You can find information about Ana Maria’s books — Pushed, Mile Marker Six, Uplake, The Luckiest Scar on Earth, Reclaimers, 100 Skills, Potluck, Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus , Now Go Home — below. Order them at your favorite independent bookstore.
“Pushed is a compelling true crime book that explores issues of race and justice in the American West.” – starred review Forewords Review
“How a historian chooses to narrate a particular history is significant in countless ways. Spagna is insistent in her efforts to “tune our imaginations to empathy rather than exploitation,” and she succeeds in demonstrating that “when given the opportunity to listen, we should.”
– Kirkus Reviews
Amid the current alarming rise in xenophobia, Ana Maria Spagna stumbled upon a story: one day in 1875, according to lore, on a high bluff over the Columbia River, a group of local Indigenous people murdered a large number of Chinese miners—perhaps as many as three hundred—and pushed their bodies over a cliff into the river. The little-known incident was dubbed the Chelan Falls Massacre. Despite having lived in the area for more than thirty years, Spagna had never before heard of this event. She set out to discover exactly what happened and why.
Consulting historians, archaeologists, Indigenous elders, and even a grave dowser, Spagna uncovers three possible versions of the event: Native people as perpetrators. White people as perpetrators. It didn’t happen at all. Pushed: Miners, a Merchant, and (Maybe) a Massacre replaces convenient narratives of the American West with nuance and complexity, revealing the danger in forgetting or remembering atrocities when history is murky and asking what allegiance to a place requires.
“From Rancho Cucamonga to the Lost Coast, from the scablands to Tupshin Peak, Ana Maria Spagna’s debut poetry collection quakes with the full magnitude and magnificence of a life spent up close and personal with nature. Coyote pups “nose into rattlesnake weeds” and mud bees nest in knotholes under a “sky awash in waves of stars.” Taut lines etch an account of contemporary life in the Anthropocene, chronicling humanity’s effect on the earth, and just as importantly, the earth’s effect on us. “How rarely, now, we drop to our knees,” Spagna laments, “to protect what’s ours,” though she reminds us that “None of it is ours!” Tender in their recollections and observations, these poems teem with the poignancy, precision, and clarity of cut diamonds or, more accurately, splitting “a fir needle lengthwise to spare it harm.” Pulsing. Dazzling. Fierce.
–Jill McCabe Johnson, author of Revolutions We’d Hoped We’d Outgrown and Diary of the One Swelling Sea
Read a review at Brevity here.
These engaging reflective essays celebrate the richness of it all:winter floods and summer fires, the roar of a chainsaw and a fiddle in the wilderness, long hikes and open-water swims, an injured bear, a lost wedding ring, a tree in the middle of a river. Uplake reminds us to love what we have while encouraging us to still imagine what we want.
*Uplake was a finalist for the Washington state book award
Fourteen-year-old Charlotte moves from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to Washington’s Cascade Mountains, where she hopes to continue training for the national snowboarding championships. After her father signs an anti-development petition, she loses access to the local resort and takes to the backcountry, where she meets nature on its own terms. When adventure turns to tragedy, Charlotte learns that even our deepest scars can be lucky ones.
“It’s delightful to see a female snowboarder as narrator, and readers…will find distinctive characters and an underrepresented subject.”
“This coming–of–age story will appeal to extreme sports enthusiasts, environmental activists, and fans of strong female characters.”
*The Luckiest Scar on Earth was named a Best Book of 2017 by Multnomah County Libraries
For most of the past century, Humbug Valley, a forest-hemmed meadow sacred to the Mountain Maidu tribe, was in the grip of a utility company. Washington’s White Salmon River was saddled with a fish-obstructing, inefficient dam, and the Timbisha Shoshone Homeland was unacknowledged within the boundaries of Death Valley National Park.
Until people decided to reclaim them.
In Reclaimers, Ana Maria Spagna drives an aging Buick up and down the long strip of West Coast mountain ranges-the Panamints, the Sierras, the Cascades-and alongside rivers to meet the people, many of them wise women, who persevered for decades with little hope of success to make changes happen. In uncovering their heroic stories, Spagna seeks a way for herself, and for all of us, to take back and to make right in a time of unsettling ecological change.
*Reclaimers received an honorable mention for the 2016 Rachel Carson Environment Book Award from the Society of Environmental Journalists and was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award
100 Skills You’ll Need for the End of the World (As We Know It)
What skills will you need after a global catastrophe? Whether it’s the end of oil, an environmental disaster, or something entirely unforeseen, Ana Maria Spagna outlines 100 skills you’ll find indispensable for life after the apocalypse. You’ll need to know how to barter, perform basic first aid, preserve food, cut your own hair, clean a chimney, navigate by the stars, stitch a wound, darn socks, and sharpen blades. You’ll need to master the arts of conversation, child raising, listening, music making, and storytelling. This fascinating and entertaining book, full of quirky illustrations by artist Brian Cronin, will provoke surprise, debate, and laughter.
“Move over, 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth. In this trusty little volume, Ana Maria Spagna has created a handbook for how to be a better human: more self-sufficient, more cooperative and kind-hearted, more in tune with your surroundings. This is no mere primer on reskilling; it’s a humor-infused exploration of how to live more lightly on the planet while getting in touch with your more virtuous self.”
–Jennifer Sahn, Editor of Orion magazine
*!00 Skills won a gold medal in the 2015 Nautilus Book Awards
Potluck: Community on the Edge of Wilderness
In Potluck, Ana Maria Spagna explores the deep connection of people and place. Her affectionate, wry, and wise writings journey from Tijuana to a California beach to Utah’s canyon country–and, always, back to the sparsely populated valley in the North Cascades she calls home. Often, Potluck homes in on the everyday gatherings that, over time, define a community– a makeshift wedding, an art gallery opening, a farewell potluck, a work party, a campfire, a political caucus, a funeral. Spagna doesn’t shy away from what pushes people apart–pettiness, prejudice, and idiosyncrasy–and she marvels at what brings people together, and what holds them there. She asks the universal question, “What connects us?” In Potluck, we discover, again and again, the gift of community–uneasy, deep, enduring and essential.
*Potluck was a finalist for the 2012 Washington State Book Award
Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus: A Daughter’s Civil Rights Journey
Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus chronicles the story of an American family against the backdrop of one of the civil rights movement’s lesser-known stories. In January 1957, Joseph Spagna and five other young men waited to board a city bus called the Sunnyland in Tallahassee, Florida. Their plan was simple but dangerous: ride the bus together—three blacks and three whites—get arrested, and take their case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Fifty years later Ana Maria Spagna sets off on a journey to understand what happened and why.
Her journey is complicated by the fact that her father never spoke of the Sunnyland experience and died unexpectedly when she was eleven, Spagna travels from her remote mountain home in the Pacific Northwest to contemporary Tallahassee, searching for the truth of the incident and her father’s involvement. She seeks out the other bus riders, now in their seventies, and tries to make sense of their conflicting stories. Her odyssey becomes further troubled by the sudden diagnosis of her mother’s terminal cancer.
*Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus was the winner of the River Teeth Narrative Nonfiction Prize, finalist for the Washington State Book Award, and short-listed for the Pacific Northwest Bookseller’s Prize
Now Go Home: Wilderness, Belonging, and the Crosscut Saw
Now Go Home tells the story of how a quintessential California girl ended up earning her living in the Pacific Northwest with a crosscut saw. Ana Maria Spagna came of age in southern California in the “hot-pink eighties.” By the time she turned nineteen, she had visited Disneyland thirty-seven times and was ready to hit the road. In these finely edged essays, she takes her readers along.
With candor, wit, and hard-earned wisdom, Spagna reflects on the journey that took her from a childhood in the suburbs of LA to a trail crew in the North Cascades, where she falls in love with a place and, unexpectedly, with a woman. With days spent laboring as the only woman on a trail crew and evenings in a cabin no larger than Thoreau’s, she has world enough and time to wrestle with the compromises and contradictions of making “a life in the woods.” From the work she does and the people she meets, she comes to see the nuances, and occasionally the humor, of big ideas like wilderness and environmentalism. And she decides this is the place she must call home.
SOME FINE INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES … IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD AND BEYOND
A Book for All Seasons
Lopez Island, Washington
Elliott Bay Books
Grassroots Books and Music
Cellar Door Books
Third Place Books
Paulina Springs Books
Los Angeles, California
The Book Bar
Trail's End Books
Port Book and News
Port Angeles, Washington
Hood River, Oregon
Back of Beyond Books
Park City, Utah
The King's English
Salt Lake City, Utah