Sundays In: A City That Reads

by Dave Wheeler

40th Anniversary party
40th Anniversary party, photo by ST Katz

The past week has been one flabbergasting public display of affection after another! We here at Elliott Bay Book Company just celebrated our 40th anniversary, with the sort of community hullabaloo that I suppose usually goes along with these sorts of epic milestones. It’s just I’ve never had the privilege of being on this side of the adoration.

Truth be told, I haven’t been with Elliott Bay but three years now — I’ve been in books about twice as long though! — so it’s astounding to me the kind of love Seattle readers dole out to us. Reading Mary Ann Gwinn’s feature in the Seattle Times, and then Kristianne Huntsberger highlighting us on NW Book Lovers. Then of course the love coming through on Twitter and Facebook. Oh, darling! the wonderful, wonderful words.

There were the floral arrangements. The greeting cards. The cupcakes. The tremendous turnout for our special reading with Jim Lynch, Maria Semple, and Ryan Boudinot — commemorating Seattle’s past, present, and future!

In a way, this is me saying thank you for celebrating with us something I only feel I’ve begun to take part in.

It’s not a role I take lightly but one I take much joy in. Just this week, while celebrating America’s 237th anniversary, my boyfriend and I were settling in to watch fireworks from a friend’s deck in Fremont. Loads of people were there, eating, drinking, carrying on, and wrapping up in fleeces. We were making small talk with a woman who asked where I work, and when I told her, she slapped her knee and said, “I thought you looked familiar! We’re in there all the time!

The Book Was BetterThen, Friday morning, bleary-eyed and in serious need of espresso, I walked into my local Top Pot, where the guy slinging doughnuts leaned over the counter to read my t-shirt. (It’s a chic, fitted, cranberry number with Gandalf, Dorothy, and Frankenstein’s monster screen-printed above the phrase “The book was better” — courtesy of Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ.) Doughnut Guy got a serious kick out of it before raving hard about his recent goal of rereading all his favorite books made into movies. We chatted a bit about Stephen King’s The Dead Zone before he apologized for babbling and took my order.

That’s when I told him where I work and suggested he could come find me any time to rave about books, because, really, I don’t get tired of it. I certainly haven’t read everything (though I have read The Dead Zone, and quite enjoyed it), but I love to listen. I love hearing what you’re reading at least as much as I love telling you what I’m reading.

Doughnut Guy, you make me love my job! Fireworks Friend, you make me love my job! So I know that I’m where I’m supposed to be, in a bookstore in a city where people love to read. And what’s even better, I learned this week, during a whirlwind of anniversary festivities, just how much you all love reading with us!

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