Posts tagged bookstores
Judging a Bookstore by Your Favorite Author

This is about how a day with us and our "bookstore adventures" go. Since moving to a new town, Michaela and I are no longer living quite as close as we used to be, but it has opened up a bunch of new things for us to experience and explore together. We scoured all the bookstores in town, finding one incredible gold mine of a place, a fantastic new lunch spot, and a tea house which was absolutely delightful and is the perfect scene for many more future bookish conversations.

One thing we realized while scouring stacks upon stacks of books at all these new local bookstores, is that the first thing we did every time was look for our favorite genres, books, and authors. The major find of the day was a store that had almost everything we could've wanted. To top it off, the lady who worked there was friendly, there was a place for our kids to play, and we barely touched the tip of what they had to offer. It was maze-like and stuffed full of books, and much bigger inside than it looked!

Our next stop wasn't so fabulous, but it made us think about what specifically it was that made us appreciate the other place so much, and we realized it was partly the comfort of finding your favorite author amongst so many that aren't familiar. It's the same as finding someone who also likes a book you like; there's an instant connection there. The bookstore suddenly feels like it gets you, when you see your favorites sitting on the shelf. It's such a relief knowing a store that understands me is in my new hometown, and can't wait to go back!

Anyone else have weird bookish quirks in bookstores? Or is it just us? Tell us we aren't alone!

Bookish Day Date | Tacoma

So the other day, Rikki and I embarked on an afternoon of bookish adventuring in our beautiful city, starting with brunch, because of course. I had heard about a new place downtown that I'd been meaning to try, so we decided to start there. 

The (enormous) patio area was completely gorgeous, and we just wandered around and admired it, exclaiming over all the details, since we were the only ones there on a Wednesday afternoon! It was really lovely to be able to soak in the sunshine, look out over the Sound, and enjoy being outside after the long, dark winter we've been having here over in the PNW.

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Coffee, a cheese plate, and some berry-smothered french toast were on the menu back in the cozy, artfully done dining room. There are few things I like more than a nice hot french press; and the vintage plates and tea set were too cute! 

Fully caffeinated and fueled up, it was off to the bookstore across the street (a local favorite), obviously. We're always treasure hunting for books, plus we love supporting local, and as a cherry on top, they have Atticus and Herbert; the friendliest pair of kitties.

Post bookstore, we pulled up the map of little free libraries near us and went out on an epic hunt to find as many as we could that afternoon, while Rikki, of course, did her thing. We can't get enough of how unique each library is. They all have playful details and heartwarming backstories, and are just wholly delightful to go visit.

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How cool is this playground someone set up in front of their house??? 

On sunny days, honestly, we're reminded why we love living here so much, it's such a vibrant, beautiful, whimsical city, and we were so glad we took the afternoon off to go out and enjoy it. Hurry up, spring weather! We're looking forward to a lot more days like this one.

 

Book Club Recap | Tender is the Night

On a whim, we were checking out the various local bookclubs and stumbled across a classics book club! This past week F. Scott Fitzgerald's final novel "Tender is the Night" was up for discussion, and we decided to go check it out for ourselves. I had read the book over the summer, and Rikki got to read her first Fitzgerald, so it was a good pick for us. 

I already attend a sci fi/fantasy club, so I was interested to see the difference between types of book clubs and groups. We left the kids with our husbands and set off into the rainy night together. Stepping into one of our favorite local bookstores and out of the downpour, the store was calm and quiet this late in the evening, and we spotted a few members of the club already seated at a long table in the back. 

It turned out, we weren't the only new members on this particular night, and another table had to be added to seat the dozen or so people gathered. The dynamic of the discussion was a bit off, honestly, in all likelihood because half the people there were first-timers, and groups without an established dynamic can lack the good flow of established groups. 

Still, it's always really good to hear from a variety of viewpoints and to open discussion about points in the book you may have overlooked, or about context of the novel, so it was still worthwhile and interesting to participate in. There were people who have read endless classics, others who simply love to read, some who are incredibly interactive readers (i.e., touting a book of quotes and thoughts) and some who aren't. Even though the discussion didn't flow very well, it was interesting to watch and listen to each person. I found the take on characters they liked and didn't like to be the most interesting, as well as some situational dynamics I hadn't thought of. I'd say we're definitely looking forward to participating in more and checking some great classics off our list reading bucket lists!  

It felt so great to be apart of our community on this; being around others who love to read is simply the best!

Do you belong to a bookclub? Lets us know what you guys are reading below or by tagging #TheArdentBiblioReads!

Searching for Pride and Prejudice

Recently Rikki and I decided to finally buddy read Jane Austen's classic novel, Pride and Prejudice. The only problem is, neither of us actually own a physical copy, which meant we needed to go treasure hunting! We decided to make it a friend date and took off on a random Thursday morning to bookstore hop in Seattle in hopes of finding perfect editions. We have very different tastes: I collect primarily Penguin Classic editions of classic novels, and Rikki is always searching for beautiful vintage copies for her shelves, which makes for really lively and varied book hunting when we're together.

Our first stop was a huge bookstore that was a perfect mix of new and used books (my favorite kind!) complete with a charming cafe area and cozy reading spaces tucked into every corner. It was enormous and we wandered around for well over an hour just talking about different novels and admiring pretty covers.

After that we found ourselves in the most charming labyrinth of a used bookstore. We found a ton of gems inside, including a whole bunch of great vintage books for Rikki, and will definitely be back sometime soon!

The highlight of this particular bookstore were the FOUR adorable shop kitties! This little guy was following us around the whole time, being too cute for his own good! Who can resist cats in bookstores? Not us!

Heading home in the late afternoon Seattle sunshine to go pick up our kiddos with a nice stack of books in the backseat was the best feeling, and we can't wait to go again!

Do you have any favorite bookstores? Show us by tagging #TheArdentBiblioReads, we'd love to see!

Treasure Hunting for Books

So I don't buy a lot of books, partly because of budget, partly because of space limitations, but mostly because most things I read, I know I prooooobably won't care about re-reading it again in the future. Consequently, I use the library for the vast majority of my reading material, but books like classics (which I'm obsessed with) or my all time favorite novels, I tend to seek out to purchase for my home library.

I'm loathe to just pop on to Amazon and order the book I want, because I just genuinely feel like my time and money is better spent exploring locally. This makes for great bookstore adventuring, and I've developed a few strategies to make book treasure hunting easier and more enjoyable.

First, I keep a list on my phone (in my notes folder) with all the titles I'm currently hunting for. A large section of that list is tracking down Penguin Classic editions of various classic novels, as I specifically collect those, but there are always several other titles on there as well. This list ensures I always have a purpose in a book store because there's no forgetting which books I wanted, and I can always justify perusing the shelves. 

Second, knowing that I'm constantly searching for specific titles gives me a great excuse to go check out my local bookstores with some regularity, and to duck into ones I see when I find myself in new city. Stock is constantly rotating, especially with used books, and I've found that when you're in a new place you are generally more likely to find something new and amazing!

This habit means a lot of my books have great stories behind where or how I found them. Some I got for dirt cheap, others I found in bookstores in some of my favorite cities in the world: Paris, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Austin, etc. Books I was searching for have popped up in the most unexpected places, or come with rich conversations with interesting people, or been discovered while hanging out in the cutest, most inventive bookstores. Spending the time searching for my books out in the world has been such a fulfilling adventure over the years; I really just can't recommend it enough. 

At this point, hunting for books has become an integral part of my daily life and has kept me eternally eager to go into bookstores, which translates into spending many lovely hours spent wandering aisles of books in charming places. I've met fantastic booksellers, found a book club, petted fluffy kitties, relaxed in cozy armchairs, and have received too many wonderful book recommendations to count. Above all, I have a tangible reason to keep interacting with the bookish community that I love so much. The journey and experiences are just worth so much more than clicking "add to cart".

What's on your treasure hunting list? Let me know by tagging #TheArdentBiblioReads or commenting below!

Lifestyle Meets Literature: Day Dates and Bookstore Love
Lifestyle Meets Literature: Day Dates and Bookstore Love

My husband recently had an interview in Seattle that got rescheduled at the last minute, so we found ourselves with a rare free afternoon in the city together while my brother babysat our three year old. So of course where do we head? I mean honestly, where else? The bookstore, of course!

The one we decided to check out is the newest location of Third Place Books, which is attached to a really elegant, laid back restaurant. After a surprisingly delicious lunch and some conversations about house buying and car repairs (we are super exciting adults, I know), we headed into the bookstore part of the space armed with lists to do some Christmas shopping. 

This particular bookstore mixes new and used books (which is my very favorite kind!) inside of a modern, airy building. Think vaulted ceilings and sleek decor mixed with exposed beams and warm toned wood. Such a relaxed, inviting atmosphere for browsing for titles that our friends and family will love, and to talk and laugh about the books we stumbled upon.

Bookstore dates are the best kind because they effortlessly seem to spark interesting conversation. We had Christmas shopping to do, which meant we were finding ourselves in sections of the bookstore we normally wouldn't be interested in (military history, anyone?), and that means pulling books off the shelf that we haven't seen or considered before. I've been married for years, but was still surprised at the books my husband was interested in, which ones amused him (oh, terrible, terrible poetry!), and what books he considered for our son. You sincerely learn a lot about a person in a bookstore, and it was such an easy way to spend an afternoon together. An hour later, we checked out with several books and checked off several people on our Christmas list feeling refreshed, connected and accomplished. The teamwork of finding gifts for our loved ones, the connection we felt to our loved ones as we considered their tastes and chose books for them personally, and conversations we had together really put us in the holiday spirit of giving, of family, and of appreciating each other. 

Have you ever gone on a bookstore date? How'd it go? Let me know!

David and Goliath: Why You Should Choose Indie Over Amazon
David and Goliath: Why You Should Choose Indie Over Amazon

How many local bookstores have you been to around where you live?  A quick Google search or a peek at Yelp should show you where they are (if you haven't already found them), and they are usually well worth checking out. So many of us turn to Amazon or other online retail giants to get our books. And it works! The website giants are fast, cheap, and efficient, but there are some very good reasons to quit clicking "add to cart" and start checking out bookstores in your neighborhood.

Patronizing local bookstores isn't just about you and your books. I'd much rather spend an extra dollar or two, or have to hunt around for a little bit for a title to ensure that time and money goes into my local economy and supports the vibrancy of my community. I do not want to live in a world where a physical bookstore isn't accessible to me, or my neighbors, or to my child.

How many of us have fond memories of wandering bookstores and picking up whats interesting to us on a whim, before the internet had "opinions" on any books, and all we had to rely on was our own judgement? Bookstores give you a chance to discover something new and get lost in a lovely, comforting labyrinth of books that an online experience simply can't match. My local bookstores are cozy, often have a cat or two wandering around, and have excellent bookish people running the show and making great recommendations. You're not just shopping for you, you're creating an experience, interacting with your community, and supporting your local economy all in one enjoyable fell swoop.

There are a few key reasons why supporting indie bookstores is such an important act. 

1. Community - The power of local communities, thankfully is rising. We are seeing more chain stores and restaurants struggling, locavore movements catching on with Farmer's Markets, and locally owned businesses popping up more and more.  Local everything is becoming "cool": just think about headlines recently announcing that Starbucks is losing power in the stock market as people turn to Indie roasters and local cafe's. The tide is turning, my friends, and it's turning because the experience of local business is so personal and excellent in the face of uncaring internet retailers. Plus, bookstores provide a space to host bookclubs, meet authors, and mingle with your neighbors with a shared love of delicious smelling pages and a good story. Who doesn't want to hang out with like minded people and enjoy the process of choosing books? It's half the fun of reading!

2. Supporting Local Business - Spending your dollars close to home in the single greatest thing you can do to directly improve your own life. When you buy local, that paycheck you just blew on a stack of new novels is being put right back into the place you live and shop and work and raise your own family, which is so important. It makes life where you live more varied, provides more resources, and affects your life in a directly positive way when income and spending flows around your community instead of to a far off retail giant. Plus, the bookstore owner you just chatted with and gave you that great recommendation can put food on the table, pay for swim lessons for their kids, and give back to the community around them, instead of having your money lining the pockets of an already extremely wealthy CEO vacationing in the Hamptons. 

3. Personal Connection - Your local bookstore probably hosts a variety of events to enrich your community. My favorite shop here in Tacoma is a popular gathering place for several book clubs, and provides a space for readers to connect with like minded people in their communities and forge friendships over a love of reading. Going through life without a "tribe" is hard, and local bookstores can facilitate you meeting yours. They are also a reprieve from clicking through a thousand titles on Amazon, aimless and unsure of what to read next, as many of them provide bookseller's personal recommendations and the employees are usually all too happy to talk books and make tailored recommendations for you. The curation of local bookstores also means they showcase a selection of books you WANT to read vs. just a vast unending expanse of books to overwhelm you as you try to wade through them.

4. A Third Space - A third space is somewhere besides home and work that you spend time in; a space that is comfortable and enjoyable for you to be in. Bookstores (and coffee shops!), for me and all of us bookish people, generally fit that bill. My local haunt has two store cats, comfy armchairs scattered around, a mish-mash of rugs, friendly people, and tables and space to sit down with books and pour through them a bit. It's cozy and roomy all at once and just has such a relaxed easy vibe to it. You'll find that different bookstores have different personalities, some are airy and modern, some are crowded and homey, some are whimsical and cozy, it just depends on what you like best!

Do yourself a favor and go out and explore what your local bookstores have to offer; I promise you won't be disappointed, and that extra dollar will be well worth spending. Let me know how it goes and what treasures you find!