Indie Bookstore Day 2021!

Saturday April 24th, is Indie Bookstore Day and aren’t we all glad that even though it won’t look like it has in years past, we still get to have some version of this day that celebrates Independent Bookstores and the people who love them? In fact, we get to have ten days. Instead of the mad dash, it will be more of a leisurely saunter, which is just about my speed.

To be honest, my first experience with Indie Bookstore Day was on accident. I was working for Starbucks in QFC, and had a few hours off between my morning shift and going back to help out with Frappuccino Happy Hour. Island Books was always my go-to place to hang out for an hour or two on Mercer Island. Imagine my surprise to walk in and find a prize wheel in action, a scavenger hunt to complete, and my first encounter with the wondrous thing that is Advanced Review Copies, i.e. ARCs, i.e. the things we now wrap up and give away for Blind Date With a Book. I thought the scavenger hunt would be a cinch after all my years (and years and years) of shopping at Island Books. It wasn’t. James put some very hard questions on there, and I discovered things I never noticed before about Island Books. Hints ended up being necessary. Form completed, I spun the prize wheel that Laurie was enthusiastically manning, winning a literary tea towel, plus an advance copy of Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris. I went back to work to make a million Frappuccino samples a happy reader.

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Short Take: Good Company

Author of The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s newest novel, Good Company, opens with main character, Flora, finding the wedding ring her husband Julian told her he’d lost years ago. Dropped into the middle, a moment in time that will affect the future and shade the past, Sweeney immediately pulled me into the narrative. I wanted to know how Julian lost the ring? If he lost it, why is it here, in the back of this old filing cabinet? What kind of relationship do Flora and Julian have? Do I like Flora, or Julian, or their daughter Ruby? What about best friend Margot and her husband, David? As the narrative goes on, and Sweeny moves between the present and the past, New York and Los Angeles, the theater world and the television studio, each character is slowly fleshed out in all their complexities. I loved how the assumptions I made in the beginning about each of them was gradually replaced by a deeper understanding of their motivations, helped by the fact that the point of view moves around to all five of the main characters. Sweeney is spot-on in her understanding of the underlying emotions at play in a variety of relationships, not only romantic ones. This would be a perfect read for anyone who likes novels about complicated families and an excellent choice for book clubs. We currently have signed copies!

— Lori

When To Stop Reading a Book

It’s abundantly obvious that I love books. I work in a bookstore. Books are one of my favorite things to talk about. Every day that I go to work I see more things I want to read, or I read about things I want to read, or am reminded of books I want to read. A day does not go by where I don’t read something, be it a novel, nonfiction, or a magazine. And I’ve been like that since I learned to read when I was small.

But.

There are too many books, in the world, on my shelves. I physically can’t read them all, and, more to the point, I don’t actually want to read them all. I don’t like everything. I’m better than I used to be about figuring this out before I actually start a book. I know, generally, the genres that don’t work for me and stay away from them. I check out which authors have quotes on the covers of a potential read, knowing if they’re ones I’ve enjoyed it’s worth a second look. If they are writers I already know I wouldn’t read, then it’s likely that this title won’t work for me either. Even the covers can give me a clue. If the design is similar to other books I’ve liked, then this one is worth a try as well. And then there’s always Cindy’s “first page test.”

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