Seattle Independent Bookstore Day did it again! Such a festive day for all us ‘Willpower in a bookstore? What’s that like?’ folks to celebrate, support, and enjoy the excellent indie bookstore scene we’ve got here.

My mom and I went for it again—we took the challenge and went to 17 indie bookstores yesterday so we are Seattle Independent Bookstore Day Champions once more! (And can continue to get that lovely 25% off for another year.)

Here’s a recap of our adventures:

25 passport IBD2016
Ta-da! My completed passport for Seattle Independent Bookstore Day 2016.

We did a similar route as last year, meeting up on Bainbridge Island (I took the ferry, Mom drove up on the peninsula side), doing an outer swing then zagging around in the metro area, trying to avoid probable Viadoom* traffic areas (successfully!) and be efficient, but also sure we got to each store before they closed.

*For non-Seattleites: the Alaskan Way Viaduct downtown is closed for 2 weeks, which just started. Highway 99 runs on the Viaduct. There are about 90,000 vehicle trips per weekday on 99. There is only one North-South freeway alternative and its usual traffic hovers somewhere between bad and horrendous. So it could have been a major impediment to our day, but wasn’t! (At least not for us). Who knows what Monday’s commutes will hold but the impending workweek concerns us not in this post!

Twitter was pretty lively with both #independentbookstoreday and #SEAbookstoreday action. My favorite early morning tweet:

EBBCO IBD2016 tweet


I adore the fact that ferry boat rides are a part of the bookstore day challenge. Because I adore ferry boat rides. This is on the 7:55 to Bainbridge.
Mom (aka Marianne) at Eagle Harbor, first stop for us and lots of others—place was buzzing already at 8:30. I saw a family we had crossed paths with last year outside doing the traditional picture-in-front-of-the-bookstore and we were all like, “Hey!!” The first of many really fun Bookstore Day community moments. I bought The Big Short by Michael Lewis because I had tried to watch the movie but it’s filmed in that shaky handheld docu-style that makes me motion sick so I couldn’t finish watching it, but I really want to know how it all unfolded.
Stop #2, Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo, seen here in a just-for-SEABookstoreDay coloring page. Each store did a few little somethings special for the day in addition to the national Bookstore Day exclusives* and it really added to the personality of each.

* I missed out on the cool stencil and the Neil Gaiman coloring book (wow those sold out fast) but did get the Ann Patchet The Care and Feeding of an Independent Bookstore: Three Instructive Essays, in which she says:

“You may have heard the news that the indepedent bookstore is dead, that books are dead, that maybe even reading is dead—to which I say, “Pull up a chair, friend. I have a story to tell.”


Provisions are key for a successful all-day bookstore trek. Mom brought an adorable little cutting board for the cheese and crackers portion of the snackage.
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More ferry!
Showing off my Frenchie totebag. ( is the answer to your inevitable question.)

We both got Alice in Wonderland temporary tattoos. Mine was “I took a kettle / large and new” and Mom said, “I don’t get it” and I’m like “Well…Alice in Wonderland…” and then hers turned out to say, “‘I’m afraid I don’t quite understand,’ said Alice.”


I picked this up in Edmonds Bookshop because it seemed like a great title for a bookstore day…and it turned out to be this beautiful book of paintings of women reading, most of which I’d never seen before. I also got a tote bag that says SNACK. NAP. READ. Which, yes, exactly.


In between stop #3 (Edmonds) and stop #4 (Mercer Island) we saw a bald eagle soaring around all majestically elan. That’s Seattle for ya.


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Island Books, where I got a recommendation from Laurie for Jim Lynch’s Before the Wind* and my mom went a little nuts in the kids’ section, and we split the Kit Kemp book A Living Space, one of those beautiful interior design books, because it is (a) beautiful and (b) has an entire section on decorating with dog art/dog fabrics/dog lamps/dog stuff. I also joined a conversation two people I didn’t know were having about how great Hugo House writing classes are—everyone’s in such a fun and communal mood on Bookstore Day, I just love it.

*Seattle Arts and Lectures tweeted a sneak-peek of a few of the Summer Book Bingo squares so Indie Bookstore Day folks could  make a strategic purchase or two—the Jim Lynch one will work for either ‘local author’ or ‘recommended by an indie bookseller’. (‘By a SAL speaker’ is the other one they previewed.)

At Fantagraphics I picked up the “Seattle Underground” bookstore day comic exclusive Fantagraphics put together.
I told the bookseller at Seattle Mystery that I’d re-read all the Sue Graftons last year and was really missing getting to hang out with her character Kinsey Millhone, and wanted a recommendation for a mystery that had a main character that, when you finish the book(s), you really miss and want to see again. She recommended several (including the Louise Penny series which my mom loves, which led to the Fred Vargas and Ann Cleeves she recommended for my mom) but her description of Mallory’s Oracle by Carol O’Connell plus the blurb by Carl Hiassen made me go for that one.
Our recommended mystery books with our free-with-purchases — I love the mystery mystery book thing. It was hard to choose, so many intriguing teaser descriptions!
Several booksellers mentioned how calm we were. This is because my awesome friend Le’a again designed our route and made us a handy spreadsheet so we knew if we had to speed up in order to make them all before they closed or could slow down and browse at a bit longer — by Seattle Mystery we were ahead of schedule! Thanks in large part to my mom’s amazing parking karma and the aforementioned lack of Viadoomness.

Next up was Queen Anne Book Company where I got Miss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson because of the Staff Picks shelf description of it, plus delightful sentences like these from the first few pages: “She found a table and ordered coffee and buns and chocolate eclairs for she had an unsophisticated palate and a good digestion” and “”Come along, come along,” he said, quite unnecessarily, for Miss Buncle was coming along very well, and the train was not thinking of starting.”

And, my mom apparently won their raffle!


Another favorite tweet.


Magnolia’s Bookstore, the first of two new ones on the route this year—we snagged their last tote!
I chose this little cookbook at Book Larder because it says that yellow squash’s spirit animal is the golden retriever.
Reason #862 to live near an independent bookstore—so you can let your dog out midway through SEABookstoreDay without going off course.
Secret Garden Books! I picked up the new Neruda translation from Copper Canyon Press.
Quick dinner.
I LOVE THIS BOOKSTORE. And I am SO VERY HAPPY that it will continue even though John is retiring and he and Christine are selling it. We were delighted to meet the soon-to-be new owner, Billie Swift, during our visit.


I asked John for a recommendation of dog poems and he of course quoted a wonderful dog poem by heart then pointed me to this anthology, which has way cool linocuts along with each poem.

I also picked up the great (and, quite sadly, late) C.D. Wright’s recent book of essays about poetry, which from what I’ve read already is just phenomenal. An excerpt from the beginning and the end of “In a Word, a World”:

I love them all.

I love that a handful, a mouthful, gets you by, a satchelful can land you a job, a well-chosen clutch of them could get you laid, and that a solitary word can initiate a stampede, and therefore be formally outlawed […]

[…] My relationship to the word is anything but scientific; it is a matter of faith on my part, that the word endows material substance, by setting the thing named apart from all else. Horse, then, unhorses what is not horse.

Open Books was one of the places where our calmness was noted, and we were joking about having had no panic-inducing moments like last year—when I thought I had forgotten to get my passport stamped at Phinney Books and we went rushing back thinking they had closed already but they hadn’t yet, and anyway they HAD stamped it just on the wrong spot, and they wrote a hilarious little post-it apologizing to Elliott Bay for stamping on their space, and it stayed on my passport when I turned it in at the end of the day, so when the SEABookstoreDay folks later tweeted a photo of all the champions’ passports lined up together I could tell which of the 42 was mine.

And then John turned around and whaddyaknow he totally stamped the wrong spot on someone’s else’s passport and had to write a post-it note apologizing to the other bookstore. The tradition continues!

We neglected to take any pictures at Mockingbird Books so here is a gratuitous cute photo of my dog sleeping, which is of course how she spent her Indie Bookstore Day. But back to the narrative thread, at Mockingbird Books my mom picked up the Lego Star Wars Character Encyclopedia, which my young nephew had instructed her to find today because, “I really think you will like it, Grandma.”
Again with the forgetting to take a picture at the actual bookstore, but here we are in front of some random Phinney Ridge house’s gorgeous rhododendron holding Phinney Books’ SEABookstoreDay bookmarks. I got a copy of the 2013 Best American Sports Writing. (That I like reading about sports surprises some people who know me but it’s not that I don’t like sports, it’s that I don’t like sports commentary or commercials, or running and kicking/throwing things et cetera myself. But the actual athletic endeavors, when well written, are great reading.) And my mom picked up something for my dad but it’ll be a gift so I can’t say what, but it looked like something I am liable to want to borrow.
My University Bookstore purchase. Because sometimes you gotta buy a book because of the cover. And I’ve never read it. I also, you bet your ass I did, entered the raffle to have breakfast with Nancy Pearl.
Third Place Books Ravenna, our third-to-last stop! We are pretty tired by this point and wondering what Capitol Hill’s generally impossible parking situation might have in store for us yet on a Saturday night, but we’re so very nearly done! (Spoiler: parking karma pretty much held! You know, allowing for Cap Hill norms.)
Ada’s Technical Books is SO COOL! I’d never been before, this was the second new one on this year’s list. Gorgeous space with all sorts of cool stuff, and small but wonderful topic sections with fascinating books; I am going back very soon. I got The Best American Infographics 2015 because I love a great infographic. (That’s another championship group browsing in the background.)
We walked into Elliott Bay about 8:30pm and flung our arms wide as we reveled in our success! And then high-fived some other awesome SEABookstoreDaychamps we’d seen out and about all day who also finished at just about the same time. My last purchase was Marilynne Robinson’s The Givenness of Things, a book I’ve been wanting for a while and was waiting until this very day to get, and my mom got the Ellen Degeneres house book she too has been wanting for a long while—a lovely way to end a truly lovely book- and bookseller- and bookpeople- and sunny Seattle- and independent bookstore-filled day.

I am totally curious how many champs there are this year compared to last, and how many repeats — I suspect quite a few! I also saw (thanks to social media) that there were at least a couple other mother-daughter teams, and several with kiddos (you go, young readers!). Hope they do a party for the grand champions like last year so we all get to meet. I also hope yesterday’s booksellers got to put their tired feet up today and bask a little in all that Independent Bookstore Day love—you totally deserve it.

And that brings us to the end of the 2016 Seattle Independent Bookstore Day adventures for me and my mom. Now on to all the reading…and since if I were you I’d be wondering: Miss Buncle’s Book is the one I chose—after a preposterously long time staring at the stack this morning trying to decide—to start first.