The Shelf Life

Refined Reads for September

posted on September 6, 2017 at 7:22 pm by Brad Craft


Join the Refined Reads book club!

Refined Reads is our fantastic new book club in partnership with KOMO’s Seattle Refined. Each month we introduce you to one amazing, discussion-worthy book and meet up to talk about it at one of our stores. Read along with us during the month through weekly check-ins with page goals, exclusive content, and author interviews. You’ll also get the chance to participate in on-camera discussions for the show!

Sign up for the book club HERE and join us for one of our monthly book discussions.


From “America’s librarian” and NPR books commentator Nancy Pearl comes an emotionally riveting debut novel about an unlikely marriage at a crossroads.

George and Lizzie have radically different understandings of what love and marriage should be. George grew up in a warm and loving family–his father an orthodontist, his mother a stay-at-home mom–while Lizzie grew up as the only child of two famous psychologists, who viewed her more as an in-house experiment than a child to love.

Over the course of their marriage, nothing has changed–George is happy; Lizzie remains…unfulfilled. When a shameful secret from Lizzie’s past resurfaces, she’ll need to face her fears in order to accept the true nature of the relationship she and George have built over a decade together.

With pitch-perfect prose and compassion and humor to spare, George and Lizzie is an intimate story of new and past loves, the scars of childhood, and an imperfect marriage at its defining moments.

In September, we’ll be reading George and Lizzie by Nancy Pearl and meeting up to discuss the book on September 29 at 6:30pm at our U District store.

Nancy Pearl’s Book Club for September

posted on at 3:46 am by Brad Craft


Join Nancy Pearl’s book club for a lively discussion of this month’s book!


This month’s title is Lions, an atmospheric and mesmerizing second novel from critically acclaimed writer Bonnie Nadzam.

Lions, Colorado is a small town on the cusp of collapse. For 17-year-old Leigh Ransom and her boyfriend Gordon Walker, the future is a thing that lies outside their dying high-planes farming community. But when Gordon’s father gives him a strange task from his death bed, the young man will have to decide whether to leave for college with his girlfriend or stay in Lions looking after his family’s business and upholding the peculiar inheritance of Walker men.

Book club members, save 20% when you purchase this title at our U District store.


Bonnie Nadzam has published fiction and essays in many journals and magazines, including Granta, Harpers Magazine, Orion Magazine, The Iowa Review, Epoch, The Kenyon Review, and many others. Her first novel, Lamb, was recipient of the Center for Fictions first novel award in 2011, and was longlisted for the Baileys Womens Prize for Fiction. It has been translated into several languages and made into a film that will be released in 2016. She is also co-author with Dale Jamieson of Love in the Anthropocene (OR Books, 2015).

Sonnet 45

posted on September 5, 2017 at 10:45 pm by Brad Craft



The other two, slight air and purging fire,
Are both with thee, wherever I abide;
The first my thought, the other my desire,
These present-absent with swift motion slide.
For when these quicker elements are gone
In tender embassy of love to thee,
My life, being made of four, with two alone
Sinks down to death, oppressed with melancholy;
Until life’s composition be recured
By those swift messengers returned from thee,
Who even but now come back again, assured
Of thy fair health, recounting it to me.
This told, I joy; but then no longer glad,
I send them back again and straight grow sad.

William Shakespeare

Fire on the Hills

posted on at 8:48 pm by Brad Craft



The deer were bounding like blown leaves
Under the smoke in front the roaring wave of the brush-fire;
I thought of the smaller lives that were caught.
Beauty is not always lovely; the fire was beautiful, the terror
Of the deer was beautiful; and when I returned
Down the back slopes after the fire had gone by, an eagle
Was perched on the jag of a burnt pine,
Insolent and gorged, cloaked in the folded storms of his shoulders
He had come from far off for the good hunting
With fire for his beater to drive the game; the sky was merciless
Blue, and the hills merciless black,
The sombre-feathered great bird sleepily merciless between them.
I thought, painfully, but the whole mind,
The destruction that brings an eagle from heaven is better than mercy.

— Robinson Jeffers

Our Book of the Month for September

posted on September 4, 2017 at 7:48 pm by Brad Craft

My Absolute Darling, by Gabriel Tallent

“Poised to become the breakout debut of the year.” The New York Times

“Nearly impossible to put down.” NPR

“The word ‘masterpiece’ has been cheapened by too many blurbs, but My Absolute Darling absolutely is one.” —Stephen King

A brilliant and immersive, all-consuming read about one fourteen-year-old girl’s heart-stopping fight for her own soul.

Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At fourteen, she roams the woods along the northern California coast. The creeks, tide pools, and rocky islands are her haunts and her hiding grounds, and she is known to wander for miles. But while her physical world is expansive, her personal one is small and treacherous: Turtle has grown up isolated since the death of her mother, in the thrall of her tortured and charismatic father, Martin. Her social existence is confined to the middle school (where she fends off the interest of anyone, student or teacher, who might penetrate her shell) and to her life with her father.

Then Turtle meets Jacob, a high-school boy who tells jokes, lives in a big clean house, and looks at Turtle as if she is the sunrise. And for the first time, the larger world begins to come into focus: her life with Martin is neither safe nor sustainable. Motivated by her first experience with real friendship and a teenage crush, Turtle starts to imagine escape, using the very survival skills her father devoted himself to teaching her. What follows is a harrowing story of bravery and redemption. With Turtle’s escalating acts of physical and emotional courage, the reader watches, heart in throat, as this teenage girl struggles to become her own hero—and in the process, becomes ours as well.

Shot through with striking language in a fierce natural setting, My Absolute Darling is an urgently told, profoundly moving read that marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer.


It’s our Book of the Month for September!  We’ve got signed copies, and the book is 25% off all month!

Nick’s Pick for September

posted on September 1, 2017 at 7:05 pm by Brad Craft


Have I got a discovery for you! This little gem, THE BOOK OF EMMA REYES, is a posthumous memoir told in 23 letters that were published ten years after the author’s death. This woman survived a childhood of abject poverty – abandoned by her mother, raised by a garbage heap in Bogota, Colombia, subjected to a full work shift by the age of five – to become a painter who rubbed shoulders in Europe with Jean-Paul Sartre, Frida Kahlo and Pier Paolo Pasolini. Gabriel Garcia Marquez phoned her to encourage her! In the first 30 pages you’ll watch slum children erect a god out of garbage, and the first nightmarish automobile arrive in town – electrifying moments. Here’s an example, the author as a child talking to a child friend: “he asked me if I had a dad and a mom, and I asked him what those were, and he said he didn’t know either.” It’s a physically gorgeous little book, with a cover featuring art by Emma Reyes, and interior pages with samples of her longhand script and several unforgettable drawings. Translated and introduced by Daniel Alarcon, a brilliant young writer on his own. Are you looking for a woman writer with determination, talent, and some unforgettable tales to tell? Meet Emma.



by Emma Reyes

(translated by Daniel Alarcon)

Regular price $24

20% off at University Book Store

Our price $19.20




Emma and her older sister, Helena, grew up abandoned by their mother, living near the garbage heap in a windowless room without toilet or water or electricity.


Illiterate until her late teens, Emma made her way across South America to Europe, working and learning and painting, until she was befriended by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Pier Paolo Pasolini.


This posthumous memoir composed of 23 letters was first published ten years after Emma Reyes’ death. It’s a truthful, child’s-eye view of abject poverty and the grim unfairness of life, and how they shape a strong woman artist.




Come discuss the book with us!

Nick’s Picks Book Club


4326 University Way NE

The bookstore café

Monday, September 25, 6 pm


Only 175 pages, gorgeous images, swift, honest style from a determined writer – really, what more could you ask for? – Nick


2018 Calendars

posted on August 8, 2017 at 7:27 pm by Brad Craft


It’s that time of year again!  The 2018 calendars have started arriving and soon there will be entirely too many to show them all.


Every size and description of beautiful, full-color calendars are available now, and more on the way every day.


So, remember, if you need something beautiful on your desk or wall, you need a present for your Mom or your Great Aunt Fanny, we’ve got you covered.

Let the calendar browsing begin!

Refined Reading Book Club for August

posted on August 6, 2017 at 7:15 pm by Brad Craft

Goodbye, Vitamin, by Rachel Khong.

Goodbye Vitamin by Rachel Khong

Thursday • August 31 • 6:30pm

U District store

Join the Refined Reads book club!

Refined Reads is our fantastic new book club in partnership with KOMO’s Seattle Refined. Each month we introduce you to one amazing, discussion-worthy book and meet up to talk about it at one of our stores. Read along with us during the month through weekly check-ins with page goals, exclusive content, and author interviews. You’ll also get the chance to participate in on-camera discussions for the show!

Sign up for the book club HERE and join us for one of our monthly book discussions.

August Title: Goodbye Vitamin

In August, we’ll be reading Goodbye Vitamin by Rachel Khong and meeting up to discuss the book on August 31 at 6:30pm at our U District store.

Monthly Refined Reads book discussions rotate among different University Book Store locations around the Puget Sound.

Rachel Khong grew up in Southern California, and holds degrees from Yale University and the University of Florida. From 2011 to 2016, she was the managing editor then executive editor of Lucky Peach magazine. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Tin House, Joyland, American Short Fiction, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Believer, and California Sunday. She lives in San Francisco. Goodbye, Vitamin is her first novel.