I planned on participating in #SEABookstoreDay for Independent Bookstore Day by going to the three north-of-Seattle bookstores that I went to last year: Edmonds Bookshop, Third Place Books, and University Bookstore in Mill Creek. However, I recently saw that Watermark Books in Anacortes was for sale. It looked so cute that I wanted to go there before it potentially went out of business. I didn’t think I’d ever been to Anacortes, so it sounded like a fun trip.
The downside of the scenario was that April was tulip time in the Skagit Valley. I’ve fought the throngs of international tourist traffic before and it wasn’t fun. One of the reasons for going north was to avoid the urban traffic. Luckily, it wasn't so bad because I left early, went the back way, and the sun wasn’t shining.
My first stop was Pelican Bay Books, which just moved to a new location in downtown Anacortes. It was very inviting and had a wonderful selection of used books and a coffee bar. I love used bookstores because I almost always find a wonderful, surprise treasure that I didn’t even know I was looking for. But for some reason, I didn’t find anything I couldn’t live without and left empty-handed. I did see a handsome man in the maritime section wearing Carhartts and a leather knife sheath on his belt—a wooden boat builder or a tall ship sailor, perhaps! He may have been my surprise treasure, but alas, I left without him, too.
Still thinking about the man in the nautical section, I wandered down the street to Watermark Books. It was very cute inside and out, and carried all the interesting titles one would expect from an indie bookshop, including a selection of recommendations from the booksellers. Yes, I wanted to buy the store, but not enough to move to Anacortes. I purchased Brian Doyle’s Chicago and drew a 20% discount out of a basket. Score! I perused the assortment of literary-themed condoms on the counter, then left.
After browsing a couple of antique shops, I stopped into a pizza place for lunch. You can never go wrong with pizza—well, sometimes you can. This was one of those times. Not great. At least the book I was reading was excellent.
It began to rain and I’d had enough of Anacortes. I wanted to move on. I could travel up to Bellingham to see Tom Robbins speak at the delightful Village Books in Fairhaven or I could go to La Conner and visit a brand new bookstore. I decided on La Conner because it was close and I hadn’t been there in a few years.
Seaport Books on 1st Street was only three days old. It had a very small assortment of “carefully selected” books to choose from, many by Northwest authors, or having Northwest themes. I purchased Anne Patchet’s Commonwealth—not a PNW book, but on my to-read list.
On my way back south, I stopped in Conway to visit a couple more antique stores and found this fabulous circa 1890s exam table. I really wanted it because the protagonist in my novel would have had one just like it, but it was really expensive and I could think of a million things I needed more than an antique exam table.
I didn’t come back with an enticing new friend, or a unique antique conversation piece for my living room, or a bounty of fun new reads and accouterment, but I got a couple new paperbacks that will easily transport for lunchtime reading at work. It was a fun adventure to get out of town and explore.
P.S. I also stopped and bought some tulips at the La Conner Rotary stand.