Lucy Knisley Tells Her Stories

Dear Liza,

I got an order of books delivered to my doorstep from Auntie Katie’s shop, Books with Pictures! In it was the latest by my favorite graphic novelist, Lucy Knisley. Lucy is a 35 year old artist, writer, and musician who lives in Chicago. She is talented, funny, and (sometimes painfully) honest. I am accumulating quite a collection!

“French Milk” is an autobiographical story of her trip to Paris with her parents when she graduated college. She loves that city of light, museums and food as much as I do, so I knew we had a lot in common. Her stories are amusing because people are funny, but not forcibly FUNNY.

The next book I fell in love with was “Relish”, about cooking and her love of food. Again, cooking, food…there is a theme here.

Last year I found “Kid Gloves”, about her difficulties getting pregnant and giving birth. It was so real and heartfelt that some of it actually hurt to read, but was at the same time so real and joyous that it was worth the pain (sort of like the birthing process itself).

And now, I have “Go to Sleep (I Miss You)”, about her first year with the new baby, whom she calls Pal. Again, her truth matches mine. I laughed out loud and cringed along with her discovery of needle-sharp nursing baby teeth and the self-losing love of new mothers for their babies.

From Go to Sleep (I Miss You)

Lucy makes the humanity of new motherhood real and sweet, while not minimizing the very real stinkyness or discomfort. I can’t recommend her books highly enough, especially to those folks interested in Paris, food, and new motherhood, respectively.

All this quiet time inside has reminded me how much I enjoy reading! And now that our weather is warming up a bit, the balcony can become my new den.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Auntie Katie's Finding a Way

Dear Liza,

You know that Auntie Katie has a bookshop called Books with Pictures. She sells comic books, graphic novels, illustrated histories and biographies, and all sorts of wonderful stories. Her store is at 1401 SE Division Street here in Portland and has been doing very well.

But how can you sell books when people can’t come into your store because of the corona virus shutdown? It isn’t easy, surely, but Katie is finding all sorts of ways.

She has set up a Personal Shopping page on her website (BookswithPictures.com) so people can tell her who they are shopping for, what topics they like, and how much they want to spend. Katie knows her books so well, she can match any reader with something they will like.

Before the shut down…

She has set up subscriptions so that people can get their favorite newly-released comics every month, or Katie herself will choose books like the ones customers have enjoyed in the past.

Delivering for the people!

She is doing curbside pick-up of these books, so that while you are out getting groceries, you can let her know you are on the way and she’ll have the books ready for you with proper social distancing protocols.

Katie is even doing deliveries! She is driving all over town in the evenings, dropping off books on people’s doorsteps like a literary Santa Claus.

I have always been proud of your Auntie Katie. She makes brave choices and works hard to make them work. She values her community and they, in turn, value her. If anyone can make this work, she can.

Working hard!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Books with Pictures Update

Dear Liza,

Books with Pictures

I have told you about Auntie Katie’s store, Books with Pictures, down on Division Street here in Portland. After thriving in a rented space at 12th and Division for three years, her new shop opened this past July 6th, after a huge building renovation and a community assisted, bike-centric moving day. It was a lot of work!

It’s a big job!

Katie was able to buy the 1927 building with the help of investors, and paid for the move and repairs with a Kickstarter campaign. As with all Kickstarters, she posted it on Facebook.

Auntie Katie stepping up and learning new skills

She offered different rewards for different levels of pledges, and raised more than she asked for! And yesterday, the pledge rewards arrived. The shop is full of them! Art prints, t-shirts, tote bags and other goodies are in boxes, waiting for Katie’s supporters. Many local fans will come by and pick the goodies up. Those destined for folks from out of town will be mailed.

I am so proud of Auntie Katie. She has taken her wild dream of owning and running an inclusive, community supporting bookshop, and made it happen. When lack of money got in the way, she figured out how to get it. When too much work was the obstacle, she worked harder. She learned about plumbing, electricity, and woodworking. She hired skilled friends and worked with them.

It takes a crew!

And all this while raising Cousins Jasper and Kestrel to be kind, confident, and well-read kids.

My Kickstarter reward

Word has spread that Books with Pictures is THE place to go for comics, graphic novels, and illustrated books. When I am out and about in town and I mention Books with Pictures, people know it and love it. “Katie’s your daughter?” They say. “She’s wonderful!”

I agree.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Portland Pride

img_7094.jpgDear Liza,

On Saturday, I helped Auntie Katie set up her double wide booth at Portland’s Gay Pride Festival. It was hard work, but it’s always good to help.

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Katie, looking fabulous

Auntie Bridgett drove me to Auntie Katie’s house at seven in the morning. We loaded up a van she borrowed from a friend, then went to her shop, Books with Pictures, and loaded some more. Boxes and boxes of books, bookshelves, snacks, banners, and chairs, were all tetris-ed into a space that I thought was too small for them. Then we drove to the Tom McCall Waterfront Park, between the Morrison and Hawthorne Bridges, on the west side of the Willamette River.

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View of the festival from the Morrison Bridge

A friend of Katie’s named Dot, who has a strong back, cheerful personality AND many years of book store experience, was an enormous help. I unloaded and sorted, Dot organized and shelved, and Katie figured out where everything went.

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Dot on the job

By 11:00, we were ready for business! I took a walk around the festival to see the other booths. There were so many different businesses and causes, with booths run by cheerful people. There were banjo players, bankers, car dealers, a softball league, Fred Meyer stores, and even a booth supporting the adoption of deaf dogs. There were some outrageous costumes, but mostly just really happy people enjoying being out together on a sunny day.

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Banjos!

When the booth was ready and Auntie Katie had her lunch (of delicious pulled pork from Porklandia), I decided to head home. I had lots of snacks and water, so I walked across the Morrison Bridge and east for about 2 miles.

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The Willamette looking north from the Morrison Bridge

By the time I got home I was so tired, I ate a big lunch and slept for two hours! But Auntie Katie was at the booth until 10:30 Saturday night, and went back for a full day Sunday, so I think I got off easy.

Love,

Grandma Judy