February 28, 2019


Your bookshop has steadily been getting healthier, and it is all because of your patronage; so, Jane, Dave and all of our booksellers thank you and thank you. Coleridge, as he said in the quote above would probably tell us, “Stop! You’ve made your point.” While he’s right, indulge us as we say a bit more.

We think we know at least part of the reason why we’re seeing more rug-rats on our rugs and more books flying out the doors. We’re learning to adapt. We now have both used books’ Bestsellers and New Arrival sections as well as ones for all ages in our kid’s section. Young Adults has a new and expanded space, the front tables feature exciting new works each month, and the newly opened alcove with big windows has warmed up the back of the store.

We’ve significantly increased our inventory of blank books, stationary, puzzles, games and gifts. The events program has become even more robust. The ultimate Yoda, our long-time head buyer, Tim Hunter, has emphasized the need for the staff to tip him to important new works found on NPR, CSPAN’s Book TV, literary journals and even social media. And the island’s former favorite librarian, Martha Bayley, constantly prowls through our prerelease books we get from publishers and unerringly tells Tim which ones he should bring in. We’ve learned to ignore her advice at our peril. We’ve also learned to heed your demand for books from our amazing local authors.

Of course, there are also some examples of where we’ve gotten it wrong. But, upon reflection, we think it wise to now bow down to Coleridge’s wisdom.  So more on that subject later.

The barricades won’t last forever. Seattle is blasting away at the viaduct and the State’s inspectors are blocking the Agate Pass bridge. Yet thankfully, you keep coming in.  With laser like clarity, we realize our strength comes from the island. And no, we won’t mind when the dust clears and the hoards from the city again get on our boat.

~ Jane and Dave

April 30, 2018

Bring on May flowers!

For those of us who crave continuity in a chaotic, even Comey-otic time, it seems fitting that April -- the month that began with our wild launch party for Bainbridge Island's Jonathan Evison and his critically acclaimed new Bainbridge Island novel Lawn Boy -- should smoothly segue into May. That's when our books on gardening will be featured at a 15% discount. 

May is also the month of Mother's Day, and it also seems fitting to point out that women are still reading circles around men, according to a number of studies conducted over the last decade. It's a divide that gets more pronounced when it comes to fiction vs. nonfiction, e-books vs. print books, and older women vs. younger women. (Google the 2012 reading survey conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts for the most interesting nuggets.)  So the gift of words between covers still seems like a safe bet on that special day. 

That brings us back to gardening, and Lawn Boy, which among many other virtues, embodies a genuine love of bending one's back and getting one's hands dirty. (Evison has lived the life he writes, just recently posting a Facebook picture of his lawn-maintenance arsenal as he attacked his yard upon returning home from his Lawn Boy book tour. He refers to LAWN BOY, without irony, as The Great American Landscaping Novel.)

Lawn Boy's hero, Mike Munoz, describes the simple happiness of diagnosing a problem Bainbridge Island property:  

"The lawn needs some work. The edges are rough and you've got a dandelion problem. The reason it's bald under that walnut tree isn't because of the shade, it's the high acid content of the soil. I'm betting some fescue would take root there. Four bucks at Bay Hay and Feed. Done and doner. And yeah, if you lose a few of those alders, you might lighten up the place. That Japanese maple would do better with more light. I'd also square up that laurel and deadhead those rhodies."

If that paragraph makes you want to pull out the trowel and wheelbarrow and floppy sunhat on a warm day like the kind we seem to be having a bit more frequently these past few weeks, well, we salute you. And we are happy to feed your need as you sort through your packets of seeds and reach for the first of the weeds.

~ Jim

March 31, 2018

Religion to the rescue?

Seattle area faith-based organizations continue to aid refugees who have settled here from countries where they have suffered immeasurable harm. Buddhist monks are also in the news these days as they champion the continuing genocide of Burmese Rohingya Muslims. Religion continues to confuse with its examples of wondrous good and unlimited evil. Or is religious belief just the poster child for what lurks behind it; some good and some evil people who use religion as the lodestar for what they are inclined to do in any event? 

Since April is the Easter month, it’s a good time to search for a silver lining. Garry Wills, a prominent Catholic theologian, has written a marvelously readable book about the Qur’an. In What the Qur’an meant and Why it Matters (Viking Press), he convincingly makes the point that whatever the cause of Islamic rage, that good book is not to be blamed. He decries the ‘fearful ignorance” of “anti-Muslim animus” before getting to the heart of the book. He explains that Muhammad wrote a desert book and injects water’s importance into the core of the Qur’an. Wills goes on to compare countless biblical and Quranic versions of the prophets Moses, Abraham and Jesus who are also revered prophets in the Qur’an. One warning, though. If you are the sort of person inclined to go astray, you should avoid Islam. What happens in the Bible’s most cataclysmic hell is nothing compared to what will happen to a Muslim who ends up down there.

It may be poor form to recommend a book that I haven’t yet read, although this full disclosure may count for something. It’s just that James Parker’s review (“The Atlantic,” January 2018), of David Bentley Hart’s mind bending The New Testament: A Translation, (Yale University Press) is too tantalizing to ignore. First, he frames the acerbic Hart who offers up this opinion of Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code: “…surely the most lucrative novel ever written by a borderline illiterate.” Hart is only slightly more charitable in describing the New Testament – “a grab bag of reportage, rumor, folk memory, and on-the-hoof mysticism produced by regular people, everyday babblers and clunkers, under the pressure of a supremely irregular event – namely, the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Our readers will have to decide if they are ready for what the author himself describes as “an almost pitilessly literal translation.”

It’s next on my nightstand!

~ Dave

January 29, 2018

Limericks to the Rescue...

Last month was the latest example that the world seems to be getting curiouser and curiouser. On the same day the news delivered a picture of a huge ice sculpture of a North Korean Hwasong-15 intercontinental missile, our President self-diagnosed himself as a "very stable genius." In filming a documentary of the Queen's coronation, the BBC was not allowed to photograph her crowns from above because that is a vantage point reserved for God. A New York Times Magazine reviewer of an alt-right forum identified prominent right-wing agitators married to or dating Asian women and concluded that "dating Asian women is practically a 'white-nationalist rite of passage.'" And just half-way through the month, the United Arab Republic's government announced a new nature reserve that would cover 10% of Dubai's landmass. Its Prime Minister explained that the desert is both inspirational and beautiful and provides a peaceful shelter to plants, birds and people. The Reserve will include areas for commerce and yoga.

Limericks written by islanders for our occasional limerick contests might be a refreshing reset to start the New Year.  Our Ann and John penned these to warm up past contestants:

A lady from Head of the Bay
Went up to Saint Barnie's to pray
There the vicar within
Apprised her of sin
And she's riddled with guilt to this day
There once was a man from Fort Ward
Who was overly proud of his sword 
He buckled and swashed
And enemies quashed 
But occasionally relatives gored                                         
Frank Buxton, who we lost last month, was one of our favorite customers, and one that couldn't resist a limerick contest. We will remember him as our neighbor these past 28 years after he retired from a long Hollywood career. He volunteered his time and craft to our performing arts programs, and all things literary and artistic. We're guessing he wouldn't mind if we refreshed your mirth synapses with a few of his limerick offerings.

There once was a girl from Port Madison
Who went with her beau to the Radisson
The mood was sublime
They had a good time
And nine months later she had a son

While strolling on Manitou Beach
I saw what looked like a leach
It was long and real ugly
Grey, wrinkled, not snuggly
And its proboscis looked like a peach
We ate at the Pub one fine night
We had hoped for a nutritious bite 
But the waitress explained
That the chef was detained
So, we both got as high as a kite

A policeman on old Winslow Way
Chalked everyone's tires each day
When people got pissed
He'd always insist
That he was only earning his pay

~ Dave

December 01, 2017

Image result for writing for pleasure

You can understand how an outfit with a collection topping 25,000 books would be disposed to riff on the subject, especially at a time when you have to come up with a holiday offering for that old uncle who wants for nothing. Worry no more. Our stacks contain books explaining why dirt is good in cooking, help to fix things (an unpleasant goiter?), bring our readers current on the latest thinking on polyvagal theory, or explain the conjugation of 601 Spanish verbs in just 727 pages. 

Many of the rest of us are partial to books written by magicians - those authors that can make an otherwise vanilla word or thought sing. High on everyone’s list of the best non-fiction authors is John McPhee. His latest, Draft No. 4, advances the point. Who would have thought any author could turn casting for shad on the Delaware River into an exquisitely crafted tale? The protagonist in Laurent Binet’s new literary whodunit The Seventh Function of Language asked: “‘What would you do if you ruled the world?’ The gigolo replied that he would abolish all laws. Barthes said: ‘Even grammar?’”

Our amazing collection of local authors would side with Barthes, much to your benefit if you read their work. Lately, two of “ours” are gaining national prominence. With exquisite timing, the Paris Review gave voice to Claire Dederer in her piece, “What do we do with the Art of Monstrous Men?” And coming in April is Jonathan Evison's Lawn Boy, a comic novel of contemporary realism, which, like great journalism, promises to comfort Bainbridge Island's afflicted and afflict Bainbridge Island's comfortable. It depicts a landscaper who dreams of being a great American literary figure — if only he didn't have to cross the "servant's entrance" of the Agate Pass Bridge each day to manicure the lawns of the island's wealthy for minimum wage. With boundless heart and biting wit, Lawn Boy promises to spark some stark conversations about white privilege.

Even though the body of work of Claire and the two Johns is superb, their many books in our bookstore must fight for second place. If any of you have a 3 to 8 year-old in your life, please read B.J. Novak’s The Book with No Pictures to your kiddo. In the reading, don’t be adult about it. The glee you hear from your charge listening to an adult making the strangest sounds and acting like a fool is to be treasured. What you won’t treasure is the insistence that you read it again, again and again. One of my grandkids made a fake dust cover for it to trick me into reading it one more time.

Could it be these authors have more in common than this note of their varied oeuvre suggests? In a November 20, 2017 New Yorker review of Tina Brown’s new memoir, Nathan Heller offers an answer:

Yet Brown rarely tires of writers, which is impressive, because writers, as a tribe, are strange.  They keep odd hours and have weird, often bad ideas.  At gatherings, they tend to skulk or to be over-present, like a recently uncrated Labrador leaping to lick your nose while piddling on your knees.  Hollywood is filled with stories of prima-donna actor tantrums, wild affairs, trashed trailers, and overnight benders.  Rather than erupting in this healthy manner, writers go home and quietly develop suicidal snacking habits, or necessary family troubles, or a rash. 


October 30, 2017

The winter holiday season is sprinting towards us, and though we promise not to put up decorations until Thanksgiving, we thought you’d like a sneak peek at how we can help make the grey days bright!

Our best gift to you this season? Great booksellers and an inventory full of fabulous and diverse books! Start at our staff picks or best sellers, but don’t be shy about approaching a bookseller, the best algorithm you’ll ever meet. Do you have a teen who loves science fiction and fantasy? Ask for Jo. Wonder what to give to a nature lover? Victoria has some ideas. Something for the eager young reader? Alison can walk you around the block in our kids section. Owner Jane Danielson loves to discuss literary fiction. Tim devours history. And John, Ann, Brendie, Caitlin, Andrew, Susan, Rodie, and our newest booksellers, Jim and Rose, all bring something different to the table. Of course we all cross genres, too!

Indies First/Small Business Saturday will take place Nov. 25, and we’ll have authors as booksellers in our store who will knock your socks off with great suggestions. 

We will also have plenty of ways to save this season. When the Pacific Northwest Bookseller Association holiday catalog arrives later this month, you’ll find great book ideas, as well as a way to save 20% percent on an entire purchase. Our store wide Holiday Sale will take place all day December 7. We will continue to offer two Cyber Monday sales in December with 20% off for those who like to shop online — you can pay and have the items shipped, or chose the option to pay and pick up in the store. And this year we will add a Cyber Tuesday on December 26, so you can use those gift cards received during the holidays. 

Don’t forget our annual gift card sale in early December: You can get a $25 gift for for $20, $100 gift card for $80, and a $200 gift card for $150. Dates will be announced later, so watch for news in our eNewsletters, website, and front windows!

We believe in creating community at Eagle Harbor Book Company. We want to talk to you about books, learn from you, and put something in your hands that will continue to give long after the gift wrap is taken off. Come enjoy the holidays with family at your community bookstore.

September 30, 2017

 "It has been said that democracy is the
worst form of government, except all
the others that have been tried."
- Winston 


(Politics seems to be on everyone's mind these days, and we hear many points of view each day here in the bookshop. With Churchill’s comments in mind, we’ve turned this page in our newsletter over to Val Tollefson, our current Mayor, for his reflections on local politics.)

Last year at this time, most of us were deeply engaged with the Presidential campaign. We expected it to be consequential, because we would be electing our first female President. We were right about the consequential part. This year, our City Council election is the main event on the November ballot. It will too will be consequential, and it is past time for Islanders to become equally engaged.

It is the decisions made at the local level that most directly impact our lives. While our City Council election results won’t matter to Kim Jong Un one way or the other, they matter greatly to us. Land use planning, a central City responsibility, impacts our freedom to use and enjoy our own property, our access to clean and plentiful water, and the existence of the non-residential development that is crucial to our ability to enjoy life here. Public health and safety depend on well managed utilities, well maintained public streets and other facilities and on a police department that conducts itself in accordance with our community expectations and standards. Council decisions, and the way the Council goes about making those decisions, will determine whether we get what we demand. 

Through its Comprehensive Plan, the City has pledged to work toward a wide range of lofty goals. The current City Council has taken concrete steps toward ensuring that the City Municipal Code, internal processes and budget decisions advance those goals. It will be incumbent on the next Council to continue this work. How they go about that depends on your vote. Since it really matters, be an informed voter. Do the hard work of attending candidate forums and asking probing questions. 

I’m proud of the progress the City has made over the past four years. When I made the decision to run, my neighbor Chuck said that it was really all about the streets. Turns out, it was streets and much more. Nothing in this life is perfect, of course, but much is very, very good. That goes for our City. Keep it that way.  
And buy books!