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May 2013 eNewsletter

                          "Writing is, of all arts, universally admitted to be that which is most useful to society.                        
It is the picture of the past, the regulator of the future, and the messenger of thought."
Motto of the International Association of Master Penmen, Engravers, and Teachers of Handwriting

Island Books

Island Books

Our editoral board met at Miriam’s house for breakfast last week to hash out the May newsletter. Amidst coffee, croissants, and six month old twins, I was assigned Mother’s Day for the theme of the owner’s letter. It was impressive watching the mother of twins in action. It struck me that these beaming, gurgling little people have absolutely no idea of the sacrifices already made on their behalf and this is just year one. When I witness my wife tending our ripening fruit (ages 17 and 19), I am in awe of her ongoing versatility, capability and just sheer willingness to get out of bed and care for all of us each day. This is bigger magic than I can claim. Bigger magic than I can describe.


My mother passed last month after a long and mostly peaceful decline. My siblings and I are corresponding about an upcoming memorial service. Words have never seemed so inadequate and powerless. As with any great sacrifice or gift, there is really no way to express your gratitude. Billy Collins captures this perfectly in "The Lanyard" (yes, I am asking you to read another poem!–it's worth it):


The other day I was ricocheting slowly

off the blue walls of this room,

moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,

from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,

when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary

where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.


No cookie nibbled by a French novelist

could send one into the past more suddenly—

a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp

by a deep Adirondack lake

learning how to braid long thin plastic strips

into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.


I had never seen anyone use a lanyard

or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,

but that did not keep me from crossing

strand over strand again and again

until I had made a boxy

red and white lanyard for my mother.


She gave me life and milk from her breasts,

and I gave her a lanyard.

She nursed me in many a sick room,

lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,

laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,

and then led me out into the airy light


and taught me to walk and swim,

and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.

Here are thousands of meals, she said,

and here is clothing and a good education.

And here is your lanyard, I replied,

which I made with a little help from a counselor.


Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,

strong legs, bones and teeth,

and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,

and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.

And here, I wish to say to her now,

is a smaller gift—not the worn truth


that you can never repay your mother,

but the rueful admission that when she took

the two-tone lanyard from my hand,

I was as sure as a boy could be

that this useless, worthless thing I wove

out of boredom would be enough to make us even.


Buy mom a card and this book of poetry. Make a small effort on her great behalf. 

Roger Page
Owner and Bookseller


Best Bets for Mom

This is the time each year we think about Mom and wonder, what would she really enjoy? Our handpicked gifts—including fine jewelry, chocolates, bags, soaps, candles—are a great way to show her how much you care. But the perfect way to let her know that you understand her is to give her a book she'll love.



Library of Forgotten Books

Oldies But Goodies

Our highly literate staff has selected an assortment of volumes that haven’t gotten the love they deserve, including a heartfelt memoir of a marriage of opposites, essays on old New York, and writing about the singular pleasures of the table.





Reading-Related Rambles

Our blog approached from many angles this month, including reflections on reading in light of recent tragedies, a recap of last month's store book club meeting, and an examination of books that bring the landscape of North Korea to life.

By the way, did you know you can get our Store Journal by email?



Island Books

3014 78th Ave. SE

MI, WA 98040

(206) 232-6920

Store Hours

Mon-Wed: 9:30 - 7:00

Thurs: 9:30 - 8:00

Fri: 9:30 - 7:00

Sat: 9:30 - 6:00

Sun: 11:00 - 5:00


Island Books

Sat, May 4, 6:30pm: PJ Story Time with Norm Brecke
Tues, May 7, 7:30pm: Jonathan Evison, author of The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving
Sat, May 18, 4pm: Galen Longstreth, author of Yes, Let's
Thurs, May 30, 7:30pm: Open Book Club: The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

Here's What You Just Did

Shop Local

Discover ten ways that by shopping local you help our community.


Bike-To-Work Day

Bike-To-Work Day

Friday, May 17th is Bike to Work day.  We asked the experts at Mercer Island's independent bike shop, Veloce Velo, to tell us what we should be reading to get our pedals spinning.


Open Book Club

Island Books hosts an open book club that meets the last Thursday of each month at 7:30pm. All are welcome to attend, and if you purchase your book here in the store you'll always get a 10% discount.


20% Off Indie Bestsellers

Catch up on the titles dominating the indie bestseller lists and save 20% when you order online. More



Did you know you can download ebooks from our website and read them instantly? Or that we sell top-notch ereaders and tablets ourselves?

Read more about it. You'll be glad you did.