As sure as the sun follows rain, the publication of our Best Books of the Year list is followed by the publication of our Wait Wait Don’t Forget About These Other Great Books list. There are too many titles for one post to contain them all, so we’ve broken the WWDFATOGB announcement into two parts. We covered fiction previously, and now, before we say goodbye to 2014 forever, we’re pleased to share with you our (near-)favorite nonfiction books of the year .... continued

There are many reasons I enjoy my job at Island Books. The financial advantages (staff discount and free advance copies), social perks (my colleagues are even more amusing behind the scenes), and bragging rights (I do indeed work for that magical bookstore) are just a few of the more obvious incentives. 

But sometimes, it’s the small things I particularly relish. There’s one ritual that has become both increasingly challenging and a source of immense pleasure. Those of you who read our eNewsletter may have noticed we always have a quote about books or reading as the header. (If you aren’t receiving our monthly eNewsletter by email, you can sign up here.) We’ve been sending them since the end of 2011, so this has been going on for quite some time. While occasionally I wonder if we’ve used up all the good quotes to be had, each month a new gem presents itself. Fortunately authors, celebrities, publishers, and other great minds talk about reading and books everywhere, all the time.

Before I spend some time browsing for a good zinger to use in the February eNewsletter, I thought it might be fun to assemble a quote pile of what we’ve used in the past. It’ll keep me from repeating myself, and hopefully inspire us all to pick up a good book and start the new year off right. And if you have a favorite quote to add, don’t hesitate to share it. We might just put it in the eNewsletter....continued

(Our store journal keeps you posted on books we're excited about, our literary musings, and other reading-related rambles. If you like, you can sign up to receive our posts by email.)

Authors in our region may just be getting over their New Year’s hangovers, but several of them will want to break out the champagne again anyway. Why? Because the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association has just handed out its annual awards. These literary prizes are perhaps the closest to our hearts, as they’re the product of Independent bookstores like us all across Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. We member stores get to nominate our favorite books by Northwest writers, and the judges take it from there. We’re always happy to see the results, but this year even more so than most. Half of the winners were on our own list of the best books of the year, and the group as a whole makes our region look extremely impressive to the nation at large.

The most inevitable choice had to be All the Light We Cannot See. That novel, by Boise’s Anthony Doerr, was the hands-down phenomenon of 2014 ... continued

New Year’s Eve makes some notable appearances in literature. It’s hard to miss the symbolism of this holiday, a perfect literary device for either a grand opening or a dramatic finish. As we get ready to bring our own year to a close, let’s look at a few ways the holiday has made a memorable appearance in fiction.

For a creepy New Year’s, how about the party in Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin? Those eccentric neighbors, the Castavets, host a celebration and declare it “Year One.” Rosemary doesn’t know what that means, but readers are getting the idea that it’s something very, very bad. She doesn’t know she’s carrying the son of Satan, but others do….continued

Our newsletter subscribers (and drop-in customers who’ve seen the titles posted in the store) know that we recently published our Best of 2014 lists. Another year, another exercise mixing joy and frustration. The joy, of course, stems from being able to introduce you to a double handful of our favorite books; the frustration comes from having to cross out the names of so many deserving writers. But unlike Santa, we don’t keep track of Naughty and Nice. While some authors get the gift of appearing on our official Best of lists, the others don’t get coal in their stockings. Instead, a bunch of them get to appear here, on our traditional survey of the Ones That Almost Made It....continued

Once finding the perfect gifts are checked off your list, the big holiday activities left to do are in the kitchen. If you have a sweet tooth even half as bad as mine, that means it’s time for some serious baking. 2014 was a good year for cookbooks, especially when dessert is the task at hand. 

Whether you’re hosting a big family gathering, a holiday work party, or just eating Chinese food and going to the movies this month, I guarantee you can make it a memorable December with just one of the recipes from these master chefs. I warn you though, if you’re on a diet the scrumptious pictures will make you crazy....continued

We don’t often encourage you to watch something rather than read, but we’re doing it now. In the end, of course, the thing we want you to watch is going to encourage you to read. And encourage you to encourage others to do the same. Let’s let Roger tell you about it:

A natural, isn’t he? He should be—he’s been hawking books for more than thirty years, after all ... continued

The pressures of giving the perfect gift are in full force now, and we’re cheering you on. With limited time on the clock, we often see people grab something, anything, just to cross off one more thing on the list. If you want to put some extra thought into your gifts but haven’t enlisted our in-store help yet (and we are here and at the ready), maybe a quick glance at some of our best reading lists from 2014 will help. 

Our obvious gift-giving lists came out this week; those general but oh-so-surefire favorites of the year. If you didn’t see our December newsletter, click here to browse our best of fiction, nonfiction, children’s, and teens. It’s also very worth your while to browse our extensive gift selection. But if it’s something quirkier or more specific you desire, spend a few minutes with some of our suggestions from the past year....continued

November means the same old end of the year lists are due. Best of the year, holiday gifts, and so on. We’ll have those for you in the next few weeks, not to worry. There will be plenty of opportunities before the end of 2014 to reminisce on the reading highlights that have stuck with us. But for a brief moment before Thanksgiving hits, let’s take a glimpse forward into the future instead of looking back. 

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton arrives in the store on January 6th, but it’s already causing a major rumble in the publishing world. In the same way that the 2008 debut novel The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski gained a following long before its publication, Scotton’s freshman effort is already the talk of insiders in the publishing industry. Like Wroblewski, Scotton worked on his novel for over a decade while working in a completely different field, as a technology executive. An unlikely author, past the age of young writers the entertainment world likes to hype, Scotton had no platform or experience navigating the publishing industry.

What’s remarkable is how his book became a top priority for the marketing and publicity team at Grand Central Publishing....continued

I took a trip toward the end of this past summer and forgot to bring my razor. I could have easily bought a replacement, but it hardly seemed worth doing at the time. Thus was my August Vacation Beard born. Hey, free souvenir, right?

I kept the beard when I got home without thinking about it very much. For me, inertia was justification enough, but other people seemed to need a reason for the change in my appearance. How could I go from shaving regularly to not shaving regularly? So I had to say something.

When September rolled around, I told people I was sporting a Playoff Rally Beard. It almost worked, too. The Mariners were in the race until the very last day of the season, which hasn’t happened for over a decade. That excuse kept me going for another thirty days, and then I coasted. October became Halloween Beard month. “I’m going to be a lumberjack,” I said. I put on a flannel shirt and jeans–done.

But then I hit a wall. After the trick-or-treating was over, would I have to break out the Barbasol? Casting about for a new rationale, I did what I always do when I’m looking for answers and turned to the bookshelf. Lo and behold, I found my cause. November’s is the Beard of Book Promotion, with three titles in particular to support....continued