Journal of a plague year | Fresh Reads


Last updated 3/11/2021 at 11:49am

It's been a year. Yes really, it's been a year since the shadow of an unimaginable pandemic first loomed over our community, driving us indoors, cocooned and prayerful, and away from family, friends, co-workers, and commutes.

We took to Zoom and social media, shouting through masks and across fences, anything that kept us connected. At the same time, we became IT help desks for our kids or vice versa, cooked furiously, hoarded supplies, and perhaps resumed (or continued to avoid) long-delayed home projects.

Also, we binged on books, films, TV series, podcasts, whatever was a positive distraction. In sweatpants.

Edmonds Bookshop, as did so many other local businesses, went into hibernation in March. We hunkered down, carefully managing our online business, and instituted free shipping, local delivery and curbside pick-up to serve customers.

Warmer weather gradually led to cautious, distanced outdoors encounters as we attempted to recognize the eyes of our masked and crazy-haired neighbors during long walks along Sunset or up and down Main.

We adapted to the conditions imposed by our health departments and City, and learned to live like that.

As spring veered toward summer local businesses began to reopen, streateries started popping up; kids, newly liberated from weeks of distance learning, sped around downtown sidewalks; strollers and bicyclists were encountered on every side street, along with ubiquitous delivery vans.

Many, but not all, wore masks.

The Bookshop's online business blossomed, and deliveries took yours truly all over Edmonds, from Lund's Gulch to Sherwood Forest, not to mention Ballard, Bothell, Brier, Everett, Greenwood, The Highlands, Lake Forest Park, Lynnwood, Mill Creek, Mukilteo, Richmond Beach, Shoreline, and Woodway.

Waze and Google Maps were my friends.

The national racial and social justice reckoning re-ignited by the deaths of Armaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, to say the names of three among so many, drove strong community engagement as well as intense interest in books about antiracism and the roots of our systemic ills, as well as in all the books concerning the politics and political figures of an election year.

That interest thrives still, and Edmonds is the better for it.

In late June, when Edmonds Bookshop decided to reopen (limited capacity, masks and hand sanitizer required, plexiglass shields in place, please keep your distance from fellow browsers), the response from our community was immediate and heartening.

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We were often forced to close the front door on a lovely summer day because we'd reached our limit of six or seven browsers, yet our customers remained patient and understanding.

As autumn arrived, the store's business accelerated, especially as we entered the holiday season. While we were thrilled by the continued support ("We're so glad you're here." "How are you doing?"), we also were challenged to manage new or heightened aspects of the business – keeping a headcount of customers, manually processing dozens of online orders and phone/email requests every day, making room for a burgeoning pile of prepaid curbside pick ups, and finding time and space to re-energize for the next day.

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All while wearing masks. It was our busiest November/December ever.

Now, a year later, as we continue to operate safely, deliver widely, listen attentively and root for the vaccines, we highlight the following list of 2020 bestsellers. Thanks to our loyal and avid customers for helping us survive. Without these books, and you, our fortunes would be in a very different place.

2020 Bestselling books at Edmonds Bookshop

"A Promised Land," Barack Obama ($45)

"So You Want to Talk About Race," Ijeoma Oluo ($16.99, paperback)

"White Fragility," Robin DiAngelo ($16, paperback)

"How to Be an Antiracist," Ibram X Kendi ($27)

"Caste," Isabel Wilkerson ($32)

"Overstory," Richard Powers ($18.95, paperback)

"The Cold Millions," Jess Walter ($28.99)

"The Splendid and the Vile," Erik Larson ($32)

"What It's Like to Be a Bird," David Allen Sibley ($35)

Yes, it's been a year.


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