Books and Brews breaks down barriers

New book club meets at 54°40’ Brewing in Washougal, hopes to attract millenials

The Books and Brews Book Club is held at 54?40' Brewing Company, which offers a fresh-ingrediant menu featuring everything from a "strawberry fields" salad (pictured here) to burgers and flatbreads. The group read Celeste Ng's book, "Everything I Never Told You," in June and is reading "The Pearl That Broke its Shell" by Nadia Hashimi for the July 9 meet-up.

Books and Brews Book Club members tune in to a discussion about their June book club read, "Everything I Never Told You," by Celeste Ng. The July book is "The Pearl That Broke its Shell," by Nadia Hashimi. The club meets again from 6 to 7 p.m., Monday, July 9, at 54?40' Brewing, 3801 S. Truman Road, Washougal.

Books can take you to different places, time periods and planets, just by reading them.

Books and Brews, a new book club held in collaboration with the Washougal Community Library and 54?40′ Brewing Company, has immersed its members into a Depression-era story of an old ranch hand from Oregon who travels to Hollywood with hopes of becoming a stunt rider in Molly Gloss’ book, “Falling from Horses.”

Later, book club members found themselves transfixed by Celeste Ng’s “Everything I Never Told You,” set in Ohio and featuring a Chinese-American family left to deal with chaos after their lively daughter is found dead in a local lake.

The next shift will transport readers to Kabul in 2007, where the story of Rahima, a young girl who has to deal with a drug-addicted father and life with only sisters, fights for a promising future, in Nadia Hashimi’s novel, “The Pearl That Broke its Shell.”

The debut novel from Hashimi, an Afghan-American writer, is described as a searing tale of powerlessness, fate and the freedom to control one’s own fate, which combines the cultural flavor and emotional resonance of the works of Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri and Lisa See.

“Their only hope lies in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age,” the book’s synopsis states. “As a son, she can attend school, go to the market and chaperone her older sisters.”

Books and Brews Book Club members welcome the community to share their thoughts about the book at the club’s next meeting, scheduled to take place from 6 to 7 p.m., Monday, July 9, at 54?40′ Brewing Company, 3801 S. Truman Road, Washougal.

Amy Minister, co-owner of 54?40′ Brewing, said the brewery opened up a taproom to welcome the community and create a presence within Washougal.

“We also wanted to partner with the library,” Minister added. “We hold a trivia night to raise awareness that the library is doing great and creative things.”

Book club members can enjoy a cold beer and filling burger while they chat about their most recent reads. Washougal Library Branch Manager Rachael Ries said the group is intended to help connect “new adults” in the 20 to 30 age range.

“That’s one of the populations that I feel is really underserved,” Ries said of the 20- and 30-somethings. “We don’t have a lot of space to do activities in the library. We also don’t get a lot of that demographic in the door unless they have kids and they’re bringing them for story time. So, I wanted to provide something just for them.”

The book club is designed to be a form of community building outside the library, Ries said.

“It’s nice to be able to partner with a local business and still serve people,” she explained.

Perri Prince and her sister, Rachel Prince, attended the first book club in April.

“We both like to read. She’s actually kind of like my library,” Perri Prince said of her sister. “She gives me books a lot of times and ideas of good reads — and I love 54?40′ (Brewing)’s beers.”

Rachel Prince said she has joined other book clubs, but most failed to engage her and she was never able to get around to reading the books.

“So, the thought of coming here, and having the book made it a little easier to finish it and attend,” Rachel said.

The book club, so far, has read about different time periods and cultures, and Ries says it will continue to support a variety of genres.

“Part of what’s nice with book groups is that you get a variety of books, and sometimes people read things they wouldn’t normally,” Ries said.

The women who attended the first book club meeting agreed that they wouldn’t have chosen “Falling From Horses” to read on their own, but admitted that the book hooked them in and was a page-turner.

For people who want to join the book club, there are copies of the current book “The Pearl That Broke its Shell” at 54?40′ and the Washougal Community Library. Members of the club do not need a library card to check out the book.