Regular readers of this newsletter will be aware that our house is presently absent of offspring. Our last fledgling has flown. The nest is empty.
Nancy and I were quite nervous about this moment. We actively spent some quality time together—just the two of us—this summer to make sure we would still be good company for each other after the party of adolescents had ended. Somewhat to our surprise, it has been at least a relief and, to some extent, a pleasure. Grocery shopping is a whole new adventure, as is laundry, house cleaning, sharing bathrooms, car swapping, and a dozen other daily routines. There is space. Stillness. Things have stopped moving. You put something down and it is still there when you walk by it tomorrow. Sure there is some sadness. A void. Nancy says we should entertain more. She brings home cookbooks and tells me we need new books for the trunk.
“The trunk” is an oddly-shaped, worn, low, and fancy suitcase that once belonged to my maiden great aunt. I figure she bought it in the 1890s in Europe when she was traveling. True to form, my family has never thrown out anything so somehow I have it in my Seattle living room where it continues to decay. We use it to pile books on to keep our guests entertained while Nancy or I fetch cheese, crackers, or cool libations.
I add very little to the décor of our home, but I choose the titles that go on the trunk and I take it quite seriously. It is after all, a booksellers’ house. First and foremost, the books need to call out to be picked up so visual appeal is critical. Then I like quirkness. Maybe something that might start a conversation. Maybe something you can get lost in for 10 minutes. An odd cookbook, a children’s book, a book about houses, a book of landscapes, a drop-dead beautiful photography book. I like outsiders (see Emily Carr) and something that makes me chuckle (101 Two-Letter Words).
[Above] is this autumn’s offering. It will change as the shop fills up for the holidays. There will be new books that I just have to live with. More Pages to touch and turn. We hope you’ll find something clever to put on your own “trunk,” a book that inspires an abundance of good conversation.
Enjoy the lovely fall.
Owner and Bookseller, Island Books, Mercer Island, WA
This piece is from Island Books’ October 2014 newsletter. For the full volume and past newsletters, visit the store’s archives online.