Monday, February 29, 2016

Island Bookstores

An island.  A bookstore.  Together.  Heaven.

I've lived near the coast most of my life.  I was born in Oregon along the wild and rugged coastline of a hilly town beside a bay in the southern most part of the state.  With the waves crashing beneath the hospital windows,  my mother gave birth to me just in time to greet a full moon the next evening.

You could say the sea is within me, the ebb and flow of the tides, the rhythm of the waves rolling in and out.  I crave the salty breeze against my face, my bare feet in the sand, a foggy overcast morning, the warm sun burning off the clouds by noon.  And just like the tides, I often feel controlled by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun against the earth.  I'm drawn to the water naturally.  There's nothing like a brilliant, blood-orange sunset melting into the ocean, watching sailboats return to the harbor from between the jetties or seeing surfers hurling across waves as if paying tribute to another spectacular summer day.  The sight of a lighthouse perched above the swirling, green-blue ocean is enough for me to hike through tall grasses and prickly spikes of wild flowers to snap the perfect photo.

I've got all my favorite (secret) spots up and down the coasts of California, Oregon, Washington, Canada, Alaska and Hawaii.  But there are just as many places I love along the shorelines of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and further south to the outer banks of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and the west coast of Florida.  Here in the Midwest, we have the shores of the Great Lakes, where the beaches have smaller waves but taller roller coasters, and the lake water is fresh, the salt saved for the kettle corn, and fishing boats are docked in quiet harbor towns, some more industrial than others with mills and giant power plants.

In all these places, whether by the ocean or the lake, beyond the gentle stretches of sandy shorelines and jagged cliff edges, oftentimes there are scatterings of islands, reachable only by ferryboats and bridges, and sometimes there are even villages and towns.  If you peak around, maybe you'll discover a bit of magic tucked between an ice-cream stand and a tourist shop, you might find a little bookstore, doors wide open, with rows of books lining the shelves.  Somewhere to mingle and dream, learn about the big, wide world.  And if you're anything like me, you'll think…

An island.  A bookstore.  Together.  Heaven.

Here's a list of some favorites (in no particular order)...

Lido Isle, CA:  Lido Village Books is a small independent (and very charming) bookstore located just over the bridge on the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach.  After you visit the store, be sure to continue across another short bridge onto Lido Island, a man-made island that at one time was part sandbar, part mudflat…not so anymore…it's a lovely residential island surrounded by Newport Bay, Lido Isle Reach and West Lido Channel.  Lido Park at Via Lido/Lafayette has lovely views where you can sit and read your new book.
Ferry Between Balboa Island
& Balboa Peninsula, CA

Balboa Island, CA:  Island Tale Bookshop (formally Martha's Book Store, an island fixture for
years) opened in the spring of 2015 by two local teachers.  This children's bookstore is a quaint spot for families and children who love a unique collection of children's books with the occasional story hour.  The store also offers tutoring for young students with weekly sessions led by the owners who both have degrees in education.  A friendly place for families.

Coronado, CA:  Bay Books is an independently owned bookstore serving Coronado Island and San Diego for more than 20 years.  A great collection of new releases, indies, military history, young adult and children's books.  They also carry the largest selection of magazines in California, domestic and international titles, which might be fun to add to your beach reads.  Coronado Beach was named the #1 beach in America in 2012 by Dr. Beach, (Who?) Stephen P. Leatherman, director of Florida International University's Laboratory for Coastal Research (That's Who!).

Whidbey Island, WA
Whidbey Island, WA:  Wind and Tide Bookshop has served Oak Harbor since 1967.  A wide selection of titles with a lovely ambiance.  The store was updated by the new owner in 2011 and the changes are all good for this island lover shop.  Hop on the ferry from Mukilteo to Clinton (pick up some Ivar's clam chowder for the ride over) and drive north to Oak Harbor for a book stop and then continue on to Deception Pass State Park where you can enjoy incredible views while you read that first chapter.  Continue the road trip across Fidalgo Island then east to interstate 5 and head south to Camano Island (see below).

Camano Island, WA:  Uff Da Shoppe…okay, so this isn't a bookshop, but it's one of my favorite stores in the Pacific Northwest.  Ya Sure Ya Betcha, this store is all about Scandinavian things. 'Uff Da' roughly translates to, "Oh, darn," or "Oops" or if you're a racy Norwegian like me, "Oh, crap."  This store has been delighting islanders for over 25 years, and it's a favorite in my family since my parents once owned a home on the island overlooking the Puget Sound.  My brother who is an architect in Southern California designed and help build the house with my dad about a decade and a half ago. Camano Island and my family go way back, since we often visited the island before my parent's built there own home to visit our cousin's cabin every summer.  We young cousins (thirteen in all) trolled along the driftwood covered shoreline after climbing down a steep embankment behind my aunt and uncle's cozy, vintage home collecting shells and watching out for barnacles on the rocks.  Sometimes we'd get caught at high tide clinging to the top of a giant rock until my uncle would come fetch us with a plank of wood or abandoned log to walk across to shore or if we were too far out, he'd help us swim ashore.  His lectures of near death experiences of locals getting trapped by the tides were legendary, yet harmless, as all of us trailed behind him traversing the cliff to fresh baked berry pie and a warm, crackling fire.  I know a few of my cousins probably still have 'Uff Da" bumper stickers on their cars from our stops at this funny little shop in Stanwood.

Ferry System -- Puget Sound, WA
San Juan Island, WA:  Griffin Bay Bookstore in Friday Harbor has served this beautiful island since 1979.  The thing I always remember about this island are the wild flowers -- lavender and poppies growing wild in the fields and along the sides of the roads, and how green everything is…a total utopia of nature for hikers and fisherman and lovers of all things gorgeous.  I wrote about Friday Harbor in my first novel, RESTORATION and those are still my favorite chapters.  Visit this bookstore when you're on the island, not only do they house great titles, they host well-known authors for readings and signings.  You might just run into your favorite Pacific Northwest author.

Bainbridge Island, WA:  Eagle Harbor Book Co.  is a well-established, full-service community bookstore, and really fun and friendly bookstore.  The shop opened in 1969 as Betty's Books and later expanded, moved and changed the name, but kept the same commitment to providing quality literature and a place for the folks to gather and share in a love for words and stories.  I visited this store when RESTORATION was first released, signing copies when my publisher was still distributing through Ingram.  The publishing world has changed a lot since then, but this store has stayed the same, providing great books and a wonderful atmosphere to those who still love to hold a printed book in their hands.

Mercer Island, WA:  Island Books holds special memories for me.  When Mr. Lane and I lived in Redmond, WA with our three kids, I'd often stop off on Mercer Island on my way into Seattle, and I'd always stop at this charming bookstore.  They've been there for 40 years, a proud independent bookstore serving Mercer Island and the Seattle area.  I remember the warm, friendly booksellers who were always happy to help me remember a title or suggest a book for my young children.  There was a sense of community at this shop and a nice place to go for story hour with my youngest who was a toddler at the time.  Stop in if you're crossing over Mercer Island, you won't be disappointed.

Victoria Island, British Columbia, Canada:  Renaissance Books is a wonderful secondhand bookstores with a nice collection of first editions, modern literature, poetry, BC history and children's books.  One of the reasons I added this eclectic bookstore is because it sits in a lovely area of Bastion Square in old town Victoria not too far from where the Port Angeles, WA ferry arrives on the western side of Victoria, the most probable route for US citizens, especially those who want to travel through the Olympic National Park to Port Angeles, totally beautiful drive.  Another reason…this quiet shop is a nice place to catch your breath before touring Victoria, an island in Canada's Arctic Archipelago, which also happens to be the eighth largest island in the world, second largest in Canada compared to Baffin Island which lies between Greenland and the Canadian mainland (fifth largest in the world and an island I hope to visit one day).  Pick up a few inexpensive titles for those quiet evenings wherever you stay on the island.

Huntington, NY:  Book Revue.  Let's travel east now to Long Island, NY to the village of Huntington where this family owned bookstore has been in business since 1977.  It happens to be one of the largest independent bookstore in the country.  It's quite a treat for book lovers and when we lived in Connecticut, I always made sure to stop by when visiting the island.  Besides attracting bestselling authors for readings & signings, this store is an important cultural hub for their local community offering many events for adults and children.  Plus, you'll probably hear a few authentic Long Island accents if you hang around long enough…be sure to grab a cup of cawfee or some chawcolate or a yooj hero (not a hoagie, not a sub -- but, the best sandwich in the world!).

Looking From Sea Island
To Saint Simons Island, GA
St. Simons Island, Georgia:  G.J. Ford Bookshop is the largest independent bookstore in The Golden Isles located in the Shops at Sea Island on St. Simons Island off the coast of Georgia.  This charming shop is a great stop to pick up your next beach read (and if you forgot your bathing suit or want to pick up a tropical print shirt or a sundress, there are other wonderful shops nearby for men and women).  St. Simons was a favorite island to visit when we lived in Atlanta and needed a good dose of ocean.  Just a few years ago, Mr. Lane and I celebrated our 25th anniversary along the Georgia coast and St. Simons was one of our stops.  Of course I loaded up on books, but I have to admit, I didn't get much reading done that week…wink, wink.

Bayfield, Wisconsin:  Apostle Islands Booksellers in historic Bayfield on the south shore of Lake Superior, across the water from Madeline Island in the Apostle Islands.  The store is open year round carrying a collection of books on history, culture, nature and other topics centered around the lifestyle of the region.  You'll enjoy this friendly independent, locally owned bookstore, especially if you're after literature about the history of the area or looking for a title from the unique array of general fiction based on local interest.  Check out their calendar of events for author readings, book groups and other events.  A true community bookstore serving surrounding towns and the islands, as well as visitors from around the world.  A nice stop on a tour of the Great Lakes.

Heading To Sanibel Island
From Naples, Florida
Sanibel Island, Florida:  MacIntosh Books & Paper is a wonderfully charming island bookshop and I heard they recently moved to a new location, so be sure to check the website before you visit.  MacIntosh offers the latest best sellers, many classics, island themed books, works by local authors (they really support their community of authors) and other literature about local wildlife and island lifestyle.  I loved the lovely supply of greeting cards and stationary as well.  I picked up a signed book by local author, Christine Lemmon, and enjoyed reading beach fiction sitting in the sand along the west coast of Florida, just gorgeous.

Stranded On An Island
 Is Always Better With Books
Island Sunset
My Life On The Lane is sandy and coastal when visiting my favorite islands.  If you ever find yourself stranded on (or just visiting) one of these islands, I hope you'll stop by the local bookstore and find just the book you were looking for...



  1. I love small towns and island life. Enjoyed your list of small bookshops because, I too, like browsing in those kinds of stores, where the pace is so much slower. Enjoy your CT home. And good luck with your new novel. Let me know when it comes out.

  2. Thanks, Vickie:) I'll keep you posted. So good to hear from you. Another new book for you...amazing! You must write day and night. Inspiring. Congratulations!