This holiday season, if you drop in at a bookstore in the Northwest that sells new books and doesn't have the name Barnes & Noble on the sign, there's a good chance you'll find some version of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association's Holiday Books campaign in the works. Eighty-six stores in five states have campaigns—from posters and displays to local newspaper inserts—rolled out. One million catalogs are out there, and so are a lot of great books.
I know these books well, because I accepted, selected, campaigned and negotiated for the inclusion of each of them into the 2011 Holiday Books guide, “It's All in the Neighborhood,” on behalf of the stores. For seven years I've had the pleasure of being a bookseller for an enormous, diverse and well-stocked independent bookstore–it's just that some of the aisles are miles and towns apart.
The “catalog,” as the stores call it, is host to some big-name blockbusters, and it's known for its signature “Best of the Northwest” section, pages of books born of the cold water, mossy, rain-drenched, majestic mountained, green and glorious Pacific Northwest. It's also peppered with sleepers, books without big marketing budgets, books from university presses, small independents–books that I love. Here are a few:
Books: A Living History is the textbook from the coolest college class you never got to take. The timeline is fascinating, with archival illustrations supporting and enhancing the facts. If you are or know a book geek, get this one for the coffee table. And quiz your local bookseller.
Right Where You Are Now is smart, challenging technicolor magic. The lessons on the flora, fauna and geography of our world's former self are delivered lyrically and with kid-friendly relevance. Who here knows what a Nimravid is!