2022 Lake Oswego Reads Selection!

The Lake Oswego Public Library has selected C Pam Zhang’s 2020 debut novel How Much of These Hills Is Gold for its award winning citywide reading program, at the recommendation of the Lake Oswego Reads Steering Committee.

Director of the Lake Oswego Public Library, Melissa Kelly, shares, “Zhang’s stunning novel redraws the American West to center the lives of siblings Lucy and Sam, the children of Chinese immigrants.  Blazing their own paths out of a childhood torn by prejudice and loss, Lucy and Sam carry forward their parents’ dream to find home and belonging. Despite many heart wrenching challenges, their strength of spirit endures. It is a powerful book that we are excited to bring to our community.”

How Much of These Hills Is Gold illustrates a striking portrait of the gold rush era in the American West. Zhang's unique voice shines through the poetic pages as deep-rooted themes of land and history emerge. “With multifaceted characters and an atmosphere brimming with foreshadowing, How Much of These Hills Is Gold will keep any reader eager to turn the next page,” says LO Reads committee member and Lake Oswego High School Sophomore, Samuel Bohn.

“The novel crafts a reimagined American West, filled with magic and myth, at the height of America’s iconic Gold Rush. Two Chinese American siblings head into the wilderness after their prospector father dies. On their journey the narrative challenges its characters and us to accept mystery and question ‘What makes a home a home?'” adds Andrew Edwards, Executive Director of Lakewood Center for the Arts, a longtime committee member and supporter of Lake Oswego Reads.

Lake Oswego resident, Agnes Hoffman notes: “This tale of sorrow shines a searing light on man’s inhumanity to [others] in the waning days of the rush for gold and transcontinental rail. Zhang’s masterful tale lingered long after I finished reading.”

Steering Committee member Joann Geddes, Faculty Emerita at Lewis & Clark College said, “Readers of this debut novel by C Pam Zhang will take a painful but enriching journey full of unexpected twists, turns and detours leading to new insights and providing glimpses into a past that we may never have imagined but should investigate. The author provides us with a new framework from within which to explore the Gold Rush era through the eyes of “the other” in our land. Replete with historical, cultural and linguistic references that spark new insights and awaken us to alternative views of history, this selection offers us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in a world of well-developed characters who represent those whose role in the development of this nation is too seldom featured or contemplated.”

The 2021-22 Steering Committee for Lake Oswego Reads is composed of librarians, community leaders, high school English teachers, retired professors, and high school students. More than 50 books were suggested for this volunteer committee to read and consider. For a listing of proposed books, go to www.ci.oswego.or.us/loreads/books-considered-2022.


Join Us

The official kickoff of Lake Oswego Reads will be on February 28, 2022. Thanks to a grant from the Friends of the Lake Oswego Library, 800 free books will be distributed to Lake Oswego Public Library card holders. In order to uphold Covid-19 safety protocols, the book giveaway will be held as a drive-through in the library parking lot beginning at 10:00 am. The street address is 706 Fourth Street in Lake Oswego.

The community reads program has been held during February in prior years but in 2022 it will transition to the new month of April. The Lake Oswego Reads Events committee is developing April’s schedule of free programs that includes speakers, online displays, art and more. Additionally, thanks to the Friends of Lake Oswego Library, Zhang will visit Lake Oswego in person and speak at Lakeridge High School on Friday, April 29 at 7:00 pm. A limited number of tickets will be available in early March. See the Lake Oswego Library website for details on this event and all the April events as they are added to this exciting month of reading.

Retired Lake Oswego Library Director, Bill Baars adds, “One of the wonderful things about Lake Oswego Reads - apart from the terrific and thought-provoking programs and events - is how memorable so many of these books have been. How Much of These Hills Is Gold, is a book that will surely resonate long after our month of activities, and I'm certain it will provide much for us to consider and discuss. I'm looking forward to some excellent conversations in our new Lake Oswego Reads month of April.”  



The Lake Oswego Public Library has been recognized by national organizations such as the League of Mayors for this immersive program that encourages all members of the community to read the same book, discuss its message, and celebrate an atmosphere of learning among all age groups. This will be the program’s 16th year and all events will be free thanks to financial support from the Friends of the Lake Oswego Public Library, Lake Oswego Rotary Club, and the Lake Oswego Review.


About the Author

Born in Beijing, C Pam Zhang is mostly an artifact of the United States. She is the author of How Much of These Hills Is Gold, winner of the Academy of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Award and the Asian/Pacific Award for Literature; nominated for the Booker Prize; and a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award and a Lambda Literary Award. Zhang’s writing appears in Best American Short Stories, The Cut, McSweeney’s Quarterly, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. She is a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Honoree.

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