Tag Archives: Island Books;

Island Books 40th Anniversary Celebration this Saturday

We have a gem of a bookstore here on the Island. Island Books has been around for 40 years, and this Saturday they’re inviting everyone over from 3 to 5 pm for pie to celebrate:

Pie + books– you really can’t go wrong.

Two North Island Businesses

The Seattle Times covered our intrepid booksellers at Island Books, one of the better Puget Sound bookstores right on our generally retail-poor Island.  Got nothing to add except yes, it’s a fine, fine store and you should go visit.

And the P-I reports that Emerald City Smoothie is up for sale. It’s a shame, as that’s one of the few businesses you’d walk to in North Island. Thanks to Tom and Angela Napier, the owners, and good luck finding a buyer.

Top 10 Mercer Island Websites

After blogging for 2 1/2 years about Mercer Island I’ve got a collection of best sites on the Island. The criteria to make the list are relevance, readability and regularity of updates.

1. The Mercer Island Reporter. Our more traditional print brethren, the local paper, takes the top spot here. It’s the place to go for coverage of city council meetings, school sports and other events that bloggers with full-time jobs and babies can’t attend.

2. Island Books. Speakers and storytellers, new releases and recommendations. The Island Books staff goes a level deeper than simply pushing goods to make this a lively place to explore books, just like the store itself. There’s always a surprise.

3. Mercer Island Farmers Market. Goat cheese, local leeks, cupcakes and a place to wander on summery Sunday afternoons. Love it.

4. The City of Mercer Island. Frequently updated, this site has announcements and events as well as official documents on city projects, budgets, and other fun city-politico-wonk stuff. Subscribe to Joy Johnston’s excellent Mercer Island Weekly newsletter for official city news (then come here for the unofficial version).

5. Mercer Island Parent Ed. Some great speakers and events for parents. Recent examples: Exercise & Brain Performance– Dr. John Ratey presents his groundbreaking research; Middle School Bullying Workshops.

6. Walk! Mercer Island. This Facebook page has occasional updates on walking on the Island- trails, conditions, etc.  A recent update: The trilliums are out! Those are the three petal white flowers you see in the woods this time of year. An old fashioned flower–they always come out around Easter. Take the 53rd Open Space Trail or the Ravine Trail in Pioneer Park and look in the sunspots…

7. Seattle Transit Blog. We included only this one off-Island blog because so many kinds of transit are relevant to Islanders: buses, light rail, highways (we even used to have ferries and steamboats). Seattle Transit Blog is by far the best single place to find out what’s going on with getting around.  

8. Mercer Island Flickr page. Browse photos of our fair Island from anyone who cared to upload them.  It’s a grab bag but there’s some good stuff in there.

9. Spotlight on MISD blog. Occasional profiles of teachers and professionals let you peek in the window at the MISD (but not in a weird way). Photos and quotes from the profilee make these very personal, human and fun to read.

10. Mercer Island High School on Facebook.  Here more for its potential than its present. The page is a little short on photos and could liven up its content a bit, but it’s a great start. And even if you’re not a student or a parent, you’ve gotta love those Islanders.

Did I miss any? Email mercerislandblogger at yahoo or leave a comment.

Bulletin Board: Congrats to MIHS Athletes

Mercer Island High Women’s Basketball

The MIHS women’s team are the King County Champs. More in the Reporter.

Photo from 1998, jlilly on Flickr.

Yeshiva High Women’s Basketball

And congrats to the “613’s” of Yeshiva High School, who sent the first Jewish team to the state tournament. They forfeited thier last game, which was due to be played on a fast day, rather than risk playing without water. Gotta admire the dedication.

Mercer Island Mens’ Swimming

The MIHS Mens’ Swin team took its fifth straight state title. Dynasty-tastic!

Says the Seattle Times: Behind a sweep of all three relays, Mercer Island more than doubled the next closest Class 3A team’s score Saturday at the King County Aquatic Center in another dominant display at the state meet.

Mercer Island Author Signing at Island Books

“Not all crazies live in condos, but ALL condos have crazies.” Mercer Island doesn’t have as many condos as the cities, but I bet we have our proportion of crazies. Diane Kinman, author of Condo Divas, Mercer Island resident, and owner of 6 condos over 20 years, will be at Island Books on March 7th at 3 p.m. for a signing.

Recycling Center to Close

The Recycling Center near Mercerdale will close on Feb. 28, or this Sunday. Apparently there’s no decision yet on what to do with the site.

Island Books: Buy Local, Read More

With Bailey Coy Books in Capitol Hill closing its doors, and Elliott Bay moving to more literary grounds, it seemed a good time to check in on Island Books. Mercer Island doesn’t have a lot of top-tier shopping, but I’ve always thought that Island Books is one of the best independent bookstores around.

I spoke with Roger Page, who owns the store with his wife. He said Island Books has been around for 36 years. He describes it as “a relationship-driven business: most of the people who come here have face-to-face conversations with the people across the counter.”

Roger Page, purveyor of books to Mercer Islanders.

The staff knows its books, and gets to know the people who come in. Some played in the children’s area years ago and are bringing their children now.

About the independent bookstore business, Roger said, “Part of it is the story of retail today.” And it’s hard for any independent bookstore to make it. He can’t be sure any shop will be around in three years, including Island Books. But he’s positive enough to sign up for a new lease. And when I was there last week, the store was busy and people were buying.

Why Island Books is a Great Bookstore

First, you can ask the staff about a book and have a real conversation about it. I’ve changed which book I was going to buy based on those conversations.

Another sign of a great store is that the featured books are well selected and interesting, making for a great browsing experience. You should come out of a bookstore wanting to read new books that you didn’t know about before.

Good new books that make my wallet smaller.

It caters to its community, with a huge childrens’ section:

A children’s section that could be its own bookstore.

and a great regional history section:

Why do I feel all gooey inside when I see so many local history books?

Island Books has occasional events which are listed on their Facebook page. Roger says the website and Facebook are the best places to keep up on events and the book club.  For kids,  “We used to have story time every Saturday,” but the Island’s kids were overscheduled by the time they were old enough for it. Now they do it at certain times of the year.

If you think there’s a place for an independent bookstore in our community, then buy local and read more for the holidays.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have no relationship with Island Books (except as a customer) and am never paid for any content. The sum total I’ve made from this blog continues to be zero, which is how I like it. But I love books and I love this store.

Cheese Deluxe: Mercer Island in the 60s

A few months ago I heard about a book called Cheese Deluxe, a memoir of living on Mercer Island as a teenager in the 60s.

For having bought a book based solely on the setting, I got lucky. Greg Palmer, the author, creates a cast of characters (many of whom he says are based on real people) and follows them through a series of loosely-connected stories. That’s probably a better way of expressing high school life than presenting a tight story arc. Palmer isn’t afraid of poking some taboos now and then, like in the first chapter when he describes a Boy of the Month nomination that was aborted over a misunderstanding of fairies.

Island Books apparently had the author in the store back in December, but I missed it. There’s a nice video in the MI Reporter article of Greg reading from the book. Of the people on whom the characters were based, “a few are here tonight.”

It’s worth reading, even if unlike me you aren’t hung on on wondering what places looked like in past decades. You can get it on Amazon.

We Need an Independent Coffee Shop on Mercer Island

We’ve got an independent bookstore, why not an independent coffee shop? There’s two Starbucks’ and a Tully’s on the Island– both local companies. But not independent.

Here’s some commentary on buying local from Island Books:


From the bookstore you can go to Cellar 46, but apparently you can’t go back.

It should be in North Island, maybe in Mercerdale. It should be cozy, with a fireplace. It should have much better food than either Tully’s or the Buck.

How about a bakery/ coffee shop with quiches, ham and cheese croissants and homemade soups?


Delicious croissant, please come to Mercer Island. Credit: junstine.foong, flickr.

For any entrepreneur thinking of starting one, here’s the case for doing it in a recession: people spend more time in coffee shops when work hours are reduced. My friend, a tech contractor, works several days a week in a coffee shop and has for years. Now he has trouble getting a table anyplace.

Imagine, during our latest snowstorm: walking up to North Island, into a cozy coffee shop with a fireplace and some newspapers (I know Starbucks on N. Island has a fireplace). A local gathering place with its own character, in the great Seattle tradition of great coffee shops.

we need a fireplace like this in mercer island

An Americano some local chatter, please. Photo credit: Henry Bonell on Flickr.

Snow! And Other Notes on the Island

First snow of the year!

First snow on Mercer Island winter 2008-2009

Well, snow two days ago and expected again in two days. Richard Sprague has a nice snow pic too.

And a few notes from around the web on Mercer Island:


A shout-out on Cellar 46 from the P-I. Haven’t been there yet myself but I’d like to go. “On Mercer Island we have Cellar 46 which offers live music, small plates and places to sit including a bar and tables. It has a cozy neighborhood vibe.”


And a shout-out from a very pink, delightfully stream-of-conscienseness reading blog about Island Books. She’s right- we’re lucky to have a great independent bookstore. Buy books there for the holidays.

The Disasters of the Ferry Dawn

The other night we watched Dawn on the Island, a video about the history of Mercer Island. Mostly it had interviews of people who had grown up on the Island. My favorite story was of the kids who took the Ferry Dawn across Lake Washington to Leschi every morning to go to school. The ferry sank twice, and a seaplane collided with it once, according to Wikipedia.

The former students seemed to take the sinkings in stride. Sometime after those mishaps, when the ferry was considered too unsafe- and it would be fascinating to know what impending disaster they expected, that had not already happened- the ferry was sunk off the southern coast of Mercer Island. If you know exactly where it is, please leave a comment, I want to know.

I couldn’t find much about the video online except this ad from the Mercer Island Historical Society.

Mercer Island Video

I picked up Dawn on the Island at Island Books. I like this bookstore, which despite its location in a strip mall is a great bookstore that reminded me of Bailey Coy on Broadway in Capitol Hill and Elliott Bay Books in Pioneer Square.

Amidst the reminisces of former Mercer Island Youth, there was some overview of the history of the Island. Luther Burbank Park was featured prominently. But the video assumed a good knowledge of what happened when on Mercer Island: when the bridge was built, when development got serious, when the ferries stopped running. There was a sketch of that, but I needed more grounding in the history.

Watch it, if you get a chance. And let me know where the Dawn is.