December 2017 eNewsletter

"The real purpose of books is to trap the mind into doing its own thinking."
—Christopher Morley

"Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes / Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear / Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes / How do you measure, measure a year? " 
 
As I drove up to Steven's Pass last month, I couldn't get the song "Seasons of Love" from Rent out of my head. Where has 2017 gone? I was making a list and checking it twice–my list of Top 10 favorite Island Books-related moments this year. Here they are:

10) Throwing an Independent Bookstore Day champion party

9)  Reading Anthony Doerr’s Four Seasons in Romeand then being in Rome to finish the book

8) Parking a ridiculously big truck in front of the store to feature Finn Murphy, author of The Long Haul

7) Joining up with other local businesses for the Where’s Waldo competition

6) Hosting local legend Nancy Pearl to discuss her first novel, George and Lizzie

5) Paying it forward on our second annual Book Fairies mission around Mercer Island

4) Sponsoring the Mercer Island Farmer’s Market and guest performer Caspar Babypants 

3) Welcoming author Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of one of my favorite novels of the year, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

2) Celebrating the anniversary of our 500th blog post

1)  Most of all, feeling the community support we received to win the Best of Western Washington award. I feel like a broken record but you know I’m so grateful! 

There was so much to relish and appreciate in this last year. We’ve hosted some fabulous author events, weekly story times, open book and cookbook book clubs, and our quarterly local author festival. The store has been reworked and revitalized in small special ways and we’re so happy to see each of you come through the door as often or as little as you can. We welcomed a handful of brand new itty-bitty baby customers this year and we lost some dear ones as well. (Bruce, Saturday morning just isn’t the same without a hug and a kiss from you.) It truly has been a season of love.

May the new year bring you all peace, love, and lots of joy. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and may it be a Happy New Year in 2018. 

Laurie Raisys
Owner

... continued

The Last of the Light

Sunday, November 5th wasn’t marked as a holiday on any calendar, but it was nonetheless one of the most significant dates of the year. That was the day we all reset our clocks (or let our computers do it for us). We woke up to paler skies that morning and drove home from work in total darkness. Though we tried to pretend it wasn’t a big deal, our bodies told us otherwise.

It’s more than a little weird, really. No one remembers at this point why we decided to create Daylight Saving Time, the benefits it produces are a mixed bag at best, and the negative effects it has on productivity and safety are manifold. But bleary-eyed we carry on with it, year after year.

Maybe it’s a function of age, but I find the change more profoundly affecting each time it happens. It’s a deep disturbance to physical, intellectual, and emotional rhythms that I’m not normally aware of at all, and I don’t think enough attention is paid to it. By me at least. To rectify that, I turned in the direction I always do, toward the bookshelf, where I found The Last of the Light: About Twilight by Peter Davidson. It doesn’t directly address the time change issue, but it meditates at length on the meaning of darkness, light, and the ineffable slide from one to the other. In addition to being a tapestry of the deepest thoughts on the subject by artists, scientists, and philosophers from antiquity to the present, it’s a gorgeous visual record of the “cartography of dusk” mapped by those same great minds. Perusing it in the watery light of late afternoon (which now falls at 2:00 or 3:00 p.m.) I felt like a cloistered monk seeking inspiration in an illuminated manuscript created by a brilliant, vanished predecessor ... continued

Pay It Forward 2017

I have something to tell you about the Island Books staff. We are just a tiny bit addicted to having fun and spreading good cheer. According to Moira McDonald’s recent article in The Seattle Times, there are book fairies at work in the Seattle area, but for the record, we were ahead of the game. Last year at Thanksgiving-time, we came up with a new way to feed our addiction. We had such a good time dropping books around the island that we decided to make it an annual tradition. This year we chose copies of The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey, Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, Callings by Dave Isay, Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, and Becoming by Clint Gresham.

See if you can figure out where we went from the pictures and hunt them down ... continued

Our BEST Year Yet

Wait, what? We WON?

The King 5/Evening Magazine’s “Best of Western Washington” is a time honored tradition around these parts.  It’s a chance for local businesses to be chosen as “the best” in their category by popular vote. Last Friday night, the rumors started flying. We hadn’t heard anything official, but there it was, this, online. You can only imagine the texts that started pinging around between us. 

Were we really just selected BEST Bookstore of 2017 by the voters of Western Washington?

Yes folks, we were ... continued

Work, Travel, and Inspiration

Do you travel for work? If so, is it a pleasure or a burden? Seems to me that most people who do it a lot find it a chore, but for those of us who do it rarely, it’s kind of a treat. That’s true for me, in any case. Independent booksellers usually stay hunkered down in our stores focusing, as we should, on local concerns, but once in while there’s a reason to look up at the horizon and light out in that direction.

Last month’s occasion for mixing business with pleasure was the annual Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Fall Trade Show in Portland. It’s a three-day event that includes educational panels where booksellers can discuss best practices, visits from publisher representatives talking about their upcoming holiday releases, and appearances by authors both famous and yet-unknown. The schedule is crammed with activity from breakfast until late in the evening, and I could probably write a year’s-worth of blog posts about all the interesting books I discover there, not to mention all the interesting people who produce them ...

What I was most inspired to tell you about, though, was a ... speech by a writer named Jane Kirkpatrick. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I wasn’t previously familiar with her work, given that she’s authored more than thirty books over the past three decades and is for many a fixture on the Northwest literary scene. Her chosen genre is not one I normally follow closely, but she was so impassioned and articulate about what she writes and why that I had to find out more ... continued

November 2017 eNewsletter

"There is no friend as loyal as a book." 
—Ernest Hemingway

Thanksgiving is my holiday. It’s always been my favorite; food, family, and of course a little football. Growing up, my dad and I would go for a run on Thanksgiving morning so we could enjoy more food without the guilt! We never thought about decorating for Christmas until Thanksgiving was good and over. So you can imagine how disconcerting it was two years ago when I bought Island Books and had to think about buying for Christmas and Hanukkah in June! Nowadays, I have to break my own rules and decorate the store for the holidays on November 1st. So I can't help but feel festive already.

Last year we started a fun project that I hope will become an annual Island Books Thanksgiving tradition. We hand-picked books we’ve personally enjoyed from around the store, wrapped them up with a personal note, and drove them around the island to hide our own gems of happiness. This year, we'll be posting clues on social media about where we're dropping presents, so stay tuned and see if you can find them. 

November brings some special events including visits from local author Steven Wells, members of the Crazy Horse family, and Nancy Pearl, who will be in conversation with Miriam and James (read our blog about Nancy's upcoming visit here). Everyone is welcome at these events, and even when we expect a big crowd we will host as many as possible. Expect our policy to be first come, first seated. 

Book fairs are another big highlight of this month. Last year we donated over $17,000 to Mercer Island schools and we cannot wait to host these community fundraisers again.

And of course there are so many books to celebrate this fall. Besides all the great fiction and nonfiction, there are cookbooks like Yotam Ottolenghi's Sweet, picture books like Kate Hoefler's Great Big Things, inspiration like Oprah’s The Wisdom of Sundays, and home design like Moorea Seal’s Make Yourself at Home to enjoy. There aren’t enough waking hours to get through them all!

As we enter the holiday season I am reminded of how thankful I am for this community and all you share with us. Thank you to my bookstore family, my four amazing kids, and my husband who puts up with me every day.

Gobble Gobble to you and yours!

Laurie Raisys
Owner

...continued

Kazuo Ishiguro, Nobel Prize Winner

A year ago, we stood around the front counter scratching our heads when Bob Dylan took home the Nobel Prize in Literature. As James so aptly put it: 

The biggest problem with the Nobel Prize in Literature (other than its shameful record of ignoring women and people of color) is that it annually insults many deserving writers by overlooking them.

I agreed with James’s sentiment and kept my expectations low this year. I decided I’d be content if the winner was primarily a writer of books, especially after Bob Dylan further irritated the purists by ignoring the announcement for two whole weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dylan’s music, but by declining to attend the prize ceremony in December, privately accepting the award in March, and stalling until days before the 6-month deadline to give his mandatory lecture (which he had to deliver in order to receive the prize’s 8 million Swedish krona), he further alienated the skeptics. Not to mention the content of his Nobel Prize lecture pondered the very question of his legitimacy in the category and stated that his lyrics were meant to be sung, not read.

The award went to British author Kazuo Ishiguro this year, the author of The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go ... continued

I Am So Excited: Nancy Pearl Is Coming to Island Books

About a year ago and newly pregnant, I left my husband alone to put then-only-three kids to bed (thanks, Daniel) and drove to Seattle for an intimate dinner with debut author Alexandra Oliva. In order to promote The Last One, her new dystopian novel about a Survivor-like reality show gone wrong, Alexandra’s publisher invited a small number of local booksellers to come and meet her (thanks for including me, David Glenn). I had already read the book and knew Alexandra had just moved to the area, so I was looking forward to the introduction and getting out of the house for a dinner that was not mac and cheese or chicken nuggets.

As I looked at the Evite one last time to check the restaurant’s address, I noticed on the rsvp that Nancy Pearl was on the yes list. I had heard Nancy speak at a past Literary Lions gala and greatly admired her. What luck I’d get to meet her in person too.

Side note: in case you don’t know who Nancy Pearl is, she’s a nationally-celebrated librarian and lifelong reader. She regularly speaks about the value of reading at libraries and library conferences, and for literacy organizations and community groups. Nancy can be found on KUOW in Seattle, KWGS in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin Public Radio talking about books and reading. Her monthly television show, Book Lust with Nancy Pearl, on the Seattle Channel features interviews with authors, poets, and other literary figures. Among her many honors are the 2011 Librarian of the Year Award from Library Journal and the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award from the PNW Booksellers Association. Nancy is the creator of the internationally recognized program If All of Seattle Read the Same Book, and was the inspiration for the Archee McPhee “Librarian Action Figure.” If the library world has a rock star–Nancy Pearl is it ... continued

Sweet Ottolenghi Giveaway

It’s silly to pick one chef as the best representative of contemporary global cuisine, I admit. Nonetheless, I’m doing it: Yottam Ottolenghi. This Israeli-born Brit has spent the last fifteen years improving how we eat, first in his restaurants and then in a series of bestselling cookbooks. He’s taken traditional dishes from his Middle-Eastern youth and innovated them with Western techniques and Asian ingredients; he’s made healthy dining delicious by emphasizing vegetables in his recipes without neglecting meats; and for years he’s been my go-to guy during gift-giving season. ProTip: if you give someone his cookbooks as a present, they’ll be so grateful you’ll get at least one free meal out of it.

With all he’s done over the course of his career, it’s sometimes forgotten that Ottolenghi got his start as a pastry chef. Luckily, he’s reminding all of his fans of that fact with his brand-new book Sweet, a collection of over 100 recipes for baked goods, desserts, and confections. His signature blend of old and new, East and West is in full effect ...

As if this news weren’t good enough, we’re going to sweeten the deal. Thanks to the folks at Ten Speed Press, we have a set of Ottolenghi’s earlier books to give away. Anyone who buys Sweet between now and October 31st will be entered in a drawing for free copies of Jerusalem, Plenty More, and the original Ottolenghi cookbook ... continued

October 2017 eNewsletter

"In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn't read all the time–none. zero ... My children laugh at me. They think I'm a book with a couple of legs sticking out."

—Charles T. Munger

Fall is here and with that comes the annual Best of Western Washington extravaganza. We always appreciate your vote, and if you can take the time to click through we would be grateful for the support.

That plug aside, there are so many compelling, diverse, and notable books coming out this season. I have a stack next to my bed that I vow to finish by Halloween. I call it my October Challenge (see the picture). I thought I was all revved up to tackle the pile, but then the 1st arrived and with it came so much sad news.

One of my dear friends just lost her mother to a 16-year battle with breast cancer. I had never met this remarkable woman, but I knew how much she meant to my friend and how she cherished taking care of her. Their bond was like the kind you read about in novels. 

My friend shared her mom’s "Rules for Living" at her memorial service. They touched me and I haven’t stopped thinking about them, so much that it feels right to print them here:

1) Read: Books, newspapers, magazine articles, recipes, or blogposts. Just read.

2) Travel: As much as you can, whenever you can, save your pennies and travel. 

3) Love Your Family: Those near and far, they are the best friends you have in life.

4) Laugh: It makes almost everything better.

5) Be Kind: You don't know everyone's full back story, and it never hurts to just be kind.

These aren’t new rules for any of us. We’ve known them our whole lives. My friend lost her mom and my heart hurts for her and her family. My heart also aches for all the losses each of us experience individually, and for the terrible losses that just took place in Las Vegas.

Life is short. A book can be long. Read (we have lots of options--new and old), Travel (books can take you there or advise you where to go), Love (oh, how many stories about that have been written!), Laugh (books can help you do that too), and Be Kind (you can find plenty of good examples on our shelves). 

Warmly,

Laurie Raisys
Owner

... continued

Pages

Subscribe to Island Books RSS