A Celebration of Picture Books

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


(Re)Discover Dorothy Dunnett

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 2019 eNewsletter

"There was only—spring itself; the throb of it, the light restlessness, the vital essence of it everywhere: in the sky, in the swift clouds, in the pale sunshine, and in the warm, high wind—rising suddenly, sinking suddenly, impulsive and playful like a big puppy that pawed you and then lay down to be petted."
—Willa Cather

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!

If you haven’t heard yet, or read our recent blog by Kelleen, we’re excited to be selling books on Thursday, May 9th for the Seattle Arts and Lectures event featuring Melinda Gates and her new release The Moment of Lift. This book made me want to stand up and cheer, brought me to tears, and lifted me up. We can’t wait to hear what she has to say and hope you think to put this one on your to be read shelf.
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!

Laurie Raisys


Feminism Gone Global: Melinda Gates' The Moment of Lift

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

Seattle Bookstore Day 2019!

Seattle Bookstore Day is in its 5th year running, and we couldn’t be more excited! Island Books plans on celebrating all of April 27th with a schedule of activities (listed below). If you don’t know much about this wonderful holiday, Independent Bookstore Day was started in Northern California by independent booksellers and their communities in 2014. The next year, most of the independent bookstores in America joined in on the fun. Stores across the nation have parties, celebrating the people that keep independent bookstores thriving and the books that we love. There are exclusive t-shirts, stickers, totes, and other fun merchandise. The day is ultimately one big party.

... continued

On Writing Poetry

I’ve been writing poetry, or something resembling that, consistently since I was eleven years old. I’ve always liked words, the energy, the power, and the meanings that all vary. Unlike prose writing, poetry offers up a canvas of possibility in its negative space. I found I was always attracted to its delicacy and ebullience, and how the cadence was always especially important. In college, I completed the creative writing poetry track, which doesn’t mean much at all except that I can tell you that I am a poet. I more or less know what my voice sounds like when I write. I more or less know how to get a poem out of myself. And these are just some of the many steps it takes to attempt to think of yourself as a poet ... continued

On Poetry

National Poetry Month rolls around every April, and every April I think to myself, “I should read more poetry.” Books are lined up on my bookshelf, some on recommendations from others, bought so that maybe this year I will start to read poetry regularly. My battered Norton Anthology of Poetry sits stuffed with post-its and college notations. A used copy of Poetic Meter and Form. A complete Emily Dickinson. Works of T.S. Eliot. Rilke’s Book of Hours. Seamus Heaney’s Opened Ground, a gift from a friend. Wendell Berry, David Whyte, W.S. Merwin, Mary Oliver, all just waiting to be opened and read.

My relationship with poetry has been a winding one. I’m sure as a child my ear for rhythm was awakened through many fine children’s books that use a rhyming structure for their story. But I believe it was L. M. Montgomery, in her Anne and Emily books, that introduced the concept of poetry as a created thing. Who can forget Anne’s obsession with Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott, that led her into the leaky dory and stranded her under the bridge, where Gilbert had to rescue her? Montgomery’s lesser known Emily trilogy (Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs, and Emily’s Quest) features a main character more autobiographical of Montgomery herself. Emily Starr is a deeply sensitive and creative girl who struggles to develop as a writer and stay true to that pursuit. Following Emily’s journey I saw her use poetry to express her emotions and her imagination, finding the right words to convey the beauty seen around her.


April 2019 eNewsletter

"If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry."
—Emily Dickinson

Happy National Poetry Month! This month we are chock full of events and activities. There will be poetry offsite with Heidi Seaborn, a letter writing talk with Rabbi Elana Zaiman, Arabic story time with Laila Taji, Seattle Independent Bookstore Day (more on that below), a signing with Mercer Island High School alumna Caroline Fraser, and more... Check out the ways we are celebrating writing in all forms.

Ready, Set, Read! We are 24 days away from the 5th annual Seattle Independent Bookstore Day. Join us on Saturday, April 27th for a daylong celebration of indie bookstores and the people who make them great—that includes you!

Our schedule is jam-packed:
  • Free coffee, donut holes and Mimosas for our 8:00am early bird opening
  • Nancy Stewart Story Time for kids at 10:00am
  • Ask the Authors: Elise Hooper & Mark Holtzen dispense sage wisdom on all subjects from 11:30am to 1:00pm
  • Garth Stein will be our featured celebrity bookseller beginning at 3:00pm
  • Happy hour beer & Centioli pizza at 4:00pm
  • Live music in the afternoon at 5:00pm
  • The famous Island Books typewriters will be out and in use for on-the-spot poetry and letter writing on Island Books stationery 
  • Take a selfie at our Instagram photo booth, pick up some new ink via temporary tattoos in the Tattly corner, or flex your creativity at our kid coloring/craft table 
  • Custom-made Island Books cookies in the afternoon 
  • There will also be special offers running all-day, this day only: Win a Blind Date with a Book: purchases over $29.99 entitle you to a tantalizingly mysterious read $2 greeting card sale 20% discount on our stellar collection of books about . . . bookshere, or ask us for suggestions!

Don't forget about the custom merchandise that will be available this day only. In addition to Island Books shirts (we will be giving away a few, as well as selling them), we'll have limited edition book totes, Indie Bookstore Day shirts, a literary map, literary tea towels, signed books and much, much more.

Get your engines revving!
Laurie Raisys

Young Adult Novels are for Adults too

In July of 2018, I read about fifteen Young Adult (YA) books. I consumed them. Whether on audio, from the library, or the advanced copies from the store, I could not get enough. This was a new development. In high school I read some, mostly Cassandra Clare or Libba Bray, but I was too overwhelmed by my school reading, summer reading, and even winter break reading to read for fun. After my English degree, there was a scheduled reading void. No longer was I told what I “should” be reading. Instead, YA opened its arms to me like a big hug. It was an escape into my emotions and away from my brain through accessible characters with vibrant voices.









It’s my opinion (hence the post written by me) that more adults should read YA novels. The book that really kick started this blog post is Internment ... continued

Mad March Mysteries

It’s that time in March when you don’t know if you need a t-shirt or rain boots (or both maybe) and college basketball begins to take over the TV programming. For those of us less enamored with the Final Four, might I offer up a few suggestions for engaging mysteries that will hopefully keep you just as enthralled as those filling out their office-pool brackets.

First up is the newest from Kate Quinn and a March Indie Next Pick, The Huntress. Quinn is the author of the bestseller and Reese Witherspoon book club pick The Alice Network. Although The Huntress is not a sequel, keep your eye out for a cameo of a main character from The Alice Network. Quinn weaves together the stories of a former British war correspondent turned Nazi hunter, a female Russian bomber pilot, and an aspiring American photo-journalist, whose lives have all been impacted by a Nazi murderer they know only as the Huntress. Quinn delves into the obscure history of Russian squadrons of female bombers, known as the Night Witches, while also taking us on a journey through post-war Europe. This is a fast-paced thriller that kept me turning the pages to find out what happened next, waiting to see when the Huntress would be unveiled.



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