The Shelf Life


I’m excited about these Young Adult Releases in June!

posted on June 3, 2014 at 6:07 pm by Mel Barnes

You can’t miss the following June Releases!

June 3rd

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu -- exclusive imageThe Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu: I’m intrigued by this story.  After reading Tease by Amanda Maciel and Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu I am excited for another book set in a high school and especially interested in reading about Alice and what really went down.  Plus the cover art reminds me of The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher…Okay seriously pick up these books!



June 8th

paranoiaParanoia (Night Walkers #2) by J.R. Johansson: I have not read this thriller series but it is on the top of my To-Read stack for a sunny spring day, since I’ve heard this will keep me awake if I read it before bed.  As you can see in the cover photo I took Paranoia on a trip with me recently.  I tried to get him to like my music and suceeded.  As you can see he is totally singing along!  Okay so maybe Parker is actually scared…or yelling at someone about threatening him…I can’t wait to find out!


June 12th

Starbird Murphy and the World Outside by Karen Finneyfrock: I admit I am currestarntly reading this amazing book and it’s been hard to put down after my work breaks.  Starbird is a lovable character and I wonder how things are going to work out for her now that she is living among the Outside world after living on the Family Free Farm which amounts to a commune.  She comes from a place where clothing is shared and money isn’t used in daily life.  It’s a completely different world then she is used to and I am totally on her side.


wingsWings (Black City #3) by Elizabeth Richards: I devoured the first two books in this series within a few days and have eagerly been waiting for Wings to arrive in my hands.  Will Natalie and Ash end up together? Will greater forces divide them…TELL ME NOW!!!




June 17th

ruinRuin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo: This series ending has been one I feel I’ve been waiting years for, well technically that’s true since the first one released in 2012. I can’t wait to find out what happens to Alina. She is one of my favorite characters!







The Body in the Woods (Point Last Seen #1) by April Henry: I was able to read this book a few months ago as an Advanced Reader Copy and LOVED it!  This book has me wanting to join the Search and Rescue team in Portland for Teens…except I am not a teen. FAIL!  This is another wonderful mystery by April and you will be intrigued by the mystery of who the killer really is…  NoDawnWithoutDarkness22

No Dawn Without Darkness (No Safety in Numbers #3) by Dayna Lorentz : This trilogy is all about a mall quarantined by the government due to a large number of people being sick and dying all at the same time.  I love that it’s told from a few different teenagers perspectives as they are unable to communicate with those outside the mall. I would definitely consider this series a thriller series and highly recommend you check it out!

Which books are you excited about in June??



Everybody Loves Molly!

posted on May 9, 2014 at 5:27 pm by Brad Craft


We love Molly Wizenberg.  Everybody does.  How could you not?  First of all, there’s the food.  The books.  The woman herself is a charmer, come to that.  We were pleased as punch to host the book launch this week for her new memoior, Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage, just out from Simon & Schuster.


She’s best-selling food writer already, the author also of Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes From My Kitchen Table.  Good book.  Great recipes.  Her latest is the story of the hugely popular Delancey restaurant she started with her husband, Brandon in Phinney Ridge.  (So good.  You should go.)


The crowd at the event was huge and very enthusiastic, and Molly was, unsurprisingly witty, sweet and fascinating.  We’re smitten all over again.


We have signed copies available, so get one.  (Your mom would love one, trust us.)

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!

Big Beautiful Books

posted on November 26, 2013 at 8:03 pm by Blog Archive

I may curse their existence come moving day but BIG BOOKS are my favorite. I wish I had ten coffee tables just to fit all the big beautiful books I wish I could own. Coffee table books, or large photography books, are different than the other books on a person’s shelf. These books are meant to be seen and meant to be shared. They are conversation pieces–full of beautiful images, but are also beautiful just sitting on a table or shelf. These are the books that get opened again and again. So in this, the Season of Giving, here are a few most recent favorites:



Just look at this giant ORANGE book! Gorgeous. Full of over 300 images of Bowie’s personal archive of costumes, ephemera, original design artwork, lyric sheets, personal photograhs and more. Tracing Bowie’s career from its beginnings in London, through Ziggy Stardust years, and into the 21st century. Includes essays documenting the performer’s influence on the avant-garde,  music, fashion, gender and art.




From photographer Brandon Stanton’s popular blog, HUMANS OF NEW YORK is a smaller sized book, but bursting with thousands of photos, quotes, and anectdotes that capture the wide array of humanity that fill the city.



(Photography by Gerard Gaskin) $45.00

LEGENDARY, captures the culture of house balls, the underground events are high energy beauty/dance competitions where members of different “houses” (usually gay or transgender African American or Latino men and women) compete over costume, attitude, dance moves, and DIY-fashion. “Drag” at its most vibrant, competitive, and intensely creative. Just LOOK at that cover! STUNNING.



Featuring 150 satellite images from photographer and environmental activist Yann Arthus-Bertrand, this book explores the abstract patterns, vivid colors, and textures of our planet viewed from space. While capturing the stunning beauty of nature, it also showcases humanity’s impact on the planet through deforestation, farming, and urban sprawl. Seeing the planet through these images makes it clear just how important work to protect it is.



Dandies! I AM DANDY profiles the men who are leading the charge to bring back the lost art of dandyism and giving it their own modern spin. Once upon a time a well styled man was looked at with a certain curiosity about their “lifestyle”. These men buck the stigma and proudly peacock. Profiles accompany full page glossy photos of these men in their most glorious ensembles and showing off their lavish, meticulously styled homes. Perfect for the Dandy or Dandy-Phile!



Any fan of a Wes Anderson film would love this book. Capturing Anderson’s distinct visual style with previously unpublished photos, artwork, and ephemera spanning and guiding readers through the filmmaker’s life and career.

*BIG BEAUTIFUL BOOKS make great gifts. Even better, if they’re over $20, University Book Store will ship them for FREE!*

Anna U’s October Reads

posted on October 18, 2013 at 7:59 pm by Blog Archive

THE DISASTER ARTIST: My Life Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made – by Greg Sestero & Tom Bissell

Anyone who has seen THE ROOM can attest to that moment perhaps just after the first line of dialogue out of Tommy Wiseau’s mouth or maybe not until the end credits roll when they stop and think, wait…”What?” or maybe “How?” or the exponentially more philosophical “Why?”

Greg Sestero as “Mark” and Tommy Wiseau in the infamous Rooftop Scene.



THE ROOM, is an independent film produced and released in 2003 with a filming budget of six-million dollars  and a first screening run ticket sales of nineteen-hundred.



Yet the film continues to play on numerous theater screens around the country, has been taught in university film studies classes as a modern-era “Plan Nine From Outer Space”, and has garnered cult-like status for its stars. One of those stars, Greg Sestero (aka “Mark”), has now co-written along with award-winning journalist Tom Bissell, his account of the making of the film and his relationship with its enigmatic and curiously fascinating and mysterious writer/director/producer/financier/star: Tommy Wiseau, titled THE DISASTER ARTIST, out this month from Simon & Schuster.

A decade after the film’s release, Sestero is famous for playing “Mark”–though not in the way he probably originally hoped when he started pursuing acting. He is also incredibly kind and extremely generous with his fans. Somehow even within the sometimes awkward and repetitive onslaught of cultish fandom he manages to find the humor in his situation. Appearing at midnight screenings where audiences dress up, throw things at the screen, and scream lines along with characters, he’ll pose for pictures and sign autographs. He’ll even toss around a football with a fan. It’s clear from reading the book that this open and kind attitude is exactly what led him to being swept up into Wiseau’s world. Now with THE DISASTER ARTIST he lets people in even further, into his memories and experience making the film.

There are thousands of bad movies made every year, why THE ROOM has stuck–why it manages to be an exercise in continuity errors, rambling narrative, and plot canyons and yet be so entertaining is a fascinating question. The book examines why the film was made, who Wiseau actually is (genius, intentional or not?), and how movies get made (badly or not), but more than that THE DISASTER ARTIST is a fascinating page-turning story (almost impossible to believe it’s not fiction) of one man’s drive to create a work of art, what constitutes art, and what makes an artist.

You don’t have to have seen The Room in order to be drawn into this story, but if you have, this book may help answer at least part of the “?!” most people feel upon viewing.





Do you have genitals?

Do you have a human brain with complex psychology?

Do you exist in a society?




Don’t worry, though, you’re not alone. Psychologist Jesse Bering’s latest PERV: THE SEXUAL DEVIANT IN ALL OF US, (follow-up to last year’s WHY IS THE PENIS SHAPED LIKE THAT) out this month from MacMillan, shines the light on the often times blush-worthy subject of human sexuality, especially fetishes and paraphilia (the intense sexual arousal to highly atypical objects, situations, or individual). With actual scientific data to back up his plain language exploration of the history, politics, and cultural impact and attitudes of sex, Bering calls readers to examine sexuality and paraphilia from an amoral place, without moral judgement or shame.


Once we understand the science behind the desire, Bering claimed at a recent appearence at Town Hall, we will be better prepared to deal with its various possible impacts on society.

This book is a fascinating read, not lacivous, but a frank and entertaining page-turner even when broaching complex subjects and the sometimes silly and also darker corners of human sexuality. You may learn something about yourself, or come to view your fellow human beings with a little more understanding–After all birds do it, bees do it, even HUMAN BEINGS do it.




HYPERBOLE AND A HALF: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms and Other Things That Happened – by Allie Brosh.

If you’ve been on the internet any time in the last few years you’ve probably seen
this figure somewhere, maybe with the caption “[X] all the [Y]”. The meme was born (or stolen depending on your opinion of fair-use) from one of web-comic artist Allie Brosh’s works.

That yellow triangle…mohawk?…party hat? Actually it’s a blond ponytail. This is Allie Brosh’s representation of herself from her wildly popular blog/webcomic Hyperbole and a Half, which she started in 2009–and is now compiled, with new material, in a book HYPERBOLE AND A HALF: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms and Other Things That Happened (out October 29th from Simon & Schuster). Except this isn’t just Allie, this figure has become the everyman (and everywoman) of the internet and beyond, the avatar of so many people who felt slightly odd or awkward but who along with and through Brosh have learned that they’re not so alone after all. Whether it’s dealing with mentally challenged dogs, the desperate need for cake, the cycle of procrastination, or the affects of depression. Brosh has been able to express the absurdist hilarity of life’s most mundane or trying moments through a distinct visual medium–MS PAINT.

With simple but magically evocative drawings and bright bold colors, Brosh manages to convey the absolute frenetic energy of a hyper dimwitted dog:









Or the seering, vengeful rage of a toddler denied cake: 


The blog, with its scrollablity favored well into the comic genre, the reveal of each consecutive cell a treat. The book mirrors that sensation, the hilarious reveal planned perfectly with each page.

This book is laugh out loud hilarious, but it is more than simply a book of funny comics. It’s incredibly personal, memoirist, insightful, honest, and hilarious.

Brosh’s work has always had a deeper, psychological bent. After not posting for several months, Allie returned this past May with “Depression: Part Two” wherein she recounts her struggle with the condition. Her honesty and humor struck an emotional chord with fans and earned her many new ones. The final chapter of the book “Identity: Part Two” features Brosh digging deep into what kind of person she actually is, in Brosh’s own words: F*cking Sherlock Holmes, Psychology Explorer.

The hilarity comes in the shared experience that Brosh’s darker side, is our own. Whether it’s her sugar crazed, power drunk, pure ID toddler version of herself or her apathetic, “wanting to do good but maybe just because we care what people think of us” adult self, we are right there alongside her: trying to be grown ups, feeling awkward at times, hating spiders, getting attacked by geese, and spending too much time online–basically livin’ life to its fullest:

I like this book, alot.


Harry Potter Gets a New Look

posted on October 1, 2013 at 10:28 pm by Blog Archive

I remember it was over a decade ago when I first picked up “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”. I was working at University Book Store, part time in the giftwrap department back then. I was still in school, earning my degree in Comparative Literature. I remember my colleagues, the booksellers from the children’s department, mentioning it. The next book was due out any day, there was a movie being made, it was all the buzz—this was unlike anything we had experienced before in the bookstore. I wanted to see what the buzz was about.


I went to the shelf and pulled out the paperback copy of “Sorcerer’s Stone” with the original cover art by Mary GrandPré and wasn’t immediately entranced.

This didn’t really look like the kind of book I read, or would really want to read. No offense to GrandPré’s skill as an artist (and her original illustrations for the series will continue to be featured on the U.S. hardcover and digest paperback editions). I can see the appeal to kids and have to take into account the world in which this cover art was chosen, a world before Harry Potter Fandom would reach into pretty much all realms and age groups. I wasn’t ashamed to be seen reading a children’s book but I wasn’t exactly excited to be seen reading the book with that cover. I remember I covered it up with a scrap of giftwrap paper, and then read through my entire shift, on the busride home, and stayed up late to finish. The next day I bought the second book. I was hooked.

Over the course of the rise of Harry Potter fandom, someone got wise and they started printing the “Adult” covers:

Which made the books out to look about as exciting and magical as well…a locket, a cup, or a stone laying on a table.  Pre-dating and foreshadowing the current trend of fantasy covers ala: “Game of Thrones”  which have become the standard of fantasy covers looking to cross over. I understand that some readers aren’t enticed and can even be turned off by too much fantasy on their cover art—it’s all a delicate marketing game,  but I’m not ashamed to be a full blown adult who loves these books. I don’t need to disguise it. Something was lacking for me in these covers as well–the joy and depth of the world that J. K. Rowling created, the whimsy, the adventure.

The books are popular enough at this point that they could probably print plain brown paper covers and they’d still sell, but to celebrate 15 years since the original publication of “Sorcerer’s Stone”, Scholastic has issued the entire series with new cover art by New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Kazu Kibuishi, who is best known for the Amulet series of graphic novels.


The new covers are brilliant. They glow from within with the magic contained inside. Each is beautiful, layered, and full of the life and complex universe that Rowling built. While the original illustrations prominently feature Harry, the new covers feature Harry in smaller detail, and alongside his friends: Hagrid, Hedwig, Ron, Hermione, and Dumbledore. As any fan of the series know, Harry couldn’t have done it alone.

Kibuishi’s artwork is gorgeous. I recommend checking out his other work as well, but here he manages to finally capture the magical world I saw in my head while reading.


My favorite may be “Chamber of Secrets”, with the Weasley’s Burrow and flying Ford Anglia! (which was featured on the UK cover previously) One of the most iconic images from that book and perhaps the series as a whole.

Or “Prisoner of Azkaban”, featuring the mysterious  figure on the lakeshore summoning the gorgeous glowing stag patronus to ward off the enveloping Dementors.


“Half Blood Prince” with its haunting depiction of Dumbledore and Harry on that oceanside cliff.

As an added bonus, when all lined up in order, the spines of the new versions depict Hogwarts Castle. Each book is available individually or as a box set.

The new versions are available in store, by phone or web now. The perfect gift for your favorite wizard or muggle, or yourself!



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.

Two Annas’ Thoughts on David Rakoff’s Final Work

posted on July 17, 2013 at 12:42 am by Blog Archive

rakoffIn the three years I worked Author Events for University Book Store, meeting and hosting David Rakoff in the Fall of 2010 was, hands down, the best experience of my stint. He was on tour for Half Empty; and was frail, in pain, with an arm so weakened by his cancer that he couldn’t even hold his book. David Rakoff made such an impression on me. I have to admit (don’t throw tomatoes!) that I barely knew his work at that point. I was excited about him because my boyfriend was excited about him. I had heard his ridiculously funny skit on Wire Tap with Jonathan Goldstein  where he insists that getting drunk before a job interview is the way to go. I spent an evening and a day with him and I fell in love (I’m not kidding). As you can imagine, David was sharp, witty and smart. He was also kind, sensitive, and so cool. He was my people. We sat back and talked about crafting and boys and being Jewish and New York City. He asked me about my family history and was sincere in his curiosity. He told me my boyfriend was a cutie! He brought a handmade stamp of his face that he stamped on every book he signed. He was self-deprecating and joked about his health. He used his words carefully and was extremely present. I feel so lucky that I got to share a brief moment in his life and that I was able to let him impact me.


I can’t recommend his new book enough. It’s brilliant. We’re all so lucky to have a piece of his genius come alive after his too short life has sadly ended. Did you hear that one Wire Tap  that’s a spin off of Kafka’s metamorphosis? Jonathan Goldstein plays Gregor Samsa who wakes up to find himself an insect and he writes to a Doctor named Seuss, who is written and read by Rakoff. Doctor Seuss writes back only in rhyme. The fluidity of Rakoff’s rhyme in that skit is carried over to his new novel, Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish, which is essentially the history of 20th century America, written in iambic pentameter.


It’s one of a kind, and a joy to read.

–Anna Micklin, General Non-Fiction Buyer


If you were to ask me if I wanted to read a novel written by a person dying of cancer exploring the meaning of life, my first answer would always be a resounding—Pass. It’s not that I don’t think those novels have a place or are worthy of readership—they’re just not for me. Mostly due to my own innate cynicism and a family medical history that leads me to assume I’ll be one of them at some point. (Avoidance is a magical protective force field.) But the final work and first novel written by David Rakoff—I definitely wanted to read. I knew Rakoff’s work mostly from This American Life. I knew his voice and the voice inside my head would get along–that I would get none of the death-bed religion I am so cynical about. Rakoff’s dark sense of humor applied even to the most terrifying of tragedies, his own death, and this novel is no different. He never glosses over the dark, never makes excuses—it simply is, and is worth noting. With LOVE, DISHONOR, MARRY, DIE, CHERISH, PERISH, Rakoff seems almost to be willing the reader and himself to recognize the light alongside the darkness, to see the DEATH as part of LIFE.


Everything seemed bathed in a heavenly light,
Perhaps, it was just as a contrast to night”.


Within the first few stanzas of this rhyming novel the rhythm of the meter pulls you into it like the rhythm of a train on a track. Its solid, steady pace weaves and winds its way across the country and spans the 20th century. Rakoff adeptly drives the story, stitching and tying together a tapestry of interconnections: between a red-haired teenage Margaret escaping the brutality of slaughterhouse work and familial abuse in turn-of-the-century Chicago; Artistic Clifford only recently freed in the San Francisco of Gay Liberation to land harshly in the AIDS epidemic; Put-upon Nate who finally stands up for himself in a best-man speech at his ex’s wedding to his best friend, and more— all connected, sometimes barely but always significantly, rolling into each other until you reach the end, which in itself harkens forward and backwards simultaneously. Cycle of Life, though rolling ever forward, passengers disembarking and boarding all along.


Rakoff never steers into the precious and never makes the proclamation of there being a Master Plan (be it God or Fate). Rakoff’s is a world of happenstance, but one in which those fleeting moments, even if unrecognized by the participants, are imbued with so much weight and potential. The title and Seussian rhyme scheme alert us–His is a declaration that Beauty and Joy are all around us but so is Damage, so is Darkness and Death and it is all LIFE. And Life is not a solo endeavor. We are each simply a word in a much bigger rhyme.

The fact that Rakoff created this work as he himself faced and succumbed to death is extraordinary and adds extraordinary weight to it, but the novel could stand alone without its writer’s death. I wish entirely that it did. This book can be read quickly, but shouldn’t be. It should be read, slowly, savoured, and re-read.

 –Anna Updegraff, Author Events Buyer


Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish: A  Novel by David Rakoff was released on July 16, 2013 from Doubleday, a division of Random House.






Staff Favorites Digest no. 2

posted on June 2, 2013 at 1:21 am by Blog Archive

Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

An intelligent and hilarious novel about love, bi-nationality and identity. Adichie unapologetically cuts through America’s political correctness to reveal the mass of conflicting voices underneath.–Mechio

Full Body Burden, Kristen Iverson

As much a work of investigative journalism as a memoir. Iverson grew up next to Rocky Flats, a secret nuclear weapons factory once designated “the most contaminated site in America.” She writes movingly of a childhood full of secrets and cover-ups examined through a lens directed equally at Rocky Flats as at her family.–Mary

The Aviator’s Wife, Melanie Benjamin

The Aviator’s Wife crosses all genres; the MYSTERY of a high profile kidnapping, the HISTORICAL flights that changed travel, the ROMANCE between a hero and his seemingly demure wife, and the REALISM of the daily life of a family hounded by the paparazzi. The strength, intelligence and loyalty of an inspirational woman radiates on every page of this book. It was a joy to “meet” Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

And the Mountains Echoed

posted on May 22, 2013 at 2:25 am by Blog Archive

Khaled Hosseini’s newest novel hit the shelves today, and we are all so excited. Hosseini, author also of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, writes literature that is bold and unflinching in its offering of difficult realities. Hosseini can temper the tough truth with gorgeous storytelling that charms you from the very first sentence.

The new novel is titled And the Mountains Echoed. Our very own Karen raves about it:

A masterpiece! The newest book for the author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini has created an emotional story spanning decades and many countries, coming together with an ending that made me cry. Wow… a must read!

Read also what the Boston Globe and Washington Post had to say about it.

Better yet, mark your calendar and join us on JUNE 5, when author Khaled Hosseini will visit our U-District store. Then you can let this incredible story speak for itself.