Monday was my four year anniversary as owner of Island Books. The years have had their ups and downs, but the job is always satisfying. It's become my life, and as Roger told me when I bought the store, “no two days are ever the same.”
I hear variations of, "you are living my dream!" and "how cool is it to read all day!" from customers every week. If that were only true! In reality, we are always working at the bookstore. We shelve, sort, receive, and re-shelve books, perhaps glance through a new colorful release, but do not sit to read with ease. The perks, though, are many. We sometimes meet our favorite authors and are sent advanced copies of books before they come out to the public. It's thrilling, but we all fear that we won't remember the story line by the time it hits our shelves!
Some of the new releases this month include Rachel Linden's The Enlightenment of Bees. We will be hosting a release party with her on the 9th of July. The following week on July 16th, we are having a reading with local author Elena Louise Richmond for her newest novel Advancing the Retreat. We also have local historian Margaret O'Mara joining us on July 24th in celebration of the release of her new book The Code. Last but certainly not least, we are bringing in Garth Stein on the 30th of July to have a release party for the movie tie-in edition of The Art of Racing in the Rain. Make sure you don't miss the continuation of our Poetry + Wine series with poet Kary Wayson earlier that night.
For the kiddos, we are hosting the Where's Waldo passport again, bringing in even more locations to support our small business community. Come by and see if you can spot him in the store!
Happy Fourth of July week!
School is finally out, we’re just past the longest day of the year, and it’s time to get serious about what we’re reading this summer. Island Books wants to help you, so see details for a summer book giveaway below!
In past summers I’ve prepared my SAL Book Bingo card, filled in boxes with books I’d already been reading, and made plans for the other categories. But about halfway through July I would lose steam, or want to read books that wouldn’t fit any category. By the end of August my Bingo card would remain haphazardly filled, no one line complete. No blackout for me.
Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL) Summer Book Bingo season is upon us, and this is the first year I am participating! Last year, I helped with recommendations for the kids version. This year I decided to take the challenge very seriously for myself.
I’ve been talking to my coworkers about wanting to read the unread books on my shelf for quite a while. We all get so caught up in the advanced copies sent to the store, sometimes we forget reading older books is just as important. Sure, people like to read the newest releases, but they and their pocketbooks also enjoy recommendations for books in paperback. Ultimately, people want good books, not necessarily the newest ones. So, the next two months I will be trying to get through a pile of books from my personal bookshelf in order to get a full blackout on Summer Book Bingo ... continued
If you don’t already know, June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, which means it’s time to celebrate and support our community. Businesses across the Puget Sound area are flying rainbow flags, and Island Books is not missing out! To mark the month, we are going to giveaway two awesome rainbow Lokai bracelets (read to the bottom for more details).
It is also an excuse to call attention to queer books, an overarching category for any book that features a LGBTQ+ main character, focuses on queer issues, or is written by a queer author. This is one of my favorite genres because literature about queer people normalizes their existence, in the same way it does with racial or religious minorities.
Summer has arrived to the Pacific Northwest in a flurry of beautiful and temperate weather, and this means it’s a time for celebration. Summer reading, Father’s Day, my oldest’s college graduation, and pride: June has so much to give.
Summertime books are my absolute favorite. Since the time I could read, I’ve devoured books while “laying out” or sitting at the beach to pass time. A typical vacation day includes slathering on sunscreen, hitting the beach with at least two books, taking breaks to talk with my kids, and only stopping for meals and cocktails. Then I read until I fall asleep. Sunshine, beach, and books: perfection. Here is a slew of good ones out right now (or very soon):
- Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand (Pre-order now from us!)
- The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
- The Key to Happily Ever After by Tif Marcelo
- Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne
- When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri
- It’s Hot in the Hamptons by Holly Peterson
- Limelight by Amy Poeppel
- Park Avenue Summer by Renee Rosen
- And of course, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Bingo Cards: Make sure you come get your summer Seattle Arts & Lecture Bingo Cards. Our booksellers have great recommendations to fill up your card. There is a spot for some of the summer reads above, and of course the legendary “independent bookseller recommendation” spot is ideal for our input.
Bookmark Contest: Last month we took in entries for our bookmark contest; this month the voting begins! Next week, check out this link for our online poll or come into the store and cast your ballot. There are two categories: kids and teens/adults. The best of each category gets a limited run of printed, color bookmarks. Voting will last until the end of June.
Author Events: We are taking it a little easier with author events this month, but the ones we are hosting are worth your time. The Rummage Mamma Trunk Show is this Saturday, June 8 from 11:00am to 1:00pm. Deirdre Timmons is coming by on Thursday June 13 to talk about her memoir Brain Candy. And of course, we will have Poetry + Wine (or Verse + Vino) June 25 at Barrell’s.
Where’s Waldo: Remember Where’s Waldo starts July 1st. You can find him all over Mercer Island stores.
Giveaways: Watch our blog this month for giveaways related to the books we are loving.
Dads we love you and love seeing you in the store with your kids, grandkids, etc.
Congratulations to all the graduates, especially Sofija, class of University of Washington 2019. We are so proud of you.
Hello, everyone! I am starting a series of posts where I try new fads, trends, and book crazes so that you, dear reader, do not have to. Today we start with shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing.
Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness, which has been out for a few years. It is a beautiful book full of gorgeous photos and small amounts of text so as not to overwhelm the reader. The beginning gives a background to the Japanese cultural significance of the forest and the practice of shinrin-yoku. Trees have always held a spiritual importance for the Japanese people. A class of samurai in the Edo period specifically protected trees in the Akasawa Forest. If a person cut down a tree, the samurai would cut off their head ... continued
Last week, my family happily introduced my cousin Charlotte to the world. Her birth, alongside hanging out with her two-year-old brother Grant for a couple days, has got me thinking a lot about kids and kids books. As you know, we have an extensive kids section at Island Books. I love working back there, seeing the little ones run straight to the house to play and screech with delight when they make it up the stairs and are as tall as their parents. I love that part of my job is to read through picture books in order to help out parents, friends, and teachers. Our customers are as passionate as we are about children’s literacy and the power of reading to kids. Giving recommendations is easy when I know they will be as excited about books with creative story lines and memorable characters as me ... continued
Since working at Island Books I’ve often recommended Dorothy Dunnett and The Game of Kings to people looking for high quality historical fiction, so I was excited to find out that the whole series is being reissued this month. We have a special treat for our customers, a complete set to raffle! Some lucky person will get to experience the whole series, courtesy of Island Books and Penguin Random House (details below).
Nothing was better in college than opening up my little PO box to find a card saying “You have a package!” I went to college in Massachusetts so often my mom sent care packages filled with treats to share with my hall mates. Sometime in the fall of my first year she included a book in the box. The Game of Kings, by Dorothy Dunnett, volume one of the Lymond Chronicles.
May is one of our favorite months... the sun comes out, the store can open its door, and people come in to browse for summer reads. And though spring can be rejuvenating, we are hitting the ground running. April ended with our fifth annual Independent Bookstore Day, which crowned 636 champions who traveled all day to visit 21 bookstores. May began this past weekend at the Crosscut Festival, with two days of amazing authors on the Seattle University campus. Best of all, it ended with meeting and selling books for Valerie Jarrett. We were thrilled to be a part of it and to see so many of our customers attending, as well as stopping by to say hello!
While many of our events are happening offsite, we still have quite a few in the store including our new daytime book club, Brad Holden talking about Seattle Prohibition, Megan Griswold offering wisdom through her new memoir, Steve Toutonghi discussing Seattle in his newest sci-fi novel, and another Wine + Poetry reading with Savannah Slone and Jed Myers at Barrels Wine Bar. We can't wait to see you there.
It seems fitting that right before Mother’s Day is Teacher Appreciation Week because my mom was a teacher for 30 years. Hearing her classroom antics always made me laugh, but I know she worked very hard all those years. My kids have been fortunate enough to have had incredible teachers through preschool, elementary, middle, and high school (and now college!). We always have tried to instill in them a love of learning and are thankful to all the educators who inspire them. To celebrate the teachers on Mercer Island, we will have a special 20% off sale for you this coming Friday, May 10th along with a happy hour starting at 4pm. All Mercer Island educators are welcome.
I’ve been blessed with all the mothers in my life: an amazing mom, a truly wonderful mother-in-law, and so many friends who are incredible moms as well. You encourage me and help me find peace, humor, and sanity when I need it the most. Here's to the moms in my community...
...and the list goes on.
Have a wonderful Mothers Day!
Melinda Gates’ new book The Moment of Lift is one of my new go-to recommendations. We are partnering with Seattle Arts & Lectures to sell books at her event at McCaw Hall, so I picked it up to find out what I’d be hearing. A few chapters in, I was thankful I did. Melinda’s book is well written and inspiring, honest and uplifting, heartbreaking and brutal.
Melinda writes how empowering women improves the quality of life of societies and cultures worldwide. Her point is that when women rise, everyone in a society is happier and more productive. She takes an anthropological approach, sharing anecdotes about women she has met in her numerous trips for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and personal accounts of the impact these trips made on herself ... continued