Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re known as outdoorsy and health-minded. But we’re bookish, too. (Seattle is a UNESCO City of Literature, after all, one of only 28 worldwide.) And Washington State boasts a number of best-selling and well-known authors, including Maria Semple, Dav Pilkey, Ijeoma Oluo, Tim Egan, Lindy West, Kazu Kibuishi, Robin DiAngelo, Kristin Hannah, Annie Proulx, Sherman Alexie, Karl Marlantes and Elizabeth George, just to name a handful.
It’s a rich landscape for anyone who likes a good read, so if you’re a book lover, our independent bookstores definitely merit some time on your itinerary.
In Snohomish County, Edmonds is a great place to start. Right alongside the sparkling Puget Sound, with sweeping views of the Olympic Mountains to the west, you’ll find this very Northwest town bustling with plenty of shops, restaurants, and cafes. Since 1972, Edmonds Bookshop has been right at the heart of it.
It’s a bright, welcoming atmosphere that encourages browsing. Very helpfully, books by local authors are tagged, as are staff recommendations. Trying to remember a certain title? Looking for something in large print? Just need ideas? Staff are ready to assist and full of friendly guidance.
With a children’s area at the back (complete with reading chair) and fiction running along the longest wall, the shop also has thoughtfully selected nonfiction titles, including a cooking/nutrition section, history and sports section, magazines, and much more. . It’s not a large shop, yet like Mary Poppins’ carpet bag, it seems to contain everything. [They’re happy to place an order for you if they don’t have a title in stock when you visit.]
Photo credit: banner image courtesy of Red Twig
BY ERIKA OLSON
Photo credits: all Book store photos are courtesy of Cynthia Tan
There’s a selection of used books, too, plus gift items, toys, and racks of interesting greeting cards. The shop carries work by staff members, too. “We like to be as supportive as we can,” said owner Mary Kay Sneeringer.
Edmonds Bookshop frequently hosts events, with author visits on Saturdays and special programming during Edmonds’ Third Thursday evening art walks. Sneeringer suggests visitors check the website for details about what’s coming up.
For April, we’ll have poetry readings with five of our local poets, she said.
111 Fifth Ave South, Edmonds, WA 98020
Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Thursdays 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Sundays 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Feeling peckish after all that literary exploration? Red Twig Cafe and Bakery is a well-loved neighborhood gathering spot, and it’s right next door. Bring your books and choose a freshly-baked pastry and cup of coffee (it’s roasted onsite), share the meat and cheese board with a friend, or settle in with something more substantial, like the miso salmon nourish bowl or chili-garlic roasted chicken sandwich. Ingredients are organic and locally-sourced whenever possible, and gluten-free and dairy-free choices are available.
Red Twig Cafe and Bakery
117 5th Ave South, Edmonds, WA 98020
Mondays – Saturdays 7am – 9pm, Sundays 8am-9pm
From there, you don’t need to go far to find your next book fix. The Neverending Bookshop is just about three and a half miles from downtown Edmonds. Owner Annie Carl moved the shop a year ago from a spot in rapidly-growing Bothell to a larger storefront in the area known as Perrinville, where Edmonds turns into Lynnwood. Her neighbors include a yarn shop, restaurants, fitness studios, and a veterinarian. It’s an eclectic village where locals are loyal patrons.
Carl’s is a genre-specific shop with both new and used books. She specializes in science fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery, and young adult, has a special section of children’s books within a colorful, partitioned space, and is developing a gender studies section.
She has a clear vision for the shop. “I’ve found my feet as a bookseller,” Carl said.
I want to be a small-town bookstore. And independent booksellers, we all do it differently. I’m a destination store. Maybe we carry the same book [as another shop] but we have different methods and might be selling it for different reasons and in a different way. Maybe we’ve met the author or had them in for an event. We make it individual to our shop, our community. That’s something that online retailers can’t replicate.
I do a lot of events with very local authors, she continued. For an author who’s just getting started, we can have an event for 10 people here, and it feels like a good crowd; it’s comfortable.
She also carefully selects titles that positively represent people with disabilities. Carl herself has undergone 20 surgeries in her life; she was born with a rare spinal defect and is also a cancer survivor.
I want to know, is the disabled character portrayed as more than just their disability? We’re sort of stuck in the ‘50s with this issue and it’s time the disabled community speaks up.
The Neverending Bookshop
7530 Olympic View Drive, Unit 105, Edmonds, WA 98026
Tuesdays- Fridays 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If you had lunch at Red Twig, you might be ready for something sweet in Perrinville. Mel and Mia’s Unique Pastries and Fine Coffees to the rescue! It’s just a few doors down from Carl’s shop, and as the name implies, you’ll have a variety of goodies to choose from. Pie, cupcakes, and cookies, of course, but how about mascarpone crepes? Maybe a caramel apple turnover? Or, have you ever had Zeppoles (Italian donuts)? Choices vary daily but all are freshly-made with care.
Mel and Mia’s Unique Pastries and Fine Coffees
7530 Olympic View Dr #103, Edmonds, WA 98026
CLOSED Monday and Tuesday; Wednesdays-Sundays 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Here are two more independent bookshops to explore in Snohomish County.
Uppercase Bookshop, Snohomish
Family-owned and operated by self-proclaimed word nerds, this is a used bookstore housed in a log cabin.
1010 2nd Street Snohomish, WA 98290 | (360) 217-8521
Tuesday – Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Main Street Books, Monroe
Mostly used and some new books, including a good selection for kids and teens.
110 E Main Street, Suite 100 Monroe, WA 98272 | (360) 794-2976
Mondays – Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.