Category Archives: Bookshops

The Cat Who Saved Books

The Cat Who Saved Books, by Sosuke Natsukawa, is a book I read for Dolce Bellezza’s fifteenth Japanese Literature challenge.  It is a book for book lovers! There are many books in that genre of books and bookstores, but this book was a sweet fantasy that didn’t disappoint. It’s a perfect read for a dark January afternoon.

From the publisher:

Bookish high school student Rintaro Natsuki is about to close the secondhand bookstore he inherited from his beloved bookworm grandfather. Then, a talking cat named Tiger appears with an unusual request. The feline asks for–or rather, demands–the teenager’s help in saving books with him. The world is full of lonely books left unread and unloved, and Tiger and Rintaro must liberate them from their neglectful owners.

Some wise words from the book:

“Suddenly the cat spoke.
‘ Books have a soul.’
‘ A book that sits on a shelf is nothing but a bundle of paper. Unless it is opened, a book possessing great power, an epic story is a mere scrap of paper. But a book that has been cherished and loved , filled with human thoughts, has been endowed with a soul”

“I think the power of books is that – that they teach us to care about others. It’s a power that gives people courage and also supports them in turn. [. . .] Empathy – that’s the power of books.”



My husband had a bone scan done today. That meant a trip to the hospital at 11:00 to get the infusion, and then back to the hospital at 2:00 to get the scan done. Since it’s a distance to the hospital from our home, rather than driving back and forth, we decided to make good use of the in-between time and go out to lunch and then to the bookstore. It was so wonderful to be in the bookstore again! Spending time at Powell’s is definitely bibiotherapy!

Mystery Book

The Grandboy will be staying with us tomorrow, so I bought him a book while I was at Powell’s the other day trying to escape the heat of this scorching week. I found a display of “mystery books” for young readers.  Someone very creative at  Powell’s had created the covers, and  I just couldn’t resist picking this one up for him. We’ll find out what book it is when he removes the wrapping. I hope he likes it!

UPDATE: The mystery book revealed!

An Old and a New Bookstore

Long ago, before I went back to school to finish my education and become a teacher (now happily retired after 27 years of teaching), I worked in a wonderful little independent bookshop in Salt Lake City called The King’s English. It was a dream job for me because I had always appreciated and supported independent bookshops, small and large, and because I have always been an avid reader. Now living in the Portland, Oregon, area my favorite independent bookshop is Powell’s!


A photo of my sweet little independent bookshop, The King’s English, (and my old blue VW bug) from long ago.

But yesterday, my friend and I went shopping at Washington Square, a mall in nearby Tigard, Oregon, and visited the new Amazon bookstore, one of a new chain of bookstores nationwide. We enjoyed our visit there, as I always do when I find a new bookstore to explore, and were glad we stopped in to check it out!

Murder By The Book: A Bookshop

Murder By The Book
3210 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Portland, Oregon 97214

While in Portland this week helping take care of the Grandboy, I visited a wonderfully creative bookshop, called Murder By The Book. It’s a small shop located in east Portland in the middle of a unique neighborhood with all kinds of interesting and unusual shops. It’s just the kind of independent bookshop I love to find, and this one specializes in mysteries and thrillers, which I love.

For a small shop, it had a great inventory of both new and used books. But the best things about the shop were the names of their sections. They like “punny” names, and so I chuckled my way through the whole store. “Shot On Location” was the section which “featured detectives from other cultures, foreign & Native American.” “Through A Glass Darkly” featured classic and modern noir. “A Site for Sore Eyes” was a bookshelf holding their large print mysteries. The “Once Upon a Crime” section held historical mysteries, and “The Game’s Afoot” held all their “Sherlockiana.”

It was busy when I went in, but the staff was friendly and loves to give tours of their store. I didn’t have much time to spend there, but next time I’m in Portland, I intend to stop in again and thoroughly explore this welcoming and humorous bookshop.

This is my second independent bookshop I’ve enjoyed visiting for the Independent Bookshop Reader’s Challenge.

The Snow Goose Bookstore

The Snow Goose Bookstore
8616 271st St. NW
Stanwood, WA 98292

There’s nothing quite like spending part of an afternoon or evening in a bookstore. B and I particularly enjoy the independent bookstores that are so much a part of a community. We love to browse with nothing to hurry us along, sometimes we’ll have a cup of coffee offered and happily accepted, and the staff always takes time to visit, get to know us a little. It’s our favorite “date.”

This weekend, we drove to Stanwood, Washington, a small town about 50 miles north of Seattle, and visited a very nice independent bookshop called The Snow Goose. I had heard about this store, but had never been there, so I wanted to check it out for the Independent Bookstore Challenge.

B picked out a couple of books, and I found one that caught my eye — The Last Town On Earth, by Thomas Mullen. When I showed it to the bookseller, she smiled and told me that the book I had chosen (quite by random) just happened to be the book that had been chosen for their “Community Big Read” last fall. The local library and the historical society had put together some special activities, the high school teacher read the book aloud to her classes, and the bookstore was crowded with townspeople on the day of the discussion. The author, himself, flew out from the east coast and attended the “celebrations” of his book. The story had, afterall, been set in a fictional town based on the area around Stanwood.

So I’m looking forward to reading a book the whole town has read, and will plan on returning to this little bookstore from time to time. It’s worth the trip.

Independent Bookstore Reader’s Challenge

Help! I have so little self control when it comes to challenges! Here’s another one that I just have to join because it’s something I really believe in, and because I love to visit bookstores! I used to work in an independent bookstore, and it was the fulfillment of a dream. We need to appreciate and support these wonderful shops that are so full of heart and spirit! So I’m going to enjoy this one…

The challenge is being hosted by Kim and Claire at The Bookstore People, and it’s their first time hosting a challenge. Visit their very interesting blog “whose primary purpose is to highlight independent bookstores wherever we find them to encourage people to visit them and buy their books from them. We believe that bookstores are an essential part of a community, a place where ideas and thoughts are shared and explored.

Here are the Challenge Guidelines:

Go to independent bookstores that are new to you between January 1 and December 31, 2009 and have some sort of interaction. The challenge comes with different levels you can sign up for:

• Scout – Visit 2 independent bookstores (easy!)
• Specialist – Visit 2 subject matter specialty bookstores (i.e., travel, children, cooking)
• Nationalist – Visit 2 independent bookstores and 1 additional bookstore in a state you do not live in
• Continental – Visit 2 independent bookstores and 1 additional bookstore in another N. American country (that would be the USA, Canada or Mexico)
• Globetrotter – Visit 2 independent bookstores and 1 additional bookstore on a different continent (if you’re going to Europe, check out Bookstore Guide)
• Type A Personality to the Max – Satisfy any two categories

We’ll have a page dedicated to the challenge where you can sign up and leave comments. Plus, we’d love to have a review of the stores you’ve found and liked (we ignore stores with bad service or stock), we’ll post it with a description of you and a link back to your blog (if you have one), just e-mail it to me at In fact, we encourage cross posting bookstore reviews so post on your blog, Indiebound, Yelp, City Search, City Guide and any other place that would like it.

We’ll Give out a Prize!

But wait, there’s even more, at the end of the year we’ll have a random drawing among everyone who satisfied their challenge for a gift certificate from BookSense. What more could you want? Sign up now and start exploring the wonderful world of independent bookstores.

I’m going to join this challenge at the “Type A Personality to the Max” level, because if you look at the list of challenges I’ve joined for 2009, you’ll know I definitely qualify for that category!

Pilgrimage to Powells

B and I just returned from an extended weekend in Portland, a joyous break from the intensity of work. The four days included a family wedding reception, a graduation celebration, and quality time spent with family. Great Grammy even got to meet the Grandboy for the first time! What a lovely weekend!

While in Portland, we also made a group pilgrimage to Powells Bookstore. Powells is an institution in the Portland area, and an incredible experience. It was the first time my mother, almost 89, had been there, and she was overwhelmed, to say the least. She looked around and then turned to me and asked, “Where do I start?” Exactly!

Powells takes up a complete city block in downtown Portland. And you have never seen so many books! To get an idea of how huge it is, click here. They have both new and used books on the shelves, and the genres are housed in different rooms like the Rose Room, (children’s books, education, sciences, natural history) and the Blue Room (literature, poetry, small press, classics), etc. It’s called the City of Books, and be prepared to spend more than just an hour wandering around. It’s a destination all on its own!

My brother went in with a list, which was such a good idea. When we go, however, we usually wander around and serendipitously find books we’ve always wanted but never found, which is also a delightful way to shop there. Purchases? I bought one book (a new world’s record for me at Powells): Hannah Coulter, by Wendell Berry. Brother bought numerous Stephenie Meyer books. Mom bought A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. And husband bought three Kundera books that he hadn’t read yet.

Now it’s back to the grind this morning … and my final 2 weeks of school!

Bookstore Birthday

Before I started teaching, I worked in a bookstore. As a passionate reader, it was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. It was a delightful little independent bookshop in Salt Lake City, called The King’s English. It was opened in 1977 by Betsy Burton, an even more passionate reader whose lifelong dream was to have her own bookstore. With all that passion, it was simply an idea that couldn’t fail, and although it’s been 30 years of struggling against the big chain bookstores, and all kinds of independent bookshop woes, The King’s English has endured and is still an important and lovely part of SLC.

So this year, TKE turns 30, and I want to wish her a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I have many lovely memories of being a customer there for five years before getting hired on for the Thursday night and Sunday afternoon shifts. Stopping by the bookstore on my way home from a previous part-time job was pure pleasure. I wandered happily through the little rooms, all the nooks and crannies, exploring the eclectic selection of books, and always finding a treasure of some kind. Betsy loved mysteries, so the mystery room was absolutely delicious. That’s where I discovered the books of Josephine Tey, Ngaio Marsh, Dashiell Hammett. A cat lived in the store–a good mouser–and was, of course, named Agatha. (After I started working there, Agatha and I became great friends. When she brought me a mouse one snowy Sunday afternoon, I knew I was loved.)

I worked there for four years, and quit only when I was hired as a teacher in a local school district and no longer had the time nor energy to work at the bookstore. However, before leaving the store, I put together a photo essay to preserve the memories of that experience. I offer those photos here, as a birthday present to a very special place, The King’s English.

Click on the link to see some photos I took at The King’s English.