Friday, July 11, 2014

Open Books Poetry Emporium - Seattle, WA

Quiet and unassuming on the outside, a poetry powerhouse on the inside!
When Julie at Newbo Books in Cedar Rapids found out that I was going to be in Seattle visiting independent bookstores she told me that I had to visit Open Books and that I must see Christine.  She also told me I should visit because it is the only poetry-only indie in the country.  According to John at Open Books, there are very few indeed (3-4?).  I think that qualifies as an endangered species.  I'm not knowledgeable at all about poetry but definitely wanted to check this indie out.  It was a great move and I'm glad I did.

This store is bare bones poetry.  The store is small and the staff is small.  There are no frills here.  No People Magazine, no greeting cards, no t-shirts, no cafe.  If you're coming here, you're coming to buy a book of poetry.  What you DO get are two people who are knowledgeable, conversant, and extremely helpful.  Especially to a stranger stopping in looking for a user friendly book or two of poetry.

Ironically enough, John and Christine both have a background with the Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa which was a springboard of sorts for where they're at today.  They have been in business for almost 20 years as a poetry-only indie which I think is remarkable.  If there were an award for this kind of thing, they should get one.  Their success is based on small groups of people from many constituencies and I'm sure it helps that the Univerversity of Washington has a strong writing program.  They offer new and used books as well as the spoken word on vinyl and CDs.  They also have book readings here on a semi-regular basis.  If nothing else, you will enjoy your visit here because John and Christine are such super people to talk to.  They had plenty of book suggestions for me after we talked about my limited experience reading poetry.  Another example of indie owners who are making a difference in the industry.  Their success is even more remarkable when you consider they're doing it here in Seattle, in the shadow of the headquarters for Amazon.

They gave me several recommendations so I bought four books.  Thankfully, they offer free shipping so I can lighten the load in my suitcase.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

RECENTLY FINISHED:  Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn.  I'm late to the Gone Girl party.  Worth the hype. 5 stars.  Demon Camp, Jennifer Percy.  True story of a returning vet from Afghanistan and the extreme effects of PTSD.  3.5 stars.  Finished both of these a while back, just forgot to report them.

CURRENTLY READING:  A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip, Kevin Brockmeier.  Almost done.  I think you teacher types will like this one.  Especially middle school teacher types.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Yeah, I bought a little more than I normally would with poetry books.  Christine made them all sound so good!  Sailing Alone Around The Room, Billy Collins.  The Most Of It, Mary Ruefle.  Saving The Young Men of Vienna, David Kirby.  Inseminating The Elephant, Lucia Perillo.

Another view from the outside.

Just inside this is what you see.  This is it.  You're seeing the entire store.  

Great quotes along the walls.  

Another great quote, this one near the rear of the store.  

John signs my "guest register book" I take on all of my visits.  

Christine and John.  These two can recommend something for even the most fearful!  If you're in the Seattle area, do yourself a favor and check this place out.  

Yours truly, Christine, & John.  

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