Tag Archives: island bookstore

Independent Bookstore Day

Tomorrow, Saturday April 28, is Independent Bookstore Day, a celebration of and at independent bookstores around the country. I love independent bookstores (duh). I especially love visiting bookstores when I travel. I drag my family into bookstores and tell them I need 20 minutes of uninterrupted browsing – and then I go up and down aisles, admiring bow the books are organized and checking out staff picks. Even though the last thing I need is more books, I always walk out with at least one.

In honor of Independent Bookstore Day, here are some of my favorite indies from around the country. If you’re near one of them, go check it out! And please comment and tell me about your favorite independent bookstores and why you love them.

1. Island Bookstore, Corolla NC. This outpost of the Outer Banks indie chain is so lovely that I bought a watercolor print that someone painted of it to frame and hang in my library. I go here whenever we’re in the Outer Banks. I want their bookshelves to be my bookshelves.

2. Politics & Prose, Washington DC. This is my home bookstore, my default bookstore, and the most dangerous place in the city for me. The selection is broad, the events calendar is robust, the staff is amazing… need I go on? There is a reason why P&P’s reputation stretches far beyond DC.

3. Powell’s Bookstore, Portland OR. New books living side-by-side on shelves with used books? Yes, sign me up. I’ve only been to this store once, but it’s a book lover’s dream. (Its tagline is “City of Books”).

4. Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle WA. This place has everything – a great kids section, tons of fiction, lots of recommendation hangtags – in a spacious, airy setting. Plus it’s in a cool part of town.

5. Strand Bookstore, New York NY. The Strand has lost some of its book-treasures-in-a-musty-basement feel, but it’s still enormous and full of books I want to read. Most of the books are discounted, even new ones, so it’s easy to walk out with a big bag of books even when you promised yourself you wouldn’t.

6. The Brewster Book Store, Brewster MA. There are a lot of indie bookstores on Cape Cod, but I happened to stop at this one and fell in love with it. There is a great selection packed into a small space, and it’s a perfect vacation book source.

7. Books & Books, Key West, FL. I stopped in at this store, which was founded by Judy Blume, while on vacation a few weeks ago. It’s small but has an excellent curated selection of new fiction. I walked around the store thinking, “I’ve wanted to read THAT book… and THAT book… and THAT book… and THAT book…”.

Happy Independent Bookstore Day! Learn more about it here.

Even More Island Bookstore Picks

I'm telling you, Island Bookstore in Corolla, NC is a treasure trove of intriguing novels. Here are a few more that I spied on my visit there this summer.

If You Follow Me, by Malena Watrous. From Amazon:

Watrous In Watrous's proficient debut, 22-year-old Marina and her girlfriend
Carolyn are new residents in a quirky Japanese town where they teach
English while learning their own lessons about gomi, or garbage
disposal. Aside from the local obsession with trash, living in smalltown
Shika is a welcome respite for Marina, who grapples with her father's
suicide (he was indirectly responsible for her introduction to Carolyn;
they met in a bereavement group), and although she hopes to move past
his death during her year in Japan, he begins to feel more alive to her,
as if his presence made the trip as well. Meanwhile, the peculiar
absurdities of being a stranger in a strange land abound (how does one
properly dispose of a refrigerator?), and though this tale of culture
shock, growing up, and throwing out isn't especially distinguished from
its fish-out-of-water peers, it does the trick as a diversion

I am a bit obsessed with Japan (is that like being a little pregnant?), and definitely want to check this one out. I believe I have it at home already, so it's going on the list!

Next, Corner Shop by Roopa Farooki. I haven't yet read her Bitter Sweets (which seems to have been very well received). From Amazon:

Farooki Farooki’s second [novel] is a multi-generational tale about the struggle to
achieve a dream and the reality that follows even the most amazing
accomplishment. Zaki defied his father and married a beautiful young
pregnant widow, only to find himself widowed a few years later and
forced to accept his father’s offer to run a small shop in London.
Zaki’s daughter-in-law—and former lover—Delphine has everything she
thought she wanted: a loving husband and a smart, ambitious son, but she
finds herself longing for the passion she shared with Zaki. Her
15-year-old son, Lucky, is an aspiring footballer, but he’s chagrined
when his coach puts him in the goalie box. Still, Lucky finds love with
his dream girl and success on the football field, growing ever closer to
his dream to be on England’s World Cup team. A complex exploration of
the ever-changing nature of wants and desires and the consequences of
achieving one’s dreams, Farooki’s tale eschews easy answers for the
complex, appealing characters that people its pages.

How good does that sound?

And the third, A Short History of Women, by Kate Walbert. From Amazon:

Walbert Walbert offers a
beautiful and kaleidoscopic view of the 20th century through the eyes of
several generations of women in the Townsend family. The story begins
with Dorothy Townsend, a turn-of-the-century British suffragist who dies
in a hunger strike. From Dorothy's death, Walbert travels back and
forth across time and continents to chronicle other acts of
self-assertion by Dorothy's female descendants. Dorothy's daughter,
Evelyn, travels to America after WWI to make her name in the world of
science—and escape from her mother's infamy. Decades later, her niece,
also named Dorothy, has a late-life crisis and gets arrested in 2003 for
taking photos of an off-limits military base in Delaware. Dorothy's
daughters, meanwhile, struggle to find meaning in their modern bourgeois
urban existences. The novel takes in historical events from the social
upheaval of pre-WWI Britain to VJ day in New York City, a feminist
conscious-raising in the '70s and the Internet age. The lives of these
women reveal that although oppression of women has grown more subtle,
Dorothy's self-sacrifice reverberates through generations. Walbert's
look at the 20th century and the Townsend family is perfectly
calibrated, intricately structured and gripping from page one.

Can anyone weigh in on these?

Vacation Wrap-up

I am back from vacation. It was a relaxing week at the beach, with some (not enough – never enough) time for reading. I finished How To Talk To A Widower by Jonathan Tropper (reviewed here) and At A Loss For Words by Diane Schoemperlen (reviewed here) and am well into Family History by Dani Shapiro, which I am having a hard time putting down. I was up very late last night reading it and am quite enjoying it, though it's quite a difficult story.

One highlight of the trip was my annual visit to the very best bookstore on the planet: Island Bookstore in Corolla, NC. It's not a large store, but its fiction selection is better than any I have ever seen in any other bookstore, chain store or independent. I always find books there I've never heard of before. And I had my annual book gossip session with Meaghan, the Island Bookstore fiction expert, who came from behind the counter to take me through the shelves and point out new fiction to me. Her comfort zone for books is definitely wider than mine, so she pushes me to expand my tendencies beyond my usual "domestic fiction" themes of family and relationships.

Moore I wrote down the titles of a number of books that either Meaghan recommended or that I discovered on my own on Island Bookstore's shelves, and I'll share them here over the next month. Here's the first one – and this is one I actually bought from the store. It's called The Big Girls by Susanna Moore. It's the story of a women's prison, told by four narrators, one of whom is a psychiatrist at the prison. Here are a number of reviews of the book. It is apparently graphic, at times even violent, but it also sounds like a fascinating depiction of the world inside the prison, as well as the often very disturbed worlds inside the inmates' minds. It's now in my impossibly large TBR pile. If you're intrigued, here's the first chapter, reprinted on NYT.com.

Many more Island Bookstore recommendations to come.

Island Bookstore on the OBX

I am home! Had a great 2 weeks on the Outer Banks of North Carolina – beautiful beach, laid-back tempo — perfect place to spend a summer vacation.  I did a little reading while I was there and will report on that in my next post, but first wanted to talk about a bookstore that I discovered while on the Outer Banks — Island Bookstore

Within seconds of stepping into the Island Bookstore in Corolla, NC, I was enthralled. It’s small, but its fiction shelves are crammed with the types of books I love. Lots of books by authors I’ve read or otherwise recognized (plus some new ones to discover); great independent bookstore feel; no mass-market bestseller-type books. It was a genuine pleasure to spend 45 minutes browsing the shelves (and it took a lot of restraint to leave with only two new books). I add Island Bookstore to my growing list of favorite bookstores: The Strand (NYC), the Elliott Bay Book Company (Seattle), Politics & Prose (DC).

Island Bookstore has a good website with a section on staff recommendations. I also like the store’s credo, a collection of thoughts about reading and books.  Finally, the Corolla store is now reading the EDIWTB blog – very exciting!  [Thanks for the comment on the Joyce Carol Oates post, Meaghan].

If you’re ever on the Outer Banks of NC, check out the Island Bookstore in Duck, Corolla or Kitty Hawk. 

Where is your favorite bookstore?

Back to reviews and books next time.