One unexpected day in January, when it's been raining for two or three months, you're going to freak out and buy air tickets to a warmer clime. Think Mazatlan, Maui, Cozumel. And when that day comes, you won't have any time to waste picking out beach reading. May we recommend Chelsea Cain's latest? Sweetheart ($24.95. Murder by the Book, 3210 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 232-9995) is a torrid sequel to her NYT-bestselling mystery debut, Heartsick.

Poetry gets a bad rap. Ready to read something accessible, smart and funny? Matthew Dickman's new collection, All-American Poem ($14. Annie Bloom's Books, 7834 SW Capitol Highway, 246-0053), won the APR/Honickman First Book Prize, and it has the candid, ecstatic feel of a childhood road trip. The author frankly admits that where his poems are concerned, no pop-culture artifact is off limits, including "Pepsi, McDonald's, and the word 'ass.'"

Depending on your cast of mind, you'll find Between the Covers ($16.95. Annie Bloom's Books, 7834 SW Capitol Highway, 246-0053) either very helpful or very troubling. In it, critics Margo Hammond and Ellen Heltzel, the self-described Ebert and Roeper of books, offer a recommended reading list of over 600 titles "based on what women care about most." Their list includes topics like role models, finances, body image issues, love and sex.

Hey, Democrat! The election's over, but you've still got heaps of partisan angst and nowhere to vent it. To wind down, we recommend Win McCormack's new book. You Don't Know Me: A Citizen's Guide to Republican Family Values ($16.95. Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside St., 228-4651) offers more than 100 cases of hilarious and shocking sexual misconduct by Republican officials.

This one goes out to all my closeted craft-addicts. Do you wish your life were more precious? Check out craft blogger Alicia Paulson's new book, Stitched in Time ($22.95. Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside St., 228-4651). In it, you'll discover 30 project ideas to help crochet, appliqué and backstitch your fondest memories into everyday objects.

Microhistory is the new black. Recent years have seen the publication of a wealth of incredibly fine-tuned, book-length researches on subjects such as lobsters, bicycles and salt. Really, it was just a matter of time before someone tackled spelling. David Wolman's Righting the Mother Tongue ($24.95. Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside St., 228-4651) takes readers through the convoluted, frequently hilarious history of English orthography.

Nothing says "I'm plugged into local lit" like a crisp new copy of Kevin Sampsell's short-fiction collection, Creamy Bullets ($14.95. Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside St., 228-4651). Sampsell's stories, which range from the quirky to the downright bizarre, seem to capture something essential about the Portland ethos, as exemplified by his talent for inventing and naming fictional bands like "Hand Over Fist" and "The Vikings."

After provocatively named siblings Milton and Marlo get killed in a marshmallow accident, they are sent straight to Heck, a purgatorial reform school populated by characters like principal Bea "Elsa" Bubb and ethics instructor R. Nixon. Although technically intended for tween readers, Dale E. Basye's Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go ($16.95. A Children's Place, 4807 NE Fremont St., 284-8294) will be equally amusing for any parent who happens to pick it up.

Virginia Woolf once said of Middlemarch that it was one of few English novels "written for grown-up people." The same is true of Ehud Havazelet's Bearing the Body ($24. Broadway Books, 1714 NE Broadway, 284-1726), which just won the 2008 Oregon Book Award for fiction. After Daniel Mirsky is killed in San Francisco, his father and brother fly west in an attempt to discover more about his life and death.

Get ready to shock the turtlenecks off your fancy wine friends with this culinary cheat sheet from McCormick & Schmick's head chef William King and Northwest Palate wine writer (and editor-in-chief and co-publisher) Cole Danehower. The Vintner's Kitchen ($29.95. Powell's Books for Home and Garden, 3747 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 228-4651) pairs regional fare with standout Oregon wines; plus, pics by Portland photographer Rick Schafer look good enough to sip.

Slideshow courtesy of