October 2019 eNewsletter

"October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins. O autumn! O teakettle! O grace!"
—Rainbow Rowell

Happy October! This month our word is pluviophile: a lover of rain, of the sound of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days -- and we are loving the sporadic showers and full-blown gusts that come with this season. As summer disappears and the holidays ramp up, we want to take this opportunity to re-introduce our bookselling team to you, highlighting preferences and expertise.

- Owner, gift and card buyer
- Lover of beach reads, scintillating historical fiction, and anything by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- This month's picks include Right After the Weather by Carol Anshaw; The Possible World by Liese O'Halloran Schwarz; The Bucket List by Georgia Clark

- Adult book buyer, bookseller
- Passionate about works in translation, literary mind trips, and internationally set stories
- This month's picks include The Corner that Held Them by Sylvia Townsend Warner, translated by Claire Harman; From the Shadows by Juan Jose Millas, translated by Thomas Bunstead and Daniel Hahn; Reinhardt's Garden by Mark Haber; Homesick by Jennifer Croft


- Out of print specialist, bookseller
- Rapid consumer of mysteries, thrillers, and thought-provoking sci-fi
- This month's picks include The Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen; The Testaments by Margaret Atwood; Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason

- Children's book and gift buyer, bookseller
- Exuberant about quirky picture books, smart romances, and engaging novels
- This month's picks include The Bookwanderers by Anna James; Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds; Cog by Greg van Eckhout; I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day

- Gift and card buyer, bookseller
- Keen interest in historical fiction, high fantasy, and books with strong heroines
- This month's picks include Fountains of Silence by Rupta Sepetys; The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

- Games buyer, bookseller
- Expert in a variety of nonfiction, thought-provoking contemporary fiction, and sardonic narratives
- This month's picks include The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates; Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout; The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson

- Events and marketing coordinator, bookseller
- Enthusiastic about magical realism, adorable YA romances, and substantive middle grade novels
- This month's picks includeThe Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake; Orpheus Girl by Brynne Rebele-Henry; Blood Sisters by Kim Yideum, translated Jiyoon Lee

- Open Book Club host
- Ardent for culturally relevant literature and beautifully written prose
- This month's pick is The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein



We cannot wait to see you over the coming weeks!

Laurie Raisys


Dedication, Perseverance, and the Craft of Writing: An Interview with Clare Meeker

Clare Meeker is a passionate researcher with a love for telling stories to children. She is the perfect local candidate to be the special guest at The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators meeting this last Sunday of September for their nonfiction craft talk.

I realized that throughout my various interviews with authors, I have never interviewed a children’s writer! With Clare Meeker’s upcoming appearance at our store, I thought this a great opportunity to check this off my Blog Bucket List. What’s most interesting about Clare is that she is also a researcher, not to mention a longtime friend of the store. The stories that she tells take a great amount of work and knowledge that has to be distilled and translated to an elementary school-aged kid. Most of her books focus on Pacific Northwest Animals, and her newest release, Growing Up Gorilla is about a gorilla family from the Woodland Park Zoo. I thought I would ask her how she decided to bring these two ideas together… continued.

Reading and Knitting: Introducing the New Knitting Bookclub

Those Island Books patrons who are knitters have probably had a conversation with me at some point about the craft of knitting. Either you’ve asked about a book or magazine, or we’ve mutually admired a hand knitted item that one of us is wearing. Once identified as fellow knitters, we will always ask after each other’s current project. We trade our favorite patterns and yarn stores, and commiserate over dropped stitches and tricky instructions. For me, getting to talk knitting is always a fun bonus to any interaction, and it’s hard to remember there was a time when it was all a mystery to me. 

My journey with knitting began my first year in college. A girl on my floor organized a trip to the yarn store in town, then taught us all how to cast on, knit and purl. I labored away at a scarf all autumn long, forcing myself to keep going despite the increasing and decreasing stitch count (not in the pattern), and how hard I found it to work the needles into the yarn. Come Christmas, I wrapped up a scarf that could stop bullets for my mom. She never complained, but once I learned that it was important to match the needle size to the type of yarn you were using, and that I had been using a much smaller needle than I should have been, I took it out and redid it for her in a more forgiving rib.


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.


Subscribe to Island Books RSS