Whatcom Magazine

Northwest bookshelf: Recent titles of interest to Whatcom readers

People in Northwest Washington love to read, and there are plenty of authors who call the area their home. To honor both, here are some recent books by local authors. Read and enjoy.


• “USFactsFirst,” by Joseph Coons, $29.95. The Bellingham writer offers facts and data on 15 critical issues, including health care, the national debt, taxes and education. His goal is to present clear data in a nonpartisan way to help readers understand the issues and put them into proper perspective. Coons ends each chapter with questions for readers to ponder and discuss. To stay up-to-date, check out his website, usfactsfirst.com.

• “Eating Well: A Guide to Foods of the Pacific Northwest,” by John Doerper, $18.95. Thirty years ago, the food, wine and restaurant writer for The Bellingham Herald and other publications released a landmark guide to expertly crafted delicacies and beverages in the Northwest, with recipes from inventive local chefs. His new, 30th anniversary edition includes an updated introduction and appendix for a new generation of food lovers. A “locavore” long before the term came into common use, Doerper is the author of a dozen books about food, wine and travel.

• “Drive-Ins, Drive-Ups, and Drive-Thrus,” by Wes Gannaway and Kent Holsather, $24.95. The pair of local history writers recount Whatcom County’s now-defunct drive-in movie theaters, and the county’s many car-oriented eateries, from classic favorites that now live on only in the memories of aging patrons, to long-established businesses that continue to serve up fries, burgers, shakes and similar fare.

• “A Leg to Stand On,” by Colleen Haggerty, $16.95. Haggerty was a 17-year-old Bellevue high-school student when she lost her left leg in a horrific car accident on the freeway just south of Bellingham. Her memoir details the anguish and pain, both physical and emotional, that ensued. It took counseling, many personal ups and downs, and a meeting 15 years later with the Canadian driver who hit her, for Haggerty to rebuild her life. She now lives in Bellingham.

• “Migrant Earth,” by Ramón Mesa Ledesma, $19.87. Born into a family of 16 brothers and sisters, the Sedro-Woolley resident recounts the travels and travails of a family of Mexican migrant workers as they wander the Western United States, including Western Washington, in the 1940s and ’50s. In a mix of prose and poems, he portrays a family living on the periphery of a dominant white culture that simultaneously loathed and needed them.

• “Friends in DEEDS,” by Christine Grace Magnussen and Kelley Giaramita, $12.95 paper, $5.95 ebook. Magnussen is a motivational speaker and author with a background in medical social work. Giaramita, her sister, is a teacher and coach to nursing students and staff in California. Their book is the first of a planned series of interactive guidebooks to support people who are experiencing major life changes, such as chronic illness, divorce, or hospital recovery.

• “Port of the Dragon; The Lost Harbor of Sir Francis Drake,” by Laird L. Nelson, $14.95. The Everson writer and retired commercial salmon fisherman writes that English privateer Francis Drake landed on the Northwest coast of America, including in three bays in Northwest Washington, in the late 16th century. Laird says details about Drake’s historic journey have been the victim of a cover-up.