Welcome to the revamped NWBookLovers.org! As you take a look around the new site, you’ll see that it feels more like a traditional blog than the old version and that we’ve got a bunch of new voices—all while hanging on to the best of the old site: the Face Outs, the author interviews and essays, and the store and author directories. We’ve also got some pretty great give-aways (Check out the ads on the right-hand side of the page!).
Our hope is that the site is a little like walking into a well-stocked indie bookstore. If you’ve got time to browse, you can move quietly from section to section or hunker down in one spot. If you’re just looking for a quick book rec on your lunch break, check out what our booksellers have faced out today. Either way, we hope you’ll find something that will stick with you, something you might want to take up to the counter. Just follow our links to buy the books from an indie store.
We’re thrilled to be partnering with this talented cast of NW booksellers who we’ll be featuring regularly, starting today with Jeffrey Shaffer’s inaugural The Shelf Talker column and Lindsey McGuirk’s fantastic interview with Jess Walter. We’re also excited to be featuring illustrations from the wonderfully quirky Brad Craft, of University Book Store in Seattle, and we hope to incorporate more of those into the design for the site in the future. You’ll see his take on some NW classics below with our giveaway post.
Here, we’ll let the booksellers introduce themselves.
North-North-West by George Carroll
I started my bookselling career at Pickwick Bookshops in Southern California. I’m currently an independent publishers’ representative for university and academic presses, an associate of Seagull Books of Kolkata, and an audiobook narrator. I’m also the soccer editor of Shelf Awareness, and I blog at thecroakingraven.wordpress.com. Right now I’m reading mostly international literature and the occasional noir mystery. My column’s name comes from Act II, Scene II of Hamlet: “I am but mad north-north-west — when the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.”
Doodles by Brad Craft
I’m a bookseller who eats too much, reads too much, talks too much, earns too little, writes too little, listens too little and never really learned how to play the oboe. Married to G. Allen Hicks for a quarter of a century and counting, and damned grateful for the patience that’s shown on his part. I was recently mistaken for the greatest living Iranian poet, Houshang Ebtehaj. I blog at usedbuyer2.0.
From the Poetry Frontier
by Christine Deavel and John W. Marshall
Christine: I married into full-time bookselling in 1989 when I joined John Marshall in running a small general bookstore in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood. This had not been my planned career, but I am glad my plans went awry. John and I both have MFAs in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa, and in 1995, we decided to fully embrace what had embraced us—bookselling and poetry—and turned Open Books into Open Books: A Poem Emporium, a bookstore devoted to poetry and poetry-related titles. We moved the shop eight blocks down the street into the lower level of a bungalow and later moved ourselves into the rooms above it—it’s a little space with a big world inside it. I have the privilege of living and working surrounded by poetry books and of sharing my days with people who savor them as much as I do. Among the latest delicious arrivals is Lucia Perillo’s new collection, On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths, published by Copper Canyon Press. What a mind and heart are at work in this book. Her poetry is fierce, gorgeous, intelligent, wry, moving and consistently surprising. A book to savor, indeed. We’re hosting an event for Perillo June 5 at the Chapel Performance Space in the Good Shepherd Center, which is just a block and a half away from us. There are more details about the event here.
John: I have been in bookselling since 1987 when I bought a struggling bookstore in my neighborhood after originally approaching the owner to see if she would employ me. I ran Open Books, a general bookstore, for seven years, the first two with a manager, the last five with my wife, Christine Deavel. The rewards were deeply in the shadow of the costs, both monetarily and psychically, so when our lease ended we moved the store and converted it to poetry-only, since that is where the pleasure lay. The balance of reward to cost shifted dramatically and, though business always does seem to be a struggle, I am happy to be where I am, doing what I am doing. Currently I am re-reading the Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer, our current Nobel Laureate. I have enjoyed his work, in translation, for decades and, in a recent spate of moodiness, I reopened an early translation of his Windows & Stones, and was reminded of his gorgeous, sane voice, tinged with the sadnesses one finds in Bergman films. I’m a sucker for any instance of emotional richness and complexity that’s found its home in art.
Young Adult Anonymous by Angela Hanson
My name is Angela Hanson. And I am addicted to YA. Welcome to Young Adult Anonymous! I work at Klindt’s Booksellers & Stationers, the oldest bookstore in Oregon (in The Dalles). My love for YA has earned me my own section, a yearly event featuring 12 YA authors and now a regular column with NW Booklovers! I will share my reads and any inside information I can get out of some of my favorite YA authors every month. Happy reading!
folded & gathered by René Kirkpatrick
A friend who worked at the University of Oregon Bookstore woke me early one morning to say that the main cashier in the book department was in the hospital and they needed someone right now! I got dressed, ran down the alley behind my house, in through the back door of the store, and found the manager, Thom Chambliss. I convinced him I could run a cash register and count back change correctly, and someone was assigned to help me learn the basics. My life as a bookseller was launched.
I have a degree in elementary education and spent a couple of years taking Children’s Literature classes. We eventually moved to Seattle where I worked at All for Kids Books and Music and Third Place Books.
I read all the time, and I’ve been caught reading during the 6-mile walk between my house and All for Kids. My favorite genres are books for children and teens and I blog about them at www.notesfromthebedsidetable.blogspot.com.
My favorite book is the one I’m reading now. Although, if I had to make a desert island list, it would include A Wrinkle in Time and the Vicky Austin series by Madeleine L’Engle, Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey, and the Mary O’Hara My Friend Flicka series.
Reading-Related Rambles by Miriam Landis
I’m a web monkey for Island Books on Mercer Island, WA, and I write for our Store Journal, Message in a Bottle. I joined the publishing industry in 2004 with an internship at Simon & Schuster and worked as an assistant editor at Hyperion and a site merchandiser on the Amazon books team. A former professional ballerina, I’m the author of two novels about ballet, Girl in Motion, and the sequel, Breaking Pointe.
In 2011, I joined the incredible team at Island Books. Known for its support of the local community and beloved owners and booksellers, Island Books has a special sense of place and an outstanding children’s section essential to the island community for nearly 40 years.
Here’s a rec: I loved Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton, a part psychological thriller, part literary fiction, and part tribute to the mother-daughter relationship. Afterwards is the story of a woman who runs into a burning building to save her daughter and shows a clear progression of the writing ability Lupton displayed in Sister. Both books are told in the voice of the protagonist speaking to their loved one. Since the way we speak in our closest relationships is far more intimate than the way we speak to acquaintances, the structure offers a deep and compelling understanding of the characters. Afterwards remained in my mind long after I turned the last page, and I highly recommend it!”
Bookselling in the Desert by Amanda MacNaughton
I’m a front-line bookseller (which I think is the most important part of my job) and the events manager at Paulina Springs Books in Sisters and Redmond. Paulina Springs Books has been in Sisters since 1992, and in Redmond since 2008.
I got into bookselling because I love books, and also because, as a literature major who didn’t want to teach, I didn’t know what else to do. I worked in a public library first, then spent a couple of years at Barnes & Noble, where I learned quite a bit and enjoyed working with a community of booksellers, but got tired of the corporate environment. Somehow I landed a job at Paulina Springs Books (I got lucky), and I’ve been here about six years.
My most recent rave is Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, by Diana Gabaldon. It’s a historical intrigue that follows Lord John Grey, a gay soldier in the 18th century, as he tries to uncover the truth of his father’s long-cold murder. Meanwhile, his mother is getting remarried, his cousin Olivia is about to have a baby, and Lord John himself is embroiled in a love affair. I love that Lord John is such a family man. I must say that in a time when horrific childbirth scenes are de rigeur (Twilight series—nightmarish!) the scene of Olivia giving birth in an organ loft, assisted only by two gay men, was refreshingly humorous and life-affirming. This book got me hooked on Diana Gabaldon.
Interviews by Lindsey McGuirk
Although I worked at a corporate bookstore for nearly two years, it wasn’t until I was introduced to the indie bookselling world that I was encouraged to speak up and speak out, that I considered myself a bookseller. While the Events Coordinator at Village Books in Bellingham, WA, I discovered that book people make up a secret society who rub elbows with everyone from John Waters to Barack Obama. In 2007, I was offered the chance to check out the publishing end of the book business. I packed my bags and moved to Chapel Hill, NC, where I signed on with the amazing Algonquin Books. Many pulled pork sandwiches later, I realized that I was a bookseller at heart and returned to Village Books. I’m now the Digital Marketing & Publishing Manager, a fancy title that means I handle the online marketing for the store and run the self-publishing program for the store’s Espresso Book Machine. I firmly believe that as long as there are books that terrify me like House of Leaves did and that make me cry like Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close did, then we’ll be ok.
The Shelf Talker by Jeffrey Shaffer
Having spent a long time doing radio and TV news, I enjoy interviewing people, and working in a bookstore is like doing mini-interviews every day. I’m at Annie Bloom’s Books in the historic Multnomah Village district of southwest Portland. My relationship with the store began in the 1990s; they were enthusiastic fans of my two humor collections (I’m Right Here, Fish-Cake and It Came With the House). Last November I joined the staff and discovered that selling books can be just as interesting as the writing process. I’ve been putting words on paper for almost thirty years and during that time some of my work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Oregonian, The New Yorker, and The BARK. From 1997 until 2008 I wrote a twice-monthly column for The Christian Science Monitor op-ed page. On the electronic front, I have done radio commentaries for Oregon Public Broadcasting and from 1997 until 2001 I appeared once a month on ‘Good Day Oregon’ with a five-minute book review segment. For the past several years I’ve been contributing to The Huffington Post. My personal reading list is a blend of recent releases and American classics. If someone asked me to recommend an example of each category for their summer reading list I would answer with The True Story of Titanic Thompson by Kevin Cook and Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson.