A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

Bookshop Superheroes: Third Place Books—Ravenna

In appreciation of our local indies who have reinvented their processes and protocols during the past year in the service of getting the just-right book to the just-right hands, our Bookshop Superheroes blog series features our partner bookstores with special Instagram takeovers that afford a glimpse into a day in their store. (Are you following SAL on Instagram? Check us out!) This week, we’re featuring Third Place Books—Ravenna, who is taking over our Instagram tomorrow, Tuesday, July 13!

Since 2002, Third Place Books—Ravenna, located in the pedestrian-friendly neighborhood just north of University District, has featured a Mediterranean restaurant, an internet café, a downstairs pub, and one incredible bookstore. In 2012, this branch of Third Place Books launched their Literary Luncheon Series, which has featured bestselling authors Marlon James, Amor Towles, Anthony Doerr, Ann Patchett, and Rachel Kushner, among many others.

Below, we speak with Kalani Kapahua, the store’s General Manager, who shares his enthusiasm for the shop, its author events, and what’s on his shelf.

How have you coped during the pandemic?

Before managing our Ravenna store location, I was part of the Third Place Books events team. Helping to navigate the transition into a whole new world of virtual author events very early on is something I felt we did so well! We played around with many different formats until we landed on one that felt right. For a period of time, I was hosting author events with my cellphone on my couch at home one day, and then inside the empty bookstore the next. Looking at the event analytics was incredibly fun, seeing viewers from literally all over the world tuning in to watch events with their favorite authors. We’ve continued to host some truly great author events virtually.

What’s unique about your bookstore?

Ravenna itself is such a gem of a neighborhood. There’s a nice mixture of students, families, retirees, and everything in between. It’s also right between Green Lake and the Burke Gilman Trail and next to some great city parks, and is just a really nice area to walk around. I love how central our Ravenna store is to the neighborhood and feel like our store reflects the unique neighborhood very well. 

What do you love about your job?

I feel like people who love their jobs always say, “There’s something different every day,” and while that may sound cliche, I do genuinely feel that to be true. There are always different books, different customers, and different challenges—it keeps things feeling fresh. That said, there is also a very tight neighborly feel with our Ravenna store being situated in a very residential area. There are customers who come in everyday who don’t feel like customers, but feel more like neighbors, and it’s a great feeling when this change starts to happen.

What events at the store are coming up?

I’m looking forward to Katie Kitamura’s virtual event on August 2. I enjoyed reading A Separation, and there has been such great early buzz (including an Obama recommendation!) on Intimacies. 

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing any in-person event again! I hosted the last in-person event in early March 2020, before the lockdown, for Colum McCann. The very next day, the cancelations started rolling in and ever since then, I’ve wondered if that was the last in-person author event I’ll ever get to be part of again. It’s exciting to know we’re inching towards live events once again.

What are you reading right now?

Tiana Nobile’s Cleave has been one of my favorite reads of the year. Cleave is a debut collection of poems by a Korean American adoptee that explores her displacement and the complicated history of transnational adoption. As a Korean adoptee myself, this was such an intimate reading experience.

I’m halfway through Ben Golliver’s Bubbleball: Inside the NBA’s Fight to Save a Season. It’ll obviously take a long time to truly process the events of 2020 at large, but in terms of the NBA basketball season, the timing is right for us to reflect on what a crazy chain of events happened from March to October of last year! This book does a great job of recapping the most bizarre year of professional basketball.

I’ve also been slowly reading Dantiel W. Moniz’s Milk Blood Heat, this is a collection of stories and each one has been a gut-punch to read… but in the best way!

Thank you, Kalani, and Third Place Books!

Posted in Behind the Scenes