WA-List » WA-Books: Issue 4

WA-Books: Issue 4

Published by Steve Campion. Category: Review
Issue 4
In this issue we share 3 reviews and mention 7 other books.

WA-Books is WA-List’s glimpse at books — recently published or coming soon — about Washington State and the Northwest spirit it embodies.

Washington Rocks! A Guide to Geologic Sites in the Evergreen State by Eugene Kiver, Chad Pritchard, Richard Orndorff.

WashingtonRocks_9780878426546Mountain Press Publishing Company. Published: April, 2016. 144 pages. ISBN: 9780878426546

Walk through a lava tube. Touch an erratic. See where hundreds of cubic miles of water from an Ice Age lake thundered through a narrow gap during a cataclysmic flood. Geologic processes usually operate on time scales far too large to be witnessed within a human lifetime. Fortunately for backyard explorers the earth leaves behind visible evidence of the past. You need only know where to look.  Washington Rocks! is a field guide that can help non-scientists come into contact with that evidence.

The book’s three authors — each a professor at Eastern Washington University — begin their work with an excellent 12-page synopsis of Washington geology. That chapter gives the reader a basic understanding of the major storylines and subplots involved in our slow-moving, 100 million year geologic drama. Some parts of our state were island land masses that smashed into North America as one subsurface plate collided with another. Some of our lands were uplifted oceanic crust; some were volcanic material that erupted or oozed from deep in the earth; and still others were carved and gouged by Ice Age glaciers.

After the statewide geology lesson, the authors share 57 specific locations around the state where travelers can visit, see, and maybe touch the landforms created by these geologic forces. Washington has a rich variety of features: basalt columns, caves, coulees, gorges, scablands, landslides, volcanoes, lava flows, rivers, and the aforementioned erratics (i.e., large boulders carried many miles by a glacier and dropped in place when the ice melted away).  Each feature is given a one or two page easy-to-understand summary and is accompanied by color illustrations. Many of the photos are spectacular. They’re not simply postcard glamor shots; they truly assist in explaining the rock formation’s story.  Maps and diagrams appear on several pages, too.

Shelf Appeal: This book may be enjoyed by anyone from the comfort of an armchair. Road-trippers with casual interests in geology may enjoy using the book to plan interesting stops during drives across the state. If the fascination is more intense (and the book’s photos may well spark curiosity), those travelers may want to plan longer side-trips just to see some of the places mentioned.

Delancey: a Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage by Molly Wizenberg.


Simon & Schuster. Published: May, 2014. 256 pages. ISBN: 9781451655094

A young married couple with no restaurant management experience between them set out to open a wood fire pizza establishment in a bad economy. How tough can it be? Delancey, a quick-read by Molly Wizenberg, is the true story of the author’s experiences as her husband Brandon set out to create a quality pizzeria akin to one he loved in Manhattan.  She was a writer, he was a musician. Neither planned a career in food service but both had an unavoidable attraction to the culinary arts.  She wrote about food and he experimented with cooking whenever he could.  When Brandon suggested putting his PhD on hold to open a wood fire pizza place in Seattle, Molly mildly encouraged him, thinking it to be another in a long series of fanciful dreams to occupy his time for a while before some other interest swept him away.  She was busy writing her first book and didn’t reach her “wait a minute, are you serious?” moment until the leased storefront was well into the renovation phase.

Wizenberg uses this, her second book, to recall the long process of building the family business in the Ballard neighborhood: Brandon’s weekly practice on a borrowed oven to perfect the crust and the sauce, finding a location (including a brief stakeout to meet the landlord), assembling the oven at the center of everything, working long days for months to make the storefront usable as a restaurant, hiring workers for the first time, and managing the pizzeria in the first year.  A restaurant is a fragile business where anything can go wrong — from a cook who decides not show up to broken equipment to more salad orders than one pantry chef can handle.

Delancey (the restaurant) appears to be an unlikely success story, but Brandon’s unyielding dedication to the task is remarkable.  He was able to pull it off only with planning, hard work, and many kind-hearted friends.  Molly keeps Delancey (the book) entertaining.  She writes from her perspective as a slightly less involved accidental pizzeria co-owner.  She adds humor, skepticism, and recipes.  (The recipes derive mostly from their home, not the restaurant.) Her narrative wanes a bit toward the end when the fun dream of the project settles into the daily work of a public eatery but the story’s inertia carries it forward just fine.

Shelf Appeal: If you like reading about people who experiment with food — not just trying idly trying something new but seriously doing their homework hour after hour — then you might enjoy this book. There are many options in the media to satisfy your craving for restaurant “confidential” drama, but this is more friendly than dramatic and the shop is local enough for you to stop by yourself. (Full disclosure: we haven’t visited yet, but may in the near future.)

Washington Beer: A Heady History of Evergreen State Brewing by Michael F. Rizzo.


Arcadia History Press. Published: May, 2016. X pages. ISBN: 9781467119085

Ask someone in the Northwest to name a Washington beer and they might suggest Redhook Ale. Old-timers might add Rainier, Olympia, or even Heidelberg. True aficionados could surely compile a long list of microbrews that have enlivened the brewery and brewpub scene during the last two decades. They likely tasted many of them!

Michael Rizzo takes the “name a Washington beer” game to a whole other level. Washington Beer mentions hundreds of beers, brewers, and breweries that poured from our taps since territorial days — from Dayton and Walla Walla to Ellensburg, Langley, and Ballard.

Word of warning: Rizzo’s book is not a narrative. You might find it difficult to read cover to cover. It is more of a timeline in paragraph form. The author throws a dizzying number of names, facts, and dates your way. One sentence does not necessarily relate to the next and the text seldom carries the story of any one brewer more than a paragraph before abruptly moving on to the next chronological fact. Emil Sick (of Rainier Beer fame), for example, appears in this staccato form 15 times over a 30 page span. You can learn his story but you have to work for it.

You’ll also learn more about the industry ups and downs than the brewing process itself. If you want to zero in on a particular era, then find the appropriate chapter and browse your way through the surprising diversity of beer-making efforts from all across the Evergreen State.  You will discover brands you never knew and cities you never associated with brewing.  The last chapter with new brands and products from late 2015, is remarkably up-to-date for a book.

There’s a modest index. It lists brewers and brands mostly; it’s not very good with locations. After reading or skimming through the book, we used the index more for browsing beer names (e.g. Charging Hippo, GastroPod) than for reference.

Shelf Appeal: There is probably a narrow audience of people interested in historical brewery facts. They will enjoy thumbing through this book to see what trivia captivates them. Readers curious to learn about former breweries in their towns might also make discoveries with some effort.

Other recent and upcoming book titles:

Deepest Roots: Finding Food and Community on a Pacific Northwest Island by Kathleen Alcalá.

University of Washington Press. Published: September, 2016. 296 pages. ISBN: 978-0295999388

A Brief History of Vashon Island by Bruce Haulman.

Arcadia History Press. Published: May, 2016. ISBN: 9781626191693

The Fur Trade Gamble: North West Company on the Pacific Slope 1800-1820 by Lloyd Keith.

Washington State University Press. Published: April, 2016. 300 pages. ISBN: 9780874223361

Chance for Glory: The Innovation and Triumph of the Washington State 1916 Rose Bowl Team by Darin Watkins.

Aviva Publishing. Published: December, 2015. 280 pages. ISBN: 9780123456789

Developing the Pacific Northwest: The Life and Work of Asahel Curtis by William H. Wilson, Jr.

Washington State University Press. Published: August, 2015. 321 pages. ISBN: 9780874223316

Salish Sea: Jewel of the Pacific Northwest by Audrey DeLella Benedict and Joseph K. Gaydos.

Sasquatch Books. Published: March, 2015. 160 pages. ISBN: 9781570619854

Cho’s Story: From the Eyes of a Nisei Son by Choichi Shimizu.

Caring. Published: 2014. 136 pages. ISBN: 9780615951966


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