Thursday, December 27, 2007

A tree grows...

Here's a little story from the used book buyer's desk. Today a gentleman came in with an old copy of Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The buyer took a look inside and, lo and behold, the book was an illustrated first edition. And, as you can see above, it was also signed.

So, the buyer looked it up. (Note that the copy linked is signed on a book plate. The book above is signed on the title page.)

Needless to say, we had to pass on it. The owner is bringing it home to consider his next move.

It was just exciting to see it, really.

New Year's Typo

If you live in Mill Creek, or Bellevue, or read The Stranger, you may have seen an ad for our little New Year's Day celebration. You also may have noticed that said ad is missing the apostrophe between the r and s in the word "year's."

That's my fault. Sorry. The first book I read in 2008 will be my recently neglected copy of The Elements of Style.

Dog of the Week

This Dachshund-filled December ends—as does 2007—with our friend Willie. When I took his photo, he decided he needed to do a little carpet wiggling.

Good Willie. Wiggle away.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dog of the Week

Ah, the noble Mastiff. Beautiful dogs.

Above is a picture of Big Boy. (At least, I believe it's Big Boy and not Big Boi.)

Big Boy was nice enough to pose for us in the lobby. He was on his way out the door with his human. I nearly missed him.

I'd like to buy Big Boy a bowler hat.

Monday, December 17, 2007

O Tannenbaum

Here's another of our "behind the scenes" shots. Up in the Book department office, a coworker (Jody) has made this bookish holiday decoration.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Until Daniel Handler mentioned it in this Salon list of favorite things, I had missed this wonderful little video of Doris Lessing returning from the market (with garlic and an artichoke, it seems) to find that she has won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dog of the Week

Two for one! Here are a couple of brothers who came to visit our Bellevue store. In green is Sawyer. In blue is Winston. They have very nice sweaters.

One more little sausage-shaped dog in a red sweater, and they could have their own Dachshund version of The Brothers Karamazov.


As he has always been one of the most charming and good natured visitors to our author events program, our thoughts are with our friend Terry Pratchett, who was diagnosed with a "very rare form of early onset Alzheimer's." His note is from the 11th of December on the "Discworld News" page.

Here's the post script.

"PS I would just like to draw attention to everyone reading the above that this should be interpreted as 'I am not dead'. I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else. For me, this maybe further off than you think — it's too soon to tell. I know it's a very human thing to say 'Is there anything I can do', but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry."

Feel free to use the comments section to share some thoughts of your own. As with a Pratchett signing, Goths go first.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Our Textbook department's Most Wanted

Textbook BuyBack begins on December 10 at both our U District and HUB stores. Here's a list of textbooks they are most interested in buying back:

Martini's Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology for Bio 118

Perloff's Microeconomics for Econ 300

Horngren's Introduction to Financial Accounting for Acct 215

Silberberg's Principles of Microeconomics for Econ 200

Zumdahl's Chemical Principles for Chem 142, 152, 162

Chernicoff's Geology for ESS 101

Bawarski's Situating Inquiry for English 131

Come early. We need a limited number of copies of each title.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dog of the Week

Above you'll see a couple of dogs who live together. (It is my understanding that they are just roommates, nothing more. Like Neil Simon's The Odd Couple.)

So, the thing about this week's dogs of the week is I can't remember that first dog's name. I think his surname (according to his human) was Waterdog. His roommate's name was Jacque Le Poodle. Mr. Waterdog's first name, though, has eluded me.

For the heck of it, though, we'll call him Oscar.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Holiday Podcasts

I've recorded some conversations with staff members about their favorite books, gifts, and games for the Holidays. Check them out here.

Dog of the Week

Dog of the Week returns in a big, big way with a big, BIG dog!

This is Morgan. He's a Great Dane. And a very nice boy. Notice how he was kind enough to pose for me.

Here's an idea: in honor of Morgan's impressive size and kind demeanor, let's all spend the upcoming months reading some books of imposing size and well-deserved reputations. I'm talking about books like the new translation of War and Peace or Moby-Dick.

We haven't nailed down a date quite yet, but sometime in early February, University Book Store will be holding a Proust night. That means now's a great time to start reading In Search of Lost Time. I'll be picking up Swann'a Way after I finish the book I'm reading now.

(It's Millard Kaufman's Bowl of Cherries, by the way. Quite good.)

So, let's go. Let's read some big, BIG books. Let's do it for Morgan!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

William Blake

Don't forget that tomorrow we celebrate the life and work of William Blake at 7pm. Come out for readings, a slide show, and Heaven and Hell cupcakes!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Dog of the Week

Sorry. A day late with Dog of the Week. Busy with, you know, Campus Thank You Night and all. (A smashing success, by the way.)

The little one above is Hershey. Good gravy, that's a cute dog!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Celebrating Nigella Express

Hundreds of people turned out to help celebrate the release of Nigella Express, the newest cookbook from British Food Network star Nigella Lawson.

We ate, we drank, we were merry. We listened to Rosemary Clooney.

Nigella signed books for all before jet-setting to her next tour stop.

Brian Bouldrey tonight

Our used book buyer Brad asked me to remind you to join us for a reading by Brian Bouldrey, author of Honorable Bandit this evening. It will be at the cafe, fireside.

Brad's interview with Brian is here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Goodbye Mailer

Norman Mailer, you no doubt have heard, has died.

From that obit, here's a quote from the opposite side of the Mailer coin, Gore Vidal:

“Mailer is forever shouting at us that he is about to tell us something we must know or has just told us something revelatory and we failed to hear him or that he will, God grant his poor abused brain and body just one more chance, get through to us so that we will know. Each time he speaks he must become more bold, more loud, put on brighter motley and shake more foolish bells. Yet of all my contemporaries I retain the greatest affection for Norman as a force and as an artist. He is a man whose faults, though many, add to rather than subtract from the sum of his natural achievements.”

Here's a moment with Charlie Rose.

Friday, November 09, 2007

More William Blake

Here's another William Blake reading to prepare you for our William Blake birthday celebration on Wednesday, November 28, 7pm, at our U District store.

Dog of the Week

If you attended our recent Cesar Millan event, you no doubt recognize the pup above. That's Georgie. He's one of the many, many (far too many) adoptable dogs you can find at PAWS.

(They have cats, too, by the way.)

Got plenty of room in your life? Lots of attention and love to give? Are you into long walks? Off-leash dog parks? Asking people to sit in a gentle but firm way? PAWS can help.


Here's a note from someone at PAWS:

"As of November 9th, Georgie is still eagerly awaiting his forever home at PAWS in Lynnwood. Stop by to meet him and all the other awesome animals. For directions, go to:"

You heard it here. Georgie is waiting. Seriously, look at him. Are you made of stone? Adopt this boy. I'm going to keep bringing him up until you do.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

William Blake's birthday is coming!

And we're having a little Blake celebration Wednesday, November 28 @ 7pm in our U District store. We'll have some Blake readings and discussions. It will be a fine time. Join us, why don't you.


It's, of course, Blake's 250th birthday, not his 150th, as the video stated. So, Booker is fixing the video.

(Owl's are poor at math.)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A President at the Book Store

That's Brent, UW Class of 2001. He appears—in photographic form—on this blog for a very special reason. He was first in line at our recent Bill Clinton book signing. And in order to be first, he spent 12 1/2 hours in line.

I asked him if he would mind sending this blog a little recap of his day, and he delivered this wonderful report:

“Bill Clinton will be at the University Book Store signing copies of his latest book, Giving, November 1st…” The quick three-sentence blurb in the Seattle P.I. sparked my interest immediately. “Oh, my mom’s going to want to know about this,” I thought to myself. I phoned her right away with the news. Big fans of the former President, my parents celebrated his landslide in 1992 with champagne. My mother in particular loves Clinton’s sincere demeanor and wit. She’s always been disappointed to miss past opportunities to meet the President. Unfortunately, this time around would not be any different for her. Much of her time these days goes towards her brother’s cancer care. Her commitment to my uncle wouldn’t allow a day off, but my schedule did. I figured that my mom was owed a signed copy of Clinton’s latest book, so with stockpiled vacation time banked at work, and no money to spend on a vacation, I put in for November 1st right away and got my rear down to the U Book Store to purchase my book voucher.

I have never lined up for a book signing before, but have seen them happen at the U Book Store in the past. Spending four years at the UW, you see all sorts of academics, fiction writers, and random celebrities come through the store. During my freshman year, shock rocker Marilyn Manson brought an interesting crowd. I remember the line going South on University Way and taking a left on 43rd, so for this signing, I figured I would start there. I absolutely wasn’t going to be denied a book (“Sorry, folks! The President only has a limited amount of time tonight!”), so I planned to arrive sometime before 9:00 AM, before the store opens.

I packed all one would need for a day in out in the cold. I had on long underwear, a folding chair, waterproof blanket, multiple sandwiches, snacks, and water. I took off for a quick trip on the bus and arrived at 8:15 AM. No one was at the alley entrance, so I moved on to my plan of lining up on the Ave. Coming up to the doors, I was surprised and amused to find I was the first one there. I kicked open my chair, got out my Seattle P.I., and began the 12 and 1/2 hour wait.

It was the beginning of a day interacting with all different kinds of people. From homeless Russians boisterously supportive of former Communist regimes, to hot-shot TV reporters, the day hardly ever had a dull moment. Every 10 minutes, my weak effort at finishing a book would be interrupted by one of two questions: “Is this the beginning of the line?” and, “How long have you been waiting?” It was fun to answer the first few times, then I began to wonder if the Book Store could put up a sign to keep traffic moving along: THE LINE BEGAN HERE AT 8:15 AM. NO, THIS GUY’S NOT “CRAZY”. PLEASE, DO NOT FEED HIM.

It was terrific to share stories and political ideas (go figure) with newly made friends. The U Book Store had the crowd come inside when it opened and the line never left the building, winding all the way to the back of the gift shop and then downstairs to the text book section. They did an awesome job at keeping the crowd out of the chilly weather. They even provided refreshments of juice and pretzels, just in case someone didn’t come prepared.

The day went by quickly and slowed down to a turtle’s pace at about 7:30 PM. Anticipation was all over the line of about 1,200 people. Items like cell phones, cameras, and such were not allowed upstairs and were surrendered to book-check. Then it was about another 30 minutes until Clinton would arrive. A table was set up with copies of his book stacked everywhere. There was a big chair for him to sit in and a large cup stuffed with at least 50 pens. The press was positioned for the best photos and everyone stared down the hall that President Clinton would eventually come through. His armored GMC Denalis (3 or 4 of them) pulled into the alley behind the store and a rush of applause greeted his entrance into the store. We would catch a glimpse of him as he reached the 2nd floor from the rear staircase, before he would dash into the restroom. I suppose any smart person would take a bathroom break before signing over 1,000 books.

After a quick break, he was back and ready to sign. The President came down the rest of the hall and, instead of taking his seat behind the table, he stood in front of his books, signing with his left hand and greeting each of us with a handshake from his right. This simple gesture meant a lot to me. Here is a former President of the United States going out of his way to personally greet everyone who came to see him. His smile was inviting and his eyes were wrinkled with happiness. He’s usually described as tall, but was about my height at 6’1”. His nose is huge.

I was not the first to get a book signed. There was a group of about a dozen folks with disabilities that were to go first before the main line was to move on. This was a great opportunity to observe and watch people interact with Clinton first hand. It was amazing to see how personal this experience was going to be. With the President out front of his table, there was no intermediary. There sure was a lot that went into coordinating the event, but it was special to see that this is what it was going to come down to; a simple face to face greeting from President Clinton. People pay $1,000 a plate for this kind of experience. I paid around $22 for a book.

I had been playing with the question, “what will I ask President Clinton?” all day in my head. Would I really ask him a question or just tell him thanks for being here? Would I ask him a serious question, the kind the press asks him every day? Or would I ask him something about pop culture that you wouldn’t read about in Time or Esquire? Who is Bill Clinton’s favorite Beatle, anyway? There was one person left in front of me when I figured out what I would say.

The last person in front of me pulled away, and there was President William J. Clinton looking right at me with a big smile (and a big nose). He put out his hand like he was opening the door of his home to family at Thanksgiving. He said to me a comfortable, drawn out “Hiiii.” I replied, “Hi, President Clinton,” as he shook my hand easily, not too firm, not too weak. I then thanked him for his work on federal student loans during his term and let him know that it helped me get through school. His smile stopped for a brief moment, his forehead wrinkled upward about a centimeter and he said as he patted my left shoulder, “We’re working hard to bring that back.” I assumed he was referring to Hillary and himself. “Thank you,” I said back, and swiped one more hand shake from him. I slowly moved on with a satisfied smile on my face, took one more look back at the former President, then was ready to go home.

Waiting for a signature from President Clinton may seem like a waste of time to some, but it was absolutely worth it. I walked away with a priceless experience and my mom gets a wonderful signed first edition. I will enjoy telling my friends and family about my brief experience with the former President. If you get the chance to meet a former President, you should go for it. Like I told KING 5 TV, there’s not many of them left, so you should take the opportunity when you have it.

Monday, November 05, 2007

We hate it when our friends become successful...

So sang Morrissey.

Oh, heck, though. That's not true. We LOVE it when our friends become successful.

If I was reading right now, I'd be reading Our Dumb World, the latest book from The Onion. It's an atlas!

And I wouldn't be reading it simply because it's pretty much guaranteed to be a laugh riot like everything else the Onion folks make. It's because a former coworker worked on the darn thing:

We're awfully proud of you, Brittain! Out there making your way in the big city—just like Marlo Thomas in That Girl!

Brian Bouldrey Interview

Brian Bouldrey is the author of the nonfiction books Honorable Bandit: A Walk Across Corsica (University of Wisconsin Press, September, 2007), Monster: Adventures in American Machismo (Council Oak Books), and The Autobiography Box (Chronicle Books); three novels, The Genius of Desire (Ballantine), Love, the Magician (Harrington Park), and The Boom Economy (University of Wisconsin Press); and editor of several anthologies. He is recipient of Fellowships from Yaddo and Eastern Frontier Society, and the Joseph Henry Jackson Award from the San Francisco Foundation, a Lambda Literary Award, and the Western Regional Magazine Award. He teaches fiction and creative nonfiction writing at Northwestern in Chicago, when he's not traipsing around the world. He will be reading from his new book, Wednesday, November 14, at University Book Store, at our Cafe fireside, at 7PM. Bookseller Brad Craft, an old friend, interviewed him for us.

Brad Craft Why Corsica, of all places?

Brian Bouldrey If you've done any traveling in the past decade, the world
seems overrun, completely colonized, CNN-ified, no mystery there, or there, or
there. But walking takes you into small villages with a dearth of fast food, souvenirs, and sometimes, even, beds. But we're all looking for something authentic, so I, myself, am guilty of overrunning the authenticity. I was walking to Santiago de Compostela in Spain a second time back in 2002, and met a nice Swiss guy who raved about Corsica--an entirely different terrain, an entirely different culture, preserved on an island.

BC You've written before about your experiences "on pilgrimage." Still consider yourself a pilgrim?

BB I think pilgrim has somewhere in it the sense that there's an end place, a
specific, physical goal. As with Santiago, or Rome, or Shinto shrines or Mecca, it seems the thing we lose in this age of flight and speed is the experience of moseying back home after arriving at our goal. So lately, I've found myself either embracing my one-way nature, or removing the goal altogether.

BC Do you read travel books, or "travel narrative," as we call it in the
trade? If so, do you have any favorites?

BB I do read travel narratives, but weird ones. Old ones. I love the stuff that came out of the period between the two World Wars, as described by Paul Fussell in Abroad. The Road to Oxiana, Graham Greene's Journey Without Maps, Norman Douglass' Old Calabria. That doesn't mean I don't read contemporary travel writers, but I'm a little odd in my taste: Redmond O'Hanlan's No Mercy about the Congo River, The Art of Travel by Alane de Botton, This Cold Heaven by Gretel Ehrlich, Bruce Benderson's The Romanian, Rowing to Latitude, Jill Fredstone, those great armchair travel essays by Evan Connell (I suspect Connell doesn't even LIKE to travel, but he sure gets his mind)--those are some of my recent favorites.

BC Noel Coward famously wrote, "why do the wrong people travel, travel, travel..." You've encountered some bad travelers along the way. Are they as amusing on the trail as they are in your book, or do you try to avoid them whenever possible?

BB Oh, I didn't know that Coward line, but it is true, true, true. The terrible thing about getting better at travel is that you get better at avoiding some of the real characters as well as the real...tourists. Tourist are the wrong people--they aren't interested in being away from home. Yoo-hoo!--it's okay not to like traveling. I have many friends who would be perfectly happy sitting in their living rooms for the rest of their lives. But in my ability to spot the tourist, I've often avoided another odd breed, the occasional hilarious grotesque--people who may cause me trouble but are always good for a story later. I love being with a friend and encountering that kind of goof--our eyes lock as the goof goes off, and we're saying telepathically, "Oh boy, here comes a good story now!" Walking also forces you to spend time with people you would try to avoid in other situations. There were these two guys walking in France who were called, for weeks, "Quixote and Sancho Panza" for their body types more than anything. Very late in the trip, I was cornered into a dinner with them--they were both celebrating five years clean from heroin addiction, and had lost all their other friends--they were celebrating being alive, and they had so many good stories to tell--I kept myself from hearing a lot of them by avoiding these guys for so long.

BC In this book, you aren't traveling alone. Can you tell us something more about how the delightful Petra became such a good friend to a "stupid American boy?"

BB In an alternate universe, Petra and I are married and have stupid German-American children. We met on the road to Santiago back in 1996, and she and I have seen each other through breakups, major moves,
and several good hikes. She never panics when we're roughing it. But she loves to play "the girly card" when hiking. "Today," she would capriciously announce, "I will have you boys carry me in a litter. I don't feel like walking." And I would play along and say, "And I will feed you chocolate as the others carry you?" and she replied, "Yes, but also, sometimes, something salty." She had it all figured out. I am happy to report that she is now the mother of a beautiful daughter, Julia Johanna. This, of course, ruins my hiking expeditions, but for now, I'm letting this pass.

BC As a novelist, do you find yourself narrating as you go? Even when you get yourself hopelessly lost, there seems to be part of you "writing" the scene. Is that your experience of the moment, or something that only comes after, when your safe and dry and drinking a beer?

Anybody who has seen my travel journals--and I suspect SOMEBODY here has seen some of my travel journals--knows that there is a suspiciously coherent "through narrative"--complete with dialogue, gesture, all the major senses. I mean, who DOES that in a journal? A fiction writer. I usually write in my journal at the end of the day, "great emotion recollected in tranquility." Then I can transform the day's events into a shape that I can examine for myself, too. I have to say, I'm very grateful for all my journals. I have a pretty good memory, or used to have a good memory, but there are things you forget, and it's such a pleasure to go flipping through an old journal and be reminded of some minor episode. Good food. Sex. Political argument. Trouble with the locals.

BC You've written about some very personal, even painful memories in this book. How hard was it to do that, and how hard was it to use that experience honestly in what is, otherwise, a very light-hearted book? How do you balance those voices?

BB Paul Reidinger, bless his hide, called me "One of our cheeriest bards of sorrow" in the Bay Guardian this month. I like that. So many awful things happen in a lifetime, but so many great things happen, too. It would seem ungrateful to whine about all the bad stuff when there has been no end of hilarity and ridiculous event, too. But I also want people in this entertainment culture of ours to know that living is a serious business, and my m.o. is to present a jolly holiday at first, then pull the rug out from under the reader--if only for a paragraph or two, showing the dark tunnel down which life can go. I hope that by bringing them back to the hilarity creates that balance, just to keep the reader's trust. I'm that friend who will unscrew the cap on the salt shaker and laugh at you when you dump it on your food, and then buy you a whole new plate of food to buck you up.

BC One of the most enchanted moments in the book is when you hear the locals making music. Do you travel for such encounters? Can you?

BB That's the stuff that keeps me going. You can never plan it. You can make educated guesses (that's what travel guides are for), but you can never guess when a faraway place is going to just open up the heavens and rain down beauty. It often happens just when being in a foreign place has ground you down to nothing. You're in southern Spain and you've just ordered what you thought was a sandwich and got lamb intestines instead, you've just pissed off the barkeep by asking for an ice cube in your wine, and you nearly got run over by a crazy taxi, when all of a sudden, you see an old man dancing sevillanas with a 9-year-old girl under an orange tree while two gypsies clap and ululate--it's as if you have to be torn down like a tenement so they can build a spiffy new kingdom of heaven on your lot.

BC How much did you miss your dog, Thurber?

BB It was actually Grace at the time. I sometimes have terrible remorse--that my traveling might have hastened her end. I would be gone for months at a time and while Grace would be with friends and family who loved her, it has been reported to me that (and these are my mother's guilt-ridden words) "every day, she died a little bit." I've started planning walking trips that accommodate my dog. Thurber, who is half pug and half basset (a baguette, if you will), has short legs, so we can keep up with each other. We're going to walk the Appalachian Trail together. I'm having him fitted for a backpack. In a pinch, his juicy haunches will keep me alive if we get snowbound or something.

BC Where are you going next?

BB Oooh, I shouldn't tell. But I'm a little excited. There is a trail that basically circumscribes Northern Ireland. It's not very well known and not well-supported, and reports are that there are parts of the trail that are in complete disrepair. And people still shy away from Belfast and environs because of the "unpleasantness". But they haven't had bombs in a dozen years or more--I'm safer, statistically, there! The terrain looks incredible. And if it doesn't pan out, I'll head back to town and drown my sorrows in Guiness!

BC Thanks Brian. We look forward to you coming to read to us in Seattle.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The 5 Ws

Look for the students in yellow. Find the answers. Know your bookstore.

(And maybe get a chance to win free textbooks.)*

Who? What? When? Where? Why?

These are the five Ws. The question words one uses to learn more about something.

At University Book Store, we’d like you to learn more about us. So we created this promotion, University Book Store—the 5 Ws.

Here’s the game: print out this scorecard, and check over the questions. From November 6 – 8, you’ll find fellow students in yellow ponchos in high traffic areas around campus. Ask them to help you answer the questions.

Students with the answers to questions 1 – 4 will be hanging out in the morning (10am – Noon), and 5 – 8 in the afternoon (1pm – 3pm).

Get answers to all 8 of the 5 W questions, and you’ll be able to use the scorecard as an entry form for a chance to win FREE textbooks for the upcoming Winter quarter*!
Click here to download the scorecard.


* There will be three winners. We will hold the drawing at our HUB store at 12:30 on Wednesday, November 14. For eligibility, entry forms must be filled out completely. This contest is open to UW students ONLY. Completed scorecards can be turned in at the HUB or the Husky Shop in the U District store.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fup R.I.P.

We at University Book Store are sad to hear about the passing of Fup, store cat at our good neighbor to the south, Powell's books.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Local Writer/Redhead/Coffee Enthusiast has dilemma

Miss Mead thinks she has it tough? At least she gets a choice. Your ol' pal The Shelver will be handed a pile of books and pointed in one direction or the other basically at random.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Former President Bill Clinton

Hi. Here's a vague update. We apologize for the lack of specific details at this time.

Yes, Clinton will be in store to sign copies of his book, Giving on November 1. Yes, just a signing.

No, we haven't verified all the details yet, but will be able to in the next couple of days.

Please be patient with us. This opportunity fell into our laps with very little warning.


So, here are all the signing guidelines, from the Events team:

Former President Bill Clinton will visit University Book Store as part of his national book tour for Giving. He will be signing copies of his new book for readers beginning at 8pm. Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World is an inspiring look at how individual endeavors can save lives and solve problems, and it offers compelling examples of citizen activism at work in the world today. A portion of President Clinton's proceeds from the book will be donated to charities and nonprofits that are doing their part to change the world. When you come to University Book Store to purchase a copy of Giving, you will receive a voucher. Hang on to it and when you arrive at the signing, you will be given a wristband to stand in the signing line. Your book will be available then. It is important to arrive early, as there will be a limited number of wristbands. Having a signing ticket is NOT a guarantee of getting a book signed. President Clinton’s time will be limited, and only customers with wristbands will have the opportunity to get a signed book.

Signing Guidelines:

* NO items will be permitted in line past bag check. (No cameras, pens, photos, other books, gifts, phones, etc.)
* One wristband equals one signing.
* All items/bags must be checked. We are not responsible for lost or stolen items.
* Only copies of Giving will be signed.
* Signing guidelines are subject to change.

Please Note:

Giving book vouchers are available only at the U District store. To receive a voucher, you must purchase the book in person. Phone orders and web orders are NOT eligible for the voucher, and we cannot place vouchers on hold. Vouchers are limited to one per customer.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I'd rather be reading...

I'd always rather be reading, but today more than usual. One of the undisputed masters of the short story form, the one and only William Trevor, has a new book called Cheating at Canasta.

What's to say, really. It's William Trevor. Of all living writers, he's the most direct descendant to the Anton Chekhov, the father of the short story. My opinion, anyway.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I'd rather be reading...

Pictures above, three books. Three wondrous, beautiful books. I walked through the stacks today, and sort of grabbed at whatever caught my eye.

I'd rather be reading any one of them.

First is The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman, she who recently illustrated the Strunk and White quite fetchingly. PoU is a lovely little year in the life of Maira Kalman's thought processes. It's all whimsical pictures and words in her inimitable style, a journey into her brain as it associates and creates.

Next is Shalom Auslander's memoir, Foreskin's Lament. It seems that Auslander has been everywhere recently. (Or, in the New York Times a lot, anyway.) I'll just say, I really loved Beware of God. I look forward to this one, too.

That colorful little book is Maggots, a graphic novel by Lightning Bolt drummer Brian Chippendale. He's a bit odd. So is his work.

Three things, calling me from the shelves. Asking me to sit down and read. And not shelve. But I shelve. I am the Shelver.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Space Dogs of the Week

(photo from the NASA archives and in the public domain)

We didn't have any visiting dogs this week, so instead we're going old school. Meet Belka and Strelka, two of the at least 57 dogs the Soviet Union shot into space for orbital flights.

Unlike their much more famous predecessor, Laika, Belka and Strelka made it back to Earth. Later, one of Strelka's puppies was given to John Kennedy's daughter Caroline. So they did their level best to put cracks in the Iron Curtain.

And so, here's to all the Soviet space dogs.

The scientist who trained Laika said:

"Work with animals is a source of suffering to all of us. We treat them like babies who cannot speak. The more time passes, the more I’m sorry about it. We shouldn’t have done it. We did not learn enough from the mission to justify the death of the dog."

Laika was the subject of a story by John Haskell. Follow this link to listen to it.

Also, we had a really interesting Space Race-related event a couple of weeks back. If you're curious about the subject, you might pick up a copy of Red Moon Rising: Sputnik and the Hidden Rivalries That Ignited the Space Age.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

We'll miss ya, John

If you are a regular at University Book Store, you probably recognize the gentleman above. That's John. He worked at the store for 36 years.

John retired on Tuesday. All of us will miss him quite a bit.

Somewhere in Seattle, John is sitting in a chair reading Our Mutual Friend. It is our fondest wish that the chair is very comfortable and the book is engaging.

Anyone with a John story is encouraged to share it in the comments field.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Email Cleanup Campaign

Hey, if you received an email from University Book Store asking you to click through and tell us if you'd like to remain on our mailing list, offering a coupon and a chance to win an iPod, we wanted to assure you that it's legitimate.

We've received a few responses from people trying to find out whether it's real, or someone phishing. It's us.

That said, if you receive an email that leads you to a page with an address that isn't from one of the following addresses:

that isn't us. And we just want you to verify your email and tell us what stuff you'd like us to tell you about (Husky gear sales, upcoming events, etc.). We won't ask for any info that might compromise your identity.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Looking ahead to 2008...

We're not precisely sure what the date will be, but sometime in early February of 2008, we will be holding a Proust get-together. A number of the booksellers at our U District store decided that January would be a good month to dip into In Search of Lost Time/Remembrance of Things Past, and we'd love it if our regular event goers an customers would join in.

If you're up for it, watch this blog and our website for updates. Pick up a copy of Swann's Way (whichever translation looks good to you), read it, and come out ready to talk about one of the 20th century's most important and ambitious literary achievements. Bonus points to anyone who comes having read all seven volumes!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dog of the Week

This is Jeb. He's a hound dog. He doesn't care for modeling.

I took thirteen pictures of Jeb. A lot of them are just blurry shots of body parts. But here are three that are in focus. I think that you can make a mental composite of Jeb by combining the three.

Hound dogs always make me think of William Faulkner. Maybe I'll read some Faulkner tonight...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I'd rather be reading...

I think if I had the time to be reading right now, I'd be checking out the new collection of stories by Jim Shepard, Like You'd Understand, Anyway.

Can we all agree that Jim Shepard is one of the five best short story writers in America?

No? Yes? Maybe?

Well, I like him a whole lot, anyway.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Stuart Dybek

The wonderful Stuart Dybek was named a MacArthur Fellow this year. Yes, he's a genius!

No argument here. I dig his short fiction quite a bit.

Writers I like winning the Genius grant—this is a trend I endorse.

Lydia Davis in 2003. Aleksandar Hemon in 2004. Jonathan Lethem in 2005. George Saunders in 2006.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I'd rather be reading...

But, no. I'm shelving. If I were reading, though, I might sit down with a copy a very odd book called I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets: The Comics of Fletcher Hanks.

Much like Guybrarian, I thought perhaps this collection of Fletcher Hanks work was a clever satire of old comics. I think the source of my trepidation was this: the Stardust the Super Wizard comics, for example, begin—as one would expect—with villains coming up with some horrible plot to gain wealth or power. (One criminal gang discovers a way to turn gravity off—the Anti-Solar Ray—sending the world's population into the atmosphere, leaving their valuables and planet for them.) Stardust foils these plots with little to no action, though. He does so in mere panels. The bulk of each story is the elaborate—and horrible—punishment Stardust tailors for each criminal.

Also, Stardust has a giant neck:

The collection, by the way, was gathered by Paul Karasik.

Dog of the Week

This little lady is named MacGyver. Look at that face.

No, seriously. Look at that face!

MacGyver is named for the inventive, non-violent, gun-control advocating, TV action hero played by Richard Dean Anderson.

Need a little MacGyver in your life? Check out Brendan Vaughan's book What Would MacGyver Do? True Stories of Improvised Genius in Everyday Life.

Much like the TV MacGyver, the dog MacGyver knows how to non-violently subdue a crowd of people:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Why not celebrate with some pirate-themed literature?

Like, say, Pirattitude: So You Wanna Be a Pirate? Here's How! by John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur and Mark "Cap'n Slappy" Summers. Heck, they are the creators of Talk Like a Pirate Day, so if you're looking for a definitive guide to the day, this is likely it.

About Gideon DeFoe's book The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists & In an Adventure with Ahab, comic legend Eric Idle says: "Hilarious. Destined to become a classic of pirate comic fiction."

Kids who want to hunt the high seas for treasure hunting scalawags can check out Pirateology: A Pirate Hunter's Companion.

Here's a personal favorite: A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes. It's a gorgeous book, an adventure novel, a look at the innocence of childhood, a comedy—good stuff all around.

And, of course, if you've never read Treasure Island, isn't it about time?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Found in a Book

Here's another odd little find from our used book buyers.

Friday, September 14, 2007

A little traveling music, please...

Here's the last of the new Booker T. Owl videos. It stars one of our professional booksellers.

Booker and Nancy again

Here's another Booker video, again featuring University Book Store friend Nancy Pearl.

He's been a busy owl. One more later today!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Booker's been at it again...

We have some new videos from our buddy, Booker T. Owl. This one stars our friend Nancy Pearl.


Watch for a couple more tomorrow.

Dog of the Week

Let's here it for Rusty, this week's Dog of the Week. He's a big fella, very calm, nice coat.

Good boy, Rusty. Thanks for that very good stay.

Found in a Book

Today's Found in a Book is an old ad for a book!

I don't believe we currently have copies of Mary J. Studley, M.D.'s What Our Girls Ought to Know. So. If you need information on "What causes cold feet," you'll have to use Wikipedia or WebMD.

Friday, September 07, 2007

A Wrinkle

One of my elementary school teachers liked to read to her class. She read the John Christopher Tripod books, to which I was mostly indifferent, having read them in comic form in the back of Boy's Life magazine.

And then she read A Wrinkle In Time. Boy did I love that book.

Madeleine L'Engle has passed away.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Dog of the Week

This is our new friend Toby. Wee little thing, isn't he? Cute, too.

Toby got a little nervous when we picked him up and sat him on the counter for a photo. It was either a little too high for him, or a little too reminiscent of a trip to the vet.

Either way, we apologize, Toby. Thanks for being patient and toughing it out. In your honor, we suggest Arianna Huffington's On Becoming Fearless.

Why not? Toby can do it. So can you and I.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Found in a Book

Our used book buyers will occasionally find notes, lists, or photos in books they purchase for our stock. Below is a set of photos of a girl named Lee. They were taken in 1953.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dog of the Week

Look here, Dog of the Week fans: it's the lovely Willow! She happened to stop by today at the same time the first ever Dog of the Week (Harris) was in and much to Harris' consternation, we were mooning all over Willow.

Our apologies Harris. You're still number one.

Speaking of number one, our bestselling book in the store is...

Drum roll, please...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. No big surprise, I suppose. The train keeps a rollin'.

Rounding out the top five are: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer, Sandworms of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson, and our University of Washington Common Book Field Notes From A Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dog of the Week

Say hello to Annie. One of her humans works at University Book Store.

She comes in to the store to pick her human up now and then, but hasn't been by to have her photo taken. So I photoshopped a stack of books in with her. See? It's like she's in the store!

Good girl, Annie. Shelve those books a little later.

How to Write the Great American Novel

Here's an instructional film from Morris Hill Pictures. Watch it and get to work!


Sad news for lovers of the short story (like me): Grace Paley has passed away.

In her life, she published three short volumes; 45 stories is the entirety of her fictional output. All of them are available in a single collected edition.

This is the opening to a story called "Living," which runs only three pages in the collection. That makes it, what, 800 words?

"Two weeks before Christmas, Ellen called me and said, 'Faith, I'm dying." That week, I was dying, too.

"After we talked, I felt worse. I left the kids alone and ran down to the corner for a quick sip among living creatures. But Julie's and all the other bars were full of men and women gulping a hot whiskey before hustling off to make love.

"People require strengthening before the acts of life."

There are some wonderful things going on in those three, brief paragraphs. The first two sentences are really effective hook. Who can stop reading after they discover the possibility of two immanent deaths? And there's the cynical eye of the narrator in the second paragraph, assuming that as she sits dying in a local bar, around her are only couples preparing for romance. The multiple meanings in the third paragraph—the humor of it, the unintentional confession—are a nice touch, too.

(I also like that a woman named Grace named her narrator Faith.)

Merely 45 stories. We should spend the next month reading them over and over, don't you think?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Reading Recommendation

I enjoy a good graphic novel now and again. Kevin Huizenga's Curses came out in September of 2006, but I only recently got a chance to read it.

Huizenga's work is a sort of suburban fabulism*. My favorite story in Curses is called "28th Street," and it follows Glenn Ganges (Huizenga's everyman protagonist) as he attempts to lift the curse that is keeping he and his wife from having a child. To do so, he must find an ogre and pluck a feather from him. He finds the ogre behind a grocery store, after spraying gasoline from an enchanted gas station into his eyes so he can have visions.

Suburban fabulism, as I said. If this story sounds in any way familiar, it is because it is a retelling of an Italian folktale that appeared in a book by Italo Calvino.

The stories in Curses are loosely linked. Glenn appears in all but one—a beautiful, minimalist pairing of simple landscapes and text from "actual adoption papers" called "Case 0003128-24"*. The feathered ogre of "28th Street" explodes into a flock of birds at the end of that story, and the piece that follows ("The Curse") concerns an infestation of starlings. That cover image, with its little lower case letter "v"s and hyphens and crosses, is a flock of starlings, powerfully rendered in its simplicity. (Follow this link to see a flock of starlings in action.)

* A good example of suburban fabulism would be this story by the wonderful Stacey Richter.

** Though it occurs to me Glenn Ganges may be a character her implicitly.

Liam Rector...

Liam Rector, director of the fine Bennington MFA program took his own life a couple of days ago. His recent book, The Executive Director of the Fallen World, is well worth a read if you like contemporary poetry.

Here's a very short poem of Rector's called Larkin:

The most even-
Tempered man
Ever known:

Always in a rage.

Nice economy, there. Good line breaks. Funny. Sorry to lose him.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dog of the Week

This week's Dog of the Week is a sort of classic Dog of the Week. Meet Petunia. Someone at the store took a photo of Petunia a few of years ago. I was going through some old pictures, and found this one. Petunia, like Rigel, has a blurred tail in the photo, which—as I said—means she very much wants to say hello to the person with the camera, but has been asked to stay, and is politely doing so.

Petunia, Dog of the Week fans, has very pretty eyes.

Good girl Petunia. Hope you are doing well, wherever you are.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Remainders of the Day

Our remainder (bargain books) tables runneth over, readers. One of my thus far silent partners here at The Shelf Life (the one who calls himself The Remainer) grabbed a coupel of promising titles from his tables. He thinks you might enjoy them.

One is Seamus Heaney's translation of Sophocles' Antigone. It's called The Burial at Thebes and a copy is yours for merely $6.98.

The other is a paperback copy of John Hodgman's very funny The Areas of My Expertise for only $5.98.

Remember, all bargain books are in limited quantities. By the time you read this, there may only be one or two left of each...or, none, really.

If you miss out on these two titles, though, I'm sure we have a dozen more books to tempt you.

Vonnegut on Bookworm

Yesterday's episode of KCRW's Bookworm was a rebroadcast of an April 6, 2006 interview with Kurt Vonnegut. You can listen online at that link, or download a podcast.

I'd suggest doing it. It's nice to spend a half hour in Vonnegut's company.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dog of the Week

This is Schmitz. Bask in his glory.

Smart-looking dog, isn't he? I believe when I took this photo, he was considering how best to herd our customers to the cash registers.

We really could've used him at the Harry Potter Party.

Speaking of our huge Harry Potter Party, let me extend a heartfelt thank you to the "additional" reporter who was kind enough to refer to our modified egg and spoon race—which we called our Quidditch Time Trials—as "fairly pathetic" for Entertainment Weekly.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Dog of the Week

Dog people, meet Sirius. Sirius, meet dog people.

For such a young dog, Sirius does a heck of a sit, I'll tell you that.

This week's Dog of the Week would like to encourage all those considering a shared pet ownership service called Flexpetz to maybe admit to themselves that they need to try to get over their fear of commitment. Seriously. I mean, look at that face. Do you really only want to look at it a couple of times a week?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Sideburns, Glorious Sideburns

This is one of our bus ads from the '70s. I started working here in 2001, but I'm pretty sure that's supposed to be me.

Reader of Depressing Books

Tonight, Tao Lin will be reading at University Book Store. It will be good. There will be no people in bear suits. But there may be someone in an owl suit.

Follow this link to read a description of the Literary Death Match that Tao participated in a little while ago. Tao represented a really good journal called Opium. (The description is by a wonderful writer named Richard Grayson who more people should know about and obsess over.)

Tao reads in a strange monotone that accentuates his surrealist humor.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Best of the Worst

Here are the results of the 2007 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton was an English novelist and politician. He was quite popular in his day (his literary career began at some point in 1820) and is now most famous as the man who wrote:

"It was a dark and stormy night..."

It is the opening sentence of his novel Paul Clifford. The full opening sentence is:

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

Alexandre Dumas opened The Three Musketeers with the line: C'etait une nuit orageuse et sombre. Translated by Google Translate, this line comes out: It was one night stormy and dark.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Herring Wonder

I'm linking to this description of a recent boxing match between Craig Davidson and Jonathan Ames for three reasons. The first is that a few years ago Ames read at University Book Store in support of his wonderfully funny and weird, Wodehouse-inspired novel Wake Up, Sir, and it was a lot of fun. Ames is a peerless story-teller. The second is that Craig Davidson refers to the Lucero chapter of Leonard Gardner's novel Fat City, which is my favorite part of the book.

Finally, the piece mentions Davidson's expectation that the event will be seen as nothing more than a "gimmick" and not taken seriously as a literary promotion or a boxing match.


I've seen hundreds of author readings. It is possible to get up in front of an audience and read from one's book and entertain. It's also nice when someone decides to beak with tradition and put on a show.

And as for whether or not the fight going on between the ropes was a farce, this looks like a pretty good shot to me. I would suggest that anyone who thinks otherwise allow either of these two a free punch.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Imagine OUR embarrassment...

We've been digging through some old files, and unearthed some of our old advertisements. Above is one from the '30s.

Dog of the Week

Hello again, Canis lupus familiaris fans. After a brief hiatus, Dog of the Week returns with Abbey. She's a rescue. And a doll.

Such a doll, in fact, that she barely registered how rude it was for a photographer to make like he was going to scratch her chin and instead snap a photo in her face. Sorry, Abbey. Good girl.

Is Abbey named for environmental activist/novelist Edward Abbey? I forgot to ask her. But, really, when was the last time you read The Monkeywrench Gang?

Maybe today would be a good day to pick it up again.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

My apologies

I've been away, and horribly busy with Harry Potter, and have neglected this blog.

But let's get back into this, shall we? Tomorrow brings a new Dog of the Week.

And today, a link to a poem by Clive James. (Thanks to Bookslut for the heads up.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Podcast 2—Potter Predictions!

Follow the link to check out our second Potter podcast. In it, two young readers and two Wizard Rockers tell us their predictions for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Remus Lupins and The Parselmouths

Friday, University Book Store in the U District hosted the first of its WizRockStock events with a concert by The Remus Lupins and The Parselmouths.

This is just the beginning! Check here and here for more.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Dull tag?

Here's a little video Booker made. It's for some of his friends on University Way.

Dog of the Week

Here he is, Dog of the Week fans. It's Marlowe.

Marlowe is an awfully good boy, and he swears that he did not write any of Shakespeare's plays.

Who's a good boy and didn't write Shakespeare's work? Who? You didn't, Marlowe! You wrote your own plays, didn't you, boy? Yes you did!

Good boy, Marlowe.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

HP7, Wizard Week

As alluded to earlier, we're going all out for the release of the final Harry Potter book. Not only will we be hosting a huge party in the U District, Mill Creek, and Bellevue stores so we can sell the book at midnight (the very second it is legal to do so), we've set up activities for fans of all ages for every day of the week leading up to the midnight release (and these Wizard Week events will also be happening at our Tacoma store).

What sorts of things will we be doing? Well, we'll have cram sessions where kids can bone up on the previous six books to prepare for #7, bookmark making (all week), Potter prediction journals, a songwriting workshop, and movie nights. We're even organizing a U District protest, where we'll get kids (and adults!) to make signs and declare their position as to the status of a certain old wizard. (Dumbledore lives!) Events vary from store to store, and day to day.

Get the latest info on all the goings-on, take a look at our special Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows page.

Monday, June 25, 2007

New ways of looking at books

Well, how the heck do I shelve these? I'm stumped.

(Link from the strange and wonderful BibliOdyssey blog.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Dog of the Week

Dog of the week lovers, meet Vanian. His humans work at University Book Store. They were house-sitting on the beach, and Vanian strolled into the place looking a little tired and a little beaten up. And then he looked up and informed them that he was, from that moment on, their dog.

Vanian is named for Dave Vanian, lead singer of the band The Damned. They both have widow's peaks.

Folks interested in a comprehensive history of the music played by bands like The Damned might want to check out Babylon's Burning by Clinton Heylin. It looks to be pretty exhaustive. You might compliment it with Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil (aka the guy who smokes in your bookstore). So after you've read one researched piece by a rock journalist, and one compilation of anecdotes and memories, you could finish off with a biography of one of the key players in the genre. How about Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer by Chris Salewicz?

But don't do it for me. Do it for Vanian.

Good boy, Vanian. That's a very good hand sell.

tell all your friends!