The Shelf Life

Nick’s Pick for October

posted on September 27, 2016 at 7:40 pm by Brad Craft

ann1October’s pick is so easy it’s embarrassing. Ann Patchett’s new novel, COMMONWEALTH, is such an enriching, engaging, uplifting experience that it doesn’t need my help at all.  Effortlessly it takes over your life. It’s impossible to put down. It’s delicate, thoughtful, stealthy, intricate. The sentences are a pleasure to read. The characters keep developing and deepening. It rings so true you believe it every step of the way. Patchett knows enough about love and how it grows and changes that the book becomes a mystical revelation of human interaction and inter-dependence. You make so many friends in this book. Especially Franny, but also Holly and Teresa and crazy Albie and wonderful old Fix. Spirits need lifting? Ann Patchett really does the job in this loving, complicated tribute to family.



by Ann Patchett

Regular price $27.99

20% off at University Book Store

Our price $22.39





When Bert Cousins invites himself to the christening party at the Keatings’ with a bottle of gin, he sets in motion an upheaval that effects two entire families and the ones they love for generations to come.


Ann Patchett’s compassion for each of her characters allows her to juggle dozens of people searching and surviving, falling in and out of love, and she continues to enrich and redefine them in various stages of their lives throughout a novel so streamlined it almost reads itself.


It’s a big-hearted, easy-access tribute to the complicated way we alter each other’s lives, how we grow and change and learn about ourselves, how we deal with our griefs and guilts, and how we learn to forgive, by one of America’s favorite authors.


Come discuss the book with us!

Nick’s Picks Book Club

University Book Store

4326 University Way NE

The bookstore café

Monday, October 24, 6 pm


NOTE: Because the last Monday of the month is Halloween, please note that our meeting will be one Monday earlier this month, on the 24th.


This novel is the perfect way to wind down from summer’s sunnier joys and settle into the reading pleasures of the fall. It would be great to see you again. Join us the Monday before Halloween for a conversation about a fine American novel. And keep looking for the good ones. — Nick

Seatlle gay and Lesbian Book Club for October

posted on at 7:26 pm by Brad Craft

whi1whi3When David Leavitt first published WHILE ENGLAND SLEEPS in 1993, it was legally attacked by Stephen Spender, British poet, accused of plagiarizing his diaries. The novel was returned to the publisher from all bookstores and pulped. Though Leavitt removed the few items that had offended and re-released the novel in 1995, it never recovered from the shocking blow.


Too bad. It’s such a powerful story. It’s told by a gay man about what happened to him in 1937. In the words of the narrator, it’s a “frank admission of moral failure.” You watch the young hero make a big mistake and then try to recover from it. As a novel, it’s a delight – it contains scenes of hilarious social comedy, as well as a suspenseful creation of characters you care about, and a glimpse of the Spanish Civil War up close. David Leavitt is one of our very best American gay writers, and this historical novel is Leavitt at his best.


It’s a little tricky to get hold of. Act quickly. I’ve got one copy left at the HUB bookstore. Email me to reserve it. Or get one online. I’ll loan my copy. I’d love to talk you about this one. Isn’t it time to start your winter reading program? Join me at 6 pm on Wednesdays at SASG, 115 Fifteenth East. Summer’s over – you need a good book! — Nick


Second Annual Illustrators Day

posted on September 23, 2016 at 8:11 pm by Brad Craft

Saturday, October 8, at noon, we’ll be celebrating our Second Annual Illustrators Day!  This year we’ll have a great lineup featuring:


Jaime Temairik, author and illustrator of Alice and Lucy Will Work for Bunkbeds.





Dana Arnim, illustrator of Thor Hanson’s Bartholomew Quill.







Kevan Atteberry, author and illustrator of Puddles!!!


peddles 2kevan2























Liz Wong, author and illustrator of Quackers.




Suzanne Kaufman, illustrator of B. B. Mandell’s Samanthasaurus Rex.





Grown-up or kid, artist or appreciator, all are welcome to meet the artists, ask questions, watch them work, and have another great day at the bookstore!






Where Am I Now?

posted on September 20, 2016 at 9:31 pm by Brad Craft

mara1Former child actress Mara Wilson (best known for her eponymous starring role in Matilda) has always felt out of place: as the only child on a film set full of adults; a first daughter in a house of boys; and an adult the world still remembers as a little girl.


In Where Am I Now?—her new book of autobiographical essays—Wilson tells the story of her journey from accidental fame to happy obscurity. In it, she tackles everything from losing her mother at a young age to learning about sex on the set of Melrose Place and suddenly not being “cute” enough for Hollywood.


Ms. Wilson will be in town this Wednesday, September 21, presented by Town Hall Seattle and University Book Store, as part of the Arts & Culture series. Tickets are $5 and available at


Every Day Cook

posted on September 18, 2016 at 9:32 pm by Brad Craft

alt1Every Day Cook, by Alton Brown
Monday • October 10 • 7:00PM
University Book Store, U District branch

Through countless televisions shows, cookbooks, a hit podcast, and a live stage show, Alton Brown has taught us how to cook and transformed the art and science of cooking into a form of entertainment. This fall, the witty and educational chef invites us into his own kitchen in a new cookbook featuring the food he cooks and eats on a day-to-day basis. Divided into sections by time of day, the 101 recipes in Alton Brown: EveryDayCook include everything from Nitrous Pancakes to Lasagnalada to Cider House Fondue. And with photos of nearly every dish, the book will have your mouth watering before it even reaches your kitchen. Get your copy of EveryDayCook and meet the beloved chef at this discussion and singing with Brown.


Tickets are $34.89 and available at Each ticket admits one person and includes a copy of Alton Brown: Every Day Cook.


The Pack Rewards members and their guests receive preferred seating at this event. (Guests do not need to be members.) To guarantee preferred seating, tickets must be purchased in advance.

A Change of Venue for Ghosts Tonight!

posted on September 15, 2016 at 8:35 pm by Brad Craft



In anticipation of a huge crowd, we have moved tonight’s event for Raina Telgemeier’s Ghosts from the University Book Store, Seattle across the street to University Temple United Methodist Church, 1415 NE 43rd St, Seattle.


Doors open at 6PM, and parking is available in our lot directly across the street.  Hope to see you there!







Patti Smith

posted on September 5, 2016 at 7:56 pm by Brad Craft

pat1Patti Smith
Monday • October 3 • 7:00PM
University Temple, United Methodist Church, The Sanctuary
Reading & Performance

Written by the iconic poet, artist, and National Book Award-winning author of Just Kids, Patti Smith’s M Train is a memoir unlike any other. Told through her travels to cafes, cemeteries, hotels, and train stations around the world, Smith’s drifting, meditative essays recount moments of her creative and personal life—from her time spent with her late husband Fred Sonic Smith to a strange encounter with chess master Bobby Fischer and visits to the graves of Yukio Mishima and Sylvia Plath. But more than just descriptions of people, places, and encounters, Smith’s poetic reflections take on a life of their own—punctuated by her iconic Polaroid photos and woven through with ruminations that move in and out of dreams and reality, past and present, interior and exterior, and the vast landscape of creative aspiration and inspiration that has informed her life.


As M Train comes out in paperback, join us for what is sure to be a memorable evening with Smith. Following a reading and discussion of her book, Smith will end the night by performing several songs with musician and frequent collaborator Lenny Kaye.

US singer and songwriter Patti Smith poses during the opening of an exhibition dedicated to the late US photographer Robert Mapplethorpe at the Grand Palais in Paris on March 24, 2014.   AFP PHOTO / PATRICK KOVARIK RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION, TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION        (Photo credit should read PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)


Tickets are $17.54 and available at Each ticket admits one person and includes a copy of M Train.

The Pack Rewards members and their guests receive preferred seating at this event. (Guests do not need to be members.) To guarantee preferred seating, tickets must be purchased in advance.


Nick’s Pick for September

posted on September 2, 2016 at 8:53 pm by Brad Craft


This one almost got past me. I had no idea how inspirational it was, and the topic made me nervous. Giving up English? Why would a writer who could win the Pulitzer Prize abandon English and take on the nearly impossible task of learning to write in another language? But Joseph Conrad did just that. So did Nabokov. And so does Jhumpa Lahiri in her memoir, IN OTHER WORDS, my pick for September. To abandon your language skills can be frightening and shaming, frustrating and confining. Written entirely in Italian, with the English translation on the facing page, this simple, profound little book follows Lahiri in her brave and clearly triumphant attempt to penetrate the intricate mysteries of a new language, and Italian, of all languages – the language of my own heritage!



by Jhumpa Lahiri

Regular price $26.95

20% off at University Book Store

Our price $21.56




Written entirely in Italian, and then turned into English by Ann Goldstein, the translator of Elena Ferrante, IN OTHER WORDS chronicles the passion and pitfalls of Jhumpa Lahiri’s determined journey toward acquiring the language skills that will enable her to write this book.


A chain of teachers and lessons for twenty years leads Lahiri at last to move to Italy. After six months of no longer reading in English, she leaves for Rome. The enormity of the challenge is intimidating. Her determination to master Italian are thrilling.


This little book is an eloquent, intimate account of the pursuit of excellence, the impossibility of the task and the exhilaration of the attempt, by one of the world’s best living writers.


Come discuss the book with us!

Nick’s Picks Book Club

University Book Store

4326 University Way NE

The bookstore café

Monday, September 19, 6 pm


NOTE: This is the SECOND-to-last Monday of the month. The last week of September will be one of the busiest weeks of the bookstore’s year. As a mercy to club members, let’s move this short and effortless book’s discussion up a week.


After reading Lahiri’s joyful little book, you’ll want to plunge into the Italian classics, as I’ve done – Manzoni’s THE BETROTHED and di Lampedusa’s THE LEOPARD and most of all, THE HOUSE BY THE MEDLAR TREE of Giovanni Verga, the writer D. H. Lawrence loved so much he translated Verga’s stories himself. Keep reading good books. Don’t be afraid of the past. Hold a real book in your hands at least once a day. — Nick

Seattle Gay and Lesbian Book Club Selection for September

posted on September 1, 2016 at 8:37 pm by Brad Craft


My personal favorite of several recent prestigious gay debuts, a new novel by a 33-year-old Kuwaiti writer of mixed parentage who has worked for Doctors without Borders throughout the globe. GUAPA by Saleem Haddad is about a young gay Muslim man wanting to live an authentic life. I’ve just finished reading the last unpredictable 100 pages at a sitting. Oh, this will push a few buttons in our ongoing conversations about gay authenticity! It’s bold and provocative, sometimes startling, sometimes funny, intelligent and perceptive and written in lovely language. What more could you ask?


Rasa’s mother disappeared when he was twelve. His father died of cancer a year later. Now he’s twenty-seven, an interpreter for foreign journalists in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, living with his grandmother who has just peeked through the keyhole of Rasa’s bedroom door and screamed to discover her grandson in bed with a naked young man. GUAPA chronicles the next 24 hours in Rasa’s life.


It’s a $16.95 paperback. I’ve managed to snag 9 copies at our Oregon warehouse and should have them in stock by Tuesday.  I can get them down to a total including tax of $14. I’m taking email reservations, and should be able to bring some this Wednesday. This is a real, full-bodied gay novel with sex, love, family, politics, all woven together with a dozen memorable characters whose lives intersect in a club called Guapa.


Come tell me what you think of it, Wednesdays at 6 pm at the new SASG, upstairs at 115 15th East. See you there! — Nick