Indie Bookstore Day Success!

That’s right! We made it. It was not our most efficient nor our most relaxing year, but all that matters is that we got all 21 stamps on our passports by the time the last bookstore closed. I was the driver, Colleen was the navigator, and our friend Willa was in the backseat presiding over our hoard of snacks. Together, we were a fearsome trio, determined to not only make it to all our bookstores, but to also have fun and enjoy ourselves—and we certainly succeeded!

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Colleen and Willa while we were waiting for the Edmonds-Kingston ferry.

We left at 6:20 am, a little short on sleep, but very excited for books! Like previous years, we began by heading over to the Kitsap Peninsula and Bainbridge Island so we could check the first three stores off our list before taking the ferry back to Edmonds.

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We made it on our first ferry of the day with plenty of time, and then headed up to the passenger deck to live that breakfast life—which, as Colleen pointed out, was made up entirely of round foods: everything bagels with cream cheese, satsumas, and cinnamon sugar donuts.

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No square foods allowed!

Our first bookstore of the day was Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo, where we found an even longer line than the one we’d been surprised by last year. (The first year that Colleen and I did IBD, apparently the annual event hadn’t quite kicked off yet – there was plenty of time to lounge, explore the store, and enjoy Swedish pancakes and mimosas at the back. I guess those are already the bygone days of Indie Bookstore Day glory!)

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At least the line gave us a chance to finish our chai tea lattes. But sadly, the line also meant that Liberty Bay had already run out of their passports before we even hit 8 am – meaning we got to whip out our off-brand black-and-white printer paper passports all day, instead of a beautiful, glossy, full-color print version. So it goes!

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Our next stop was Eagle Harbor Book Co. (a lovely and very cozy bookstore on Bainbridge Island), which kindly had free coffee on offer! Willa was thrilled. After a quick stop at The Traveler across the street, we jumped in the car and headed back up to Kingston, very nervous that we would once again be confronted with one hell of a traffic jam due to a toll booth with technical difficulties. And we made it with plenty of time!

……….. or so we thought. Apparently the next ferry-load of cars was already lined up, with no room for us or the other twenty or so cars in front of  us. We were VERY annoyed, but apparently there were just too many other book lovers out on the prowl for passport stamps. So we got to chill for 45 minutes, eating snacks and chatting while Colleen modified our schedule for the rest of the day to account for our lost time.

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A hard-working navigator and keeper of the timetable.

Eventually, we made it onto the ferry and back across the water for our two Edmonds booksellers: Edmonds Bookshop and The Neverending Bookshop. We even won a few ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) at The Neverending Bookshop’s fastest trivia quiz ever, which consisted of one question apiece. Woohoo! I was very glad to snag my ARC of Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan, about which I’ve heard many good things.

I must admit, though, I’m rather sad that The Neverending Bookshop’s trivia is no longer as difficult as it was the first year Colleen and I visited. First you received a pretty challenging clue that required you to find the correct book specified on the shelf; inside that book, you then found another book-related trivia question which you had to answer. Do this three times, and then you got to pick a prize out of the basket—in our case, a $10 gift card, which we definitely felt we had earned by the time we actually managed to get three questions right. So, I’m just saying I would love it if they also had a Very Extra tier on offer, in addition to their trivia for normal and very sane people.

After Edmonds, it was time to head into Seattle, hitting up the University Bookstore first thing, where we hung out for 30 minutes hoping to win something neat in their raffle. Tragically, we were unsuccessful—so unsuccessful, in fact, that the announcer gave us a shoutout for how disappointed we looked every time she reached the fourth digit and we once again knew none of our tickets were winners. But at least we finally got our hands on some beautiful official IBD passports to go with our off brand versions.

We then headed to Open Books (a poem emporium) and Book Larder (a cookbook store). Book Larder is always a highlight, since they usually have some delicious snacks on offer. This year we got to enjoy lime-coconut cookies, vanilla paleo cupcakes, and the most amazing combo of brindiza (paprika, butter, and feta) and lepyoshka (Uzbek flaky flatbread) from the cookbook Kachka. I could have eaten the lepyoshka for days.

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After a quick stop for a real lunch of the world’s messiest sandwiches, we were recharged and ready for the annual challenge that is Phinney Books’ book cover quiz. In past years, we’ve had no qualms asking other quiz participants for help, since our preferred genres (YA, fantasy, sci-fi, and mystery) are not very present, which puts us at a disadvantage. This year, however, there was no one else doing the quiz the entire time we were in the store—so we were, for once, truly on our own! Shockingly, we did manage to figure out all ten covers, with the combination of some determined bookshelf sleuthing and also pure luck. (I would say, though, that if you’re going to include Grapes of Wrath in your book cover quiz, maybe make sure a copy of that book with that cover is actually on your shelf. I try to be a good sport and not use Google, but you’re making it awfully hard.)

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Triumph!

After hustling our way through Secret Garden Books in Ballard, Magnolia’s Bookstore, Queen Anne Book Company, and Arundel Books, we headed down to our last early closer: Page 2 Books in Burien. Like Arundel Books, Page 2 Books was a new addition this year, so we were interested to check it out. It turns out Page 2 Books offers a large number of used books, including shelves upon shelves of old romance, fantasy, and sci-fi mass market paperbacks. AMAZING.

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Colleen and Willa showing off some of our favorite covers, including a dragon drinking sherry, a man with alien tentacles coming out of his arm while he’s trying to seduce a lady, and a man who presumably loses his shirt every time lightning strikes the ground.

While I sat on a conveniently placed stool and tried to regain some energy for the remaining driving I needed to do before the day was out, Colleen and Willa brought me endless offerings of the best covers and synopses the 1980’s had to offer in the sci-fi and fantasy genres.

From Burien, we headed back up to Seattle to visit Fantagraphics and then went to Capitol Hill for Elliott Bay Book Company and Ada’s Technical Books.

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Showing off our passports at Elliott Bay – only 5 bookstores left!

Elliott Bay and Ada’s are always favorite places for us to visit, and usually we spend a fair amount of time lingering. By the time we found parking for Ada’s, though, my anxiety made a special appearance suggesting I start worrying that we might not get to our remaining four bookstores in time. And, for once, I was able to say thanks, anxiety! with utter sincerity, since it turned out BookTree in Kirkland was going to close in just half an hour—an entire hour earlier than I had put down on my masterlist when I was designing our route!

Thankfully, our mad dash across SR 520 and along the Lake Washington waterfront got us to BookTree just 4 minutes before closing, saving the day! We then got to head to Island Books on Mercer Island, another favorite stop of ours—and for good reason, since we were immediately offered pizza sticks and our choice of beer or prosecco upon our arrival. What a bookstore!

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Three very tired book nerds, happy to have made it to Island Books at last.

From Island Books, we then backtracked up to the east side again, heading to Brick & Mortar Books in Redmond, which is a somewhat unusual indie bookstore, in that it’s right in the middle of a shopping mall complex. It’s a lovely store, though, with lots of displays and recommendations worth pouring over. A very nice young woman gave us a personal tour of her latest hits in the sci-fi and fantasy sections, and we had a fun chat talking about our recent favorite reads, which ran all the way from Japanese horror manga to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis on the relationship between language and culture.

At last, we headed back to the car for one final bookstore: my local indie bookstore and home away from home, Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park. Tired, hungry, ready to collapse and never move again, we made it through the doors, walked the last twenty feet to the info desk, and received our 21st stamp of the day.

We did it. We were champions.

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