Welcome to the official blog of Third Place Books

Monday, August 24, 2015

Operation Library Creation

About a month ago another local author, DP Denman, reached out to me about a fundraiser that she was spearheading and as a young adult author and an independent bookseller, the subject was near and dear to my heart.

She wanted help building a library and raising awareness for YouthCare, a non-profit organization that works with local homeless youth. YouthCare helps kids and teens with the basic needs we tend to take for granted (shelter, food, etc.). They also help prepare teens for the workforce, get their GEDs or get into college, and teach the skills necessary to live on their own. They are doing all they can to not only prepare these kids for adulthood, but to break the cycle of homelessness.

Specifically, DP was asking for my help with raising money for YouthCare's lending library.

Books are transformative. They provide shelter, escape and connection. Books teach us that we're not alone, that there are other ways of being--they open our minds and hearts. I told DP to sign me up!

Since the fundraiser wasn't for another month, I asked her if YouthCare would be interested in some donated books. I reached out to other bookstores via Twitter and instantly heard back from Elliott Bay Book Company and University Bookstore--they wanted to help too. And I already knew Third Place Books would help--we, like many local bookshops, donate to schools and non-profits all the time.

Once I gathered up all the donations I had five tote bags and four full boxes of books! I can't tell you how great it felt to drop them off at YouthCare. They said that they don't often get new/newer books and the teens would be so happy.

We donated a lot of books, but keep in mind that they have several locations, and several lending libraries that they're building. DP and I  are hoping we can fill their shelves with so many books that they'll need to build more!

If you are interested in making a donation to YouthCare click for more details on their current and year-round needs. If you're interested in making a monetary donation, click here

Check out DP's blogpost on the campaign here.

Thanks again to Elliot Bay Book company, University Bookstore, and Third Place Books for their generous donations!


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A New Orleans Reading Atlas

Summer travel means summer travel reading. And a trip to New Orleans means a feast of literary options. I've been reading novels, manifestos, atlases, and histories. I'm learning about levees, and funeral parades, and beignets, and bayous, and faubourgs. I have immersed myself in so much New Orleans reading, that I feel like a local... or at least a reasonably well-oriented tourist.

I try to read up on any new place I go, but New Orleans offers a richer experience than most. Its sense of place is so strong it's incapable of being confined to the page, and seems to conjure itself into being with a breath of heavy humid air, and a mournful brass note. Literary New Orleans is astounding not only in its variety but in its quality, innovation, and lyricism.

Here's my reading list.

Unfathomable City by Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedecker

This book is a brilliant reinvention of the traditional atlas, one that provides a vivid, complex look at the multi-faceted nature of New Orleans, a city replete with contradictions. More than twenty essays assemble a chorus of vibrant voices, including geographers, scholars of sugar and bananas, the city's remarkable musicians, prison activists, environmentalists, Arab and Native voices, and local experts, as well as the coauthors compelling contributions. Featuring 22 full-color two-page-spread maps, Unfathomable City plumbs the depths of this major tourist destination, pivotal scene of American history and culture and, most recently, site of monumental disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill.

The innovative maps precision and specificity shift our notions of the Mississippi, the Caribbean, Mardi Gras, jazz, soils and trees, generational roots, and many other subjects, and expand our ideas of how any city is imagined and experienced. Together with the inspired texts, they show New Orleans as both an imperiled city by erosion, crime, corruption, and sea level rise and an ageless city that lives in music as a form of cultural resistance. Compact, lively, and completely original, Unfathomable City takes readers on a tour that will forever change the way they think about place.

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

The Moviegoer is Binx Bolling, a young New Orleans stockbroker who surveys the world with the detached gaze of a Bourbon Street dandy even as he yearns for a spiritual redemption he cannot bring himself to believe in. On the eve of his thirtieth birthday, he occupies himself dallying with his secretaries and going to movies, which provide him with the "treasurable moments" absent from his real life. But one fateful Mardi Gras, Binx embarks on a hare-brained quest that outrages his family, endangers his fragile cousin Kate, and sends him reeling through the chaos of New Orleans' French Quarter. Wry and wrenching, rich in irony and romance, The Moviegoer is a genuine American classic.

Katrina: After the Flood by Gary Rivlin

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southeast Louisiana--on August 29, 2005--journalist Gary Rivlin traces the storm's immediate damage, the city of New Orleans's efforts to rebuild itself, and the storm's lasting affects not just on the city's geography and infrastructure--but on the psychic, racial, and social fabric of one of this nation's great cities.

Much of New Orleans still sat under water the first time Gary Rivlin glimpsed the city after Hurricane Katrina. Then a staff reporter for "The New York Times," he was heading into the city to survey the damage. The Interstate was eerily empty. Soldiers in uniform and armed with assault rifles stopped him. Water reached the eaves of houses for as far as the eye could see. Four out of every five houses--eighty percent of the city's housing stock--had been flooded. Around that same proportion of schools and businesses were wrecked. The weight of all that water on the streets cracked gas and water and sewer pipes all around town and the deluge had drowned almost every power substation and rendered unusable most of the city's water and sewer system.

People living in flooded areas of the city could not be expected to pay their property taxes for the foreseeable future. Nor would all those boarded-up businesses--21,000 of the city's 22,000 businesses were still shuttered six months after the storm--be contributing their share of sales taxes and other fees to the city's coffers. Six weeks after the storm, the city laid off half its workforce--precisely when so many people were turning to its government for help. Meanwhile, cynics both in and out of the Beltway were questioning the use of taxpayer dollars to rebuild a city that sat mostly below sea level. How could the city possibly come back? 

This book traces the stories of New Orleanians of all stripes--politicians and business owners, teachers and bus drivers, poor and wealthy, black and white--as they confront the aftermath of one of the great tragedies of our age and reconstruct, change, and in some cases abandon a city that's the soul of this nation.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

First published in 1899, this beautiful, brief novel so disturbed critics and the public that it was banished for decades afterward. Now widely read and admired, The Awakening has been hailed as an early vision of woman's emancipation. This sensuous book tells of a woman's abandonment of her family, her seduction, and her awakening to desires and passions that threaten to consume her. Originally entitled "A Solitary Soul," this portrait of 28 year-old Edna Pontellier is a landmark in American fiction, rooted firmly in the romantic tradition of Herman Melville and Emily Dickinson.

Why New Orleans Matters by Tom Piazza

In the aftermath of Katrina and the disaster that followed, promises were made, forgotten, and renewed. Now what will become of New Orleans in the years ahead? What do this proud, battered city and its people mean to America and the world?

Award-winning author and longtime New Orleans resident Tom Piazza illuminates the storied culture and uncertain future of this great and neglected American metropolis by evoking the sensuous rapture of the city that gave us jazz music and Creole cooking; examining its deep undercurrents of corruption, racism, and injustice; and explaining how its people endure and transcend those conditions. And, perhaps most important, he asks us all to consider the spirit of this place and all the things it has shared with the world: its grace and beauty, resilience and soul.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

On This Day in (Literary) History

We may be booksellers by day, but that's not all we are. Some of us are writers, some of us knit. Several of us could be considered pretty serious cycling aficionados. Lots of bakers and chefs. We've a few musicians. One pretty militant cross fitter. And of course we have artists.

Here's one now.

Introducing Stephen's new series of imagined author histories. He's hoping it becomes a weekly occurance. We hope so too. Enjoy!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Book News and Other Miscellany

Volume 2, Issue 2
Various links to cool videos, websites, articles, and news about books.

The Man Booker long list, also known as the "Man Booker (Baker's) Dozen" was announced late last month.

This is the second year that the prize has been open to writers of any nationality. Nomineess must also be originally written in English, and published in the UK. The shortlist will be announced on September 15th with the award itself announced on October 13th.

The Martian comes to movie theaters this fall. The trailer looks amazing! Several of us have read and loved the book and can't wait for the movie!


People who read actual, physical books fall asleep faster and sleep better than those who read e-readers. There's a super-long, fancy, academic study that proves it. Or you can read NPR's summary.

What's your personality? Take this quiz!


I love Flavorwire's lists. They are consistently interesting topics and always full of  books you wouldn't normally consider belonging to whatever particular list it is. I found Dancer from the Dance (one of my all-time faves) by Andrew Holleran on their list of Best New York Novels. It's also in their 50 Essential Works of LGBT Fiction.

I had been sampling pretty heavily from the LGBT list and that's how I came to read, Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman, currently my favorite book this year. Call Me By Your Name is also on the 50 Romantic Books list, which is how I ended up reading John Wyndham's The Chrysalids. And why I'm moving on to The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch. You must check out these lists, they will inevitably throw you down a rabbit hole of binge-reading. Not a bad rabbit hole to be in.

And, a book and a cat.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Astronauts on the Town

So we have this astronaut in the Commons. She's part of the Museum of Flight's Astronauts on the Town public art project. We've had lots of interest in our astronaut. Kids love her, grownups love her, we love her. And today, I met Kate Buike. She loves the astronauts so much that she's going around town sketching all of them. Kate is a volunteer at the Museum of Flight, and she's also part of Urban Sketchers, an international community of sketchers created by the Seattle Sketcher, Gabriel Campanario.

Kate just happened to be up at the info desk, gathering her things, and her sketchbook was sitting on the counter opened to the sketch of our astronaut. She was kind enough to let me gawk at her artwork, and snap a picture. Here she is with her really lovely work and of course, the astronaut!

Sorry, I didn't get a close up of the sketch, but you can check it out along with all the other astronauts here. And learn more about Kate on her blog, Red Harp Arts. Thanks so much for making us a part of your project, Kate. Happy sketching!


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

On Running and Foundations

Lizzie at Lake Forest Park recently took a trip to Boston. While she was there, she headed out to Walden Pond near Concord, Massachusetts. Maybe it's the air that makes people ruminate when they're around that particular body of water, but ruminate she did. She wrote it up for us, and you can read it below.

"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."
-Henry David Thoreau 

People like to spew the above quote about castles and foundations at young people, especially come graduation time. But what exactly does Thoreau mean by foundation? I always took it to mean one should set up in a place, settle down, and make enough money so that you could have the things you want and do the things you want. I'm beginning to think this is not what Mr. Thoreau had in mind when he spoke of building.

These are the things Thoreau preaches: Nature is good. Practice solitude. Man is wasteful, man is loud, man measures himself against another in futility. Nature teaches all, we must simplify our lives, and we must practice solitude and quiet. Build your foundations so your dreams may be built upon solid ground. Economical habits are held in high regard.

But his thoughts that make me squirm most are about homes and foundations. He wrote of houses, of building, of solid structure.  Beyond basic necessities, Thoreau didn't concern himself much with ownership of physical things. Build yourself, yes, build a foundation for your soul.

But how?

Running is a basic form of escapism I've found myself embracing lately. Even at such a place as Walden Pond, my very brain was running; too active, too loud to shut off. I just wanted to look and smell and enjoy and be in the moment.  It's harder than it sounds. Running is the only thing that shuts my brain up, lately. One thinks of running as the antithesis of building a foundation but I'm not certain that's the case.

Thoreau's admitted dislike for his "nosy neighbors", and his dismay at what he saw as living in excess, prompted him to reconsider what he wanted his foundation to be and led him to Walden. But let's call it what it is: the man ran away. He went to Walden Pond to escape a certain sort of living, and to avoid building a certain foundation.

I'd only recently done the very same thing. After graduation, I'd all but packed up my life and jumped on a plane, and did not land back on home turf for over a year. And I liked it that way. I learned a new language (bits and pieces of several others) and learned a kind of resilience and independence I'm not sure I could have if I'd stayed close to home.

But then again, neither of us ran forever, we both went  back to our respective Concords and our respective nosy neighbors. We both built something, but neither of us stayed forever in the place where we laid our foundation.

I didn't have time to read all of Walden sitting on the shore of Walden Pond, but I made time to read one chapter: the Conclusion. It felt fitting. In many ways one part of my life has reached its conclusion, and I must find another path around the pond. Thoreau stayed in his cottage by the pond for only two years, claiming that he'd lived enough of that solitary life, and needed to live another; to keep growing. "It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for ourselves." 

Maybe running away isn't the worst thing for a person can do. Perhaps running, in both senses of the words, was the biggest step I could have made in building my foundation for my castle in the air. It helps to run sometimes, whether around the pond or away from the pond. Maybe we must be alone, and far away, in order to learn. We can take our foundations with us, no matter where we run. So if you ever feel the urge to run, then you run and you run hard. You might find yourself building your castle and the foundation to keep it standing when you do.