Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bookish Gifts, and How Amazing is Powell's Books?!

Before I get to posting all my year-end lists, I have to show you all the books I've given and received over the holidays!  Too much goodness to pass up!  I decided this year that I was going to get a book for everybody, even the ones that don't read.  Too bad, tough cookies, you're getting a book.  In addition to other gifties, of course, but still.

Books Given: (click on the pics to find out more about each title)
For those to whom reading is Hard Work: (my father-in-law, brother-in-law, and 11 year-old daughter)

For those preferring NonFiction: (my father and a sister-in-law)

For the Deep Thinkers: (my brother and 12 year-old son)

For the Lit Lovers: (my other brother, step-mother-in-law, and grandmother-in-law)

All right, so there were (admittedly) some friends and family that didn't get books.  My other sister-in-law, my other mother-in-law and father-in-law...but since we haven't had our gift exchanges as of yet, I've still got time to decide for them!  Also, I didn't include the picture books for my little one or my assured that the little ones weren't neglected!

and...Why Powell's Books is Amazing:
I try to buy my books not-on-Amazon, which means I typically patronize my local Barnes&Noble, or my new flame: Powell's Books.  I stumbled upon Powell's, an independent bookstore based in Portland, Oregon, when I found (and subscribed) to their Indiespensable program at the beginning of the year--I've been nothing but happy with them since.

Recently my "happy" status got boosted up a few notches when Powell's went above and beyond for me in the crazy few days before Christmas.  I had placed an order with them towards the beginning of December, and had my books shipped to our vacation home (500 miles away) where we are spending the holidays.  I somehow forgot that the USPS won't deliver there, however, so when we arrived at the house a week before Christmas, my Powell's package was nowhere to be found.  (*cue utter despair, wailing, gnashing of teeth--Christmas without books??  Nooo!!!)

First thing, I checked their website, which led me to a very thorough package-tracking-log.  Sure enough, my package had been returned to them.  I called them first thing the next morning, and was completely impressed with the lengths they (er, Mike, actually--hi Mike!) went for me.  I'd been dreading having my husband suggest canceling my Powell's order and placing an Amazon Prime order instead...fortunately it didn't come to that (I like to use my Prime shipping for larger chipper shredders.  True story.)  First, they attempted to locate my package.  When it looked like the post office had mixed it in with the masses of incoming books [from publishers etc.] I was about to accept my fate, but Mike had other tricks up his sleeve.  It ended up being a most-of-the-day ordeal on his end (I'm guessing), including him searching for additional copies of the books I'd ordered, and looking for my package multiple times.  The result? My package was ultimately found and sent out via UPS, arriving in 2 days at no extra charge to me.  All of my stuff, before Christmas, even though it was my goof-up, not theirs.
my favorite mug   :)
I'm blown away.  I can't imagine many shopping experiences having such a personal, fulfilling result.  These guys rock.  Thank you Powell's Books!  You made this Christmas a fabulous one.

Oh! and Wait!  the Books I Received for Christmas!
It isn't every year that there are books under the tree, you know?  So often my family thinks I've got plenty of books already, or they look at my wishlist and get overwhelmed.  This year I lucked out--so much fun!  My parents got me a BookBook for my iphone (*swoon) and my darling dear husband got me some actual books--that's because he knows that when I say "I already have too many books," he's supposed to laugh.  That's my idea of a good joke.  So, here's the goodies (including a zombie treat from my brother):

Also over the last week, since I'm around my other set of TBR books, I've been doing some massive culling and reorganizing.  I'm getting rid of quite a few books, which somehow--in combination with the end of the Christmas Craziness--leaves me with incredible urge to go on a book-buying-spree.  Shopping carts in a book store sounds like just the thing right now, don't you think?  Half of me hopes I'll resist, half of my wants to fill up my Powell's shopping cart before I have the opportunity to change my mind.  Either way, hope you all are having a happy week.  I may not be getting mountains of reading done this month, but it's filled with some bookish happiness all the same.  I hope that goes for all of you as well--thanks for being such grand literary company!


  1. The BookBook is enough to make me want to swap to the Iphone!! :) LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!! I'm the book giving aunt in our family. If you don't get a book from me at Christmas or on your birthday, I must be sick ;) I love it.

  2. That sounds like a wonderful holiday. I'm surprised how awesome the service at Powell's is. I'll have to keep that in mind next time I'm buying books. The books you got look wonderful. Revolutionary Road was one of my most memorable books of this year. The writing is wonderful, but the characters are so frustrating! I can't wait to see what you think of it, and of his other books too.

  3. I'll be giving some of those same books to my folks this coming weekend when I visit them in Wisconsin (Brrrrrr!). AND Unbroken is the *one* book I received this holiday. But you and I are clearly kindred spirits 'cause I recently joined the Powell's Indiespensible program as a gift to myself. It kinda kills me to pay full price for a book when I have a perfectly bookstore employee discount, but those packages they put together sound SO spiffy I couldn't pass it up!

  4. Agree with Peppermint Ph.D - love the BookBook! Maybe I need an iPhone after all. Enjoy the Richard Yates collection. The Easter Parade was one of my favorites this year, and enjoyed Revolutionary Road and his stories, too.

  5. Peppermint, isn't it fabulous? It isn't necessarily the most convenient for talking on the phone, but it's so wonderful that it's something I'll work around. :) I don't mind being the book-giver either...I'm up to the task!

    Emily, I'm just so impressed with Powell's, and also like that they buy/sell used books...the prices aren't severely discounted, but the quality is like-new. I did read Revolutionary Road this year--it was one of my favorites. Like you said, the writing is so very good, and the characters! I'm looking forward to reading some of his other stuff.

    As the Crowe, so...I haven't actually read Unbroken (*blush) but it seemed right up my dad's alley. I've heard so many good things about it. I'm looking forward to reading what you think about it--that may be the thing that helps me to decide to read it. :) Oh I hope you enjoy Powell's Indiespensable! It's a guilty pleasure--I know that I could just look at their list and get my hands on those books so much cheaper, but it is such a treat to get in the mail. I love the personal effort they put into it.

    JoAnn, I know--nothing like a perfect bookish cover to justify the iPhone! And I'm looking forward to reading more by Yates. His writing voice was refreshing. He's one of those authors that seem to be less well-known than he should be.

  6. You chose some great books for your family members, are they enjoying them?

    And that's great customer service from Powell's. I'm sure you'll be an even more loyal customer from now on.

  7. Awesome!!! The BookBook is sooo cool. Love love love! And it looks like you did a fantastic job finding books for your family members. Very diverse choices.

    Enjoy your new goodies and have a good time if you indulge in the book buying spree. :)

  8. What do you do with your books that you want to get rid of? I'm wanting to go through my books and cull is a daunting and overwhelming task with all the books I own. I don't even know what to do with all the books once I cull them.

    I'm about to go on a buying spree too. So, I'd like to sell some.

  9. Sam, I think I got the most enthusiastic responses from the ones that don't read as much...isn't that funny? They seemed surprised to find a book that looked like their kind of interesting. That's what makes giving books so much fun!

    Andi, waking up and seeing the BookBook on my nightstand instead of just my phone is such a wonderful bit of happiness! And for someone who is Not A Morning Person, having a bit of joy first thing in the morning is priceless.

    Heidi, I send them different ways depending on the book, and depending on where I'm at (I'm currently "home" --which means 500 miles away from where I'm living!--so getting rid of books here is a different process.) If they are homeschool worthy, the next few months are a great time to sell stuff on the Well-Trained Mind forums (I need to remember to do that when I get back to SoCal!). I try to use PaperbackSwap for the smaller, cheaper books. Apart from that, if I don't have anyone to pass them on to, I'll donate them to my local used book store (they give me some store credit in exchange) or if I'm "home" I usually send them with my parents--they do a yearly yard sale to raise funds for their puppet ministry. I hope you are successful in your task! If I were closer I'd love to come help. :)

  10. Thanks for the recommendation for the Well-Trained Mind forum. I have a used book store that I love, but they don't take inspirational fiction, Christian nonfiction or home school materials.

    I got one bookcase cleaned and I have two boxes of books to get rid of. How did that happen? 5 more to go.

  11. What a great story about Powell's Books and their service! I have bookmarked their website and will be placing my first order of 2012 through them as a "reward."


  12. Thanks Jay! I hope you have a good experience with them. I'm just so impressed with how they've been able to hold onto their vision of the independent bookstore even while growing to a larger size.


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