An interview with Adam Jones

An interview with Adam Jones

The other day I was lying on the couch drinking decaf coffee and thinking random thoughts when this one popped into my head:  Wouldn’t it be fun to ask Adam a bunch of questions about books?  Adam Jones has been the manager at inklings bookshop for several years.  And he also happens to be my beloved cousin, friend and fellow bibliophile.  He is smart, kind, and full of brilliant, witty observation.  I’m pretty sure this is an impartial point of view, and am absolutely convinced that if I didn’t know him from . . . well, Adam (I can’t believe I just wrote that), I would quickly come to this same conclusion.

So, back to my story, I emailed Adam some questions and then we met up for coffee to visit and do a mini photo shoot.  Here’s what Adam had to say about book clubs, hot reads for 2014, some of his favorite authors and why indie bookstores have a prominent place in the heart of any community lucky enough to have one.

To start, can you give a little background on yourself?

I started working at Inklings during summer breaks while I was in college.  At that time, the co-owner of the store just happened to be my cousin, Mandi!  After I graduated, and after a few false starts, I was back in Yakima at the exact time Inklings needed a new manager.  That was over ten years ago!  Since then, I’ve been the general manager of the store.  I’ve also picked up a couple other roles along the way, which is how it works in a small business.  My favorite “task” is buying the sidelines for the store.

Though I’m not a Yakima native, I’ve made my home here since 2003.  I live by Franklin Park with my crazy dog and my partner, Greg.

If you could have dinner with any literary figure who would it be and why?  What would you eat and drink?

This is the hardest question to answer.  I want to do a crazy long list, but I have to pare it down, so here’s the short list: Nancy Mitford, Muriel Spark, Margaret Atwood and Marguerite Duras.

I would be terrified of both Marguerite Duras and Muriel Spark, so I’ll scratch them off the list.  And I don’t know if I have a suit nice enough to meet Nancy Mitford in, so that brings the answer to…Margaret Atwood

She’s such a hoot!  Let me insert – If you don’t follow her on Twitter, get on that right away!  She’s sharp as a tack, even in less than 140 characters.  I also know that she’s very generous with her time and attention with her fans, so though I would be flipping out a bit, I think I could handle the meeting!  She is also Margaret E. Atwood, so you would be bound to leave the conversation with your head spinning with ideas and notions.

I think she would love our Valley – she’s so knowledgeable about history, and ecology, and I think it would be a treat to show her around.  Ideally, she’d visit in the summer so I can take her to the Bale Breaker tasting room while Imogene’s is serving dinner there.  She strikes me as the kind of person who would enjoy a pint of something cold, and this way I wouldn’t have to spend my time worrying about feeding her!  Because I would have so many questions. Eventually, I would want to ask her about her novel “Life Before Man.”  That book fascinated me when I finally read it last summer, probably because it’s plot is so tightly focused on just the time of life I find myself in (though, as I am neither a moony paleontologist nor a depressive woodworker, I do not relate to the exact plot points).  As it has such autobiographical elements I wouldn’t want to be rude with my questions, but I do wonder what she thinks of it, thirty-odd years after it was published.

What are your tips for a successful book club?

I don’t currently belong to a book club, so I feel a little bit like a cheat answering this!  I’ll do my best, based on my observations:

I think sometimes we worry too much about the fun, but honestly, your group WILL be fun!  Getting together with friends over wine and some nibbles, while talking about books?  You’ll have a great time!

Instead of worrying about that, ask yourself what the aim of your club is, and how to structure your time together to meet that goal.  If you want to talk about books with a little bit of seriousness, lay a few ground rules.

From what I’ve gathered, the key points to enriching exchanges over books are: chose your books carefully, and do a little research.

Have criteria for what you read, whatever it is.  Are you going to read through the classics?  Will you only read books that have been reviewed in the New Yorker?  Something like this can help to assure that a book is worth your while and will generate good conversation.  If you don’t have this nailed down, and you let everyone pick a book (which is only fair), your group might end up reading “Goosebumps” – or something worse!  If that’s the case, the conversation is pretty much derailed before it even starts.

Secondly, if you want to learn something from the group, it will take a little bit of work.  You don’t have to write a doctoral dissertation, but do a little bit of research.  I know of groups that ask someone to do a presentation on the author, or about the themes or style of the book, before the general discussion.  I always thought that would be fun, and give the group a solid jumping-off point for conversation.  And there’s lots of resources available now that are designed for just this sort of thing, so you don’t personally have to slog through the Library of Congress to gather this info!  If you want the conversation to go farther than just “I liked it/I didn’t like it,” give your group the tools to do so.

What books are on your  nightstand right now?

I just started “The People in the Trees” by Hanya Yanagihara, and I’m halfway through “Empress Dowager Cixi” by Jung Chang.  Incidentally, these are both fairly new books that had not appeared on my radar at all until I was in Seattle and picked them on a trip to the University bookstore.  One was a staff pick (regrettably I can’t remember the staff person’s name), and the other was nicely displayed in the Asian history section.  So you see, even booksellers need help finding the perfect read sometimes!

What are the new books for 2014 that you can’t wait to get your hands on?

I’m very excited for Helen Oyeyemi’s new book “Boy, Snow, Bird.”  Her book “Mr. Fox” was such a gem, and the new book is getting a lot of press, which I hope translates into more people reading her.

The amazing, demented Patricia Lockwood is publishing her first book of poetry with a major publisher in May.  She’s previously published with small presses and online, but the new book is with Penguin, and called “Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals.”  I can’t remember the last time I saw someone doing something so fresh and, frankly, shocking, with poetry.  It’s incredibly fun to watch.

And Roz Chast is releasing her first book of non-fiction, a graphic novel autobiography titled “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?”  I read it in advance, and while it’s not a long book, it is nowhere near slight.  It’s heartbreaking and hilarious.

Two cookbooks (I’m an addict) that have caught my eye in catalogs and previews so far:

- “A Mouthful of Stars” by Kim Sunee (who wrote the gorgeous “Trail of Crumbs”)

- “Forest Feast: Simple Vegetarian Recipes from My Cabin in the Woods” by Erin Gleeson – hands down, the most beautiful cookbook I’ve seen in ages!

Honestly, it’s going to be a big year for books.  Superstars that are releasing new titles this year include Emma Donoghue, Michael Lewis, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Michael Cunningham, for starters.  It’s gonna be a bumper crop!

If you could live inside one book, which would you choose?

This is tough, because many of the books I love depict a world I would rather not live in!

I think I’ll go back to childhood for this one:  I remember reading Astrid Lindgren’s “Ronia: The Robber’s Daughter,” and wanting to run away to the enchanted forest in that book and live with wild and crazy robbers!  In reality, I was such a quiet, timid kid, who never broke any rules.  I think what I wanted was to be as brave and bold as Ronia and Birk, and to laugh at danger like they did (I seem to remember that they liked to say that phrase a lot?).  That’s never really happened, so I’ll revive that wish!

I also remember very clearly wanting more than anything to get into Willy Wonka’s factory, and finding it utterly unfair that I couldn’t.

What does it mean for Yakima to have a indie bookstore like inklings in its midst?

We love books here, and I mean that sincerely.  Our entire staff reads and reviews books; we love to talk about them, and share them with our customers.  I love it when a co-worker tells me how they just put their favorite book in someone’s hand, and convinced them to give it a try.  We get so excited about it!  Other times, you’ll find one of our staff having a long talk with a customer, sharing their mutual love for a book, or their disagreements!  That relationship is about a shared passion, and it’s a genuine one. 

From the beginning, the idea for Inklings was to be a “place set aside for books and their friends,” and I think on the community level, we matter exactly because our goal has always been bigger than just to sell books.  We want to be a gathering place for our community, and to be engaged with our community.  It’s part of the reason we’re so confident in the face of online retailers and big box stores.  We enrich our community’s experience with events, from the serious to the silly.  We help young readers find that first book, that key that will open up their world to the possibilities of reading.  We’re involved with local schools, providing books for their libraries, and holding fundraisers for them.  And on a most basic level, we’re open every day of the week, with big, comfy chairs for you to read in!  I love looking up from my work, and realizing we’ve had the same customer browsing our store for hours.  It’s that sense of place, and that relationship with our reading friends that is so key; I don’t think any algorithm will ever be able to duplicate it.

My Happy List

My Happy List

Beginning with the disclaimer that it is the many amazing people (some of whom are pictured below) who make my life truly happy, it is also appropriate to recognize some of the things that are brightening my winter (especially in the midst of Yakima’s current weather inversion–many days of grey, cloudy skies and icicle inspired temperatures).

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Raise your large, warm mug of Theraflu to the following:

Seahawks–I have to begin with honesty:  the first complete game I watched this season was the NFC Championship.  You would think this would mean I was a quiet observer, sitting calmly in my parents’ oversize chair, more interested in the dogs in a blanket on my plate than the game.  Not so.  Just ask my daughter.  Sophie was unfortunate enough to be sitting next to her closet-competetive mother throughout the game.  I loved every minute.  At one point, near the end, she looked at me and said:  “You are louder than Uncle John and Grandpa combined.”  If you have met John or my dad, or have any kind of imagination, you can conclude that I was fantastically loud. It was SO FUN!!

Football has never been my favorite sport to watch, but this season may have changed my mind.  More than that, I have loved the sense of camaraderie that has extended into our schools, our local businesses, our social media, our families.  How often are the majority of people in a city or region focused together on good news?  It seems rare indeed and something to celebrate.  Today I am excited to join the ranks of LOUD Hawks fans everywhere.  I’M IN!

Books that have captured my interest:

  • Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson–Yes, this book is big and yes it is long.  It is also intriguing and mind blowing.  Nearly every page offers some new, complex insight into the life and mind of Steve Jobs.  Well worth the time investment.
  • DK’s Beginner’s Photography Guide–Though I am impatient about “getting to know” all the cool things about my camera, I am finally committed.  Up to this point, I’ve just wanted to take the damn photos.  Now, I’m willing to invest a little time in improving and the DK guide is the perfect mentor.  Lots of illustrations and quick tips.

TV that I love:  Parks & Recreation, Downton Abbey & Sherlock Holmes.  I don’t know how I’ve gone so many years without really watching P & R.  Now I am a devoted convert.  While first seeming mostly goofy, I quickly understood that Pawnee, Indiana Parks and Rec Director Leslie Knope (played by the supreme Amy Poehler) is one of the most lovable and inspiring characters in sitcom history.  This is a woman who loves her city, loves her job and pours her time and passion into making things better for the people in Pawnee.  And yes, she is also wonderfully goofy and flawed, along with the rest of the phenomenal cast, which makes the show equally hysterical and uplifting.  At work I find myself asking:  What would Leslie do? 

Downton Abbey really needs no recommendation from a mere mortal such as myself, but I will say that one of my favorite things about this series is the undercurrent of humor that many of the characters have perfected.  It buffers the tragedies that are woven throughout the script and adds a complexity to the characters.  While at first Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, seems only harsh and stringent, you quickly discover that she is often perceptive, can be counted on to point out the ridiculous and is not without compassion.

And Sherlock Holmes pulls several of my favorite things into a single show:  classic British mysteries (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle!!), modern day London and Martin Freeman :).  Oh, and Benedict Cumberbatch playing Sherlock . . . I can’t emphasize how perfectly lovely that is.

New jewelry–Sophie, like so many children across America, was gifted with a rubber band Rainbow Loom for her birthday and then again for Christmas.  She has made me tons of lovely, rubber-bandy jewelry and I love it.  Colorful and flexible, they do make me happy. I am currently sporting a black & white speckled ring and a rosette bracelet.  I also have a pen rest and turtle charm on my desk at work.

rainbow loom bracelets rainbow loom rings

Future Vacation–this is pure fantasy, but it is helping in the midst of the current no-sun blight of winter.  Doug found himself in Cancun a few weeks ago.  I won’t go into the details of this happened, and how I ended up staying behind, but will focus on the promise:  Doug came back committed to taking me on a warm, relaxing vacation next winter.  Though this is in the pipe dream stage at this point, I don’t care.  I am going to start a Pinterest board and envision all of this future, white beach goodness:

white beach Image courtesy of www.wallcoo.net

 

 

 

A Soft Landing

A Soft Landing

Do you ever wish you could record your dreams and play them for others so they can experience the event just like you did? I have a history of vivid dreams and a history of explaining them in such detail that my unsuspecting victim goes cross-eyed trying to keep up. I had one such dream the other night.

Dylan, Kendall, Taylor and I were on an airplane. Taylor and I had just come back from the bathroom and hadn’t had a chance to buckle our seat belts. The plane started to jerk wildly. After struggling I couldn’t buckle our belts so I hung on to Taylor tightly and tried my best to hang on to my arm rest. I remember feeling desperate to protect her while bracing for the impact I knew was coming. The nose of the plane took a deep and sudden dive. This is where I would love to show you a video. It was terrifying and amazing all at once. I could see the ground coming toward us quickly. And I again braced for an impact—an impact that never came. We landed softly in a pool. For a moment it seemed that the cabin had filled with water. I couldn’t breathe. I wasn’t sure how long I could last without air and I wasn’t sure how long Taylor, who at this point had turned into a naked infant, could last under water.  I was holding my breath in my sleep. Suddenly I realized that the cabin was full of air and I could breathe. Taylor and I were escorted to a window that exited onto a water slide. We slid down and landed softly in a warm pool where the lifeguard was busy ensuring swimmer safety and the swimmers were enjoying themselves barely taking notice of the giant plane now occupying their space. I caught my breath, thankful to be alive, and commented that the plane crash was something I needed to experience.

Why do I share this story with you and why do I think my mind reassured me that surviving a plane crash was necessary even if it was an imaginary plane crash? Because I’ve been struggling; struggling with anxiety and living in fear that something bad will happen at any moment. It’s not something new for me—this anxiety burden. In fact, it’s something I’m quite familiar with. I’ve always jumped if my phone rings after 9 p.m. My family and friends know better than to call me after my bedtime. They know how I panic.

Having kids has made it worse, especially at night. I usually let the cat outside at around 3:00 a.m. When I open the door, look out into the dark night and see the stars I panic. When I think about the fact that our time on earth is just a mere blip in time I feel overwhelmed and insignificant. I try to calm myself down. I remind myself that death is not something to fear. I don’t really fear my own death. I fear losing people before I’m ready for them to go. And will I ever really be ready for someone I love to go? Probably not.

Recently I read this blog post. “7 year-olds sell sunglasses at 11 p.m.” and “children stay up until two in the morning”. Clearly I need to relax. It reminded me that allowing my anxiety to live inside me is preventing me from truly living and may be preventing my kids from experiencing life in the way they are meant to—not that I want them selling sunglasses at 11 p.m. Dylan and I celebrated our wedding anniversary on Saturday. I arranged to have my mom watch the girls. She asked if she could have the girls overnight. I said no. Why? Because I think about fires and escape routes and not being there to make sure they are okay every minute of the night. So my mom missed out, my girls missed out and I missed out on a night alone with my husband.

All this to say, I don’t know how to fix this. But one thing I know for sure, living my life in fear of something terrible happening is no way to live. After all, even if something bad does happen, you never know what kind of soft landing will await you on the other side. It may be like taking a nose dive into a warm pool and finding a water slide to help you down gently. But worrying about it is simply a waste of time.

So good to remember

Pillow Snatcher

Pillow Snatcher

Apparently someone didn’t get the memo that she’s not supposed to use my pillow while I’m at work.

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Or if she did, she ignored it completely. She’s lucky she’s cute!

Photo Shoot

Photo Shoot

Mandi’s sister Joani kindly offered to take updated photos of us for the blog. I don’t think she was prepared for the amount of awkwardness that happens when you get me in front of a camera. Mandi managed to look natural and calm while photo after photo shows me in all my geekiness. I thought about putting together a photo montage but you’re just going to have to take my word for it.

However, I will leave you with this to prove my point:

Hometown Perch Photo Shoot from Stacie Marez on Vimeo.

Are you speechless? I thought so.

Financial Peace University Follow-Up

Financial Peace University Follow-Up

A friend asked me the other day, “Are you still doing the FPU program?”. The answer is yes–it is our lifeline. After doing the program for nine months, I couldn’t imagine not. It wasn’t the first time I had been asked that so I thought I would follow-up to my original FPU post to share why we are still doing the program and the specific aspects that are the most important to us.

Dave Ramsey talks about how, when he was struggling, he would interview millionaires to learn their secrets. Now that he is a multi-millionaire, he interviews billionaires. He was talking with one billionaire and asked, “So what is the secret to your financial success?”. The billionaire’s response was simple, “The tortoise always wins the race. Every single time”. FPU is not a quick fix. It’s not a 90-day miracle money makeover. It’s a long-term action plan. It often feels like we are the tortoise. There are times our progress in the Seven Baby Steps to Financial Peace moves at a snail’s pace. But together, as a team (key word here), we work toward our end goal and make progress. [Read more...]

We Want to Hear from You!

We Want to Hear from You!

Happy Blogiversary to Hometown Perch!

We launched Hometown Perch one year ago and it has grown steadily. What started out as our personal project to celebrate all the good happening in the Yakima Valley has turned into connecting with so many like-minded people also working hard to explore. create. celebrate. the wonderful things about our hometown.

To celebrate even further and to kick-start year two of our journey, we thought we would thank you by hosting a contest.  Here are the details–

What is the prize?

An assortment of some of our favorite local goodies.

How do I enter? 

There are lots of ways to enter!

Comment on this post and you will be entered. You can also enter by following us in a new way (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, signing up for our email list and/or adding Hometown Perch to your reader). For each new way you enter, leave another comment so we know (the more ways you follow, the greater your chance of winning!). You can also recruit new readers and leave us a comment about who you recruited to our little neck of the woods. If your new recruit enters a comment, he or she is also entered.

We will use a random number generator to determine the winner.  The contest is open to those in the continental US or Canada.

Here are the ways you can follow us–

Email Subscription
Simply enter your email address in the right hand column. You will receive blog posts in your inbox only when we post. We will never share or sell your email address. You will not receive spam from us and you can unsubscribe at any time. It’s that easy.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest & RSS Feed
If you prefer to get information via Facebook or Twitter, just click the icons in the right hand column. Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter.

Google (or other) Reader
Reader is a good way to follow multiple blogs. To add a new blog to the list of blogs that you follow, copy the URL from the blog’s address bar, go to your reader account, click the orange “Subscribe” button, paste the URL in the box (as shown in this image) and click add. Hey, that’s our URL in there. :) Imagine that. When you want to catch up on the blogs that you follow, simply log into your Google.com/reader account and they are all there in one place. It makes it so easy!

Thank you to all of our loyal readers.  Those who are new to Hometown Perch, welcome. We hope you feel at home and stay a while.

Your Hometown Girls,
Stacie & Mandi

Project Sneak Peek

Project Sneak Peek

I’ve got a project in mind for the new place. I’m not going to give it away here. Who knows if it will even turn out like I see it in my mind. You know my project track record like this one of the past. But I’m determined this project will work out. And if it does, it’s going to be pretty cool.

The girls and I got busy this afternoon with some watercolors.

[Read more...]

A New Toy

A New Toy

Look who got a new toy–

You can call it a housewarming gift or an anniversary gift–we’ve been married 16 years tomorrow. As soon as we knew we were getting the house, we knew we needed a riding mower to go with it. [Read more...]

Have Raptors, Will Travel

Have Raptors, Will Travel

We’ve had a lot of interest since our post about our visit to Raptor House Rehabilitation Center in Selah. [Read more...]