Singing, Storytelling, Children, and Nancy Stewart

imageMany of our customers know or have heard of Nancy Stewart. She has championed storytelling at Island Books for the past five years with weekly story times storytelling Saturdays. What you may not know is how involved she is with educating children in our community. Her passion project Sing with Our Kids, has been an almost decade long effort of research, performance, and collaborating with parents and other children’s performers. We are so grateful for her contributions to our book community, and want to share her enthusiasm... continued.

Doors to Inspiration

In her book on creativity and fear, Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert introduces her concept of ideas as a thing looking for a person to bring it to life in the world. Illustrating this point, she describes her inspiration to write a novel set in the 1960′s in the Amazon and centering around a failed highway through the jungle. It featured a middle-aged woman from Minnesota as the main character, who works for a international construction company, and is sent to the Amazon to deal with issues arising after construction has begun. Gilbert had worked at developing it, done extensive research and pitched it to her publisher. Then personal circumstances caused her to lay it aside for a few years, and when she finally returned to it, she says “the living heart of my novel was gone.” 

In the meantime, Gilbert made friends with the writer Ann Patchett, and in the course of their correspondence Patchett told her about a book she was working on, a contemporary story of a middle-aged women from Minnesota who is sent to the Amazon by her pharmaceutical company to investigate drug research being done there with seemingly miraculous results. Although there were some plot differences, many of the main details were oddly the same, from the characteristics of the central character, to the circumstances that lead her to travel to the Amazon. Gilbert concluded that the inspiration that had initially come to her had gotten tired of waiting for her to make it happen and moved on. And so Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder was published.


January 2020 eNewsletter

"In January it's so nice while slipping on the sliding ice to sip hot chicken soup with rice.
Sipping once.
Sipping twice.

—Maurice Sendak

2020 is here! I remember when Liuci, my third child, started school and realized with awe and delight that she would graduate high school in the year 2020. Feels like yesterday, the way the time has passed so quickly. Even the latest holiday season flew by with the joy of wrapping and recommending gifts. We had such a great time helping you find the perfect stories to share with your loved ones.

We have a handful of interesting and engaging events this month, including Mikaela Kiner, Julie Blacklow, and our Open Mic night at Barrels Wine Bar. We will end the month with Bookstore Yoga sponsored by our friends at the Mercer Island Athletic Club and taught by Marni Seneker. All are welcome.

It's also time to return to our regularly scheduled Storybook Corners, PJ Story Times, various book club meetings, and local author events. Come by and see us soon!

As tradition has it, we compiled our Top 40 "hits" of the year -- the books you have purchased the most from us in 2019. Two local authors are featured: Melinda Gates and her book, The Moment of Lift gets the top spot with Garth Stein's movie tie-in cover of The Art of Racing in the Rain a close second. The rest of the list is linked here. Stop by to see our Top 40 display!

We hope 2020 brings you a year of great reading, much happiness, and the opportunity to surprise yourself. As we look towards the new year, we invoke Neil Gaiman's new year blessing:

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

Laurie Raisys

The Joys of Rereading

It’s that time of year at Island Books when all our customers are looking for the perfect book to give to friends and family. When all of us behind the counter are focused on finding the best of what we’ve read this year to fit the eclectic interests of your nearest and dearest. We love to send you on your way with a bag full of brightly wrapped packages, carefully and thoughtfully chosen. It’s challenging and invigorating and incredibly satisfying to come up with that one special volume. December at Island Books demands that I search my memory of books read to come up with something to meet the unique requirements of each recipient. I am myself reduced to seeking out the vague clues from my memory, recollections of the the cover or a fragment of the title.

And every December I find myself looking to my personal shelf of unread books with lackluster interest. During my break time, or at the end of the work day, I instead want to reach for something familiar and comfortable, revisiting old friends and familiar faces in the pages of books read and reread.  It is a relief to sit down with words I’ve read before, characters I know, and a story where the ending is not in question.



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