Happy Book Birthday to The Solace of Stones!


Book Birthdays celebrate one year of a book’s life in tweets, reviews, NetGalley ratings, and more! This month we’re saying Happy First Book Birthday to The Solace of Stones: Finding a Way through Wilderness (Bison Books, April 2016) by Julie Riddle! Riddle is the creative-nonfiction editor for Rock & Sling and the craft-essay editor for Brevity. She works as senior writer for marketing and development at Whitworth University. You can learn more about her work here

About the book: 

Julie Riddle author photoEverything changes when Julie Riddle’s parents stumble across the wilderness survival guide How to Live in the Woods on Pennies a Day. In 1977, when Riddle is seven years old, she and her family—fed up with the challenges of city life—move to the foot of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness in northwestern Montana. For three years they live in the primitive basement of the log house they are building by hand in the harsh, remote Montana woods. Meanwhile, haunted by the repressed memory of childhood sexual abuse, Riddle struggles to come to terms with the dark shadows that plague her amid entrenched cultural and gender mores enforced by enduring myths of the West.

As Riddle grapples with her own painful secrets, she discovers the world around her and its impact on people—the demands of living in a rural, mountain community dependent on boom-and-bust mining and logging industries, the health and environmental crises of the W. R. Grace asbestos contamination and EPA cleanup, and the healing beauty of the Montana wild. More than simply a memoir about family and place, The Solace of Stones explores Riddle’s coming of age and the complexities of memory, loss, and identity borne by a family homesteading in the modern West.


“…Riddle’s gorgeous prose palpably conveys the unfettered joys of a nature-centric life, particularly in the earliest days of the family’s adventure.” —Jenn McKee, Literary Mama

“[Riddle] writes with admirable grace, clear and straightforward, with just the right touch of poetic sensibility.” —David Crisp, Last Best News

“A superb, eloquent memoir that sings with imagery.” —JeriAnn Geller, Booktrib

“Riddle captures the brave, sweet spirit of her younger self, and she elucidates such difficult subjects as abused persons’ views on having children of their own.” —Dane Carr, Booklist

“Evocative prose illuminates the narrative’s people and places…” —Kirkus Reviews

On NetGalley: 

riddle netgalley1

riddle netgalley2

On the UNP Blog: 

Author article

From “Slow Down: Interrogating the Past Takes Time” in Brevity

riddle brevity

On Twitter: 

A word from the author: 

Happy first birthday, The Solace of Stones! What a year of adventures we’ve had together: travels to towns and cities in Florida, California and the Pacific Northwest for readings, signings, panels, book-group discussions, workshops and literary festivals; the awkward dance of changing clothes in public bathrooms before readings (remember that Wendy’s restaurant in Moscow, Idaho?). You’ve given me the opportunity to learn from talented authors, make new friends, reconnect with old friends, classmates, and former teachers, and be welcomed warmly back to my hometown for a celebratory signing, where Solace is set (I’m so glad to report that my fears of a chilly reception were unwarranted). Because of you, dear Solace, I have been invited into the homes and lives of people whose kindness, generosity, kinship and instant friendship have filled me with wonder and gratitude.

Julie Riddle at AWP 2016

Among the many treasures from our first year is this: the strangers and acquaintances who read you, Solace, contacted me, and expressed their relief and appreciation that I shared my story. It turns out that my story was their story, too, and they discovered they weren’t alone. Imagine if we could invite everyone we’ve encountered this year to come celebrate your birthday. That would be some party!

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