Tag Archives: Seattle

Indies First (and other assorted endeavors)

Hello, BookEnders! Sorry to leave you hanging for a month. I have many excuses, most of which revolve around the fact that suddenly and not entirely unexpectedly, my life’s been reduced to a flurry of classes, group projects, and dinner shifts at the retirement home. Lately I’ve barely had enough energy for Gossip Girl, my latest Netflix obsession.*

When I have read lately, the last thing I’ve felt like doing has been stringing together coherent thoughts about them. I will say that I was underwhelmed by Trish Doller’s Where the Stars Still Shine and overwhelmed by Hilary Smith’s Wild Awake. Both books revolve around mental illnesses of their characters, and reading them within the same week reinforced the emotional impact I personally felt was absent in Doller’s novel.

2013rg2

Are we friends on Goodreads? If not, we should be.

Are we friends on Goodreads? If not, we should be.

Despite having limited free-time lately, I’ve still managed to reach my 2013 Goodreads goal this week, about a month ahead of schedule. I’ve been very good this year about the number of books that I’ve read, but less so about challenging myself to read books out of my comfort zone. I have read many more excellent books this year than I have in past years. However, I didn’t get through any of the classics I had hoped to read.

Lastly, today I had a bit of a book endeavor. The Saturday after American Thanksgiving is known as “Small Business Saturday,” a movement for supporting small businesses which emerged to counteract the chain-centric shopping that happens on Black Friday.** As part of Small Business Saturday, author Sherman Alexie suggested an event called Indies First, in which local authors would handsell and recommend books at nearby independent bookstores.

I had been looking forward to Indies First for about a month, and it finally arrived yesterday. Unfortunately, due the string of days I had off from class, I lost track of the days of the week. I totally forgot about until an hour before I had to leave for work. Luckily, I still had enough time to stop by Eliott Bay Book Company. There I browsed a bit before going over to talk to author Jennie Shortridge for a few minutes. She was very friendly, and had some good recommendations. Although I was sorely tempted by a beautiful collection of Louise Glück’s poetry,*** I settled on a few of Shortridge’s recommendations, both set in Seattle. The Glück will still be there next time I go.

The books I got from Eliott Bay Book Company (Where'd You Go, Bernadette and Hotel Angeline)

The books I got from Eliott Bay Book Company (Where’d You Go, Bernadette and Hotel Angeline)

And hopefully I will go again soon, or to one of the other numerous indie bookstores in the area. I’ve shifted to buying many of my books online, due to sheer convenience. I tend to get book cravings, where I remember a certain book and I want to read it immediately. But more often lately I’ve been getting both my e- and hard copy books from the public library. I won’t apologize for enjoying my e-books and frequenting my local library, but there is something to be said for going to the bookstore instead sometimes. Instead of pulling everything off the shelves that looks interesting, you have to pick out a single, perfectly promising book (or two or three). There’s definitely more at stake when you’re playing for keeps.

It was nice catching up… we should do it again sometime. This post was more of a combination platter than the whole enchilada****, so thank you for bearing with me. I’ll be on break from school in about a week, so hopefully I can end out the year with some quality posts. Until next time!

* I’ve been quite conflicted as I like to finish shows before starting new ones, but I still have two season of Gossip Girl left and I suddenly want to start The OC. But I eventually need to return to The West Wing and finish that up. Decisions, decisions.

** I’m not sure that that is the actual origin of Small Business Saturday, but that’s what seems to be generally inferred.

*** Any immediate family members who might be reading this may want to take note of my love for Louise Glück and the traditional exchange of gifts that coincides with the rapidly approaching Christmas holiday.

**** Yes, I am craving Mexican food; no, I probably won’t abandon my inclination toward mixed food metaphors any time soon.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Movie Endeavors?

Like most others, when I first meet people I tend to hold back some of the more less favorable facts about myself. Like that I enjoy peanut butter and turkey bacon sandwiches, or that I’ve watched nearly every episode of Who Wants to Be the Next Food Network Star? (I’m still trying to catch up from the half-season I missed while moving across the country). And although I know it’s enjoying a surge of immense popularity, I hate red velvet cake and have never much cared for cream cheese frosting, either.

Maybe the most damning is the fact that I don’t really like movies. Sure, there are some that capture my heart enough that I’ll watch them again and again. Miracle, Grumpy Old Men, Wild America, and 27 Dresses all make the list of favorites. But I tend to be very hesitant to try new movies. Halfway through, I’ll find myself looking at the clock, trying to figure out how much longer it will last. You might blame this on a short attention span caused by the instantaneous Internet Age, but I can watch episode after episode of a television show without losing interest. There’s just something about movies that makes most of them drag for me.


I have a special affection for this one after my own cross-country road trip.

But this week I made a discovery bound to entirely shape my vision of cinematic possibilities. I made a visit to one of the last, and undoubtedly the best, video rental stores: Scarecrow Video. Every obscure movie I have ever watched or wanted to watch, they have available. The way they’ve organized their titles made this budding librarian swoon; movies within the adventure section are also subcategorized by type – jungle, knights, swashbucklers. A large selection of foreign films arranged by country. And a whole section devoted to British films, British comedy television, British dramatic television series, and so on.

Wait a second, you might be saying. Isn’t this blog called Book Endeavors? What are you harping on about movies for? (You are probably not actually saying this, dear reader. You are likely far smarter than the rhetorical straw man reader I frequently converse with. But I digress.) Some of my other favorite movies are based upon books. I use the 1980s Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea movies as a frequent point of reference for life. I adore the Richard Harris/Jim Caviezel The Count of Monte Cristo. And one of my favorite movies of all time, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, is based on a novel (which I haven’t read, but the story is fantastic). Sadly, as an independent movie, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont has been difficult to find, but luckily Scarecrow Video has it. It has all of these.


Seriously, if you can find it, watch it. Especially if a) you’re a writer, or b) have ever worked in a retirement home setting.

Even better, the store has a room dedicated to movies based on books and plays. Movies about authors’ lives. Documentaries and biopics about authors, and movies explaining theories and criticism about literary works and worlds. Interviews with authors, and compilations of poets’ readings. Shelves of Jane Austen and Dickens adaptations. Every movie exploring Narnia you could think of. And then in the children’s section they have all of the television series devoted to exploring L. M. Montgomery’s books – Emily of New Moon and The Road to Avonlea (a combination of Avonlea and Story Girl books).

It’s basically an English and Creative Writing B.A.’s dreams incarnated in a video store. Which is not the first place I would’ve looked for enlightenment. Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont was checked out when I went there yesterday, but I’ll be back for it. In the meantime, I rented Vitus – a Swiss movie I watched during college in pursuit of German 200 Culture and Communication Points – and The Way We Were. I have to thank my friend Paige for the latter; if anyone has helped me expand my horizons when it comes to films, she has. Before we became friends, I honestly thought Robert Redford was a fictional character.

What’s your favorite movie based on a book? Let me know in comments.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

2,583 Miles Later…

Hello, blog readers!* This post is coming to you from the other side of the country. I have officially made the transition from Buffalo, New York to Seattle, Washington. Because I have a weird unique and incredibly loving family, I did not make the move alone. My mom, two sisters, and I turned it into two-week, cross-country (semi-Oregon Trail-themed) road trip. Huge props to my dad for valiantly staying home to hold down the fort while we were gone.

My mom, sisters, and I at the Pacific Ocean for the first time. I’m on the right.

Trip highlights include visiting my friends Mackenzie and Patty, Taste of Chicago, climbing up a 102-foot “Hermann the German” monument, and seeing a buffalo walk down the middle of the road. Things have settled down in the past few days. I moved into my first apartment (which I’ll actually be moving out of at the end of the month), started putting out my job applications. And my family left. I’ve spent my free time exploring the area, shamelessly using coffee shops for their WiFi (this apartment has no Internet), and going for runs.

Oh yes, I also sat on the foot of a 60-foot-tall Jolly Green Giant.

These kinds of major changes are exciting, character-building, and generally invaluable experiences. But they’re also hard. As much as I’m loving Seattle, it’s hard not to be a little homesick (okay, sometimes a lot homesick). Most times I try not think about how long it will be before I can hug my mom again, or tickle my little sister under the chin (she might deny it, but she’s just as ticklish there as she was when she was five).**

This is not a wallowing, moping post. I just want to acknowledge that for every awesome opportunity and exciting event here, there are things (and people) that I’ll miss back home. So I thought I’d share a few of my favorite books for times when there my life’s own setting changes. Whether you’re leaving for a new school or job, studying abroad, or just moving, these books help ease the transition.

1)      Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery – Hold on a second, you might say. Weren’t those books written way back at the beginning of the twentieth century?*** Aren’t the Anne of Green Gables books just heartwarming stories about an imaginative orphan?

Anne of the Island departs strongly from what most people would probably expect from a woman writer of the early 20th century. For instance, in Anne of the Island, Anne Shirley leaves her beloved home in Avonlea to obtain her B.A. from Redmond College. She moves somewhere totally new, deals with financial burdens, and makes housing plans with friends. It’s the quintessential college story, an era of life sadly overlooked in literature.

2)      Just One Day by Gayle Forman – Let’s skip ahead to a book published nearly a hundred years later. This book was released this past January, but I didn’t read it until June. Honestly, I hadn’t thought I would like it. The premise of the book is that Allyson Healy goes on a trip abroad a few weeks before she starts college. While in London, she meets actor Willem and spends a day with him in Paris. She wakes up to find him gone. She returns home, starts college, and tries to forget about him. Unable to, she eventually struggles to track him down.

Here’s the thing – the summary makes it sound like the novel is about Willem, but it’s not. It’s more about Allyson spending her first year of college trying to figure out who she is and who she is going to be: the reliable Allyson she was throughout high school; the daring “Lulu” she was with Willem; or someone else entirely? This is another novel that covers the college transition – living away from home for the first time. Making new friendships and reevaluating old ones.

All I’ll say is that this is one of those Don’t-Judge-A-Book-By-Its-Cover books.

3)      A Stranger to Command by Sherwood Smith – Let’s try some fantasy. Fifteen-year-old Vidanric, born into a noble family, lives in a small country where the tyrannical King Galdran rules. To both keep their son out of danger and help prepare him for the future, Vidanric’s parents send him away to a foreign academy in the militaristic country of Marloven Hess. While there, Vidanric struggles to learn weaponry, command, politics, and how to understand a culture starkly different from his own.

This was one of my favorites while I was in Turkey. It addresses adjusting to and partaking in foreign customs. And let’s face it, I love books that include any sort of specialized training, such as the skills Vidanric has to learn. This is a great book for those who enjoy vicariously learning how to be a warrior.

While I would love to keep writing about my favorite books, I think I’ll stop with those three. After all, I’m in Seattle! My new home for the next two years. Some protagonist I would be if I spent all my time reading and writing instead of adventuring and learning to ride a horse the bus.

Side Notes:

*I really should have a cooler nickname for my readers than “blog readers”… Hmm… BookEnders? That sounds strangely menacing. I like it. Other suggestions?

**I suppose I should mention that she is, in fact, nineteen-years-old and only occasionally sacrifices her dignity to let me tickle her chin.

***You might not actually say that, people who aren’t as excessively into L.M. Montgomery might instead think of it as just generally “way super long ago” or something to that effect.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized