Summer Book Bingo Reflection

imageSummer is officially at an end, which means our Seattle Arts & Lectures Book Bingo has wrapped up. Lori and I have enjoyed sharing our adventures in reading with you all summer, so we would have a conversation about what we read and we found challenging.

Lori and I both attempted to complete a black out on our cards. She was successful; I was not… I may have been a little too distracted by other books sometimes. This happens! What was wonderful is that I still read outside of my usual genres and was introduced to many new authors.

Together, we enjoyed taking pictures of books when we finished them and nudging each other to keep reading books we weren’t so fond of. Read below for more insight into how we fared… continued.


September 2019 eNewsletter

"Outside the leaves on the trees constricted slightly; they were the deep done green of the beginning of autumn. It was a Sunday in September... The clouds were high and the swallows would be here for another month or so before they left for the south before they returned again next summer.
—Ali Smith
We can't believe it's September again. It's a new school year, and the leaves are changing colors. Fall is officially in the air. We thought this would be a good opportunity to let you know what we've been up to during our summer "vacation." There are exciting new changes on the horizon. See what is happening at Island Books this fall:
  • New Hours! We've extended our hours to better serve you. Now you can spend more time at Island Books after your work day. We will be open until 8:00pm Monday through Friday. Our weekend hours will remain unchanged.
  • Book Clubs: What? Why is Book Clubs plural? Is that typo? Some of you may not be aware that Island Books has multiple book clubs. And we will be adding even more this fall! As a reminder, here are our legacy book clubs...
    • Open Book Club: Led by Miriam, this is our longest running book club. The group usually meets the last Thursday of the month at 7:30pm. This month the book club is discussing The Ensemble by Aja Gabel on September 26.
    • Daytime Open Book Club: Led by our newest member of the Island Books team, Caitlin, this book club meets on the third Monday of each month at 10:30am. This month they are discussing Three Summers by Margarita Liberaki, translated by Karen Van Dyke on September 16.
    • Cookbook Book Club: Led by Victor, this book club has been meeting... er... sporadically. The concept is simple, though. We pick a cookbook for the book club and everyone chooses a recipe, makes the dish, and brings it to the book club meeting. We will be scheduling meetings for you to join us for this fall.
  • This fall we'll also be introducing two new book clubs:
    • The Silent Book Club: Led by Kelleen, this book club is calling all introverts and book worms! There's no assigned book and no group discussion to participate in. All you need to do is bring a book, settle into one of our comfy chairs, and read. The first meeting will be Tuesday, September 17 at 7:00pm. Subsequent meetings will be held on the third Thursday of every month. Check in with the website when we post more information!
    • Knitting Book Club: Led by Lori, this book club invites you to knit and talk about books at the same time. Some things are just way better together. We'll be kicking this off in October, so stay glued to your Facebook and our website for updates!
  • Home Delivery! We've been informally and quietly delivering books to homes on Mercer Island for a number of years. Many longtime customers who are "in the know" have been aware that we will deliver books to homes on Mercer Island if they can't make it to the store. This fall we've decided that we're going to make a bigger deal about this service and let all our Mercer Island customers know that we'll deliver books, gifts, and toys to your doorstep. This service is available free of charge to all Mercer Island residents.
  • Game Nights! We're bringing game nights to Island Books! These evenings will be led by Nancy. These will kick off in October, so make sure you check in with our Facebook and website to find details. These nights will be ideal for the whole family!

We're excited about the changes we have been planning to bring to our community this fall. We hope you are too!

See you in the bookstore,
Laurie Raisys


Authenticity and Rejection: Part Two of the Interview with Kira Jane Buxton

In the last installment of my interview with Hollow Kingdom author Kira Jane Buxton, I focused on the environmentalism and passion that fueled Kira’s characters and plot. We discussed her research on the theories of what would happen if humans died off, the plot of her novel, and the resiliency of the earth. Her love of animals, especially birds, and even more particularly crows, was evident as she fed the crows that surrounded us during our last interview.

I also want to share how her passion for writing influenced her publishing process. Like many authors, Kira didn’t find an easy path to publishing. The journey she took was inspirational, challenging, and genuine. I adored her honesty and her complete joy for the success she has had, which is why I decided it was important to publish this section of the interview as well… continued.

Climate Crisis, Jungle Ettiquette, and Peanuts: Part One of the Interview with Author Kira Jane Buxton

A sunny afternoon in late July on the Kirkland waterfront is hard to beat. Even better is the presence of a fantastic conversationalist… and an aperol sprtiz! My interview with Kira Jane Buxton was perhaps one of the easiest experiences I have had through writing blogs for Island Books. I’ve known I wanted to interview her for the blog since I read Hollow Kingdom in January, but what began as a chat about her research for her debut novel turned into a two hour conversation about our work, our writing practices, and environmentalism.

Hollow Kingdom follows a crow, ST, attempting to make sense of a world without his beloved humans when a horrible virus has turned all its homo sapiens into mortuus vivens. Set in Seattle, the landscape ST navigates is new, treacherous, and decidedly less full of pop-culture references. It touches on what it means to be human, an animal, and a citizen of this planet. This book is uniquely fit for me because it simultaneously speaks to my sense of humor, takes place in my home, and fills me with awe for the creatures around me. It is special, and I was excited to champion it... continued.

A Point of View

I would like to report to you, dear readers, that mid-way through August my Book Bingo card is filling up, with only a few squares left to go! Who knew that all I needed was some healthy competition/encouragement from Kelleen to keep me going? I’ve even tackled, and managed to complete my “big book” square, Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin. Thanks to Kelleen’s helpful Disability blog, I found an excellent title, Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens edited by Marieke Nijkamp. And I’m making my way through Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat for the DIY square.

Yet, I find myself struggling with what to read for “challenges your world view.” A few books on my shelf might fit this category, but I think it’s hard to know what will challenge your world view until you’ve read it. Maybe the point of this particular square is to open myself up to a perspective other than my own, creating an imagination for where someone else is coming from. In a retail job like mine every day is spent trying to understand what another person wants, to ask the questions that help me get to a point of being on the same page, and to be reminded we are all of us unique in how we move and interact in the world. On a day to day basis I am challenged to consider the myriad world views that surround me, while in the written word I find it to be more subtle.


August 2019 eNewsletter

"Of course anyone who truly loves books buys more of them than he or she can hope to read in one fleeting lifetime. A good book, resting unopened in its slot on a shelf, full of majestic potentiality, is the most comforting sort of intellectual wallpaper."

-- David Quammen

Before we all rush towards school shopping, sweaters, and the go-go-go of the school year, we have one month left of summer. We are taking August easy for the most part but have the Local Author Festival on August 25 and an event with Kevin O'Brien towards the end of the month. He will be visiting us to talk about his latest book The Betrayed Wife while in conversation with Garth Stein. The two of them separate are entertaining, so you want to make sure you mark your calendar for August 28 to see them together (more details are below).

We had such fun with Garth a couple weeks ago and even get the opportunity to sell books at his Seattle premiere for The Art of Racing in the Rain. We love good stories, and it was clear you did too with the turnout for this event.

Lori Robinson's blog from last month reminded us all to read what we love, which made me smile because that has always been my strategy. Reading is important to me, and always has been, as an escape and adventure into someone else's life in some other place. A journey from your couch! I'm always the beach read gal on our staff -- a good cover paired with a fantastic story gets me every time.

I love a good story so much that when I planned to meet up with a friend this weekend, we decided to read together in her backyard. We were both at the best part of our books, so we poured a glass of wine and read on her deck. It was wonderful and reminded me of all the evenings I sit on my deck at home and do the same, but with a friend it was ever better. The joy of the experience made me reflect on my passion for books, for reading, and for the community of readers at Island Books.

I could not be more thankful to myself for telling Roger on that cold December morning in 2014, "If you're tired, let me know..." As a way to spread the joy, my staff pick shelf will be 20% off on August 29, my 54th birthday. I know I said it last month, but thank you for your support these last four years and for walking into the door to share your love of books, your stories, and your hugs with me. Know I always share your passion.

Happy reading!
Laurie Raisys



Kelleen Tries It: Doing Nothing

imageThis month’s “Kelleen Tries It” was a tiny bit foiled. Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing appealed to me by its cover, title, and back cover summary about “all that we’ve been too distracted to see about ourselves and our world.” I assumed this book was going to be some sort of self-help on mindfulness and disconnecting from social media (it has “How to” in the title), but I was pleasantly surprised. Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing is a theory book, brilliant and well-written one, but not an instruction manual ... continued.

A Disability Book Resource

One square in the Seattle Arts and Lectures Book Bingo has a few of our patrons (and both Lori and myself) asking for suggestions. The “Book about Disability” square is purposefully open ended, giving you the opportunity to read fiction or nonfiction, sci-fi or memoir. When I first saw the square, I was a little daunted because I was concerned about defining disability as an able person. Was this book about a girl with a mental illness a book about disability? If a book has a disabled character, but doesn’t focus on their disabled experience, is it about disability? What constitutes a disabled person? Continued...

Read What You Like

When I worked at Starbucks, one of my favorite conversations with customers in the midst of pulling shots and steaming milk was about what they were reading. While this is pretty indicative that I was meant to work in a bookstore, often the question would be turned to me, what was I reading? I would pause, first trying to remember what was currently stacked on my nightstand, and then pause again, evaluating what I thought the person I was talking to might think about what I was reading. What would they think about the Christian Living book I was making my way through, and not for the first time? (Ann Voskamp, A Thousand Gifts) Or the YA series with werewolves and vampires and angels that I was devouring as e-books from the library? (Cassandra Clare, The Mortal Instruments series) I’d make a guess and then say something I felt comfortable revealing. It would always be something I had read lately, just not totally transparent about what I truly was in the middle of reading.

I would hazard a guess that I’m not the only one who has done this. We all want to look good and be accepted. What we read and like can be a vulnerable thing to share. When you tell someone that you really like something, you’re showing your hand. What if they don’t agree? What if they don’t like it too? Not all of us are emotionally mature enough to separate rejection of what we like from rejection of ourselves.


July 2019 eNewsletter

"One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by."
—Jeanette Walls

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!

To say thank you does not cover my appreciation for the support, encouragement, and hugs this community has shown me . . . you honor all of us at Island Books every time you walk through the doors. For that I am forever grateful. Cheers to many more years at Island Books!

Happy Fourth of July week!

Laurie Raisys


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