What to Read When You Don’t Know How to Read Again

Lately, I have found myself in the not-so-unique position of being a bookseller who doesn’t know what to read to begin reading again. There is a lot going on in the world, and it can be very distracting from the now. As of late, stress has been my deterrent. Like many of my coworkers (unsurprisingly, not Lori Robinson, though), I have had trouble staying on task, let alone allow myself to get swept up into a book. And for a couple of weeks, it was okay. I didn’t particularly like it because half of my identity is reading, but I let myself exist in this state of overwhelm. Sometimes the only cure for all that overwhelms me in the world is reality TV, because books do not numb your mind the way that TV can.

But it has been almost a month since we have been at home, and even in the overwhelm I have been aching to read. All I want to do is curl up and get lost in a mythical world or good narrative. I have read bits and pieces of random books, stopping and starting as my mood dramatically changed. I tried family dramas, historical fiction, and even a mystery, but nothing kept my interest. Then it worked! I was sucked into Blue Flowers by Carola Saavedra. I think it was because of the intensity of the first person writing and the mystery behind the epistolary element. Nothing sucks me in like a forbidden romance. But then my stamina faded out, and I still have sixty pages left of this 200 page book... continued.


Hello mid-April. I started thinking about and drafting this piece in the early days of March, and with each passing week and new development in our current lives, the words I had to say around this subject changed. Little did I know then how apropos the subject of home would become. With at least the rest of the month to go, I think we’re all trying to make some sense of where we find ourselves: Home.

Back at the beginning of March our Island Books Knitting Book Club read Marisa de los Santos’s I’ll Be Your Blue Sky, which coincidentally has a predominant theme of home. De los Santos asks a series of questions in her novel: Where is home, who is home, what is the importance of have a home to go to? What happens when you lose your home? Her writing is beautiful, and I found myself envying both the homes described and the friendships enjoyed. In this dual timeline story the predominant “home” is Blue Sky House, a place of refuge for both Edith, in the 1950′s, and later for Clare in the present day. For Clare it contains a safe place to recover from a broken engagement, and also an intriguing mystery to solve concerning Edith and her life in the small coastal town in Delaware. 


Bookselling in the Time of COVID-19

The Love in the Time of Cholera puns have become cliché, but it’s the most succinct way to conjure the way we are in a state, a historical time where things are different because of this external force. We are in the time of corona. We can’t escape it. There’s no denying it. Here we are.

The past five weeks have been a whirl-wind of intense emotions. The line running through all of them has been a deep sense of loss felt. Every person I have interacted with (virtually, over the phone, and in person) has mentioned one way or another that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected them. I am not talking about anger, frustration, or paranoia (or lack thereof) around the virus, but the reflection on what we have lost when we remove ourselves from each other. Whether it is a job, friendships, family, a trip, a celebration, or even a test, we are all collectively grieving the loss of the everyday lives we took for granted, as well as any loss we may have experienced at an individual level... continued.

April 2020 eNewsletter

"There is some good in this world, and it's worth fighting for

—J. R. R. Tolkein, The Two Towers

Bookstores are very lonely places without people. It's been sad to show up each morning to a dark store and no one walking into the door at 9:00am. The phone rings, though, and for that I am grateful.

As we wander through this mess, I thought of some things that I am grateful for during this time of Stay-at-Home:

1. Island Books customers are incredibly loyal.
2. Mercer Island is an amazing community to be a part of the love and support you have shown us will never be forgotten.
3. The Island Books team is phenomenal thank you for your resilience and flexbility.
4. The gift of family time, family toasts, and family dinners.
5. Books.
6. Zoom Happy Hours with friends.
7. Netflix (mainly, Tiger King, All American, and Schitt's Creek)
8. Coming to the bookstore with my husband each day.
9. My kids are grown and not toddlers! I am in awe of so many that are home with little ones. I'd be drinking by noon!
10. Walks, even if it is only back and forth through the bookstore.

Be well, we miss you all and hope to see you soon!
Laurie Raisys


P. S. Happiest birthday wishes, Liuci.



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