The Shelf Life


UBS Press: New & Exclusive

posted on September 10, 2014 at 5:25 pm by Blog Archive

The University Book Store Press has been hard, hard, hard at work churning out exciting new titles for readers of all stripes. Whether you’re a fan of memoirs, poetry, family histories, we’ve got it all – you bring the taste, we provide the flavor! As Summer comes to a close, we’d like to single out some of the new titles that have landed on our shelves during these wonderful, sun-soaked months.  photo 2


The newest of the new are two books by Sitahwilthey, For The Love of Nature and Between The Worlds. Both volumes are original, hand-written and -illustrated collections of poetry that explore the beauty and mystery of nature. UBS Press was thrilled to help Sitahwilthey prepare these books for a bound edition. Stop by and take a look! – these books must be seen to be believed. To boot, Sitahwilthey (also known as Marilyn Totten) will be reading later this month at the UBS Press reception.


A Far Cry COVERv2.inddNext up: A Far Cry From Here: Growing Up and Out of Fundamentalism by Theresa Mickey McCormick, a moving memoir of childhood and family framed against the backdrop of the 1940s Texas Panhandle. McCormick, who grew up in fundamentalist Christian family, tells a true coming-of-age story that will find resonance with readers of all kinds. Theresa McCormick – an artist, writer, educator, and Professor Emeritus at Iowa State University – will join us to read from A Far Cry From Here at the UBS Press reception.


photo 3Jeremy M. Tolbert returns with his second volume of poetry through the UBS Press, Talking With the Devil About Love. Featuring poems that have appeared in a number of publications, including Overpass Press and Having A Whiskey Coke With You, this new collection presents fans of poetry with exciting work from a fresh, new voice. Tolbert’s poems are tough, confrontational, and redemptive – hear it for yourself at the UBS Press reception, where Jeremy will be reading and signing the new collection.



Lastly, although many reading this now are avid readers, some of you may nonethless be aware of our local NFL team the Seattle Seahawks. No matter your level of enthusiasm, local author Colin Leadbetter has written (and illustrated) what may the strangest (and most important) Seahawks-related item to ever be sold in stores. It’s worth the time to come in and take a look – chances are, you won’t be the same afterward. Titled The Osprey: A 33-Point Vision of the Seahawks Future, Leadbetter’s book lists the steps Seattle must take to fully embrace & collectively ritualize our football phenomenon.


photo 4As always, University Book Store Press titles are on display and available for purchase next to the Film & Television section on the main floor of the Book Department. Come in, have a look and take home something wonderful!

UBS Press – New Titles!

posted on February 4, 2014 at 2:54 am by Blog Archive

The University Book Store Press galloped into 2014 thanks to some incredible new titles from our authors. Many of these new books were works long in progress. It’s exciting to finally see them on the shelf, even more exciting when they leave in the hands of a new owner. Without further ado, here’s a rundown of the latest & greatest from Homer (our trusty Espresso Book Machine) and the UBS Press!




Brad Craft, our senior Used Book Buyer, has been doodling daily. Incredible doodles. Hilarious doodles. On the same scraps of paper for jotting down customer names & phone numbers, he’s drawn portraits, caricaturesSerialDoodler, one-off jokes, brilliant running gags and more, all beautifully rendered in pencil. We (his coworkers) certainly hoped he’d kept the drawings, but we could only dream that he would, one day, publish them in a book. Earlier this month, that day came. Ladies in gentleman, collected in a single volume for the first time, we are proud to present The Serial Doodler. And not only that, Brad will be reading & signing at the store Feb. 25 at 7pm.


Here’s a taste, from the introduction (and a drawing from the Book Store Birds section below): “I’m not completely ignorant of the social niceties. I’ve never doodled at a funeral, for example. It’s true, I’m seldom without a pencil and scratch-paper. Truth be told, I haven’t the kind of memory that can be made to work without reference to notes, but, yes, making little pencil drawings is also something more than a habit of mine. Not a day goes by, as they say.”





PlaysThatPlayThe newest collection of plays from Martin Ingerson is now available, and we heartily invite you to come to the store and take a look. To truly get an idea about this collection, you really need to read the whole thing. But you can start with a bit about the playwright himself: As an actor he first appeared as the Big Bad Wolf – at age 6. As a teenage pianist he concertized throughout Northern California with a string trio. As a magician-illusionist he once lost an audience to a grizzly bear in Yosemite National Park. As a playwright he studied poetry at the University of Washington. His plays have been produced in New York, San Francisco, Portland, Austin, Sacramento, and Seattle. He founded-directed The Over Players, the first successful nightclub theatre in San Francisco. He now is Secretary of Chrysanthemum Literary Society and works at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo.


ALSO NEW: Roscoe, Ergonomics of the AbsurdSpecial Delivery: A Memoir of an Improbably Love Affair and more to come! Stay tuned, and contact Michael at with any questions about UBS Press and the Espresso Book Machine.


The Impossible Knife of Memory

posted on January 29, 2014 at 7:37 pm by Jenny Oleinik

Bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson at our U-District store on January 8, 2014.

Fans of all ages were thrilled to meet best-selling childrens’ and young-adult author Laurie Halse Anderson in our University District branch earlier this month.  She was in store sharing her newest teen novel, The Impossible Knife of Memory. Booklist gave it a starred review, saying, “In Anderson’s skilled hands, readers will find a light shining on the shadowy reality of living with someone who has lived through war—and who is still at war with himself.”


In addition to reading from the book, she talked about her life and family, her writing style and method, responses she’s received about the tough subjects in her books, and her strong stance against censorship. To top it all off, she answered all of the audience’s questions. She was friendly as can be, and it was great fun to host her.


Laurie’s books appeal to young and old. She is known for dealing with difficult subjects in her writing with a powerful awareness, humor, and photo 5empathy toward her characters that has made her a prominent author in the teen book world. She also writes historical fiction, childrens’ novels, and picture books.


More about The Impossible Knife of Memory (from the book flap): “For the past five years, Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, trying to outrun the  memories that haunt them both. They moved back to Andy’s hometown to try a “normal” life, but the horrors he saw in the war threaten to destroy their lives. Hayley watches, helpless, as her father turns to drugs and alcohol to silence his demons. And then her own past creeps up, and everything falls apart.”

Laurie Halse Anderson signs her picture book "Independent Dames: Women & Girls of the American Revolution" for a fan

Laurie Halse Anderson signs her picture book “Independent Dames: Women & Girls of the American Revolution” for a fan


In brief, she’s a great author, and this is a great book. I’ve been a fan of hers for more than a decade, and I can honestly say that The Impossible Knife of Memory is a wonderful addition to her already laudable library. To learn more about the book and the author, check out the January 11 interview Laurie did with NPR. You can also head over to her blog and follow her on Twitter.


For more great author events like this one, take a look at the University Bookstore events calendar. Upcoming events include the authors Garth Stein, Robert Gates, Roddy Doyle, and more!

Author of “Provence, 1970” Drops In

posted on December 29, 2013 at 11:41 pm by Blog Archive

We love it when authors drop in! Today Luke Barr, author of Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste, stopped by our main branch to sign copies of his book, which has been a big hit this holiday season. Luke Barr

Provence, 1970 has received rave reviews from all over, including starred reviews from both Booklist and Publishers Weekly, and it is currently on our University Bookstore bestsellers list.


Not familiar with the book? Library Journal reviewer Neal Wyatt has this to say: “In a clear, flowing, and graceful style, Barr, the great-nephew of Mary Frances Kennedy (M.F.K.) Fisher (1908–92), tells the story of a remarkable culinary convergence. In the fall and winter of 1970, food writers James Beard (1908–85), Julia Child (1912–2004), and Fisher found themselves in roughly the same area of France. In ways that sometimes overlapped but just as often diverged, each of the chefs came to question long-held beliefs about the superiority of French cuisine and the possibilities for a new American food revolution.[…] This small gem of a book is a fascinating delight.”

Luke Barr signature

At the Movies — With a Book

posted on November 7, 2013 at 12:13 am by Brad Craft
Read the Book, see the Movie

Read the Book, see the Movie

Time again for a perennial display favorite, celebrating the journey from book to film.  As you can see in the photo above, there has been a bumper crop of new movie-adaptations this year.  As you can also see from the sign and or the caption on the photo above, we suggest the order in which these things might best be done, but it’s not like it’s a hard and fast rule.

Two you should know.

Two you should know.

A perfect example of why one really ought to read the book first?   J. R. R. Tolkien‘s classic, The Hobbit. One of the great pleasures (think nerd) of watching Peter Jackson‘s ongoing film trilogy of same, is parsing what is or is not actually taken from the novel.

On the other hand, movies can bring less familiar classics back to our attention, such as 12 Years a Slave, by Solomon Northrup, just reissued by Penguin, in time for the release of the new film adaptation, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Moments That Made the Movies, by David Thomson

Moments That Made the Movies, by David Thomson

What makes this display particularly exciting though is the excuse it provides to include the latest title from the best living American film critic, David Thomson, of the New Republic.  If you are a film fan and you don’t know this man’s name already, it’s time you did. Through regular reviews and now a whole series of serious and very entertaining books, Thomson has created a body of critical work as likely to last as any film writing of the last century.

In his latest, Moments That Made the Movies — a truly gorgeous object, full of the most glorious color and black and white movie images — Thomson selects and analyzes pivotal scenes, masterful shots, and some of the greatest acting in the whole history of the movies; from the silent era down to the modern day.  Some the reader will recognize instantly, others may be unfamiliar, but Thomson’s witty and wise dissections can only make the reader want to see these films again or for the first time.

Now’s as good a time as any to read a great book, see a good movie, and or read a great film critic.  (Then head over to the greatest video store on the West Coast, and possibly in the country, if not the world, Scarecrow Video, and support a truly remarkable institution.  Bring a list, or browse the aisles, or ask the staff for recommendations.  There really is no greater resource for film anywhere in the world.  We love them.)

Today’s Random Penguin

posted on September 27, 2013 at 3:10 am by Brad Craft
Fractured: Book Two in the Slated trilogy

Fractured: Book Two in the Slated trilogy

Today’s “Random Penguin” — just out — is Fractured (Book Two in the Slated trilogy), by Teri Terry, from Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group.  What’s next for Kyla?  Find out today.

On a (New) Bender

posted on September 21, 2013 at 12:35 am by Brad Craft
Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlye and The Color Master: Stories

Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle and The Color Master: Stories

Unlikely was the word. Fair enough. Considering the sort of thing with which I’m usually seen wandering off to lunch, the new Aimee Bender book does rather jar against expectations. Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle, prepared for publication Thomas Carlyle, edited by James Anthony Froude? Much more my usual.


But, Aimee Bender is just so good.  When earlier today, in social media, I announced the arrival of her latest book, and my enthusiasm for it, I was met with a certain, perfectly understandable disbelief.


I’m reading this?  Yes, yes I am.


Now, the other book I’m carrying around makes perfect sense, for me.  The letters of Mrs. Thomas Carlyle are among the neglected pleasures of English literature; tart, intelligent, full of keen observation and good humor. I’m reading in them now because I’m already reading with great fascination, and some impatience, the last volume of James Anthony Froude’s magisterial biography of the lady’s husband. Jane comes out of that the better person of the married pair. (Thomas Carlyle would have agreed.) Reading the Letters and Memorials, in addition to supplementing the text of the biography, has proved to be a joy. Easily the best book of letters, other than her husband’s, that I’ve read since those of their friend, Edward Fitzgerald (translator of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.)


The Color Master: Stories, by Aimee Bender

The Color Master: Stories, by Aimee Bender


So, why Aimee Bender?


A few years ago, we organized a Halloween reading series here at the bookstore. Called it, “Spooky Stories,” and read, mostly, the usual sort of thing, like M. R. James, etc. It was a reading series for grown ups, of a Saturday afternoon, throughout the month of October, and so we read some fairly unlikely things as well. A young coworker read a story by Aimee Bender. It was a marvelous thing; unsettling, deceptively simple, haunting, funny. Since then, I’ve read every word Aimee Bender writes.


The new Bender

The new Bender


I don’t like modern fabulists much, as a rule. I’m not usually a fan of the self-consciously artless, or the arbitrarily ill-defined.  There are of course masterful writers — Italo Calvino comes inevitably to mind — who make the most delicious hash of reality, but a writer like Calvino always does so in service of of larger questions; about memory, perception, and yes, the writing of fiction.


Aimee Bender has something of that same, sly gift for thinking through her nightmares, of inventing plausible consequences within seemingly mythical or fantastic scenarios.  She’s funny.  That counts for a lot.  She’s also a devilishly clever woman, a disciplined writer and a surprisingly benign philosopher.  Surprising, for me at least, because there’s a flippant disregard for the humane in a lot of the contemporary literature of this stripe; seems it’s embarrassing to be seen to care.  She writes, sometimes, about some horrible things, but she’s never mean.  rare quality, that, at least in contemporary literature.


So, yes.  Aimee Bender’s The Color Master: Stories, just out from Doubleday, is traveling to lunch with me and Mrs. Carlyle today.  And Bender is on my short list — my increasingly short list — of contemporary writers whose work I have to read as it’s published.  Not because I much care anymore about books because they’re new, but because I care more than ever about the ones that are good.