If some usual faces are missing from behind the counter at your local bookstore today and this weekend, it may be that they’re attending the annual trade show and education conference of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, happening now in Portland.
I took the train down from Seattle yesterday for the board meeting. (I found one Queen Anne Book Company longtime customer in the train station, then another in my car on the train. Readers are everywhere!)
At our board meeting, we kick off the meeting by introducing ourselves and talking about what we’ve been reading. I thought you might enjoy a little peek into the board room– to see what’s on the bookshelves and in the suitcases of booksellers. Sometimes the books we’re reading aren’t for sale yet because booksellers read advance copies; some are old favorites.
Shawn from Powell’s in Portland: Eruption, a riveting nonfiction account of the Mt. St. Helen’s eruption. Shawn particularly enjoyed the rich background of science, history, and local personalities. Barbarian Days. This well-written book about surfing (by a New Yorker staff writer) is a peek into a fascinating subculture, and should appeal to readers who seek adventure or novelty.
Jack from Grass Roots Books and Music: The Flickering Page. This little nonfiction volume is required reading for staff at Jack’s store. If you’re interested in print books, digital books, and how and why readers read as they do, this is worth your time, too. He’s been reading another book that is much-anticipated, but hasn’t gotten sucked in as much as he’d hoped yet, so he’s hoping for a revelation later in the book– and we’ll play coy and not share the title of a book that may not be his cup of tea.
Colleen, Penguin kids‘ sales rep from Penguin Random House: The Invasion of the Tearling (sequel to Queen of the Tearling). Instead of telling us about all the great kids’ and YA books she reads for her job, she shared this pure fun, completely compulsive adult read. People who love fantasy– and adult readers who are often drawn to the drama, characters, and world-building in YA– should eat this series up. She also mentioned Fates and Furies, which was striking for its intimacy.
Thom, Executive Director of PNBA: He was delighted by Burdy by Karen Spears Zacharias; it was just what he’d hoped for as a follow-up to Mother of Rain— more great storytelling. And the books that have truly changed his life are Wheat Belly and Grain Brain, which convinced him to try living gluten-free. He has experienced tremendous health benefits and is feeling better than he has in a while.
Larry, Executive Assistant Bookkeeper for PNBA: Larry often reads deep backlist (meaning old, old books that can be difficult to track down), but he had a big, new, novel by a Pacific Northwest author to recommend: Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. Larry is a Stephenson fan, and he says that this is “one of the best he’s ever done.” From the very beginning, the premise intrigued him.
Brian, Marketing Director for PNBA: As a father, Brian spends a lot of time reading bedtime stories. In particular, his family enjoys bedtime poetry. A recent standout in the bedtime routine is Goodnight Songs: A Celebration of the Seasons. Like the first Goodnight Songs, the collection of poetry by Margaret Wise Brown works well as a read-aloud. The gorgeous illustrations by twelve different illustrators are just the icing on the cake. Then there’s the CD, which is like the flowers or the sprinkles on top of the icing on the cake. Another book he enjoyed reading to just himself was Growing Up with G. I. Joe’s— a nonfiction book about the sporting goods store, not the toys. For people who grew up with the northwest institution, this packs a lot of nostalgia.
Carol from BookPeople of Moscow, ID: Ancient Places: People and Landscape of the Emerging Northwest. This nonfiction is a thoroughly satisfying nonfiction book about our region. Not just about a sense of place, it weaves history and geology into a fascinating narrative. For fiction, Carol has been enjoying the page-turning books by Christopher Pavone: The Expats and The Accident.
Brad from Paulina Springs in Sisters, OR: Beastly Bones. Brad read and enjoyed the first Jackaby book, and this second did not disappoint. While the premise, characters, and plot are all fantastic, what really impressed him was the writing. Brad also recently finished A Beautiful Question, a nonfiction book that he recommends for the reader who is very interested in science. He’s also enjoying M Train— quite a departure from Just Kids, but also very enjoyable in its own way.
David from Book ‘N’ Brush in Chehalis, WA: Circling the Sun. He was so interested in this book and enjoyed it so much, he is going back to read the author’s previous book, The Paris Wife, and the nonfiction classic memoir by the main character, West with the Night. It’s always fun to start down a whole new reading path because of one great book. He also mentioned that, like his staff and customers, he has rediscovered the joys of coloring. The new trend of adult coloring books has proven meditative and relaxing– and it has inspired a joint event with the bar across the street: Adult Coloring and Cocktails Night.
And, finally, me, Tegan from Queen Anne Book Company in Seattle: The Murdstone Trilogy. I picked this up because I loved Mal Peet’s YA books (Keeper, Tamar…), and I knew that this was his first book for adults. Unfortunately, it was also his last, as he died this spring. I laughed out loud many times in this screwball satire of the publishing world and the fantasy genre. The main character, Philip Murdstone, is an author who writes realistic books for teens– what his agent calls “sad boy books.” But they aren’t selling anymore, so she demands that he write her a fantasy novel– or better yet, a trilogy– that checks all the boxes of the genre. Easy-peasy! But Murdstone just can’t bring himself to write about quests and swords and all, even though his career depends on it. When he’s at his most desperate, a mysterious Hobbit-like creature appears to him and starts to dictate the most perfect fantasy novel– and they enter a Faustian bargain with consequences aplenty. Because I love a great fantasy novel, a silly satire, British humor, and books behind the scenes of publishing, this hit me in all the right places.