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Sweet reads by sweet pea

King’s books bookseller sweet pea dicusses the best titles of 2007

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Was 2007 a good year for readers? It seems so, according to local bookseller sweet pea Flaherty. 

Flaherty (whose first name, sweet pea, is written in lower case letters) has been selling books at King’s Books, 218 St. Helens Avenue, for about 4 years and previously worked for one of the store’s owners at a bookstore in Madison, Wisc., before moving to Tacoma. King’s Books sells a mix of used, rare and new books.

“There are some interesting things happening,” says sweet pea of the past year in book publishing. “I was certainly more excited about what was coming out in 2007.” More, he adds, than the book world had been producing in the previous two years.

So what book categories in particular stood out to sweet pea and the rest of the staff at King’s Books in 2007? There are three such categories, sweet pea suggests: young adult fiction, “food culture” books, and increasingly sophisticated graphic novels.

One of 2007’s prime young adult titles was Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Tale of a Part-Time Indian,” a National Book Award winner. Alexie is already well known as a novelist, but his latest tale, sweet pea explains, is his first young adult title — reflecting a recent trend of crossover writing by adult fiction authors to books for younger readers.

Flaherty’s 2007 example of the emerging trend in graphic novels is “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic,” by Alison Bechdel, an autobiographical story that explores, in words and pictures, the author’s coming of age “as a woman and a lesbian.” “Fun Home,” sweet pea suggests, “is what graphic novels will be when they grow up.”

The third book-based wave of popularity in 2007 featured “food culture” titles — not cookbooks, but books about foods and the people who prepare and/or enjoy them, and why.

“Food culture is becoming really big,” sweet pea says. An example is Michael Pollan’s “Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of the Four Meals,” is an “exploration of the modern diet.” Another example of “food culture” writing is “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life,” a non-fiction work by well-known novelist, Barbara Kingsolver.

For those among us who aren’t sure what to read among 2007’s offerings, yet alone among what’s yet to come in 2008, Flaherty and his colleagues at King’s Books can help readers find stand-out titles among the store’s new and recent releases. Besides guidance offered by published lists like the American Booksellers Association’s “Book Sense Bestsellers,” which reflects the titles that gain the most popularity among independent book stores, King’s Books features “book talkers” — handwritten mini-reviews by the bookseller staffers at the store.

For more information, call King’s Books at (253) 272-8801, visit, or stop by to shop or attend one of the special events scheduled during January. Currently scheduled is an installment of the store’s Distinguished Writer Series and open mic, January 11, a talk focusing on “port militarization resistance” on January 18, and a talk on the Iraqi refugee situation on January 24. All programs begin at 7 p.m. Still to come is King’s Book’s annual Small Press Month celebration, “Wayzgoose,” set for March 2 from noon to 4.

[King’s Books, 218 Saint Helens Ave., Tacoma, 253.272.8801]

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