and Garth Will Answer

Join Garth's Goodreads Q&A This Week

Garth Stein GoodReadsCan’t make it to one of Garth’s bookstore events this year? Don’t worry - your chance to chat with Garth has come!

This week, on February 5 & 6, Garth's taking part in a Goodreads Q&A to celebrate his new novel, A Sudden Light. Now’s your chance to ask him whatever’s on your mind. Wonder what inspired Grandpa Samuel’s T-shirt choices? Planning your own writing career and want to know Garth’s writing survival skills? Or do you want to share what A Sudden Light has meant to you?
Don't miss this chance to chat with Garth! Anyone with a Goodreads account can post their questions, and access to the Q&A page is here.

Winter Reads in the Northwest

A Sudden Light For Overcast Days

Winter in the Pacific Northwest means days indoors and good books by a roaring fireplace. Independent booksellers in the region know this well, and they’ve really gotten behind A Sudden Light as they share recommendations for this year’s winter reads.

 Now a New York Times bestseller and a Pacific Northwest independent bestseller, A Sudden Light takes Northwest readers into the mysteries and hauntings of their own forested backyard and timber history.

On The Road

From Canada to Florida

Garth clocked his fair share of frequent flier miles this fall as he crisscrossed the country for his book tour. A Sudden Light brought him to bookstores and literary festivals from Canada to Florida, with more than forty-five stops in a two-month period. 
In late November, the Miami Book Festival welcomed Garth for a special panel with Peter Heller, Wiley Cash, and Ron Rash. A taping of the panel is available to viewers online on the PBS site.
The Thanksiving holidays brought Garth a short break from his travels. But despite his long tour, Garth didn’t want to miss the chance to celebrate Indies First with his local booksellers and book-loving neighbors. Each year, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, hundreds of authors around the country support their local independent bookstores by visiting the store and playing “bookseller for a day,” sharing their favorite books and meeting bookstore customers. Here’s Garth at Liberty Bay Books, celebrating with fellow author and member Carol Cassella.

Banned Again!

Highland Park Just Can't Let It Go

Remember when a Texas high school pulled The Art of Racing in the Rain and six other books off its assigned reading list just in time for Banned Book Week last year?

The books were eventually reinstated, but, it ain’t over yet. A parent has appealed the Highland Park ISD decision to return Enzo to the reading list (with a signed parental permission slip required for any student who wants to read it). The appeal has also re-challenged David K. Shipler’s The Working Poor: Invisible in America. This new challenge takes The Art of Racing in the Rain to the second level of a three-level appeal process.

Ironically, the book challenge has only inspired student interest and support for The Art of Racing in the Rain. Not only have students and recent alumni demonstrated in support of keeping the challenged books on the curriculum list, they’ve taken the lead in sharing The Art of Racing in the Rain with others.

 Mohler Carlson, a volunteer with HP Kids Read, an advocacy group formed in response to the recent book challenges, told us more:
“[In November] there was a student driven petition...where students gathered and came together - asking the administration to leave the English Curriculum alone, support our teachers as the experts who should be the ones deciding on what books are read (not the parents) and to keep the banned books in the program. As you know The Art of Racing in the Rain is the only book with a formal complaint and is presently being decided on whether it gets to stay by a formal review committee. Yikes! The student movement was covered by our local news media and was picked up by other stations across the nation…
“Many of our young Alumni have weighed in on this subject, upset that the books would be pulled, censored and be brought before review committees! Yeah alumni! Because the [High School] student petition was so successful and was able to get some traction, our thought was to gather our alumni for a petition signing similar to that of the [High School] students. This time we thought we would focus on the book The Working Poor. This book was also another one of the "original banned books". We thought we would have a book drive along with the signing and have the alumni bring/donate books to a local charity- The Bridge here in Dallas that would go to their library for the teenage readers who are residents in this transitional housing.

“We were going to have The Working Poor sitting by the petition along with The Art of Racing in the Rain on the table. …We wanted to show that by putting great books like The Art of Racing in the Rain and The Working Poor into our students hands it gives our students/alumni a glimpse of what life looks like outside of their own and exposure to all different kinds of walks of life and experiences that they may not have contemplated or come across previously. Also by reading these works it prompts our students and alumni to reach out and help others. We want our voices heard in support of the books and to give the Alumni an avenue to do just that along with making a difference in people’s lives.”

Guilty As Charged

Garth Muses on His Reading Choices

All this talk of banning books has inspired Garth to remember his own childhood encounters with banned books: 

 “I have broken many laws, I must confess.  As a child I read Winnie the Pooh and Charlotte’s Web, both banned in some schools because they depict animals talking.  I have read The Lorax, banned in one California school district for 'criminalizing the forestry industry.'  As a young adult I delved deeply into the darkness of the banned book bazaar, reading Ulysses, Tropic of Cancer, Lolita, The Metamorphosis, Slaughterhouse-five, The Grapes of Wrath, and Brave New World…all within the period of just a couple of years!  (Oh, the horror!)  And what has all this criminal activity done for me?  How has it corrupted my soul?  
"I suggest to you that my soul is just fine.  I am fairly normal--at least in public, which is all anyone can really hope for.  Rather than becoming corrupted by these banned books, as Gollum was corrupted by the Ring (JRR Tolkien was banned, too!), I was emboldened by them.  These books made me want to tell stories, too.  Not stories that would be controversial for controversy’s sake, but good, solid stories that would provoke thought in my readers.  
"And so, to my friends in Highland Park, as well as to readers around the world:  I encourage you to take control of your personal literary canon and read what you find thought-provoking and inspiring, whether or not it fits into someone else’s definition of ‘appropriate.’  For if we let others dictate what we can think and imagine, eventually our world will resemble the fictional worlds of 1984 and Fahrenheit 451—both books that have been banned at times...” - Garth

My peace I give unto you.

February 2015

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A Sudden Light
A family confronts long-buried secrets as it struggles for forgiveness and redemption in this breathtaking story set against the majestic beauty of the Pacific Northwest

Inspiration for A Sudden Light

Catch a recent television interview with AM Northwest, where Garth discusses part of his father’s influence on A Sudden Light:

 “He came to me in these dreams and we had long detailed conversations… and then he went away, he was gone. And we can explain that away with science or we can say that maybe there was something unresolved there that he wanted to complete… I think that there are connections in this world that we try to explain away with science a little bit too conveniently. There are things that are behind the facade and we need to peel back the layers.”

A View From The Top

Want to see the world from Ben and Harry's perspective? As part of his research into the world of tree-climbing, Garth climbed an ancient redwood named Grandfather in 2014.

Now, Garth's tree-climbing guide Tim Kovar is offering special guided tours up Grandfather in March 2015. Take a three-hour cruise to the top and back down, but don't delay signing up. Tim only has space for a dozen people, and these spots will go fast!

Groups are limited to four people 18 years or older, and no experience is required, though Tim recommends making sure you're fit enough to make the climb. Find out more at

Writer's Digest

Garth spoke with Writers’ Digest for their February magazine, and reporter Jessica Strawser shared some sneak peeks from their conversation online. Check it out!

Vote For Enzo

Do you care about what your elected officials think? Do you care about what they read? Last November, Vermont voters found themselves deciding between two lieutenant governor candidates: one who enjoys reading P.G. Wodehouse, and one who chose The Art of Racing in the Rain as his favorite book. Guess who won?

Garth's Calendar

Author! Author!
Bend, OR
Feb. 11, 2015

Paulina Spring Books
Sisters, OR
Feb. 13, 2015

Sunriver Books and Music
Sunriver, OR
Feb. 14, 2015

Book Passage
Corte Madera, CA
March 3, 2015

Books, Inc at The Marina
San Francisco, CA
March 4, 2015

Books, Inc of Mountain View
Mountain View, CA
March 5, 2015

Towne Center Books
Pleasanton, CA
March 6, 2015

A Great Good Place For Books
Oakland, CA
March 6, 2015

Avid Reader
Davis, CA
March 7, 2015

Talk of the Town
Seattle, WA
March 13, 2015

Burgundy Books
Westbrook, CT
March 21. 2015

Byrd's Books
Western Connecticut State University
Danbury, CT
March 21, 2015

Books on the Square
Providence, RI
March 22, 2015

The Odyssey Bookshop
South Hadley, MA
March 23, 2015

UConn Co-op Bookstore
Storrs, CT
March 24, 2015

Spoken Interludes
Westchester County, NY
March 25, 2015

Literary Lions
Issaquah, WA
March 28, 2015

Camarillo Reads
Camarillo, CA
March 29, 2015

Book Soup
Hollywood, CA
March 30, 2015

One Book, One Glendale
Glendale, CA
March 31, 2015

Givens Books & Little Dickens
Lynchburg, VA
April 18, 2015

Club Book
Minneapolis, MN
April 20, 2015

National Writers Series
Traverse City, MI
April 21, 2015

Schuler Books
Grand Rapids, MI
April 22, 2015

Nicola's Books
Ann Arbor, MI
April 23, 2015

For more information on these and other events,
visit Garth's website.
Copyright © 2015 Terra Communications, All rights reserved.

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