Friday, November 12, 2010

Outside the Box is Where I Live

This line, midway through season one, was the reason I had to stop watching Battlestar Galactica. I know that mortally offends some people -- my apologies. But it's not a well written line.

Never mind. I've been thinking today about alternatives, other ways of doing things, things outside of boxes. For instance, I did a reading at Pacific Lutheran University's bookstore Thursday night. Their bookstore rocks so much harder than a) most campus bookstores and b) even most bookstores period. Their bookstore lives outside the campus bookstore box. How so?

1) It isn't located in the student union or even on campus. It's located two blocks from main campus on a busy street and also in a strip mall so that other people, people who are not students, might go. It even has its own name: Garfield Book Company.

2) It has, front and center when you walk in, a climber with sliding board plus some little tables with toys. Before I had a child, I imagined that you'd bring your kids to the bookstore and plop them in the children's section where they'd read quietly to themselves and then you'd let them pick one book to take home and all would be right with the world. Then I had a kid and realized that a children's section in a bookstore is no place for a child who will run around pulling all the books off the shelves and flipping them over the shoulder like Bret Boone. Having a sliding board, someplace to climb, and toys to play with? Well, that's much more promising. Kids who like to go to bookstores and bookstores with indoor (and thus dry) play structures make for parents who patronize bookstores.

3) They also have a fireplace, a lovely, full-size coffee shop (with gelato and, soon evidently, wine), and a whole floor dedicated to being a real bookstore while the upstairs is reserved for being a college bookstore (i.e. sweatpants, water bottles, and everything else on which you might write "PLU" plus books for courses).

4) The bathrooms are clean and nice and have those toilets where you press one button for half flush and another for full. Do decent bathrooms make that much of a difference? You bet.

5) They have a designated space for readings and community gatherings with the aforementioned fireplace, sofas and comfy chairs (with swivel writing desks for note taking), and a full kitchen for their brilliant book club Food for Thought which reads books about food BUT ALSO brings in a chef to cook stuff from the books. Book clubs through bookstores? Middling attendance. Book clubs with food? Much bigger draw. Plus, they've got the double draw going -- community and college campus, students, faculty, staff, and friends.

In a word: smart. We need more community, independent bookstores. Like everything and everyone these days, they're on the brink of not making it. So I'm saying, maybe outside the box is where they should live.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


So far, I've been using this blog mostly to post events. This is lame. I should be using this blog to post interesting, insightful, inspiring, gorgeously worded observations about love, life, and literature (the three Ls) which are so interesting, insightful, inspiring, and gorgeous that they 1) cause people who stumble upon the blog to buy my book, 2) cause people who stumble upon the blog to forward the link to other people who themselves then 3) buy my book. Instead, I just post events.

Here, however, are the reasons:
1) The events need publicizing.
2) Full-time job with one hundred billion papers to grade.
3) Two-year-old to raise.
4) Book-the-second to write.
5) Now that it's November, it gets dark at like 4:15 which means by the time #3 up there's in bed, I'm too tired to do anything useful at all.
6) It's a lot of work. One must update one's website and blog and a couple facebook accounts and Goodreads and Amazon. The social network, such that it is, is wondrous but also boundless. And boundless, my friends, is big.

That said, soon, for better and for worse, I'm going to have less book news for a bit I think, and then I will be able to dedicate myself to blogging the old-fashioned way. Something to look forward to.

Meantime, here are some November events:

November 2011
Paperback release of The Atlas of Love.
Something else to look forward to.

Thursday, Nov. 11 at 7pm
Tacoma, WA
Garfield Book Co. at PLU
Spotlight Literary Series

Saturday, Nov. 20, 3-6pm
Seattle, WA
Seattle7Writers Holiday Book Signing
Phinney Neighborhood Center
This one should be fun. Come meet 20 local writers, mingle, chat, eat cookies, feel holiday cheer, buy some books for a good cause (Writers in the Schools), and then have them signed thus making them perfect holiday presents. Awesome, no?